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I still don't know how to play it...

posted 10 May 2018, 01:11 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 14 Jul 2018, 05:04 ]
6 bracket banjo
But I always said I'd get one eventually.
The Ruan obviously, I can play the little Banjolele a bit once I put a bridge on it and as you can tell from the photo the two instruments came as a single lot in an auction. I bid mainly for the Ruan, though the auction house had no idea what it was and listed it as a "Lute Instrument". No cracks ,(apparently?), but the "frets" are all there, the tuners look ok and I just have to hope that if it needs a bridge it has one. I have also no clue on the strings, if it has them all and if they need replacing and if they do where to get them. I don't know a lot about Ruans but I guess I will know a lot more when it gets here.

The same can be said about the Banjolele too. I don't recognise the head-stock but with only 6 brackets I don't think its American. My best guess is its German from the early 30's and does need a bridge, probably new strings and maybe even new tuners? 

They're Here!

And the Ruan doesn't need a bridge? I don't quite know how the string vibration is transmitted, but from having a go with the two strings that are on there, it does? Anyway it does need new strings but from the nut it should only have 3, (so why the fourth tuner? a spare?) There are no cracks but there is the 5th fret, where the neck meets the body, missing and it does need a damn good clean. OK so it is a little plain after some of the ones I have seen, but its certainly interesting and I do love those big fat tuning pegs.

Further investigation tells me that this is a Yeuqin not a Ruan and one of the big differences between then is the Yeuqin doesn't have a bridge  or sound holes and the Ruan would have both. Another difference is the Yeuqin should have 4 strings in 2 courses whereas the Ruan would have 3 single courses. Clearly the previous custodian was trying to play it as a Ruan hence the 3 strings, (and the 5 holes in the bridge)

The Banjolele is, as I suspected, German and with only 6 brackets originally a little budget. It says so on the tailpiece along the the brand name Rima, (not one I have come across before?) Ah ha, you may say that could just be the tailpiece branding, and it might, but given the way it is moulded for, and tacked onto the rim, I sure it was put on as part of the manufacturing process. It is a little worse for wear, it needs a new vellum, new strings, new tuners, (the current ones are a mismatched set of push pegs; and I don't like push pegs!) a new bridge, plus a strip down to try and straighten some of the brackets, and to clean/re-varnish(?) the pot.