Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 Nashville Banjo

Around 2004 or 2005 I bought a Fender Banjo and played it a little bit in a band, mostly for the novelty factor, but I was the fifth wheel playing the extra bits like the occasional guitar line or synth bit. Honestly I wasn't very good at any of them.
The Banjo was cool and all, but the damn thing wouldn't stay in tune for more than a couple of minutes.

Pretty annoying when it goes out of tune on stage waiting for the bit where it's needed.
I had it for a couple of years, but never played much, simply because tuning it was such a pain that it didn't inspire practice. Also, since it had a resonator it was very loud and emphasised:

 a: how crap I was
 b: how out of tune it was.

So I sold it (didn't see that coming did ya).

Anyway, a couple of months ago I got the banjo bug again after digging up an old demo that I'd recorded with the banjo. Didn't think I'd be able to afford one, so I detuned a couple of my electrics and practiced banjo chords that way. Not great, but adequate. I was able to re learn that old song and started window shopping for banjos. A few six stringers popped up at the local 2nd hand shop, but they weren't very nice to play, so I passed on them and went on my merry way.

A couple of weeks later I had some time to kill while I waited for people to get organised and head out for the afternoon. I popped into the local acoustic instrument shop and had a chat to the owner about banjo's and my unhappy experience with the Fender. 

In the six or so years since I owned it, he informed me that the world of banjo's had changed for the better.
This meant that we now have low priced high quality instruments available to us. He happened to have a few budget models in stock and I proceeded to play. One of them had been on display in the window. It was a five string open back Nashville branded banjo. The store owner told me that it was made in the same factory as Oakridge, and that they were identical apart from the headstock shape and logo. The rest of the components are the same.

I played the Nashville and was suitably impressed. Impressed enough to go home and obsess about how to fund it. After going over my parts inventory, it was evident that I could finance the project and got the approval from a certain lady, to go ahead and purchase it.

The next day the banjo was mine!
It's all maple, with a brass tone ring which seems to really help sustain and gives that classic high frequency sound (I compared one without a tone ring too and there was a marked difference in high end). Being open backed it's not too loud and I've only had to tune it up twice in the last three weeks. I'm quite chuffed with this little banjo. I've been driving my family crazy with twang twang twang every chance I get.

My old Fender banjo


  1. Hi. Just wondering if I might ask what you paid for the nashville? Cheers, Eamonn

  2. I think it was around the $350-$400aud mark.
    I bought it locally, so probably had the Australia tax on it, but I am still really happy with it.
    Nice tone & stays in tune even with the original strings being 18 months old.