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Playing Since: 1976
Experience Level: Purty Good
Kevin B has made 3 recent additions to Banjo Hangout
[Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]
Occupation: Christian Minister
1981 Stewart-MacDonald Diamond Eagle mahogony flathead that I built myself. After several modifications over the years it currently has a Price tailpiece and a Snuffy Smith bridge. The old flathead has real presence, It can cut through when called upon. - - -
My second banjo is 1929 Gretsch open back with a generic asian five string neck (to replace the tenor neck).- - -
And just traded my 2003 a NOS Gibson RB250 for a 1989 RB3 Standard inlay. The tone of the pot of the RB3 is really interesting to me.
Martin DM six string- - -
Johnson dobro (totally hot rodded)- - -
"Rogue" A style mandolin- - -
Two banjo uke (soprano and concert)- - -
A soprano pineapple uke
All time favorite band is the Seldom Scene. To me Ben Eldridge is my absolute favorite among bluegrass players. Also a big Dave Evans fan. Ken Baldauf (see my biography) is another longtime favorite. I like most bluegrass but lean toward acoustic arrangements of non-traditional songs using bluegrass instruments.
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Last Visit 6/4/2013
When Deliverance came out in 1972 I begged my parents for a banjo. The next year they got me a mail order catalogue Harmony Resotone in all it’s plastic glory. It is a miracle they bought a five string. We knew nothing about banjos. I just knew “Dueling Banjo’s” had stirred something way down in my soul.
Living in Tampa, FL .we didn’t know anything about bluegrass or where to go for lessons. The lowly Harmony was shelved (like untold thousands?). In 1976 we moved to Morehead, KY and I experienced a banjo rebirth. It seemed like all my Kentucky neighbors played some kind of bluegrass/country music. They pointed me to Earl’s book and I was on my way. I bought the book in November of ’76. By Christmas I had “Cripple Creek” down. Things didn’t progress very fast banjowise as I didn’t really apply myself to practice (read busy with new girlfriend, ultimately my wife of these past 30 years).
In 1978 my wife got my second banjo for me for our first Christmas together. It was a typical aluminum rim Asian model. Tommy Boyd (Larry Spark’s banjo and Dobro player at the time) installed planetary tuners, a clamshell tailpiece and a heavy grooved tension hoop (versus the steel band original) on it for me. Tommy lowered the action, set it all just right and it rocked for what it was!
In 1981 I made my biggest leap ever in banjo playing. I enrolled for two semesters of “Five String Banjo 101” at Morehead State University. Ken Baldauf was my instructor. Ken helped me overcome some bad habits I had (flailing right hand, too light of picks, poor timing, resistance to practice, limited arsenal of rolls) and wrote personal lessons for me. I went from being a two roll player to having all the basic rolls down and learning to use melodic scales and chromatic blues runs. I wish I could have taken more lessons from Ken. He is among the top banjoists I have ever heard lay hold of the five string. A faculty member at FSU today you can hear him in the Tallahassee area abd beyond. Try googling "The Kenny Hill Band"
In 1981 I also acquired my first professional grade instrument. It is a Stewart McDonald Diamond Eagle. Not one of their rolled tone ring kits. This thing has a ¾” rim, Ryan “no holes” flathead tone ring, one piece cast brass flange, everything top notch. Building it was involved. I remember my dad saying “Boy, you threw your money away.” There were over two hundred parts when you counted every piece of inlay etc. I took over a month doing inlay, binding, fret work, and lacquer finishing. Finally, it was all bolted together! Twenty some odd years later the Stew-Mac is ready for its third refret and showing some heavy wear. It has a lot of volume, tone and punch.
These days I play at church (I’m the pastor of Countryside Wesleyan Church in Alva, FL). I also help out a couple of local groups.
Since about 2001 I have been doubling on Dobro. My resonator is a hot-rodded Johnson. The only original parts left are the plywood body and the cover plate :) It sports a Quaterman cone, Gibson spider, replacement tuners, Beard nut and saddle. It is a monster. I’m an old automobile hot-rodder (another life) and that has carried over into my music tinkering. The Stew-Mac banjo gives me an outlet for doing the same with a banjo.
I always thought I would like to get a better banjo. So after saving, dreaming, and waiting I bought a Gibson earlier this month. It is a new old stock 2003 RB250. I love it. I really can’t tell much difference between it and the one I built except it has a nicer fit and finish. It will be good to give the Stew-Mac a rest though as it is destined to belong to my brand new (January of this year) grandson Jacob KEVIN Henry some day!
My current main banjo is a 1989 Gibson RB3 standard reissue. I traded the 250 for it because I was drawn to the 3's tone.
Anyway, that is where I am at musically. I would describe myself as a utility banjo player. Not the flashiest in the music world (far from it), but, I can get by and have tons of fun. I’ve met many wonderful people through a love for all types of music. Isn’t that really the big picture anyway?
His by Grace Alone,