Here are some quality banjos and banjo sources from manufacturers, collectors and luthiers. These are good for dreaming. I choose no favorites, although if you know of an old Gibson checkerboard style 6 or Paramount Imperial at a garage sale, you could just get it and send it to me.
I've added editor's notes with links that no longer work. I have left the descriptions without links in place because the point of the page is that Paul felt these were important.
- Ome Banjos.
- Tom Biggs' Banjo Pages. Includes the often again expanded serial number list of prewar Gibson banjos.
- Greg Earnst's Gibson banjo pages is moved to a new link, this is it. Very worthwhile.
- Deering Banjo Company
- New Gibson Banjos
- Allen Banjo Company
The Allen Banjo company in Houston, TX can be reached at 713-667-7029. No Web site is currently available.
- Greg Boyd's House of Fine Instruments. Imports Prucha banjos from Czechoslovakia.
- Bob Flesher's marvelous instruments. Bob is a 5 time winner of the Galax banjo contest, and one of the principals of the fine Liberty banjo company of the '70. It was my pleasure to examine a Flesher necked and refurbished '20 Tubaphone at the Blythe CA fest in January 2000. Overwhelming engraving and inlay.
- Ray Alden's Chubby Dragon site has some lovely banjo artistry.
- Stealth Banjos
- Wildwood Banjos
- Richelieu Banjos
- Stelling Banjos
- The A.C. Fairbanks banjo page, maintained by Hank Schwartz. Fine instruments from the turn of the century, precursors to the Vega line.
- Desert Rose banjos and guitars from Scott Zimmerman.
- The homepage of Guenter Amendt, Germany's most popular collector of banjos. These pictures taken in his basement really are stunning. Proof that Gibson was not the penultimate decorator of banjos in the 20's/ 30's. I would love to see ore of theis class of decoration in the 5 string area today.
- Another German page by Gerhard Rehmann, dealing with primarily 4 string banjos, yet lots of good info for an banjoist. In Deutch, dynamic translation provided, click on the button.
- Dave Nichols' Custom Pearl Inlay in Whippleville (Malone) NY. He builds entire instruments including banjos and does much of the custom work for C.F. Martin & Co. He has also worked with Fender.
- Bob Thornburg's Gourd Banjos and Gut Strings.
- Very nice looking minstrel style (mid 1800's) banjos from Tyger Banjos in Los Angeles.
- Gold Tone banjos, mostly Asian parts assembled in Florida. Option of JLS (USA) tone ring, also now an archtop with a two piece flange. As they claim, a lot of bang for the buck.
- Bart Reiter banjos.
- Not all great resonator banjos are on the Gibson patterns. In fact, the seed of some of Gibson's ideas lies in the Paramount designs of the early 1920's. They are wonderful instruments.
- I will include
Frank Neat of Russell Springs, KY and Monty Hendricks of Pollock Pines, CA. when I find their web addresses. They do world class work.
The link to Frank Neat is a page maintained by Steve Bode.
- Micro banjos from Gary Sosebee.
- Rupert Hartmann's banjo pages.
- Gibson Bowtie (RB250 et al) banjo site.
- Roger Siminoff's excellent pages on Gibson banjos and other instruments of the 20's and 30's, and on the life and contributions of Lloyd Loar.
- www.banjopatents.com WOW! After spending years digging out banjo construction information, here is a ton of it in one place, cataloged. The internet brings amazing things to easy access.
This was a great site while it lasted, but it seems to be offline now.
- Banjomaker's discussion group with archives: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/banjomakers/.
Sites with good info and parts, plans, and techniques for building and maintenance of banjos. See also Scott Zimmerman's Banjo FAQs.
- Jeff Chumley's
Banjo Glossary - definitions of banjo terms. If you don't know the lingo, how can you learn?
Offline but I'm looking for it. Found, thanks to none other than Jeff Chumley!
- First Quality Music. Tremendous source for top quality banjo parts. I have dealt with them since the mid 1970's.
- Bill Kelly
is VERY knowledgeable about Gibson banjos. He offers a great tone ring to convert a Gibson archtop to a flathead, with super sound. This eliminates the need to cut the pot and destroy the possibility of
returning to the archtop configuration. I find I can set up an archtop for bluegrass to sound great, BTW. The basic idea is not tighten the head too much, rather tighten it until the bass just starts to go away as the treble response increases, use a heavier bridge, nil download on the tailpiece and slightly heavier strings, say 095 or 010 on the first string. That will get you to a starting point, and you can fine tweak the sound from there.
This used to be on Steve Bode's site but is gone.
- Jimmy Cox of Topsham ME. First class parts and instruments.
jimmycox.com has been replaced with coxbanjos.com, an enterprise of Jimmy Cox and his two grandsons. Thanks to Gayland Crutchfield for letting me know about this.
