In 1890 the world was rapidly changing and so, too, were banjos. The American industrial revolution was accelerating and both residential and industrial electric service was still a very new concept. Albert Conant Fairbanks of Boston, Massachusetts was working on a tone ring design that would revolutionize the banjo as the world knew it and bring it into the new "electric age". Thus, he settled on the name "Electric" for his new ring.
One of our premier models, the Mastertone WL-250 is a tribute to some of the most popular and coveted Old-Time banjos ever produced, the Whyte Laydie and Electric banjos of the A.C. Fairbanks Banjo Company. The first Fairbanks Whyte Laydie and Electric banjos were produced in the late 1800s and are held in very high regard among collectors and musicians. These banjos are also known for their bright clear tone and ample volume. These characteristics can be attributed to the unique design of the Whyte Laydie tone ring. This scalloped-style ring was first conceived and patented between 1890 and 1895 by A.C. Fairbanks and Company as the "Electric" tone ring. In 1901, the first "Whyte Laydie" banjos were produced. The Whyte Laydie name was inspired by the blonde maple finish as well as the fancy inlays. The Whyte Laydie banjo had the Electric tone ring, but over the years this ring became known as the "Whyte Laydie" ring due to its association with the Victorian-styled "Whyte Laydie" model banjo.
In honor of Mr. Fairbanks’s legacy and his legendary banjos, the WL-250 features a Fairbanks-inspired headstock and a replica of the legendary Whyte Laydie tone ring. When paired with the solid maple rim construction, this tone ring makes for a banjo with the clarity and volume that are ideal for banjoists looking to add another voice to their banjo arsenal. As always, our goal is to offer the highest quality for the lowest price; you won’t have to go broke to add a WL-250 to your stable. Some of the original high end Fairbanks banjos can go for $5000 and up, and even modern replicas made domestically can be $2500 and up. At $1099.99, the WL-250 is another way that Gold Tone strives to put high-quality professional grade instruments into the hands of musicians like you.