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How the banjo came into my life.

Posted by CG on Sunday, February 6, 2011

It all began when I was age 16 and had left school and recently started work.  Once a month or so a group of us boys would catch the bus to Leeds early on a Saturday evening and go to the City Varieties theatre to watch the variety show.  One time one of the acts was a very large lady who came on stage carrying a banjo.  She did a comedy act and then picked up the banjo and began to play.  WOW could she play and what an amazing sound it was too!   I'd never seen or heard a banjo before, except on radio, and that did it for me.  I just had to have a banjo after that performance.   Several weeks later I saw a very old openback Windsor 5 string, complete with case and tutor book, in the window of a second-hand shop. The price was £5, a whole week's wage for me.  Anyway I went in the shop and asked to look at the banjo.  The man agreed to sell it to me and held onto it until I'd saved up the £5.  I bought it and started to learn from the book.  My grandma played piano and she played the pieces for me so I knew how they SHOULD sound but it took ages before I could get them to sound anything like they should.  I still have the tutor book but sadly not the Windsor, which I was later to find out was exremely rare and VERY valuable....that's another story.   If you've read this I hope it hasn't bored you.  I still love the banjo and guess I always will.



10 comments on “How the banjo came into my life.”

eddb Says:
Sunday, February 6, 2011 @9:21:25 AM

Cool, nice story.

Sam49er Says:
Sunday, February 6, 2011 @1:25:53 PM

I agree it does take ages to teach yourself and your story hasn't bored me it has inspired me, thank you.

Ks_5-picker Says:
Sunday, February 6, 2011 @8:28:31 PM

nice story,sure wish you still had the Windsor,though.

mulepacker Says:
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 @8:23:57 PM

Nice storyl And hey if the folks knew of the banjo's ive had the pleasure to have and then lost...well they'd drum me outta this outfit.

buckbybanjoboy Says:
Friday, February 11, 2011 @8:57:19 AM

My first 5 String banjo was ( and still is ) a Windsor, and guess cost 5 too. I`ve heard a certain UK banjo retailer in Kent refer to Windsors as Pawn Shop banjos. A little unfair, I think, as they got many of our generation started when we couldn`t afford vintage Vegas, Gibbsons, Clifford Essex or Paramounts etc. I didn`t really get going until 5 years ago when I got a banjo that you could play above the 5th. fret but I know I shall keep the Windsor until I fit in my box. Good blog Clive..................Regards Peter V.

Spockears Says:
Monday, June 27, 2011 @1:54:13 PM

Great story! Do you know who the lady who inspired your journey is?

CG Says:
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 @11:40:11 AM

Sorry I've no idea who she was. It was a longggggg time ago!

Vapor Says:
Monday, March 12, 2012 @9:34:50 AM

Thanks for sharing. I find it interesting how each person comes to play a particular instrument.

bartmcneil Says:
Monday, April 25, 2016 @2:14:58 PM

I was teaching in a small college and one of my students was an accomplished bluegrass banjo picker.... I was fascinated but thought banjo was strictly a bluegrass instrument and I wasn't interested in bluegrass. So 50 years later I bought an 0ld plectrum banjo on a whim, then several more of various types and finally a five string Deering Goodtime openback. Their cheapest. But I am now a five string fan and especially a Deering fan as it is a remarkably well built no-frills beginner banjo. I have very limited vision so I am constantly knocking it into something but it has survived my mishandling very well.

I am about to remove the plastic head and replace it with a skin head and will switch to Nylgut strings as well for that authentic old time sound.

bartmcneil Says:
Monday, April 25, 2016 @2:33:10 PM

I might add that I am a clawhammer player and feel no need for a tone ring or resonator back. I like a banjo mellow, not loud or aggressive and feel that the Goodtime is the banjo for me. It is nice to hear your thoughts on other model Deerings

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