- Mugwunps Online is a huge source of instrument info from Michael Holmes, who has been around current and stringed instruments for a long time. Includes serial number lists.
- A new travel banjo by Sam Farris which is both different and very clever in design.
- Web guide to constructing a basic 5-string Banjo.
- Banjo Newsletter. Essential.
- Uncle Ben's banjo website. It has some very important left hand exercises in the beginner section. This sort of thing is usually ignored in the quest to play tunes.
- Tony Geoghegan's Banjo Hollow. Excellent, goes beyond bluegrass...after all, it is about music, isn't it?
- Bill Palmer's pages. Bill is a magician, banjoist and banjo experimenter/tweaker extraordinaire. Excellent information on banjo setup.
- Earl Scruggs' website is now up and running. I bought my hardbound copy of the Scruggs book direct from him by mail 30 years ago, and thereby was able to have it signed.
- Dave Marshall's Virtual Bluegrass Band. MIDI play-along tracks.
- Banjo-L email banjo discussion list (free). The site has directions for signing up and lots of good info, plus a listing of used banjos for sale, etc.
- Phil Mann's comprehensive website. Lots of links, tabs, stuff.
- Northwest (UK) Bluegrass News. A group of lads with a fine outlook on life.
- The Don Reno tabs by Ed Cherensky are outstanding and what drew me to Bart Veerman's site. Then I looked at the other tabs and found that Bart seems to share a similar viewpoint with me, that all kinds of music and levels can be played tastefully on the banjo. He also has a portion of his site devoted to Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Good other stuff too including plug-ins for Tabrite.
- BopJo Central. Another evidence that not all 5 string banjo is bluegrass oriented.
- Terry's Banjo And Bluegrass Page
- The Winfield KS festival, where the national banjo contest is held. Great Jamming, great networking, great experience.
- Steve Trussel's 5-String Banjo page, which. includes a comprehensive listing of tabs and arrangements published in books in the last 150 years. He is interested in many more things, and some are sure to stir your mind.
- The Alexander Technique. One of the 20 best things I've done. It dramatically changed the ease with which I play and the bonus was a vastly improved singing voice.
- Here's a URL with lots of links dealing with
musicians and injuries. It is not
necessary to play in pain, and YOU have to take charge of the situation to change it.
The link works but not as expected. Research in progress.
- Great Site!! - the history of the National fingerpick.
- "My Life..a girl's story of musical corruption" (we need more of this), also bluegrass & old-time music T-shirts & stickers, Harem Lady mando & banjo bumper stickers at Strumelia Harmonia's Big B.
- The Banjo Hangout. A large collection of tab and other resources.
- A listing sources relevant to Classic Banjo playing including the American Banjo Fraternity. This corner of banjodom deals with music played on 5 string banjos with nylon or gut strings during the parlor banjo period that was cut short by the arrival or the tenor and plectrum banjos and the First World War. To them, prewar means pre WW1. The ABF has a huge library of transcriptions and articles from the back issues of their magazine The 5-Stringer which are available to members. See also the New Criterion Banjo Orchestra.
- Sokolow Music. Fred Sokolow is a fine banjo and guitar playing musician and master transcriber. I learned a lot of classic Rockabilly ala Scotty Moore, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly as well as some Chuck Berry from his books. I love that stuff, it has an edge to it like Bluegrass, but a different, swingy one. You can apply ideas from anywhere to the banjo.
- Patrick Costello offers a site and a separate CD format newsletter with excellent lessons and insight on learning the banjo in both frailing and fingerpicking styles. The newsletter is at www.funkyseagull.com. He has some RealAudio lessons in frailing banjo which contain a great deal of wisdom about learning the banjo in general.
The RealAudio lessons have become DVDs for sale. They're inexpensive, though.
- Dr. Humbug's listing of Bluegrass and such streaming audio and radio shows.
I can't find this one. It may have been from a departed student at Delaware TCC.
- There is a very nicely done set of banjo lessons with QuickTime video files (large, 10MBish downloads) and fast/slow MP3 files by Geoff Hoehwald at www.freeguitarvideos.com/banjo_lessons.html.
- A very good source for information on public domain songs and song publishing and performing in general.
- National Public Radio show on 4-1-00 on Earl Scruggs and the tune Foggy Mountain Breakdown as one of the 100 most influential pieces of music of the 20th century. Requires (free) RealPlayer.
- National Public Radio show aired on 12-6-00 on Bill Monroe. Excellent, with some well know people calling in to participate. Requires (free) RealPlayer.
- The Hillbilly at Harvard radio show on WHRB, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., is on the Internet. The show airs at 9 AM to 1 PM Eastern time (GMT - 5 hrs). This show has been continuously running on radio since 1948 and the guys have a MUCH narrower definition of country music than commercial radio. There is an article about it in the Harvard Gazette also. Windows Media Player requires, a free download off the WHRB site if you do not have it.
