Thursday, November 06, 2014

Uncle Dave Macon's Banjer

Here is some very interesting information from Phillip Steinmetz who is a friend of my Facebook friend and extraordinary guitarist, Eddie Pennington. If you think Phillip's grandpa looks familiar, it is because he was known to many of us Country Music fans as Grandpa Jones.

I think this is probably the first time that I had ever held a banjo and as you can see Grandpa didn't look too happy about it! Well, the next few pictures tell why he wasn't so enthused about a little whipper-Snapper holding that particular banjo. Here's the reason why......that banjo once belonged to Uncle Dave Macon and was one of two banjos that Gibson custom made for "The Dixie Dewdrop".

The story behind us acquiring it began when my Dad wanted to learn how to play the banjo and had asked Grandpa to find him a good banjo for him, somehow the subject of what ever happened to Uncle Dave's banjos came up and Dad said to Grandpa, "wouldn't it be nice to have one if Uncle Dave's ". Well, Grandpa called Dad some months later and said that Uncle Dave's son Doris, was at the Opry one night and was wanting to sell one if his Paps banjos, so Grandpa bought it and brought it to Dad on his next visit.

Doris and Uncle Dave Macon
Shortly afterwords, Doris told Grandpa that he should get the banjo back for him, as I think he realized the mistake that he made in selling it in the first place. Sad to say, but Doris had a problem with liquor and that lead to poor decisions I'm sure. Anyway, getting back to the history of this "little banjer", as Uncle Dave called it, this was one of two that were made special for him by Gibson and the only way to tell them apart is by looking at the last set if pearl dots on the fretboard.

On ours, the three dots are spaced close together, on the other banjo, they are spaced further apart.

Also instead of metal truss rods, both banjos were made with dowel sticks, so that Uncle Dave could twirl them around for his trick banjo playing.

Young Phillip Steinmetz and Grandpa
The other picture of me and Grandpa was taken at the same time, but probably before I grabbed up Uncle Dave's banjo!! Hah, see the difference in Paw's expression!!

Again, my Dad's love for the Old-Time Music and especially Grandpa's, is the reason we have so many treasures like this banjo. My Dad will never get enuf credit for what he has done for me! Love You Paw!

Uncle Dave Macon and his son Doris

Phillip Steinmetz and the Sunny Tennesseans

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