View Full Version : looking for a traveling banjo

uncle jesse
12-05-2003, 10:49
i have heard of backpacking guitars but i play banjo. i plan to hike in 05' i have time to build one.
banjo its better than it sounds. so far im hiking solo if i work this out i may really be alone.

12-07-2003, 17:13
As a child (12 to about 18ish) I had a "real" 4 string banjo, that had a head only about 8" across, & a neck only about 20" long. It had real strings, I sounded OK to my tone deaf ears. I will look for it next time I visit my Mom, but last time I saw it was probably in the early 1970s. It looked factory made, and the head was of the same material as my 5 string bought some years later.


Uncle Wayne
12-08-2003, 03:03
Uncle Jessie,

I looked for a lightweight banjo to carry on backpacking trips for months and the best one I found that actually sounds like a banjo is the Deering Goodtime open back banjo. With the soft case it weighs 6.25 pounds.

Here's a link to another banjo that might interest you. Usual disclaimers, I just found the web site while looking for a banjo under similar circumstances as you.


Warning! Banjos are bulky and hard to pack! My wife has discouraged me from carrying mine on our backpacking trips. She read in Backpacker Magazine that the majority of the people who carry instruments on the trail are novices who can't play them ! :D

That was in Backpacker Mag but realistically, it's a lot of trouble to carry one on a hike. Car camping, short weekend trips or 3 to 4 days trips maybe but when I tried it for a 10 day backpacking trip, I saw quickly I should have left it at home. It was always in the way while on my pack and the weather / altitude changes made keeping it in tune impossible. Of course you really have to be more careful with a banjo strapped to your pack. And even more so if you try to play it out of tune when others are trying to sleep. :D Could somehow be mistaken for kindling the next morning, if you know what I mean. Before my third day I wished I'd brought a harmonica. :p

uncle jesse
12-08-2003, 09:51
thanks for the help.

i found a banjo made with a cookie tin though i have not heard it yet. its probably the only thing i could bring that will be light and burnable on a cold morning.

i bring and play harmonicas now. i am a novice banjo player but i do not want to be, if i'm always hiking i cant play banjo at home. i will weigh the options before i start.

12-11-2003, 03:07
Just a thought:

I carry a flute made of PVC pipe, A (professional) musician friend of mine, says it's in D-minor, it weighs about 14 OZ.
I am thinking of changing to my "A" flute as it is about 9 Oz & slightly smaller.

Currently, the D-minor isn't in production, but could probably be made at home with a minimum of fuss, and the A is even easier.

Both are transverse (side blown) flutes with 6 finger (tone) holes that with practice, can play at least 1 1/2 octives. The D is Black, the A is white. I also have: a D flute of Bamboo, a D tin whistle, a cedar "Indian love flute" and a D flute made of copper. Both the bamboo & tin instrements are way too fragle, the copper is seriously heavy (over 1 Lb) & the love flute is almost 2 ft long, so I don't carry either of these.

I can send you the dimensions of the PVC flutes if you like. Much lighter than the banjo.