In this part of our website we try to provide continuously improved information about the instruments you are interested in. This will include something on their construction, types and suitable playing styles, wood and sound as well as maintenance. Some links may lead you to websites with further details, discussion forums or makers. This is a newly established, growing service - reality mixed with opinion. So please understand that it is not possible to include everything from beginning on. In the accessories section, we can not cover all areas. Therefore, we concentrate on selected items.
You may already play a Czech made banjo and don't know it!
The highest quality banjo parts including tone rings, bell bronce and steel flanges, tailpieces, brackets etc. are made in the Czech Republic. They are found e. g. in "First Quality" tonerings, "Stelling" banjos and many more very well known brands with superior sound.
Banjo building in the Czech Republic is based on a long tradition. The workmanship not only matches but surpasses anything you may have seen. In some cases this may be hard to believe, but it is still true.
Rotislav Capek is a master of banjo building. Everything is painstakingly handmade. Each instrument bears his love and a part of his heart. You can see that, feel that and of course hear that!
The real home of the banjo is the Czech Republic - why only use "parts" of it? Get the whole real thing.
Almost every player needs a strap for her/his instrument. Many types and varieties are on the market. Leather straps are nice, natural and strong. However, they are found mostly for guitars and sometimes in poor quality. They are too big for mandolins and sometimes too weak for heavy banjos. You should also be aware of too much colour. A strap stained in deep blue may leave its colour unremovably on your shirt when you sweat.
We have found a fine craftsman making leather straps in simple to beautiful ornamentation for affordable prices for all these instruments following our specification.
Protection: Any instrument needs protection. If you buy a precious instrument you should consider buying an appropriate case. Usually these are made of plywood with (black) tolex covering and plush padded interior. Better cases have arched tops which make them stronger and less susceptible to distortion. For small instruments this may be no problem. Heavy banjos are "self destructive". (Some people may like this idea!) Cheap cases will not really protect them, but sometimes may rather contribute to damage by screws you can feel from inside through soft paddings. If a banjo falls down while it is in the case it may be damaged by his weight or the screws may damage the resonator sides or even flange. Better cases like "Calton" cases have stronger padding and are made from fiber glass. They are strongly recommended for precious banjos despite their high price. Itīs the only protection. As a rule you should not hesitate to spend 10 - 15 % of the instruments value to buy an appropriate case.
Humidity: Cases should be tightly closing to allow you walking in the rain (at least from the parking lot to the session). Check whether a case does that. A aluminium or plastic profile will contribute to this. If it closes air tight, do not leave your instrument in an unopened such case for too long (months) because if you trap moisture it may smell bad or even mouldy. I can not see the value of hygrometers although seen frequently. You can just see what goes wrong without too much possibilities to prevent it. Leave the case open from time to time if the instrument is not in use (you rather practice). Your instrument feels well where you feel well in climate and temperature. Hard shell cases may be made of light polyurethane shells. These are waterproof and very sturdy. See our own brand of
MATCHBOX mandolin cases for an example.
Colour: Most cases are black. A white case will look dirty with time. Still it will protect your instrument from too much heat. So, consider other colours to protect your instrument or find your case in a jam. Do not underestimate the value of insulation. A hard foam interior with plush cover is considered best. You may try case covers, but some players report that their instruments were virtually cooked inside - so make a careful check before you buy.
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