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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Banjo

The Banjo
Not much to post about these days, but this memory was stirred by a post from Rick @ .


Years ago, when I was in High School, so lots of years ago, I found an old banjo in our basement.  Now I always sort of thought it would be fun to play banjo, but this banjo was broken.  At the time I did not want to play an instrument badly enough to try and fix an old broken banjo.

I did think the banjo was beautiful.  It came in a hard case, had a nice wooden neck and what I later learned was a resonator.  The neck was covered with ivory inlay markings.  It was pretty, but it was broken. 

It was a four-string tenor banjo, but two strings were broken so it wouldn’t play.

A few years after my find, my brother brought a friend from college home for a visit.  The friend mentioned that he wanted to learn to play banjo.

My Pops spoke up,
“I have an old banjo in the basement.  It is old but it is a nice one and I never play it anymore.”

I was about to speak up and tell him that it was broken, when the friend spoke,
“Oh, thanks, but I couldn’t take it.”

“Nonsense, it is of no use to me, it is perfectly good, it only needs to be restrung.”

The friend took the banjo. 

I often wonder about that old banjo.  I might have tried playing if I knew strings were easily replaced.  I never thought to ask Pops about it before he passed.

My guess is that it was not a cheap banjo.  Cheap instruments are not always carried in an expensive hard case.  A cheap banjo might go for $100, and a good hard case $50.  Who would put a cheap banjo in an expensive case?

Also, my Dad did not often buy cheap.  He was thrifty, but he did not buy cheap stuff.  I’m not sure they even sold cheap banjos when he would have bought this one.  In the 1930’s they did not import stringed instruments from Taiwan, or Indonesia.  I doubt banjos were mass produced at home either.

My guess from researching the internet, and my best recollection, is the banjo was a Gibson, a very fine and expensive banjo.  This is mostly based on all the ivory inlays that I remember.

If only I had spoken up when I first saw that old banjo. I might have had a lot of fun with it, but mostly it would have been like having a piece of my Pops.

Broken strings are replaceable…who knew?

Oh well, I could probably afford to replace that banjo, but it would not be the same.  

I still have the memories of the old banjo, and my Pops.

The memories, unlike the strings, are not replaceable.



  1. Dang it! I wish you had that banjo! Fixed or not, just for a keepsake. To go with the memories.

  2. I remember an old song about a banjo from my school days. I wonder if I can find it on you tube?

  3. Memories are the best treasures we can gather throughout life.

    God bless you and yours.

  4. It makes one wonder the rest of the banjo's story and where It could be now. Hubby's dad had a banjo. When he passed hubby had no interest in it surprisingly so he gave it to a friend of his. I don't think it was of the value your dad's would have been.


  5. Memories are priceless. Even though you don’t have the banjo, hope that it went on to others who are still playing it to this day.

  6. As you say, at least you have the memory...and thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. Can you find your brother's friend? With all the search capabilities we have today, you might just find him and learn the rest of the story. Tell us if you do.

  8. The history of that banjo must be a heck of a thing. Where? What? Who?

    Good memory to have.

  9. My brother from Alabama plays the banjo - he plays bluegrass music. Love it.

  10. Hmmm, did that early desire to play banjo, and missing out on it, lead you to guitar?

  11. Aaagh yes, the banjo. How I loved to hear my uncle play his, the uncle who refused to let me have a go.

  12. Dang, reading this one makes me sad too. You're right about the case. People carry cheap banjos around in cardboard cases with faux leather covering it.

    New strings would have been very cheap. But I understand about letting things get away.
    Also, thanks for the shoutout.

  13. Oh that made me so sad dear Joe

    i wish you could have this Banjo ,not just musical instrument but a thing related to your Pops

    i can relate because i have exact same story about doll that was given away because i had no showed any interest in it but still it was mine and i think it is not fair


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