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Oct 23, 2020 - 3:19:23 AM
Players Union Member



331 posts since 6/20/2003

How do I lock a banjo in its case to something else, so that nobody can walk away with the whole thing?


For reasons I won't bore you with unless you ask, I would like to keep my mid-range banjo (about 800 dollars) in its case in the large teachers' common room at the school I teach at. We teacher's don't have our own classrooms.

The teachers' room is theoretically accessible to anyone, but nobody is supposed to be here but teachers - of which there are about 150 - and the cleaning personnel and, as far as I can observe, that works. Nobody else goes there. My issue is more with someone breaking into the school building on the weekend. That happened twice at another school I taught at, but hasn't happened yet where I am now.

There is a place I can keep it where nobody walks past it, few people sit near it, and the banjo is out of view and right next to the leg of a table that is bolted to the floor. If there were some way to lock the case to that table leg, I would consider the banjo safe enough.

The question is how to lock the case to the table leg. It is a standard TKL-type case. I don't have any idea how to get something like a bicycle lock to stay on. Some kind of triangular metal piece around the pot part of the case? Anybody have an idea?

Edited by - Strelnieks on 10/23/2020 04:26:04

Oct 23, 2020 - 4:28:31 AM

1589 posts since 10/12/2011

Maybe something like this backpack locking system? I don't know if it would get all the way around the case.

Oct 23, 2020 - 5:08:17 AM
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2382 posts since 4/7/2010

I would use a cable lock and go through the space between the handle and the case body. If t you need a more solid loop to go through, a metal door or drawer handle bolted to the case will do the trick. To help the banjo protected from the bolts you need to attach the handle, loosen the lining with a thin knife and reglue with hot melt glue after the handle is installed.

Bob Smakula

Oct 23, 2020 - 6:00:57 AM

55994 posts since 12/14/2005

Is the table too heavy to lift one end, and slide the cable out?
Is the case latch too hard to snap open and take the banjo, leaving the case?

A determined Bad Person can take or damage a banjo, despite one's best efforts.

But, best efforts will deter the average Bad Person.

Best wishes for a happy outcome.

Oct 23, 2020 - 6:21:24 AM

2382 posts since 4/7/2010

I agree with Mike that a determined evil doer will not let a lock get in the way of swiping your banjo, but it will slow them down and/or find something to steal.

When in bicycle friendly San Francisco, California last year one of my pals described various bicycle locks as 30 second, one minute, etc, as the time it took a determined thief with a battery operated angle grinder.

Bob Smakula

Oct 23, 2020 - 6:55:48 AM
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526 posts since 2/6/2018

Work with the school's custodial staff to find an available locked closet and keep your banjo out of sight.

Oct 23, 2020 - 7:06:19 AM
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13459 posts since 10/30/2008
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If someone at the school wants to steal it, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Don't leave it at the school.

Oct 23, 2020 - 7:38:20 AM



1443 posts since 8/1/2005

Just thinking out loud here... is there an acoustic guitar case that your banjo could fit in? One that slims at the waist between the upper and lower bout?

If so, perhaps you could wrap a chain around the waist and lock that to something?

Oct 23, 2020 - 7:44:35 AM
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1148 posts since 5/19/2018

As Mike mentioned above, a lock will only keep honest people honest. If someone wants that banjo, they are going to get it no matter what you do.

Take a cable and lock, put it through the handle and wrap it around the case and then secure it to something that does not move. It will deter someone who has a moment of weakness and decides they have to have a banjo for whatever reason.

Other than that, take it home with you.

Oct 23, 2020 - 7:49:14 AM
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Players Union Member



40791 posts since 3/7/2006

Put a label on it: "This item has not been cleaned disinfected the owner got COVID 19".

Oct 23, 2020 - 7:52:03 AM
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1443 posts since 8/1/2005

Someone stole a 36kg (80 lbs) kettlebell at the gym I go to. The staff almost seemed more impressed than angry.

Oct 23, 2020 - 7:56:47 AM

1356 posts since 2/4/2013

My guess is that if it's in a case locked to something it is likely to get nicked (must be worth stealing). However if it's not in the case the thief will then have a choice. Other items might be rather more attractive. Unless it's a 1928 Gibson and the thief is a banjo expert. A 50 euro acoustic guitar sitting next to it would provide much better security or indeed a 20 euro ukulele.

Edited by - GrahamHawker on 10/23/2020 07:59:51

Oct 23, 2020 - 8:18:11 AM

2466 posts since 3/30/2008

Best way to secure something is to keep it out of sight, & temptation. I would agree w/ MojoBanjo, to find a closet. (As a retired teacher I would say that schools in general are not secure places to keep valuables).

Oct 23, 2020 - 9:22:38 AM

Alex Z


3980 posts since 12/7/2006

You want to deter an opportunistic thief, not not a gang of art thieves lowering themselves from the ceiling to not trip the alarms. smiley

Take a metal chain (like from a children's swing), go through the handle and around the case tightly, through the handle again then lock the chain to itself so that the case cannot be opened.  Then fasten the loose end of the chain around the table leg, and lock it to itself, so that the case cannot be carried away.

Yeah, yeah.  I know all about bolt cutters.  smiley  The point is, what type of theft do you want to prevent and how often?  

Myself, I wouldn't leave the banjo in that spot.  One day is OK -- no one will have bolt cutters in their back pocket.  But day after day, and it becomes a target -- a lot of people will know it is always there and the method for stealing it becomes clear.

Oct 23, 2020 - 11:45:07 AM

1207 posts since 8/7/2017

I think your best bet is to take it home at night. Leaving a valuable object in school is just a temptation to a kid who may not be bad, yet, but would become bad by stealing your banjo. He might not want it, nor want to sell it, but would take it for the challenge.
Now, if you are going to keep it at school anyway:

Rather than "hiding" the banjo and locking it up, you would be better off storing it in plain sight with the locks&chains, etc. Hidden location also hides the thief at work. Nothing stays secret in a school...

Any chain/whatever attached to the case is defeated if the case itself is wrenched/sawed open. I remember a story told by a thief: He entered the house (closed up for the winter) to find that the wooden bureau holding the jewelry was wrapped in steel bands&chains to keep the drawers closed. The thief just took a hatchet to the wood, and got the jewels that way.

Even if you kept the banjo, if it was destroyed during the attempted theft, what would you gain?
How about making a fretless banjo from a kit? Not much easy-resale value to tempt a $-seeking thief. Still fun for you to play, w/o risking your "good" banjo. Hang fretless on the wall of the classroom and encourage kids to try it out. I had fun making a Carver fretless, so did my teenager friend (see my BHO icon photo). I Googled "how to make a fretless banjo" and got lots of hits. Class would probably be fascinated by your day-to-day progress in making an instrument.

Brian Carver's banjo kits here:

Archived BHO thread on making a fretless banjo:

Hope this helps.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 10/23/2020 11:49:38

Oct 23, 2020 - 12:01 PM

423 posts since 1/28/2011
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Originally posted by The Old Timer

If someone at the school wants to steal it, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Don't leave it at the school.

When i was a bicycle cop, I went to some out of town multi department training.  The instructors had arranged for a storage room to store the bicycles overnight.  An officer from another department was still worried that someone might steal his bike, so he used his handcuffs to lock it to a water delivery pipe inside the room.  The next morning his bike was still there, but someone had stole his handcuffs. 

Oct 23, 2020 - 12:59:24 PM
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78 posts since 3/10/2006

I'd worry about people seeing your banjo and thinking it's ok to dump their banjo with yours. At least that what I was told would happen if I left my in the back of my convertible with the top down.

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