My wife and I were talking the other day – one of those rare days when we were able to be alone without the little ones (9, 4 and 3) that we had after being married some 10 years. We are in our late 30s and were talking about different things…one of which was maybe having a few instruments that we could learn to play with the kids. She is the musical one in the family, I wasn’t so inclined, but have always enjoyed music especially folk, celtic, and tradition-based music. Well, we go to visit her folks and out of the closet literally comes this 4-peg, 22 fret, beautiful banjo. But, being completely new to banjos, there are a few questions we have – so, we found www.banjohangout.org and hope that some of its members can help us “newbies” with returning this to its full glory. Also, I should note, that unfortunately for me – there is no relationship to Bella Fleck – boy I wish we had some of her talents! ;-)
· Two adults, three kids with an interest;
· Some funds;
· A few friends who are blue-grass musicians that we might be able to ask for help; and
· The internet.
Our new banjo:
· We believe it to be a piece owned by a great uncle who lived and taught at the UW – but not in music;
· Maker: Rettberge &
· Model: Orpheum No. 1 – 22 frets;
· Drum: Maple – appears solid with one seam – with an open back;
· Pegs: 4 – celluloid
· Neck: Fretboard is 19 ¾” to the bridge; inlaid with six white dots between 6th and 7th; 9th and 10th; 11th and 12th; 14th and 15th; 16th and 17th; 18th and 19th. There is written in a light reddish color under the bridge D-B-G.
· Head: A very old repair had been made to the head that is signed/stamped – Jos. B. Rogers, Jr. – Union Brand Warranted.
· Hooks/Shoes: 24
· Bridge: Stamped Orpheum
· Tailpiece: No knot style tail piece with five anchors.
Pictures of things described above
Our initial questions – so far:
· Is this in fact a Plectrum banjo? Or a four-string wanting to be five??
· Cleaning – not the pegs I am aware of issues with celluloid – is there a good thing to us on the fret board, head, and the maple itself?
· Strings – we have some that were in the case – but heaven knows the age and whether they are the ones that should be used. Assuming they are “too old” any recommendations on strings for this? Again, we have a friend who can help us on this.
· Does the head need to be replaced? It was repaired and sounds “good” to my wife and I when it is lightly tapped…no hollow or vibration sound. You can see the repair in this picture.
· What is a good beginner’s book to learn more about this instrument and learning how to play it?? I should say, is there a “Beginning Banjo for Dummies??” J