Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I have a Menzies Tackhead and a Menzies Gourd banjo.  They are both 26inch scale.  The tackhead is a 13inch, and I believe the gourd is 9 or 10 inches.  I need something to keep them in when I'm not playing them.  I assume it would be pretty hard to get a case to fit them, and I don't have the necessary skills to make a case, so I am thinking something like a soft case/gig bag.  

Any ideas of a specific gigbag/soft case that would work for each of these?

-Genford

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I have a Menzies 13-inch tackhead that fits fine into a regular hard-shell case as well as a "Blue Heron" gig bag.  I even use a small towel in the hard-shell underneath since there is no resonator.  The Blue Heron gig bag is nice but I notice a tendancy of the material to fray and come apart at the seams; maybe I'm a little too rough on them, but both are still in service after about 10 years.

I built my onw Banjo case. Seen a few that were around 300.00 and decided to build my own. Probably cost me around 200.00 + in materiels. It was my first, so I bought some things that I didn't need. Fabric and Foam was the most expensive part. Here are a few pictures.

Beautiful banjo, beautiful case...but perhaps a trifle on the bulky side?  Not altogether Mini friendly.

Yes a little bulky, without a doubt. My wood working skills are in the beginning stages, I could have gone possibly for a thinner wood, but not much. I was working within some specs I found on the internet, that being said, she is durable. I added the foam padding on the inside myself. The Case I saw from Banjo factory has no padding, that I could see. One thing I know for sure...may Banjo is safe. Weight,.. the Banjo is around 7 lbs and the case is probably close to 10 lbs. So yeah a little heavy.  If anyone comes up with something lighter and at the same time durable..please share.

I use the Boulder Alpine gig bag for my Menzies gourd. My gourd banjo is same maker and I believe around the same size as yours, Genford.  See my photos. 

It's only about $40-50 from Elderly. Good bag, lots of pockets, and two backpack straps! I love it. Be sure to order the one for RESONATOR banjos though- has much more room than the model for openbacks.  Also, place the banjo in BACKWARDS, with the back of gourd towards the bag pockets in the front of case- this fits much better, you'll see! Be sure to lay the bridge down when transporting in the gigbag- gourds are more vulnerable if accidentally bumped or squashed...god forbid.  Of course, this gig bag is not 're-enactor style'.   I now use this gigbag for almost all my banjos when i take them places.  The backpack straps are particularly useful when trudging around at gatherings carrying chairs and stuff.

Nicholas, if your woodworking skills are in the beginning stages, mine are in their protoplasmic stages.  Your case is a work of art.

A lot of trial an error, thank god for ye O'l belt sander. 

I want to try and make something a little lighter, time permitting.  That was my Frankenstein.. A little bigger than normal and sinister. LOL.

 

With the wooden hoop banjos my biggest concern is breaking off a tuning peg when carrying the banjo in something not rigid, which is all I have used in the past. This happened on the way to a band job. I usually wait until the other two gentlemen, and I use that term lightly, load their stuff in the car before setting my stuff on top. Now that I've got a new Terry Bell instrument I do think about maybe getting a hard case for transport, and then leaving the case in the car at history gigs.

A long long time ago I made a case sort of like Nicholas did, but out of much thinner plywood. Not really strong at all with such small area to glue. More recently I fell and tripped on icy steps on the way to a band job one winter and landed on the case, preventing serious injury to me, but the case shattered into a dozen pieces, and the banjo had some peghead damage - breaking off an ear. Nicholas' case looks a lot stronger.

The cloth wrappings I use now are very minimal, but very light. I just try to be as careful as possible with loading and unloading when traveling out knowing I can't depend on flimsy cloth to cushion against a sharp blow.

But to quit yak yak yaking and go back to Genford's original comments, I think a gig-bag would be good for keeping it in when not playing, but that it would be easy to become complacent and think it was offering more protection than it really is. Dave

Thanks for all the advice guys.  I eventually went with Lisa/Strumelia's advice and got the Boulder Alpine.  It is mainly for storage in the house when I'm not playing.  I am not a re-enactor (so don't need to worry about historical accuracy) and I don't really take them outside much.  As it stands, I have them laying on top of a table or cardboard box, wrapped in towels or cloth and the sight of that was making me increasingly nervous, so I decided I needed something.  I think the gigbags will provide me with what I need.  To be perfectly honest, I am very jealous of that coffin case.  If I had any woodworking skills whatsoever or had ever taken a shop class in my life, it would be something I'd love to attempt, but alas, that will probably never happen.  Still, Huzzah to you, sir!

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