Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Anyone else think its really cool to see a banjo with dirty spots on the head, neck, or rim? I think it gives a banjo character and gives it that old time look that says "Yea, that's right, I'm a loud and rowdy banjo!". Something about a clean banjo just doesn't seem right. Its kinda like that guy at work or even your mailman. You know something is wrong with 'em but you just can't put your finger on it. Clean banjos are hiding something. Maybe the neck angle is wrong, maybe the string spacing is off, or maybe it has a ply particle board rim that just has fancy veneer on it. Well anyway, you guys like clean or dirty better?

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Cover your hands and face with burnt cork 300 nights a year before you play on a gas or kerosene lit stage.  I bet keeping a banjo clean was a full time job.

I would think that performing banjoists had to be professional and keep their equipment in tip-top shape.  Looking at the photos of Eph and Bryant their banjos look to be in rough shape, but they were not known as top banjoists.  The other photos of pros I posted look to have well maintained banjos. 

A little soiling on the head is unavoidable, but if that is the way you make your living that machine has to work in good order.

I wonder if that's why the Stichter is painted black on the 'playing area.'

I don't know. The Stichter is a rare (even one off) banjo. I don't know if it has known stage prominence.

I, for one, wipe down the necks of my banjos religiously after every playing.  Otherwise sweat and oil build up, collecting all kinds of crud along the way, slowing down the neck and detracting from the natural beauty of well-worn wood.  On the other hand I usually don't worry too much about the heads.

Walt Koken and I used to joke about 'banjo doo' on the head surface.

I hate spotless banjos, seems like a travesty to me.  :)

Strumelia, you hit the nail right on the head. I think someone else kinda missed the point :)

Strumelia, I've got one icky, vulgar, horrible 13" skin on a rim here ...   Oh, it's yours!!

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