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End of an era

Posted by MrNatch3L on Thursday, January 31, 2013

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"A man has got to know his limitations."
     - Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry"

Well, today I sold the banjo I thought I'd never sell... my beautiful, and fabulous sounding and playing Bishline custom walnut Heirloom. When I bought it from Rob Bishline back in 2006 I had carefully shopped around, and really thought this would be a Keeper for Life. Once I had it in hand I was sure of it. However, as it so often does, Life intervened.

Basically it just came down to gittin' old. This is one heavy banjo... one reason for it's great bluegrass sound. After my back surgery to salvage a disc, it got harder and harder for me to carry it around and play it. I got a gig bag to lighten the load for local transport, but still found myself in quite a bit of discomfort after schlepping it around Moscow and Saint-Petersburg and playing at various events. The discomfort level got to the point where I found myself avoiding picking it up. And when I couldn't resist, I'd hurt afterward.

So earlier this month, my Russian pickin' buddy Vladimir, who picks traditional bluegrass style much better than I do, wanted to get himself an American banjo. He had the wherewithal to get pretty much any new pro-level banjo, and he could have had a friend who was traveling to the States get one for him and bring it over. But he really didn't want to buy something he had never played and heard, having had a couple of bad experiences that way. He asked me if I'd consider selling mine. It was something I had not considered, but as I started to, I found it making a lot of sense.

The banjo would go to a good player 20-odd years younger than I, who would really play it as it deserves to be played. I could make him a better price than he could get on lesser  specs new, and still do better than if I were to sell it in the U.S. (and not have to drag it over there!) He gets a banjo he knows well, has played quite a bit, and definitely likes. I have 2 open-backs I can play for now. I travel to the States once or twice a year and can pretty easily buy another, lighter weight banjo. There are woodie banjos out there that sound great for bluegrass, and by selling this banjo, I can afford one of those. 

So in a way, it's a little wistful feeling... like the end of an era, even if the era was short, as eras go. This was my first really good stringed instrument, so I'm feeling a little sentimental. But just a few weeks ago I got my hands on my second one... a Martin D35. That and my open-back banjos will keep me busy for a while. And if I come to the States this summer, well, I can indulge in a little good old-fashioned B.A.S.


I guess it was meant to be. A couple of days later, member Ron Grimsley of White Mountain Banjos posted some classifieds with sale prices on his 2012 stock, and among those was a real nice-looking bluegrass woody model. I was thinking to wait until closer to June when I plan to come over to the States again, but this one really seemed to fill the bill, and Ron offered to store it for me until my trip is finalized. So... "obladee, oblada, life goes on!"

3 comments on “End of an era”

thebanjobert Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2013 @5:27:51 AM

First of all, I'm sorry to hear of your physical ailment. I know that must be miserable. To address your question, my one, small vote would be to allow your membership to continue, Mr.Natch. However, just to be on the safe side, how about considering a Bishline Danny Barnes model, or even a CF-5? Once a Bishline owner, always a Bishline owner!!


MrNatch3L Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2013 @5:48:48 AM

Well, Bishline is for sure high on the list. Elderly has a nice used Danny Barnes model right now... if I knew for sure when I'd be going Stateside I might snag that. Actually the Patriot would probably do fine for me. Only I dream of a tunneled-5th neck, and Rob doesn't offer custom work on that model. Thanks for the good wishes and the vote... I would like to keep tabs on this group. I'm still a Bishline Owner at heart!

Greg Connor Says:
Friday, June 7, 2013 @5:33:01 PM

That's a sad story . . . with a happy ending. I hope you like the new one as well as the old one.

I recently dug out my Deering Golden Era (Another Boat Anchor) and fell in love with it all over again.

They might be heavy but they are oh so sweet.

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