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Paul R replied to topic 'So You Think You Know the Banjo? | Response to The Bitter Southerner' 22 hrs
Playing Since: 1977
Experience Level: Novice
[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]
1934 Gibson TB3 with a 20 hole long skirt Dannick flathead tone ring;
1929 Gibson TB6 Checkerboard Archtop
1930s Gibson TB11 with no-hole Dannick flathead tone ring;
Custom made Yarboro Gitjo (Guitar body with English-style radiused 6 string banjo neck - high drone and low drone G);
Custom made mahogany banjo - H&F inlay with prewar Gibson/Oriole rim and circa 1990 Granada ring - completely rebuilt and setup by Chris Cioffi
1924-28 era S.S. Stewart Thoroughbred open back; manufactured by slingerland.
Chuck Lee Cottonwood - Clawhammer
Ron Stewart, Jim Mills, Tony Trischka, Sammy Shelor, Ron Block, Janet Beazley, Scott Vestal, Jeff Large, many others.
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Last Visit 9/1/2018
I, like others, became interested in the banjo when I heard Eric Weisberg play Deliverance on the radio about 1972-3. I was driving home one weekend from college and heard the song on the radio. I went straight to a music store and bought a banjo for about $115. Since it wasn’t worth playing, I didn’t do much with it for three years. Then for about $300, I bought a Stewart MacDonald banjo kit and built it myself. While I was in college, I had the pleasure of knowing Jeff Large (incredible banjo player). Jeff could play Scruggs tunes on an RB-250 that were way beyond my reach. I learned one song from him durng college that I still play today: Clinch Mountain Backstep. Jeff had a big influence on me wanting to get better. However, other than Jeff's influence, I had no formal banjo instruction. So, by the time I finished college in 1977, I still couldn’t play a song all the way through. My interest in playing was still there when I graduated so I started looking for a better banjo. I found a Fender Concertone (Top of the line: Gold and heavy engraved/painted model) for $800. I was so broke after college that I had to borrow the money from a bank and pay it off over a year. I heard about a band looking for a banjo player (remember I still can’t play a song all the way through at this time) and I called them up. The first time we met, the band leader, Charles Orshek, handed me a stack of vinyl Jimmy Martin albums with songs circled and said to learn them by practice next week. I worked night and day through the songs learning them the best I could. That experience is what really got me started. I have never had more than a couple of formal lessons (a couple from Scott Vestal and a couple from Jeff Scroggins), I just learn as I go. Not long after that I found and purchased a 1929 Gibson Checkerboard 6 tenor archtop. I had Jim Yarboro build an unbelievable neck for it and I sold the Fender (I now wish I had kept it). In the mid-80s, I was fortunate to meet some pickers in Dallas, including Robin Macy, and we formed a band. We played a regular gig at a bluegrass club in Dallas for a couple of years called “The Saloon”. Robin went on to form Danger in the Air and then the Dixie Chicks and I basically stopped playing for about 18 years except for once a year when I would dig it out and go to Winfield. I have since moved to the Hill Country of Texas and I play in a great local band, Cross Mountain. It is sure good to be playing regularly again. Although I still own the TB-6, now I play a 1930s TB-11 with a Yarboro neck and a Kulesh ring. It sounds incredible. I just bought another TB-11 and Yarboro is currently building a neck for it and installing a Ryan ring. I enjoy playing now more than I ever have.
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