Do you remember your first "real" banjo?
In the 80's I was living in Syracuse, NY across the street from Tony Trischka (at that time in the Down City Ramblers). I bought a cheap Japanese banjo and started taking lessons with him.
Decided to go to a bluegrass festival in Stumptown, West Virginia, which allowed me the opportunity to visit Kyle Creed at his house, his recording space and his store. He had for sale a banjo he had made of apple wood- nothing fancy. Well, I bought my first "real" banjo from Kyle Creed.
Scroll forward a few years: mostly playing a Paramount tenor in an Irish band. Young family and short resources- the Creed was sold to a fellow in Utica, NY to recoup the cost of the Paramount.
Boy! Sure do wish I could buy that Creed back now! Mostly for sentimental reasons, I guess. Do you remember "The One that got away"?
Edited by - Lynne on 05/27/2020 09:50:31
I let a good number go over the years.
Passed on a Kyle Creed banjo from Kyle back in the 70’s. He wanted $300.00 for it and back then I thought it was way too much money.
I briefly owned a really fine Greg Rich Gibson RB 3 with fully Flying Eagle inlay. A young pro banjoist was lusting after it, so like a dope I thought I'd be a good guy and sell it to him.
Later it passed through two other sets of hands. It has now gone around the horn and is back in the hands of the guy I bought it from in the first place! So I suppose, eventually it will come back to me. Is this a virtuous, or vicious, cycle?
I walked into the local shop about a year ago and they had a 2000 RB-3 with a Fults 1934 straightline tailpiece for $2000.
I played it, it was the best banjo I'd ever played, and I didn't buy it because I'd just recently bought a Stelling.
A week later I had the cash to buy it, and it was gone.
One of my Docs Banjos, bought from him years ago when I first became aware of him. Nice as they are, his new ones are too expensive for me. Wish I had that one back.
My first banjo - a TB-11, bought from the original owner before I even played the banjo. I had Roger Siminoff convert it to a 5-string with a straight maple neck, wreath inlay with the wreath in the headstock in abalone. The painted sides of the resonator were finished to match the new neck, but I kept the MOTS on the back of the resonator.
I sold it years later, along with a 1960s Gibson LG-1 guitar that my grandmother bought new for me, to fund other banjo purchases. It was the right move, since it was the only way to raise the money for the new banjos at the time. I'm sure the guitar is beyond tracing at this point, but I miss the wreath 11 and feel like it might be out there somewhere waiting to be found. Has anyone come across a banjo that fits this description? I still have the original style 11 tenor neck, so we could possibly arrange a deal in one direction or the other to reunite the parts.
I built my first when I was in high school and played it for several years. When I lined up my first real job (about ten years later!), I went shopping. A small folky store carried the banjos made by two young folks under the label Arthur E. Smith. I couldn't bring myself to spring for the top-of-the-line (or at least the sparely elaborated top-of-the-line) with an internal resonator. I bought a fine A.E. Smith with a Dobson-like tone ring but pined for the other all my life. (In recent years, I did snag a couple of fine real Bacon ff's.)
The one that got away. About 15 years ago, I passed on a prewar TB 7 flathead. If i mentioned the price, everyone would agree that apparently I had lost my head. Let's just say between 9 and 11 thousand.
I bought a Craig Hoffman Granada copy several years ago and straightaway traded it for a new D-28. I'd love to have it back.
I wonder if that's the same Hoffman Granada that a former owner was trying to pass off to one of my local stores as being a pre-war Gibson, even though Craig had signed the banjo under the tone ring and clearly identified it as a replica, custom built for the aforementioned owner. The banjo had spent its whole life within a couple of miles of the ocean, and the exposure to the salt air indeed made it look many decades old.
The owner left it for evaluation, and we found Craig's information. The owner didn't know that we had looked under the tone ring, and continued to insist the banjo was a genuine pre-war Gibson. He was thrown out of the store and told not to come back.
I learned a lot about banjos from that episode.
Craig was a nice fellow and did good work. It's sad what happened.
When I was a poor student at a tech school, somebody turned up at a flea market with an old Tyrolean violin for $90. I believe it was an Albanus, [a respected maker] and I'm sure that it was a genuine 18th century instrument. I only had $75, though, and if I had bought the violin I wouldn't have eaten that week. I chose food over the violin.
Sometimes I wish I had my first banjo [a Harmony Reso-tone] back. I won't tell that story, but part of that is because I don't remember . . .
I just got my second banjo back from semi-permanent loan to a close long-time friend. I told her to keep it as long as she wanted, but if she ever stopped playing, to please return it. It's an unlabelled 38 hook spun-over banjo with a nice floral carving in the peghead. It's not valuable, but it sounds pretty good and I'm glad to have it back. I wish she hadn't quit playing, though.
Many years ago, back when they were cheap, I had an old Martin 000-28. I kept it about 10 years, then sold it off. Many years later I saw some film of Sara Carter playing a 000-28 with wear in the same spots. I'll never know for certain, but I think I sold Sara Carter's guitar.
Edited by - rcc56 on 05/27/2020 22:28:45
Well not a banjo , but about in 1957 when I had begun collecting , I ran across a mint L Loar F5 in orig case w/ orig price of $250 in an upstate NY music store .
Not smart enough to put a few bucks down on it while I went to the credit union , I came back the next day & it had been sold !
No, I had not mentioned it to anyone .
For a couple of years there Bart Reiter was putting out a Tubaphone with a Rickard Tubaphone ring, a mahogany neck and simple cosmetics like the mahogany-necked "Galax" model he does with a Whyte Laydie ring. But the mahogany "Galax" tubaphone was apparently a super-limited edition, and by the time it blipped on my radar screen there were no more to be had. I never wanted one of the maple/bracket-band Tubaphones, always thought the brightness quotient just might be a little much in the high strings. But would have loved to have had a "Galax" Tubaphone in mahogany.
Edited by - ceemonster on 05/28/2020 18:53:09
Around '77 I bought a new, early Jake Neufeld open-back at the Toronto Folklore Centre. Some time later I stupidly decided it wasn't loud enough so I traded for my Liberty parts (tone ring, flange, top tension hoop) resonator banjo. It's a good banjo, but ...
Last March I got a Neufeld that was made in '78. It's about time.
I passed on some good stuff back then - an old Gibson mandocello that I figured I wouldn't learn to play,and, a few years later, a Grit Laskin 12-string that I had the cash for, in my pocket, but I wanted to hear it played against a 6-string for volume comparison, and the guy behind the counter was "busy" - reading the newspaper.
'hey all new to banjo' 30 min
'Is there a word for' 41 min
'Playing my Ol' Banjo' 2 hrs
'Wideman Lion of Judah' 3 hrs
'Deeding Boston' 3 hrs