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Too old and too thick

Monday, July 18, 2011

Some folks say that about me but in fact I was referring to an old banjo head. My Vega Little Wonder tenor conversion came with its original skin head. It's marked in pen and ink on the underside with the original owners name, school, and year ('23). Its been an on and off part of the set-up for the dozens of years I've been playing this banjo. Each time I take it off I must forget how bad its sounded and so every few years I get nostalgic and start thinking how cool it would be to have a skin head on the banjo again. Yesterday I again disassembled the banjo, took off the renaissance head that sounded pretty good and mounted this old '23 again. Tuned it up, played a few tunes and frowned. Tried it looser, tried it tighter, tried it even tighter. Different bridges, different tunings. Took it back off and remounted the renaissance. I think this old skin head is just too thick and perhaps too stiff from age to vibrate in any kind of pleasing way. I need to order a new skin head for the next time I feel like making changes.


1 comment

Ringing the old banjo

Saturday, August 9, 2008 Add Comment

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Playing Since: 1975
My Instruments:
Bell & Son Boucher (from a kit), Wunder Boucher copy, Mongrel: H.C Dobson 1867 patent fretless neck w/ simple oak minstrel pot, Jeff Menzies Gourd Banjo, late 19th. cent George Washburn, early 20th cent. Vega Little Wonder w/ homemade 5 sting neck, SS Stewart Banjeaurine, SS Stewart Thoroughbred, 1850's French accordeon, 1972 Guild D25, various Korean electric gits.

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Joe Ayers, Highwoods

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Created 2/7/2008
Last Visit 3/9/2024

Copying my friend Alfie, I bought my first banjo, a plain but beautiful Geo. Washburn open back at GTR in Nashville around 1975. I learned to play from Pete Seeger's book sitting under a redwood tree in California, a long way from my home in Pennsylvania. Started the Rural Rhythm String Band with friends. We gigged a lot over a dozen years heavily influenced by the Highwoods and Skillet Lickers. Finished with that I got into Civil War reenacting in the early 90's where I started the Camptown Shakers.

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