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My First Banjo

My decision was made during the winter, when all good thinking gets done in Northeast Ohio. I wanted something to take up the slack in my life, and the banjo was my choice.

After the IRS sent me my tax refund in March 2008, I bought a Recoding King Songster from Cliff Fitch, a luthier from Texas who also was a Recording King dealer. He promised a professional set-up before shipping the instrument and included a hardshell case for $500. Seemed like a good deal to me.

My first banjo with
a homemade strap.
The Songster was a "bluegrass" banjo, which just means it had a resonator -- never mind that plenty of old-time musicians have used resonated banjos. The neck was thin and easy to play, but the finish was a bit tacky, which caused my palm to stick to it occasionally. Regardless, the Songster was a solid instrument and Fitch's adjustments (most notably, a good bridge) made it sound good to my ears.

I started to learn Scruggs' three-finger style and was pretty dedicated for the next six months. However, I never felt like I made much progress in my playing. I wasn't sounding like I wanted to sound. That summer, I met my soon-to-be wife and didn't pick up the banjo much the rest of the year.

That all changed when I discovered clawhammer and rededicated my efforts to learn the five-string.


  1. This took me back! I have a similar story, first banjo very cheap bluegrass influenced banjo learned basic clawhammer in std G messed with some Sgruggs. Once my wife got pregnant with our daughter lost focus for over a year. I look back and think how I missed some precious playing time! So glad I found Old Time banjo during that time though.

    Good times,

  2. Hi JD,
    Thanks for stopping by The Glory-Beaming Banjo. Having just gotten married and started discussions about children, I worry what will happen with my banjo playing. I guess we'll find out ...



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