Sunday, March 10, 2013

Banjo Reclamation

Now for the unveiling of my second winter banjo project. This is a late 19th or early 20th century banjo with a lightweight metal clad rim and a paddle headstock that I picked up at a festival in Pennsylvania about ten years ago. It's very light, has no tone ring, and is a shorter 25" scale. It needed a lot more attention than the Minstrel Boy did. I replaced the violin-type wood tuners with a set of Grover Sta-Tite friction pegs. The bridge and tailpiece were missing so I put on a modern, repro, No-Knot tailpiece and a standard maple ebony topped Grover bridge. I also replaced the broken skin head with a Renaissance synthetic head.

This little baby is equipped with 38 hooks and brackets! Apparently, back in the golden days of yore, brackets were a major banjo selling point, the more the better, kind of like gigabytes, watts, and horsepower are these days. 38 brackets is a lot of brackets. My Minstrel Boy Banjo has 10 brackets and my Wildwood Troubadour Tubaphone has 24. Getting all those brackets off and back on made changing the head a lot more work than I was expecting. I eventually got everything put back together and the little guy is a quite playable, basic no frills instrument. I call it my Quaker banjo. Not very loud and definitely not a gigging banjo, but fine for late night picking and to play while giving lessons. Here's a short sound sample of my new, old, lo-fi, Quaker banjo.

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