My Folding Banjo
Folding? Yes, you heard right.
I fly around so much now (5 or 6 times a year, at least), that’s it’s become an annoyance to leave my banjo behind. I hate spending a week in North Carolina or California with no opportunity to practice. I did manage to carry my mega-banjo into the cabin of an airplane once; the very nice attendants let me stow it in the coat closet. But the thing is crazy heavy to lug around an airport, and you can’t always depend on kind attendants. There’s always that looming risk of some jerk forcing you to check the instrument, and no hard-shell case can withstand the abuse of a baggage guy throwing your instrument 20 feet into a hold.
So the solution? Sell my first ‘beginner’ banjo, and buy a travel banjo. This thing is tiny and light (only 5 pounds!), yet has a full size banjo neck. This is a huge improvement over other travel banjos which are perfectly to-scale, but look like they’re sized for a preschooler — I don’t want to play ukelele, I want to play banjo.
What’s truly amazing about this banjo is that after unscrewing a bolt, the whole neck just pops off and lays across the body, with all the strings still attached. This allows the thing to compact down into your gym bag or backpack for easy carry-on. And it only takes a moment to reassemble — no restringing necessary!
I love this thing. It has a smaller, more muted sound, but it still feels like a banjo and sounds like one. The tuners are weirdly located inside the drumhead, but hey, they work!