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Plastic vs calfskin: Did any well-known pros stick with 'skin after 1960?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Just wondering if there were any well-known Bluegrass banjo players who did *NOT* switch to using a plastic head after around 1960?  I know that Earl Scruggs switched by then or sooner, but I was curious about the other "big names" of the day (Don Reno, Ralph Stanley, J.D. Crowe, Sonny Osborne, etc., etc.). 

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Genre: Bluegrass
Playing Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)

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Playing Since: 1956
Experience Level: Purty Good

Interests:
[Jamming] [Socializing]

Occupation: Retired Navy (E-9) and retired electrical engineer.

Gender: Male
Age: 79

My Instruments:
Circa 1982, hand-built (by me) "Snowflake Special" 5-string flathead Bluegrass resonator banjo w/2-piece flange; in 2008 I swapped out the tone ring for a JLS No. 12. Victor 5-string Banjola serial # 9. Gold Tone CC-100+ 5-string openback w/nylon strings.

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Most everybody is a favorite now, especially Tom Adams & Craig Smith, but Don Reno, Allen Shelton & Earl Scruggs were my first favorites back in the early 1950s. Also play a little bare-finger classic style on a nylon-string banjo.

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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 2/23/2005
Last Visit 7/11/2020

Born in Richmond, VA, and raised on a farm. Started teaching myself banjo in 1956. Competed in the North Carolina State Fair Folk Festival banjo contest and took 2nd place in 1962 and 1st place in 1963. Played with local groups between 1960 and the late 1980s but had to quit due to injuries to the fingers of my right hand and then breaking my left wrist in 2014. I've been working diligently to get back "playing form" since 2016 and I'm encouraged my progress so far, but it's a long road and slow going. I also dabble occasionally with classic finger-style using a Gold Tone CC-100+ with nylon strings. My instruments include a 5-string banjola by Victor (formerly EVD) Instruments which is a lot of fun for folk music, jazz, classical & Irish pieces. **************************************************************************** In the real world, I'm a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9) and a retired electrical engineer with over 20 years experience in radio broadcasting, defense electronics and telecommunications. I have B.S. and M.S. degrees, am a Life Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and co-holder of a patent in electronic design. I also hold several commercial radio operator licenses (Radioelegraph, General Radiotelephone, and GMDSS Maintainer, all with the Ship Radar Endorsement. ***************************************************************************** My other hobbies include Amateur Radio (licensed as K4MSG since 1957 and have always been an avid radiotelegraph operator). I've also spent time dabbling in various digital modes including meteor scatter and Earth-Moon-Earth (aka "moonbounce") communications. I'm also a sporadic amateur astronomer. I love to read, especially history, and have dabbled in historical research on topics of interest including evolution of the 5-string banjo, development of certain types of telegraph keys, wireless telegraphy, the Revolutionary War involvement of my ancestors, etc. My wife & I enjoy travel, especially cruising on Princess Cruise Lines (16 cruises so far, including 6 transatlantic crossings).

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