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Greene County, Tennessee banjer

Posted by cbcarlisle on Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Watauga County-type Mountain Banjo, this time found fifty miles away in Greene County, TN. It is made of wormy chestnut, hence very light (2 lbs.), and fretted, which seems to be original. The top has only one screw, in the tab, being glued (and 3 screws) to the center ring, where the head is tacked, access being achieved by removing the back (6 screws and one in the tab). The dimensions are slightly smaller than usual: 33 7/8", with an 8 3/4" pot. The neck above the 5th peg seems poorly planned, and tapers in the wrong direction, almost as if it were cut as an afterthought. All the pegs have thicker shafts than usual and are of the same chestnut. As is common, the wooden rings have all shrunk and been split by the (immovable) metal ring, so slight modifications will have to be made to reassemble it in playing condition. Rather than grinding down the metal I will make a slight (1/8") groove on the inner surface of the back to allow it to close. The tailpiece is massive and crudely drilled in several directions and I will probably make a slightly simpler replacement. When strung up, if the fretting is reasonably true I will keep them intact; otherwise, I'm not so sure. Authenticity and Practicality will contest mightily.

[5/7/12 Update: the fretting was impossible so I yanked them out and inlaid the first 12 with thin purfling strips. The rest I just left open. Being so light, I'm using regular (light) nylon strings for the time being and it has a great, bright response. I can always go to Nylgut in the future if I think it needs more power.]

See my Greene County photo folder.

1 comment on “Greene County, Tennessee banjer”

Strumelia Says:
Thursday, May 3, 2012 @12:09:55 PM

That's really great. Love to see the inside construction! Thanks for putting up the photos. you lucky dog! ;)

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