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Nov 20, 2020 - 9:31:19 AM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

I'm relocating to Denmark temporarily next month and I'll be gone about a year. I'm trying to decide what to do about my various open-backed banjos. I'd like to have a banjo to play while I'm away, but I can't decide if it makes more sense to risk flying with one of mine, or storing them and buying one while I'm there, only to try and sell it at the end.

I do own 2 hard cases - a TKL and a Superior, so I might be able to bring one, but there's no chance I can bring it on the plane - I'd have to plan to check it. I could box up the case to buy a little extra protection, or just wrap it in a couple of bungees.

For the banjos that I leave, does it make sense to just drop the pitch a step or two and take a little tension off the head?

Nov 20, 2020 - 9:44:08 AM
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doryman

USA

899 posts since 11/26/2012

I don't know how much your current banjos are worth, or what your traveling/living arrangements will be in Denmark, so it's difficult to advise. But, since you asked, I would buy a Gold Tone AC-1 online and have it shipped directly to Denmark, play it for a year and then, before you leave, gift to one of your new, musically inclined friends you are certain to meet while there.

This is assuming you want a banjo with you to pass the time and have fun. If you are traveling to Denmark to gig, then please feel free to ignore my advice!

Nov 20, 2020 - 9:45:29 AM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

If I brought a banjo, it'd be my Rickard Maple Ridge. I have a smaller "travel banjo" but it needs a bit of work from a luthier. I'm not planning to gig, I just want to be able to keep practicing.

Nov 20, 2020 - 11:11:15 AM
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banjonz

New Zealand

11080 posts since 6/29/2003

Is there anyone you trust that would be willing to store you banjos for that time? That would be far batter than putting them in a storage facility.

Nov 20, 2020 - 1:04:26 PM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

I think I can keep them in a reasonably climate-controlled environment, either in my house or garage. The garage is detached and isn't heated separately, but it will be kept locked and even during the winter (our winters are mild here) it holds a decent temperature on its own. I figure with the instruments in their cases with a bit of tension off the strings and head, they ought to be just fine.

Edited to add, I've already made arrangements for my double basses, which are far more fragile and expensive, but I don't think I can impose any more space on that person...

Edited by - mjt0229 on 11/20/2020 13:05:44

Nov 20, 2020 - 1:30:03 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

24237 posts since 6/25/2005

Invest in a Calton or Hoffee case and take one of your own banjos.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 11/20/2020 13:30:25

Nov 20, 2020 - 2:32:51 PM
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43 posts since 5/21/2020

Pack the case around the banjo with old newspapers, wrap the case with industrial cling film making sure the locking catches have extra layers to prevent damage. That should keep it safe during transit.

Nov 21, 2020 - 1:43:25 AM
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313 posts since 3/12/2014

I traveled with my banjo a few years ago. I packed my banjo case with extra socks, tee shirts and underwear.

...Deb

Nov 21, 2020 - 2:17:18 AM

m06

England

9530 posts since 10/5/2006

If it was me I'd ask a close friend if they'd look after the herd and take my one preferred banjo with me. You say you're away for a year; that's a long time without your favoured banjo.

Whatever you do I hope you have a great time in Denmark (there's quite an OT community there, so even more reason to take your go-to banjo!) smiley

Edited by - m06 on 11/21/2020 02:17:33

Nov 21, 2020 - 9:56:31 AM

258 posts since 4/10/2018

If you can, take off the neck and pack the banjo in a suitcase. Leave your other banjos with a trusted family member who can store them in a cool dru”y place. Insure them.

Nov 21, 2020 - 11:27:31 AM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

I think buying an expensive travel case is out of the question - there isn't time to have one made and they cost 2/3rds the price of the banjo they'd be protected.

I'm a bit torn between the idea of trying to pack one banjo (the Rickard, probably) or buying something like the AC-1 that @doryman suggested. I'd love to avoid the hassle of carrying a banjo case through the airport (twice), and the worry about having something happen to it in transit. Also, I'm planning on bringing a ukulele as well, so it would be 2 musical instruments to keep track of.

On the other hand, a year is a long time to be away from my favorite banjo. I'm going to have to give this some more thought.

Nov 26, 2020 - 10:58:10 AM
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1213 posts since 8/7/2017

A different idea: Buy a banjo kit, and put it together when you get to Denmark. Donate it to a Denmark friend or school when you leave.

I liked my mountain banjo kit by Brian Carver. Mine was an earlier version than the one he offers now.
carverbanjos.com/

Nov 26, 2020 - 12:26 PM
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maxmax

Sweden

1461 posts since 8/1/2005

I've flown with a banjo several dozen times with several different airlines and I've never had a problem. I'm often able to bring it on the plane and when I'm not I politely ask to gate check it which they pretty much always agree to. No carts or conveyor belts when you gate check it.

While I'm sure the horror stories we hear from famous musicians that have had their favorite instruments broken on a flight are true, think of how many thousand times they fly with them!

"United Breaks Guitars" was the best thing that could happen us. No airline wants that PR mess! cheeky

I don't want to be held accountable if something were to happen your banjo, but I honestly think you would be terribly unlucky if something did just from two flights. Just make sure it's snug in its case and add extra protection around the neck and headstock.

Either way, hope you enjoy Denmark!

Dec 27, 2020 - 12:40:21 AM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

Update: I chose my least precious banjo, packed it in a TKL hard case with a bunch of clothes and checked it through from SEA -> AMS -> CPH. The check-in agent kindly added a few “fragile” stickers and gave me some tape to wrap the case (as a back-up).

