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The story of a family icon.


Searcy

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Great story... really interesting banjo.

 

Best of luck on restoration.

 

BTW, I have a fiddle gift from one elderly gentleman I backed up in fiddle contests in the '70s, and a home-made mandolin from another fiddler I backed up in the same time period. Both are long gone. Such mementos are of far greater value than any sort of playability.

 

m

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have the bridge about as done as it's gonna get.

 

1150146_671813826175885_1591422366_n.jpg

 

Burnishing is the act of rubbing a bit of ebony wood with a bit of metal till it's all nice and shinny.

 

 

Finally bought a set of strings.

 

null_zpscb72e378.jpg

 

null_zpsfa5a4b12.jpg

 

These are loop end strings that hook around the little nubs on the string retainer.

 

Once I had it all strung up I spent some time learning how to tune it. I found a quick app for my phone and had at it. A few things to note. It's hard to get these old wooden tuning pegs to tune to pitch without having them slip but eventually I got it there. Second thing to note... the 5th string really messes with my head because while my right hand is pick the second string my left hand is fingering the first string.

 

Here's me plunking around it standard G banjo tuning.

D - 1st string

B - 2nd string

G - 3rd string (one octave lower than the 5th string)

D - 4th string (one octave lower and the 1st string)

G - 5th string (the short string on top when holding the banjo)

VVVThis is a videoVVV

th_C3418674-EA1A-450D-A915-2185821EAFEA-1538-0000020EDC1942DC_zps9352d5f1.jpg

 

That didn't work to well for me as I'm not to used to open tunings. But the cool thing about a fretless banjo is that you can retune it in fifths and you have a fretless guitar. That's what I did here.

VVVThis is a videoVVV

 

th_67518E29-0FAE-4483-BEE2-B7312FAF806B-1538-0000020D666FA6D6_zpsf937063d.jpg

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Great thread Searcy.

I have two very old fiddles that have been in the family for Years, and I think you just gave me some motivation to do some thing with them. They are actually a matched pair, and I was just going to hang them for a visual effect, but looking at your banjo, I think I have changed my mind. Great story!

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Great thread Searcy.

I have two very old fiddles that have been in the family for Years, and I think you just gave me some motivation to do some thing with them. They are actually a matched pair, and I was just going to hang them for a visual effect, but looking at your banjo, I think I have changed my mind. Great story!

 

My other great grand dad was fine fiddle playin' Irishman named "CharlieBob" O'Hanna. I believe his fiddle is stashed away in my dads attic. [crying]

 

One day I'll take a crack at that one.

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very awesome project..........It has inspired me to the point that I am going to try my hand at bringing back an old family instrument also.

 

I have my Great Uncle's Banjo Uke that he used to play and sing live on the radio.

 

I too am missing a bridge, and I love your idea of making your own. My Great Uncle dabbled in wood working, so I know he would have made his own.

 

 

101_0207_zpsfdb66603.jpg

 

101_0208_zpsfad37173.jpg

 

once I dug it out of the box, I found it does have a bridge with it.......definitely think it was a later replacement though....may still make one.

 

NHTom

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very awesome project..........It has inspired me to the point that I am going to try my hand at bringing back an old family instrument also.

 

I have my Great Uncle's Banjo Uke that he used to play and sing live on the radio.

 

I too am missing a bridge, and I love your idea of making your own. My Great Uncle dabbled in wood working, so I know he would have made his own.

 

NHTom

 

I first thought about buying one. It would likely sound better and if I were keeping this banjo that's what I would likely do. But this is not mine. It's my uncle Gary's and he wanted it as he remember it from his youth. So I figured old Clum would have made a bridge out of a piano key if he had one laying around.

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The picture of the bridge give a bit of a false impression Surf. Truth is I just screwed up and cut an extra slot. :rolleyes:

 

Ahhh... my fault actually. I was looking at the pic before you cut the last slot - so it was five slots but with uneven spacing. I see now how it turned out now. [biggrin]

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Hi Searcy, not trying to hi-jack your thread, but here is a picture of the two fiddles that have been in the family for years. Every thing is there, but one needs a bow.I found a shop here in So Ca. that will make one like the original type, but just have not done so yet. Your thread has got me excited now to follow suit on these two jewels.

 

c3cdfc55-ea4e-4469-9ef9-0200a32c8769_zps274a8ec3.jpg

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I have the bridge about as done as it's gonna get.

 

1150146_671813826175885_1591422366_n.jpg

 

Burnishing is the act of rubbing a bit of ebony wood with a bit of metal till it's all nice and shinny.

 

 

Finally bought a set of strings.

 

null_zpscb72e378.jpg

 

null_zpsfa5a4b12.jpg

 

These are loop end strings that hook around the little nubs on the string retainer.

 

Once I had it all strung up I spent some time learning how to tune it. I found a quick app for my phone and had at it. A few things to note. It's hard to get these old wooden tuning pegs to tune to pitch without having them slip but eventually I got it there. Second thing to note... the 5th string really messes with my head because while my right hand is pick the second string my left hand is fingering the first string.

 

Here's me plunking around it standard G banjo tuning.

D - 1st string

B - 2nd string

G - 3rd string (one octave lower than the 5th string)

D - 4th string (one octave lower and the 1st string)

G - 5th string (the short string on top when holding the banjo)

VVVThis is a videoVVV

th_C3418674-EA1A-450D-A915-2185821EAFEA-1538-0000020EDC1942DC_zps9352d5f1.jpg

 

That didn't work to well for me as I'm not to used to open tunings. But the cool thing about a fretless banjo is that you can retune it in fifths and you have a fretless guitar. That's what I did here.

VVVThis is a videoVVV

 

th_67518E29-0FAE-4483-BEE2-B7312FAF806B-1538-0000020D666FA6D6_zpsf937063d.jpg

That is freakin awesome Searcy, I wonder how many years its been since it was played. I think its really cool that you brought it back from the dead. Awesome thread indeed!

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Friggin awesome!

 

I'm SO glad you didn't go cat chasin'....just sayin'.

 

This is one of the coolest threads I've seen. I love projects and pics [thumbup]

 

Uhm, so...you gonna give it back? [crying]

People get attached...

 

Yea, I gotta give it back in a few weeks. But I ain't gonna cry none. I got ta do better than keep it. I got ta become part of it. [thumbup]

 

And tell ya mama I was tapping my foot in that dark video. I would have felt less white..... but I was holding a banjo... [blink][woot]

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I like this thread for a number of reasons - like the formica fingerboard on a mandolin a now long-gone fiddle-making, old time music-playing friend made for me.

 

Or the banjolin I thought of selling and, when I discovered that in 30 years in the case the head broke, perhaps getting it back in gear and playing the thing.

 

Ditto the gift fiddle with a painted-on skull and crossbones on the back. A now long-gone old time fiddler gifted me with it after I played backup for him him up at fiddle contests and special events for seven-eight years.

 

But that's the personal.

 

The technical thing that interests me is how some of these old "cruddy" instruments have a tone that sings of a bygone age when it was the whole of a song and the singer that made a tune.

 

A ham can fiddle... I've heard one trying to sing and it was no soloist, but could help keep you dancing to Black Velvet Waltz or whatever.

 

That was the magic, not the spending of thousands of dollars to find an elusive "tone" that one heard on a record and seek to emulate with an exactness impossible outside a studio editing board.

 

It was playing for folks happy to have music to listen and dance to in a simpler age - and a recognition that perhaps a bit of that simpler era might have something to offer us in our day of smartphones and $20,000 guitar rigs.

 

m

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