Dyer Style 4,
The “as is” part means that this instrument has various typical and atypical issues, none of which are remotely deal breakers. I’ve strung it up for the owner to verify that this instrument not only plays quite decently but also has the exceptional, expected Dyer sound (it does!). I’d rate this one an easy 8 out of 10, with the qualifier of having tone on the clean, piano-like side with fewer overtones. About as loud and punchy as they come as well, with perfect balance across all 12 strings.
If you’re on a budget, this is the basic Dyer model – with the preferred six sub-basses – at a very low price that you can hit the road with right now if you need to!
If you wanted to restore it now or down the road, here’s what’s going on, and what I’d recommend. In no particular order:
It has a non-original bridge that’s a crude copy, but functional as is. I’d make a new replica, t’wer me. The finish around the bridge is messed up from previous replacement; I’d have a French polisher blend this in better.
The bass headstock has remnants of someone’s added sticker, shellacked over. I’d get rid of it and then touch up this headstock.
Someone replaced the treble side neck tuners; they’re vintage, but non-matching and installed with gear position switched. I assume they didn’t do the other side as they couldn’t get them out past the arm, a common dilemma. They work fine (1 button loose), so I’d leave as is and keep my eyes out for a proper vintage replacement. The original friction sub-bass tuners all work if you keep them tight (I’ve got light gauge Bennett tuning phosphor bronze on there now), but as always they’re a total pain, and anyone gigging with this will want to eventually swap out with 4:1 banjo tuners as most of us do.
The plastic bridge pin “nut posts” for the subs have been replaced with metal screws. Easy to reverse, or leave as is (the screw slots need filing for string fit).
Cracks and wear and tear: Nothing too terrible. A narrow patch of wood was replaced on the outside of the arm. A long side crack looks neatly repaired, a back crack less neatly repaired. A couple of top cracks under the bridge should be addressed (open but tight). There are a few holes on the butt end, as if from an added tailpiece at one time. Finish is decent (it may be at least a partial old re-fin), playing wear and tear is about average. All of this should be discernible in the photos at right.
The whole bridge area of the top and below is much less bellied than is typical, while the expected dip at the 12th fret and top above the soundhole is about typical. Again, this occurs on virtually all Dyers to some extent and there are numerous ways to address it.
Original label reads Style 4, Serial number 694. There are two additional labels of a ‘sixties repairman and previous owner.
Bottom line, I’d take one is this condition over half of those I’ve seen needing work. We’ve priced it so that, fully restored, it should be worth more than you put it into it in total cost and restoration, if that is your endgame.
Easily restorable, six sub-basses, great sound, with an extra bonus of an original (or at least, period) stiff leather case. Lots of vibe with this one!
PS: It has been stored untouched and de-tuned by owner Jim Kweskin (of Jug Band fame) since he bought it in the early ‘sixties from a music store for the princely folk musician sum of fifteen dollars. Not a bad little time capsule investment!
– Gregg "Sir Gregory" Miner
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