Baldwin Ode Banjo Serial Numbers

When ODE started, the banjo business was remarkably simple. You had Gibson turning out high-end bluegrass banjos on one end, and lower-grade producers like Kay and Harmony producing entry-level instruments at the other end. Feb 08, 2012  1971-1974 Baldwin ODE Banjo. 1971-1974 Baldwin ODE Banjo. Skip navigation Sign in. Baldwin ODE 5-strings style B Banjo theflopmule. Unsubscribe from theflopmule?

CO: About that same time, Baldwin was expanding, looking into possibly purchasing the Salstrom Banjo Company of Oregon, Illinois. On the day the Baldwin execs were touring Salstrom, there happened to be a banjo collector there name Clyde Richelieu.Clyde was very knowledgeable about banjos, and a strong ODE fan. He mentioned to the Baldwin people that he felt ODE was a superior instrument, and Baldwin ended buying ODE while Salstrom was later purchased by Fender. A few years later, Richelieu purchased Strom Banjos of Brainard, Minnesota, and started building Richelieu banjos in Oregon, Wisconsin, where the company still operates under Rick Tipple. At that time I was in engineering school at the university. We’d take a coffee break between classes. I remember walking from the engineering area into the cafeteria next door.

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You had to go through this place called the Timberline Lounge where the mountaineering people hung out. There was a lady playing guitar and singing, and some guy playing the banjo. It just totally blew me away. Actually, the “lady” turned out to be Judy Collins. I don’t know who the banjo player was but that incident inspired me to start playing the guitar again.

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CO: Baldwin owned Gretsch then! Baldwin had been making only pianos and organs.

Then they got into this corporate mode of expansion. They bought Burns Guitar of the UK, Sho-Bud Pedal Steel, an electronic harpsichord company, Gretsch and others. Their idea was to create a full-line music business the quick way, by purchasing all these companies and then introducing them into their piano and organ chain divisions.

They were apparently quite successful. Baldwin was also heavily into electronics. They got into military contracts, making guidance systems for Sidewinder missiles.

Finally, they got into banking, because in the piano and organ business, you sold things on time payment plans. It became financing. First, financing pianos and organs, all the way into buying banks. They ended up, I believe, buying several banks, including the Empire Savings and Loan in Denver.

They expanded big, buisness-wise with the banking thing. But apparently, they over-expanded and had to declare bankruptcy. This, however, wasn’t because of the instrument business and it probably had nothing to do with the banjo busniess. The banjo part was probably the one-tenth of one percent of their whoe business. They had several thousand people working for them. The banjo company might have had five or maybe ten workers. When they went Chapter Eleven, they started liquidating things and ended up selling the ODE Banjo division, which was part of Baldwin-Gretsch.