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Grampa's Old Tenor

Posted by randyblair on Monday, November 24, 2008

Well I finally took on the project of fixing my grampas old 17 fret no name tenor banjo.  The pictures of it are in my photo album...I know he got it back around the year 1910. He passed away back in the 70's and this old banjo has just been sitting around not makin a sound...and for good reason as my sister had a friend of hers try and make it playable...so lets just say that pieces of wood dowel shoved through the peghead just didn't do the job...also a poorly made nut, no bridge and a 1" cut in the skin head were to be dealt with...So I went out to my local guitar luthier and bought the only machine heads he had (of course they were for guitar but they were the only ones that fit), a grover 5 string bridge, some strings and a plastic nut (nut and bridge were the only ones he had in stock).  Spent all of Sunday afternoon tinkering with it...the machine heads really look interesting as they stick out the side of the peghead like spare mule ears and they are on an angle due to where the screw holes were located in the machine heads...Had to file down the nut and the grover 5/8" bridge ...In the end I now have a very plunky sounding tenor banjo which I enjoy playing because of who it once belonged to.  My wife and I could both smell cigar and pipe smoke in our apartment while I was playing (we never smell cigar smoke in there)...so I think somehow grampa Frank was attending the resurrection of his old banjo friend...working on it and playng it brought back some great memories of him and I playing songs together and I thought of his stories of how he came to learn the banjo and the fiddle while he was out west on the prairies.  Also he used to play songs on a hill in High Park in Toronto with a friend of his on the weekends.  Sadly, he lost the end of his finger one day in his workshop and was not able to play his violin or banjo anymore so he took up the harmonica  which he played joyfully for years afterwards.  So now I am happy to pick up his old banjo and plunk away at some old tunes...I like just seeing his old banjo all fixed up and ready to play...Grampa's old banjo even appears to be happy smiling away over there in the corner :-)



3 comments on “Grampa's Old Tenor”

Kester Says:
Monday, November 24, 2008 @4:06:08 PM

Thank you for sharing a touching account of your personal history.  I hope that tenor banjo gives you years of happiness and happy memories.

Alex_C Says:
Monday, December 15, 2008 @11:24:21 AM

What a great thing! Your Dad must have been a great guy.

randyblair Says:
Monday, December 15, 2008 @3:24:15 PM

My dad and my grampa are both loved dearly :+) 

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