After what seemed like an eternity of looking round the 'net for what seemed as rare as hen's teeth - an open back 5 string left hander within my budget, and in stock - I've bitten the bullet and ordered this one:
TBH, the spec is quite something for the asking price - £375 + £15 shipping - and the reviews I've read on here about Andy's banjos, and his after-sales service, make me confident that it's worth the extra money. Besides, It's nice to be able to support an English craftsman.
Yep, I know there are plenty of left-handed people who've learnt to play right handed, but I was struck by something I read the other night, by a teacher whose approach is very simple. When starting with a new learner who is left handed, in the middle of a detailed conversation as to what the pupil wants to do, he'll casually hand the newbie a banjo and watch which way the person takes it and holds it - and use that as a guide to suggest whether it's worth going for a left-hander or not.
I was born left-handed, and my parents forced me to switch before I was even old enough to sit up, so I didn't know it until my mum told me when I was in my late teens. Around that time, I started trying to learn to play guitar - and even after two years, I was terrible; always felt clumsy and awkward. Only about a month back, I was dabbling around with a friend's R/H bass guitar, and swapped it across to hold it as though it was a leftie - instant connection! When I tried swapping it back to the R/H position, it felt as though I'd put my right boot on my left foot. That absolutely convinced me to go for a southpaw.
In the past, I've shot rifles, shotguns and hand guns, and always right handed - though that may be because my right eye is the dominant one, or because the rifles I learnt to shoot with in the Army Cadet Force at school were Lee-Enfield Mk.8 training rifles (chambered for .22LR) with the standard R/H bolt action.
As soon as lockdown started, the brass band I play with stopped all rehearsals and concerts, quite understandably, and the stables I go riding at had to shut down too, and it wasn't long before I was climbing the walls. Playing baritone horn entirely on your own just doesn't cut it - it only works in the context of the five and six part harmony that you get in a band - so the idea of learning to play an instrument which doesn't need anything else to round it out was very appealing, and I've always like the more mellow sorts of music you get with frailing and claw-hammer styles.
In any case, as I live in a very small apartment (a converted cart shed on a beef cattle farm), I doubt if my neighbours would appreciate the 'driving power' of a resonator banjo at full throttle!
And a joke to finish:
Q: How many blue-grass players does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: One to change it, three to scowl at him, and six to say "Earl Scruggs didn't do it like that!"
I shall now tip-toe away to my nuclear bunker . . .
With best regards,
Congratulations on your new banjo purchase! Have you decided on a playing style, or what genre/type of music you want to play?
Edited by - thisoldman on 08/05/2020 06:58:14
Thank you! As to what genre - I've been looking through the material on the Juke box, and saving various tracks to help me clarify what I'd aspire to. Some examples which took my attention on the Jukebox were 'Jake's Got a Bellyache', 'Old Jake Gillie', and 'Spring Creek Gal'; another was this bloke on YouTube, playing blues and using a 'D' sized battery instead of a bottle-neck!
With best regards,
So, I checked out a couple of the videos, saw a couple of different playing styles, some old time and the blues tune.
You might want to use the search function here (click on the magnifying glass on the left side of the page and type in search terms such as "blues", "slide", and "bottleneck") and you will find some previous threads on playing blues on the banjo.
Also, checked the specs of you new banjo. Reminds me of my first banjo (a Gold Tone CC-OT). Looks like a good starter banjo at a decent price.
Edited by - thisoldman on 08/05/2020 13:05:56
Many thanks for the search tips, @thisoldman - I'll be sure to follow them up.
With best regards,
I bought a left hand Clipper from Andy.
I've played a nylon strung 'clipper' at a workshop and was impressed. I'm toying with the idea of buying one of his Aluminium P200 pot fretless banjo's as there isn't much choice of fretless in the UK without going to the expense of a luthier or getting an overpriced 'goodtime'. Haven't pulled the trigger yet.
My banjo arrived from the Banjo Works today - with a lavish amount of packing to protect it en route - and with very comprehensive instructions for setting it up.
If only sorting out some picks was that easy . . .
I managed to find a supplier on this side of the Pond for a left-handed Dunlop thumb pick in Extra Large (the only make I could find in that size), though I'm not impressed with the shape of it. As somebody commented on another thread, it seems to have been made on the assumption that players' thumbs are parallel in shape, as it has no taper at all.
But finger picks are another story. I couldn't find anywhere over here who stocks finger picks in XL; I got some Dunlops in Large, and had to open it out with hot water by a quarter of an inch to get it on my index finger (circumference 2 3/8") - and that's a snug fit, not sloppy. All in all, I feel like some kind of Frankenstein's Monster, Beta version . . .
So I read up on some advice in the FAQs, did some more searching, and I've ordered a Pro-Pik Vintage Style, No. 3 profile, in brass - but trying to find stuff to fit a southpaw with big fingers in this country is nearly as much fun as having a migraine
You banjo blokes in the States don't know how spoilt for choice you are!
With best regards,
'DTs' 1 hr
'Roanoke - Butch Robins' 5 hrs