grossman Dixie aluminium banjolele banjo ukulele

My Dixie Banjo

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Grossman Dixie at LLardy's Ukulele Database

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It has Picato strings and is tuned g~C~E~A



Dixie Aluminum Banjo

I've always wanted one of these, ever since I saw Fat Mullet Slim's in his collection. He showed it to me as a bit of a curio as he didn't know much about it beyond the name Dixie on the headstock, and I didn't at the time either, it was just a weird all metal Banjolele with quite an odd sound. In doing the Database website I did some research on it and found out it is a, (probably), aluminum banjolele made by Trophy Musical Novelties for the musical instrument distributors Grossman in the early 1950's It was a fairly radical new design and was patented by Josephus Thompson along with Grossman which is why it has the patent applied for on the back of the headstock.

This one is living up to its name by coming to me from Charlotte, North Carolina - you can't get more Dixie that that - It came up with a buy it now price on ebay and I thought the price was very reasonable so I brought it. It shouldn't need much doing to it, one of the tuners has been replaced (but with a Harmony sharks tooth and the last time I looked they went for $15 a pop) I will probably replace them all with a matching set , well the buttons anyway, and then re-string (and maybe a polish too?

When it arrived I found that replacing the tuner is both a trickier and more urgent problem that I first thought. The tuner ends where they grip against the back of the headstock are specially designed to fit into a concave cast socket, (well actually the concave sockets are cast to take the curved ends of the Grover - Grossman also owns Grover - tuners, but whatever...) thus increasing the surface area between the metal and the plastic and generating more friction. What this means is the replacement tuner doesn't fit properly and doesn't grip enough to stay in tune and neither does my flat bottomed alternative! (Also I don't have any spare cream friction tuner buttons) So yet another old clunker that I can't tune! But it does look pretty cool though - and I'm thinking I can possibly work something out with a small shaped piece of hard pencil eraser?

Still haven't sorted out the Cream tuner buttons and the problem is worse now as i took another of the grovers from the Dixie to put on my Gold Label Kamaka, (they used the same tuners) so now there is two cream ones and two black ones. I have got the black ones to work properly though as tuners and one day when I win the lottery I will by a new set of Grovers and replace them all!