Friday, July 30, 2010 ... 8:10 AM

Chicago Brand Banjo

This blog still get many hits every month from people searching for information on the Chicago Brand Banjo. I own one, bought for me about 6 years ago by my girlfriend at the time from a pawn shop on Central Ave in Charlotte. It cost about $75 and was in terrific condition. I swapped out the sort of lousy, worn out bridge -- which for all I know was the original -- for a lower-profile, wider bridge made of maple and ebony, and I've changed the strings a few times, and I've worn the varnish off the fretboard in many spots, learning how to play clawhammer-style -- "The Coo Coo" and "Little Sadie" and "Shady Grove" in the sawmill tuning, "I'll Fly Away" and "Going Down the Road Feelin Bad" in open G. "Little Birdie" in double C.

I've promised a few times over the years to do some research and write a nice long entry here about the Chicago brand, and maybe I still will some day. Who knows. But I just happened to stumble over a video this morning by a guy who tells us as much about this little Bakelite frying pan as I've ever heard, and then frails out a beautiful rendition of the haunting tune "Kitchen Girl." Ah, it just smells like apples and hay, doesn't it? Says the suburban boy sitting in his cubicle.



My father has been wanting a banjo for quite sometime now, and just this last Christmas my brothers bought him one at an auction. The banjo was still in it's original box, and had never been put together. The box was marked "Chicago Banjo, U.S.A." and that was it. It fits the description of the banjo you have mentioned, but just as you have discovered, information on the piece is sparing. We even took it to a guitar/banjo store, and the guy knew nothing about it, but offered to trade it for a beautiful Gibson sitting in the corner that was marked for over $2000. Any information that you can share with me on the brand would be greatly appreciated.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/08/2011 12:40 AM  

we saw one in the pawn shop recently for $80... will go take a closer look and if it;s in good condition, I'll get it!

By Blogger Jessica, at 2/10/2011 1:23 PM  


By Blogger °»•Asu'•«°, at 9/24/2011 8:38 AM  

I stop by every once in a while, see if there's anything new...but there isn't. :( Hope life is well with you! KMcC

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Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"


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