Return to Flight

172SP N6031L - image courtesy of A&M Aviation's website

172SP N6031L - image courtesy of A&M Aviation's website

After a year of being unable to fly for various reasons I was able to get back into the sky as pilot in command.  On Sunday 8/31 I finished up my flight review and a checkout in a Garmin G1000 equiped Cessna 172SP.   Its quite a change from the 2 seat Diamonds that I had been flying but what a change!  With the Garmin system situational awareness improves dramatically and the in flight weather could make quite a difference on a cross country trip.  If you fly I highly recommend taking a look at this system if you get a chance.  A Piper J-3 on a sunny day is a blessing and a beautiful part of aviation but systems such as the G1000 have the potential to help you manage risks in ways that weren’t possible only a few years ago.

Chiles 2008

 This year, for the first time I’m several years I’m starting some pepper plants from seed. I haven’t done this since shortly after graduate school and I’m really looking forward to the peppers that will hopefully result. I got all my meager selection of seeds this year from Tough Love Chile Company. Highly recommended service. I’ve started NuMex Pinatas, Pili Pili, Purira, Super Cayenne and Yatsufusa varieties.

Chile seeds 2008

Tenor Banjo 102

So a few more points about the tenor banjo. The tenor has only 4 strings unlike the more common bluegrass or openback banjo. And unlike the 4 stringed plectrum banjo the tenor has a shorter scale length than the 5 string banjo. The shorter scale means less frets on the neck with typically 17 or 19 frets. This also forces the bridge to be closer to the edge of the head in order to get the correct intonation up and down the neck. The result of both these things is quite a different sound than the longer necked banjos with more highs and mids in the overall tone. Combined with the tuning in 5ths it generally helps the instrument cut through in a larger ensemble.

So… If you didn’t know how to tell a tell a tenor banjo from a tub with strings, now you do! As to learning the instrument I can highly recommend Learning Tenor Banjo by Homespun Tapes taught by Buddy Watcher. The focus is heavy on basic tenor banjo technique and a practice routine. While I have been playing guitar of all styles for 20 years and have a solid foundation in music fundamentals I found this dvd very useful. I picked up my copy from Elderly Instruments.  If you’ve got any other recommendations please let me know!

First Snow


Photo taken by my lovely wife :-)

Tenor Banjo 101

DSCN0800 I recently found myself in possession of a old tenor banjo and have been doing my best to try and identify how old it might be and where it was produced. It is a 19 fret very plain tenor banjo with a well worn in skin head. There are no manufacturer stamps or labels anywhere on the instrument. The peghead would seem to indicate a relationship of some sort to banjos produced by Gretsch in the 30s. The skin head and older friction tuners would seem to support that time frame. The hardware/shoes are very basic but the quality of the wood seems good! It seems to be the 1930’s equivalent of a student instrument but with better quality wood. My best guess is the wood is maple with a dark stain. I’ve cleaned it up a bit, tightened the head and put a new bridge and strings on it and it sounds quite nice! It should be a lot of fun to work with the tenor tuning (CGDA).

Updated to add:  Tenor Banjo 102

Other photos:

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Sue, T-Rex

Sue the T-Rex. Looks like a really, really big puppy, doesn’t she?