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Got my Dirty Banjo Hands

Posted by meritcooper on Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A few months ago, I bought a custom banjo (homemade and unique looking) on Ebay. It looked awesome and I couldn't wait to play it. It seemed horrible when I got it. The tuning pegs wouldn't stay in place so I really couldn't play it. It was a long neck so I was anxious and a little ticked that I spent so much money on an unplayable banjo. Instead of messing with the shotty tuning pegs, I figured I would just change them with better ones right off.

Now, after several months, I finally made it top priority on my Stuff To Do List. I got some nicer tuning pegs and my husband volunteered to change them. I thought that would fix the problem and that I would be playing right away. After I got all the strings off, I went to restring it and ran into more problems. The maker of the banjo had used some strings with ball ends. It looked like guitar strings. I tried to restring it with new strings and they kept popping. The tailpiece was old and yucky. I think it was cutting the strings. So, I went yesterday and bought a new tailpiece. I put the tailpiece on myself. (Patting myself on the back about this.) It was a bit scary to have all the strings off and the tailpiece removed. While I was at it, I had to remove the resonator. I was feeling like a Banjo Doctor at this point with my Mutt Banjo.

The new tailpiece is working nicely and the new strings sound great. It took so long to break the new strings in. They kept going out of tune and I was too afraid to really put some pressure on them like Ned showed us at Camp Bluegrass after my previous experience with popping banjo strings. I was so happy when it was playable that I played it for a few hours and my hands were covered in new string dirt and my tips of my fingers were looking worn. Yeah! I showed my 9 year old son and said "this is what practicing is about."

So, now I feel satisfied that my 500 dollar investment with an additional 100 investment sounds like a unique instrument for me. It has more of an old timey sound that I wanted and I think it will be interesting in the right setting. It is arch-top with a black head. I have a few new bridges coming so I will be anxious to check them out. Right now, it has a homemade bridge. I will have to upload more current sound files soon. I haven't done that in a long time.

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1 comment on “Got my Dirty Banjo Hands”

banjotef Says:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007 @12:18:48 PM

Hey Merit:
   That IS a good-looking banjo.  I think you got a good buy for the money.  It will most likely be sounding much better after a few months of good, steady playing.  
Do you play claw hammer,  or three finger style?
   BTW,  nothing like fresh strings and a good setup to spark your motivation.    My used banjo sounded pretty plain and flat when I first got it,  but sounds much better now,  after good strings,  cleanup and setup.    Happy pickin'!

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