When I picked it up in the Copenhagen airport the case looked no worse for wear, except for a couple of stickers that had peeled off. When I got to my new apartment, I checked on the banjo and it looked fine, but I didn’t get around to playing it until yesterday.

When I did, it had a buzz seeming to come from inside the neck. I pulled it apart and snugged up the truss rod just a bit and it seems to be okay now. Not sure if that’s going to hold or if there was actual damage, but at least for now it’s playing as well as it ever did.

Dec 27, 2020 - 6:50:27 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

15848 posts since 6/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Pack the case around the banjo with old newspapers, wrap the case with industrial cling film making sure the locking catches have extra layers to prevent damage. That should keep it safe during transit.


TSA needs to be able to open the case.

Dec 27, 2020 - 6:55:55 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

15848 posts since 6/30/2015

Even though the OP has resolved his issue, there is another option. You can purchase a seat for the banjo and put it in the seat beside you. I used to travel with computer equipment and this was quite common. The advantage is that if there is a meal on the plane, the banjo gets one too, and it also gets whatever complimentary beverage or snacks are provided. It can also purchase alcoholic beverages, as long as they don't ask for an ID. wink

Dec 27, 2020 - 11:17:13 AM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

quote:
Originally posted by DC5
quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Pack the case around the banjo with old newspapers, wrap the case with industrial cling film making sure the locking catches have extra layers to prevent damage. That should keep it safe during transit.


TSA needs to be able to open the case.


Yeah I knew that was a possibility. They didn't, and I wasn't relying on the tape anyway.

Dec 27, 2020 - 11:19:11 AM

mjt0229

Denmark

366 posts since 4/20/2015

quote:
Originally posted by DC5

Even though the OP has resolved his issue, there is another option. You can purchase a seat for the banjo and put it in the seat beside you. I used to travel with computer equipment and this was quite common. The advantage is that if there is a meal on the plane, the banjo gets one too, and it also gets whatever complimentary beverage or snacks are provided. It can also purchase alcoholic beverages, as long as they don't ask for an ID. wink


Good point. This particular banjo would have cost a bit more than the seat next to me. Cheap banjo, okay seat on a long flight. I did bring a ukulele on board with me, but I sadly left my amazing and beautiful custom double bass at home in the safe care of a professional. I already miss it.

Jan 5, 2021 - 7:02:16 PM

631 posts since 2/15/2015
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by debmurphy1

I traveled with my banjo a few years ago. I packed my banjo case with extra socks, tee shirts and underwear.

...Deb


Me too! But it was a classical guitar stuffed with uw and socks. Plus me seabag.

Jan 5, 2021 - 7:39:40 PM

231 posts since 4/17/2011

I flew an inexpensive guitar to England last Christmas to leave at my in-laws' house. A cheap (but totally great) acoustic guitar in a cheap gig bag. I'm glad I only used the gig bag, though, as a hard case would have been a very, very close fit in the BA overhead bins. (At least in steerage.) The guitar in the gig bag barely fit.

And - side note - I once had to travel with two banjos and bought a seat for one of them (only one item allowed in the overhead bins). Let me tell you what, if you want to have a conversation with every middle-aged man in the airport, just walk around with two banjos.

Jan 5, 2021 - 8:27:56 PM

jayaw

USA

39 posts since 2/22/2018

@mjt0229 I'm just seeing this. Glad you figured something out. Just for fun, I'll add this: I used to live overseas (in China) 10 months out of every year (teaching) and faced this same basic dilemma. The first year, I had no idea what to expect, no idea what would or wouldn't be available locally, so I bought and carried onboard a Tacoma travel guitar (this was long before I took up banjo). Upon arrival, I found that cheap guitars were plentiful (which made me feel sort of stupid for going to the trouble) but was still glad to have something a little nicer. Later on, having traded the mini-Tacoma for a full-sized one, I decided to store my good guitar at home and buy the nicest locally-produced/sold instrument I could upon arrival in my host country. Problem was, the guitar at home was not properly stored in a climate-controlled space, so after a year of fluctuating temp. and humidity, it had badly "bellied" out behind the bridge and the neck was out of whack to the point of being nearly unplayable even after adjustments. My bad. Anyway, long story short, I eventually traded up for a vintage Guild, and that's when I made the decision that, "Hey, I'm basically living in China, and I want MY guitar with me. It's silly to play a cheap Chinese guitar 10 of 12 months when I could be playing my nice one." So, from then on – I'm talking maybe 5 or 6 more years – I just hauled the Guild back and forth annually, often being allowed to put it in the flight attendants' personal storage area (basically a small closet) and availing myself of gate check on smaller planes. It worked out really well for me, and the hassle of lugging it and suitcases and a kid was ultimately a small price to pay for a year of enjoyment. 

If I had to do it now, though... I've got the Guild, a Gibson guitar, a Rickard Dobson [thanks again, btw, for sending me those videos to hear your Rickard before I bought mine!], a Prust tackhead that sure couldn't stand changes in the weather, a mandolin, and more! So, I guess if it were just for one year, I'd take my $200 Frankenbanjo and maybe buy a local guitar – store everything else with a music buddy (or two) who could properly store and occasionally play my stuff to keep it healthy. If I were moving longer-term, I'd probably ship my best 3 or 4 pieces because, again, if I'm living there I want to really live there, you know?!

So, there's the rambling tale of an erstwhile rambler. Once again, Mark, enjoy Europe and stay safe until you can be reunited with your collection.

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