Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo



My first early style banjo is one I put together from an orphan 1867 pat. H.C. Dobson neck and a simple pot assembly I built from parts scrounged and fabricated. The only shoes I had available to me were those cheap looking hex shaped ones, and the hooks were badly tarnished steel. Its a relatively short scale, about 25.5” if I remember, dictated by the flush frets and strung with taught gut and tuned to A.  Although it always played and sounded well it didn't look so nice.


tWhen Bill Rickard started offering his raw brass banjo hardware I thought this one would look real nice with a set of the of the ball shabed shoes he offers, along with a set of brass hooks and nuts. CI polished up the tension hoop and mounted the new hardware. It was a huge improvement and the banjo looks very good now.


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You are right Dave, it is a better look. I also like the look of that banjo case inte background of pic 1.

Thanks Norm, I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. That case in the background looks good put is not real sturdy. I knocked it together back in the 70's to hold a S.S. Stewart banjo but when I started doing more gigs with the early style banjo the Stewart got kicked out and after removing some padding the Dobson mongrel banjo took up residence.

All was well until one winter day when the band got booked to be on a very local public access cable TV show. While walking down a set of stairs from my front door to the car I slipped on the ice while carrying this case. I think I basically landed on it and while the case broke my fall and maybe prevented a painful injury it broke into pieces from the impact. One of the ears got broke off the Dobson neck and a friction tuner snapped in half. I used another early style banjo for the performance and later repaired the Dobson banjo, the tuner has held, epoxied back together for many many years. The case remained in pieces for man years, it seemed hopeless to try and glue it back together and in fact I gave up on wooden cases then because it seemed that any that were constructed strong enough were going to be very heavy (this one was relatively light, thin plywood construction). I always just wrapped by banjos in a large piece of heavy fabric (sort of a proto-gig bag) and was very careful with them.

One day this summer I started gluing the busted case back together, piece by piece, and have started using it again but I would never reply on it for more than superficial protection. If I am ever offered gigs that require long distance transportation like a train or plane I'm going to have to get a modern case otherwise for the kind of performances I do I prefer to carry light. And with that I will apologize for telling more about a banjo case than anyone wants to know but it is a slow day here at work on the 30th. Wish I had a banjo here, think I'll bring one tomorrow! Dave

That banjo's lookin' might spiffy with that new hardware.  I bet you're even more drawn to it than you were before.

Thanks Dave - I was not at all burdened by your answer. It never snows here and I have no idea of the problems such winters cause, especially for banjo's! Norm

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