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Mine! All mine!


Look at this fugly beast. JUST LOOK AT IT! This is probably the ugliest banjo I’ve ever seen, and now it belongs to me.

Well, it will do, if the eBay seller ever puts it in the post. The suspense is killing me.


If I’d known Britain was the Land of Goofy Banjos, I’d have moved here years ago. This will be goofy banjo number ten, if anyone is keeping score (eleven, if I manage to pull off the ukulele conversion I’ve been playing with). Though technically, this one is (probably) Swiss. From the description:

Here is my uncles old banjo he had in his shed I don’t know exactly how old it is but I’m 50 and remember he had when we were kids my auntie said that he bought it backdrop abroad before she knew him when he was in the army and she thinks it was Switzerland and can only remember him say he got it off an old man on a farm who made it for his loved one

That’s right, it’s a lurve banjo.

It’s a proper five string. Four store-bought ones either side, and then see that peg in the middle? The one that looks like it was chewed out of a rutabaga by a frenzied mink? That’s the fifth string peg: the string goes under the fretboard below the nut and pops out again at the fifth fret (that little white dot is the fifth-string nut). Very common feature in goofy British banjos (actually, a tunneled fifth is now an option on custom-made fine American banjos, one of which this emphatically isn’t).

These old things often don’t age well, owing to some of their more eccentric design features. But, then, they don’t cost much, either. And it’s not like they’re musical instruments or anything.


Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: March 1, 2016, 10:52 pm


Naow, that-there’s gonna have a sound to it…leave a mark ‘er three, it will…

Truly, the A-10 Warthog of stringed instruments – singular in purpose and deed.

Keep us posted – this may well be the best since the initial pics of Mad Jack…

(Could do with some more chooks tales and pics, too, when you’ve half a mo’ for it)

Comment from Anonymous
Time: March 1, 2016, 11:04 pm

It seems smaller than what I am used to seeing.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 1, 2016, 11:37 pm

You’re half right, Anon. It’s a bigger pot, but a shorter neck. At least, I think it’s a 12″ pot.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: March 1, 2016, 11:44 pm

I used to think Metal was loud, until I sat in a small room with about 3 drunk banjo players about 30 years ago. I think my ears are still ringing.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 1, 2016, 11:58 pm

Thing is, Grom, banjo players have no idea how they sound. The great majority of the sound is projected forward, away from them.

My main banjo — the one I learned on and played for years and years — sounds like shit. Everyone told me it sounded like shit, but I had no idea until I heard someone else play it.

Have to try to fix that one day.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: March 2, 2016, 1:17 am

When I was a substantially-younger lad than I now am, I was privileged, by dint of my then-chosen profession, a fair bit of prior experience at same, and a good bit of standing-in-the-right-spot good fortune, to get signed-up and whisked Abroad to work at my first (of a few) overseas technical assignment. My immediate-supervisor (also from the U.S.) was a rather lovely gent who, it developed, was avocationally a fair-country banjo hand – favored Bluegrass mostly, as it happened, an interest I shared, although he could turn a hand at other styles…as part of my carry-along personal entertainment, I was packing a broad selection of cassette tapes (with a proper portable player/recorder) – several of which were not only just Bluegrass-content, but featured the Immortal Duo, Flatt and Scruggs.

An after-hours alliance ensued, as you might imagine.

Only “flaw” was – his wife and daughter distinctly did not care much for his chosen “musical-art form”…so our get-togethers had to take place in the cellar of his rental housing (I was staying in a smallish apartment, sans a useful “playing area”, and with close neighbors) – darn chilly and kinda echo-ey in that stone-walled cellar. And yes, it was pretty loud – ‘specially the “picking”-style he was learning, and loved the most. Still…

When our work was (mostly) done, and we were returning soon Stateside, I gifted him with the “originals” of the pertinent cassettes, having made copies for myself.

I’ve still got a couple of recorded cassettes of my own that we made of his playing in that cellar – somewhere…good times.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: March 2, 2016, 1:50 am

Stoatie – slap a handful of Grovers on it and it’ll be good to go!

Many years ago, I would break out one of my Martins (a D18 hand picked from over 50, and a D12-20) and my friend John would pick up his Ode long-neck 5-string. We had us a great time of it playing anything from bluegrass to Elizabethan ballads. Fond memories!

Comment from Mr. Dave
Time: March 2, 2016, 4:57 pm

Put a Fishman on it and plug it into a Marshall stack, all knobs on the “Hendrix” setting. Awaken Cthulhu.

Comment from Becca
Time: March 2, 2016, 5:47 pm

Grom, I have my Grandpa’s 1950s Vega banjo. My family insists (and not very politely) I muffle it with a t-shirt stuffed into the resonator.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 2, 2016, 11:35 pm

A Vega is a fine ‘jo, Becca.

Comment from DonB
Time: March 14, 2016, 11:28 pm

I always heard you can’t play sad music on a banjo!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 14, 2016, 11:40 pm

I know one sad song on banjo, but I’m going nuts trying to remember what it’s called. Or how it goes. Dammit, I guess I don’t.

BTW, this banjo was in much better shape than I thought. I have it all put back together again and strung. It has a soft, deep voice (strung with nylon). If I were going to play a lot of it, I’d do something to adjust the action.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 14, 2016, 11:46 pm

Oh, hey, “Pretty Polly” is pretty sad.

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