- A site which has streaming Real Audio of 683 old time music 78 rpm records, mostly string bands, etc.
- Banjo Players Anonymous.
- Tabs for classical banjo (including Bach), and some ideas on technique from Kim Nakae.
Stop by and check it out!
nineleaves.com is offline.
- This is a gateway to a huge number of links to free music, mostly in notation. Fabulous resource, especially if you are ready to break out of tab: www.freesheetmusic.net.
- A Bluegrass Music Discography. Awesome......
- Fingerpicked Tenor Banjo. Miroslav Patek's stretching of the envelope... Got a tenor? Want to open your horizons?
- The The Matt Brewing Company, Utica NY, who brew the Saranac line of beers and ales. Good folks, great beer (especially the Black and Tan and the Adirondack Amber), nice tour. One of the small pleasures of visiting the northeast.
- Another pleasure in the northeast is Andy Alexander's late August Pickin in the Pasture fest in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Well run, gaining a reputation of good jamming, stunning scenery, and Andy usually springs some unexpected things... Last year I was talking with him on the side of the backstage and looked up and who was there in the wings but bluegrass legend Bill Harrell... who was not on the advertised bill... he just strolled onstage after a bit, and joined the playing band!! If you go, be alert for this kind of bonus... while enjoying a Saranac....
And some links with little direct banjo connection at all. In grouplettes.
- AltaVista Translations. This is an essential bookmark/favorite for the multilingual web. Machine language translation, pretty good, fast.
- Customizer, the Cadillac of PC keyboards, the bucking spring model feels and sounds like an IBM Selectric. Quality keyboards will tend to reduce tension in your hands and wrists, and thus the resulting physical problems that can affect your banjo playing. An alternate which I recently got is a genuine IBM keyboard from a 286, Part # 1391401, Model M, dated 3 Aug 87, 102 keys and the Selectric feel. Works perfectly, industrial quality weighing about 3 times the current normal, will last forever. I also got a later model M Part number 1395300 from the local dump, 386 era, and it has a lovely touch though it only weighs half as much. Highly recommended. From this I suggest looking for any IBM Model M keyboard.
- Network Solutions - Domain Name Registration Services, the safe place to get your own internet domain. No middle men when it is time to get the billing. This insures that you will get the bill.
This bears some explanation. Paul's hosting company moved his domain registration without telling him and then made it difficult for him to reverse the change. He finally got it done, but only after threatening the hosting company with a complaint to ICANN.
He was furious about this, so he added this link as a warning to others to maintain control over their domain name.
- Art and the Zen of Web Sites
- ARMiller's Win95 Setup. There is one for W98 too. Good overview.
- Lance Giroux's Allied Ronin Seminars.
Lance was a principal tutor to me in success philosophy, awareness and effective learning when he was with PSI World, a position he held for about twenty years. This is his own company, founded in 1994.
Lance is worth listening to and his material is worth trying out. I study these subjects on a daily basis.
- Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. These guys fly genuine WWI and earlier airplanes every weekend. What a ride! The poobah, John Barker, plays a 1926 ball bearing 5 string Gibson banjo.
- Preserved Axis aircraft. There were some very interesting aircraft built during WWII, especially by the Germans. A fair number of pieces and airframes have been preserved, and a few are airworthy.
There is a company here in Tehachapi that specializes in rebuilding V12 aircraft engines, and had the task of creating 2 airworthy DB601 engines out of 5 cores for a Bf 109E which is now flying. This is a genuine Battle of Britain participant and has flown through here over my home in Bear Valley Springs twice so far at about 1500 feet AGL. Here it is at Santa Monica CA.
Other passing visitors have included a P-51E with British rondels and desert camouflage, a Hawker Hurricane, a pristine P-47 with D day stripes, a Consolidated Vultee BT-13 (Vultee Vibrator), a Mitsubishi Zero, and numerous F-51's with bubble canopies. Zowie!!
- Great Camp Sagamore, or how to live the sporting life c. 1900. Wonderful place.
- Seed Savers Exchange. These folks are about maintaining biological diversity. The catalog of seeds available from members to other members is the size of a large city telephone book. For example, last year there were 140+ pages of tomato seed varieties on offer.
- Bountiful Gardens, another group with interesting seeds and information on reasonable organic gardening. They have seed for wormwood and mention that a wormwood hedge is reputed to repel gophers.....
- Wildseed Farms. A good, cost effective source of
regional wildflower seed in large quantities.
wildseedfarms.com is offline. The link is to the Wildseed Farms page on the Pedernales Valley site.
- History of Traditional Siamese Cat. My friend and music critic is Coco, a seal point applehead.
- Lindal Cedar Homes. I live in one, shown here and here. Lots of glass facing the mountains and the sun. Home, sweet home.
- more to come....
Please report broken links or other errors. Thanks.
Last Updated 15 Jul 2006 by PJH
Edited 20 Aug 2009 by WF