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Feb 29, 2024 - 9:48:23 PM
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4157 posts since 5/12/2010

February 14th marked a year since Dwight died.

I took his old banjo, the first good banjo he ever owned, out of it's case then and have been playing it a lot since.

Spent two hours tonight playing tunes I associate with Dwight on that old banjo. It was like a visit with an old friend.

This old banjo was built on a Langstyle 11 1/2" pot from a tenor banjo Lee Hammons's son James found at a dump in NYC. Lee had rigged up a 5th string on the tenor neck, and I don't know if Lee gave it to Dwight, or sold it to him but I think he probably gave it to him.

Dan Daggett, who worked for Stewmac back then, built a fine 5 string conversion from that pot back around 1973, and Dwight played that banjo for the next 27 years.

When I first met Dwight at one of his banjo camps I showed up with a "Franken Banjo" I had assembled from another old Langstyle 11 1/2" pot tenor, a five string CNC neck I bought, and a WL style tone ring I made. It was very similar to the old banjo Dwight had, and was only one of many things we had in common as we learned through the years. Dwight called that coincidence a "Cross Over".

Mar 1, 2024 - 2:36:55 AM
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6298 posts since 3/11/2006

Dwight will never be forgotten.  Thanks for remembering him to us.

I remember seeing the Langstyle you speak of with the Dan Daggett neck on the cover of The Banjo NewsLetter.  I was amazed (not knowing the history of the banjo), that it had a peghead identical in shape to a Langstyle tenor that I still have.  Dan did a great job of copying the peghead outline and I liked the flower inlay on it.

I'll have to measure, but I think my tenor has a 10 & something dia. rim. 

Mar 1, 2024 - 3:16:45 AM

262 posts since 12/7/2007

Thank you, Andy, for your recollections in remembrance of Dwight. I didn’t know him very well. But whenever we met up, he was always encouraging, and unfailingly kind to me. It was always good to be in his company, as well as wonderful to hear him play music.

My Cedar Mountain “Diller Model” doesn’t (at all) have the history or provenance your banjo does. But I’ve had it out this past week too.

Mar 1, 2024 - 4:40:28 AM
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314 posts since 5/27/2008

Old Pappy, Could you show some pictures of this banjo. Would really enjoy seeing it. Thanks

Mar 1, 2024 - 4:51:56 AM

61937 posts since 12/14/2005

First Bluegrass album my mom ever bought.
I'd never heard of those guys before she brought it in.

What a tremendously talented bunch.

 

It was an extra-pleasant surprise to discover him in the POPEYE movie, as "the banjo player".

Mar 1, 2024 - 5:10:50 AM

2018 posts since 4/10/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

First Bluegrass album my mom ever bought.
I'd never heard of those guys before she brought it in.

What a tremendously talented bunch.

 

It was an extra-pleasant surprise to discover him in the POPEYE movie, as "the banjo player".


 

This thread is a remembrance of the late Dwight Diller a wonderful player of Southern Appalachian oldtime music, not any of the wonderful bluegrass-playing Dillards.

Mar 1, 2024 - 5:58:49 AM
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banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

13739 posts since 2/22/2007

Just Banjo 99 is still the high water mark for me when it comes to solo clawhammer recordings. I think that I'll play it and a few others today.

Mar 1, 2024 - 8:03:53 AM
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4157 posts since 5/12/2010

Here are some pictures of the banjo when Dwight was still playing it. One picture was taken in front of the courthouse at the Vandalia Gathering years ago, and another from when he was much younger.

For kicks I also included a picture of me playing the "Frankenbanjo" I had built at the BOS festival back around 2010. Dwight started encouraging me to build banjos after he saw that one. I built quite a few banjos for him and he usually wanted that Langstyle peghead cut.






Mar 1, 2024 - 8:19:29 AM

61937 posts since 12/14/2005

Sorry to have misunderstood the name.

Mar 1, 2024 - 9:17:22 AM
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4157 posts since 5/12/2010

When that old banjo came into my hands there was a lot of serious fret wear with very deep divots in the board. It was not in playable condition, and because of the delicate inlay in the board I didn't want to attempt fixing it myself.

Last year I carried it up to Bob Smackula and his banjo luthier did a wonderful job repairing the fretboard and did a complete fret job. He had to replace the upper layer of the fretboard between the nut and 7th fret and re-install the inlays.

Repairs were done perfectly and cannot be seen. Bob delivered the banjo at Clifftop and several people who stopped by my camp played it. We were camped next to the Hammons and Trevor played it every day we were there.

The banjo plays and sounds as good as it ever did. I have played short scale banjos for so many years I had to become used to a full scale neck again, but I sure enjoy playing this banjo.

Mar 1, 2024 - 9:20:35 AM
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4157 posts since 5/12/2010

Mike,

Nothing wrong with remembering Doug Dillard too. He was an excellent banjo player and you aren't the first one to get the names confused.

Mar 1, 2024 - 11:29:22 AM
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2018 posts since 4/10/2005

There is actually a thread in progress now in the "Other Banjo Related Topics" forum titled "Dillards Interview , , 2006"! An abundance of wealth on all fronts around here1

Mar 2, 2024 - 2:20:51 PM

6298 posts since 3/11/2006

Thanks for the pictures Pappy... love that banjo.

A more mature Dwight with the Langstyle in the lower right hand picture-  was he playing that banjo that late in his career (on Just Banjo '96) ?  I know he played a Cedar Mountain, a Texas maker's, and a Cloverlick in later years.

My Langstyle tenor has a pretty small diameter steel(?)  rolled tone ring- did Dwight's Daggett/Langstyle have the same?

Sorry for all of the questions.

Mar 2, 2024 - 8:32:55 PM
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4157 posts since 5/12/2010

He probably was playing that banjo on "Just Banjo 96 and 99.

The tone ring Dan Daggett made for the banjo was a scalloped brass truss with a brass hoop on top, pretty much the same design used by Jeff Kramer and me in the banjos we made for Dwight, but with one difference. The hoop is soldered to the truss at one point, not sure why.

He said he played that banjo for 27 years, so 1973 - 2000 would be a good guess. By the time I met him in 2010 the frets and fretboard of that old banjo were so badly worn out I could not play it. Dwight still could though, he had a very light touch.

I know he played a Cedar mountain for a while, and he owned several other high end banjos, but he almost exclusively played Jeff Kramer's Cloverlick banjos between 2001 and 2011, and continued playing either a Cloverlick or one of the banjos I built for him between 2012 and his death.

His last public performance was at the Marlinton Opera House "Story Sessions" and in that concert he was playing the last banjo I built for him.

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