Back to 16th Avenue

I finally got back up to 16th Avenue in Nashville a few weeks ago. I was there to retrieve two of my banjos after getting them repaired at Classic Ax on Music Row. Plus, we brought the kids with us to do a bit of sight-seeing in Nashville. We saw the Parthenon, Opry Mills, a couple of Civil War sites and the Cascades at the Opry Hotel. Going there always brings back memories of my first year of college.

If you read my first blog, you’ll remember I also brought up two old mandolins as well. They weren’t quite as fixable without a good deal more money, so I decided to just hang them on the wall, where they look very nice. Gives the study a bit more of an eclectic look (not that that was lacking in the first place).

We headed over to collect the banjos. For all its fame 16th Avenue is, as Lacy J. Dalton describes it in her hit song, a quiet and discrete little one-way street. In the same fashion, Classic Ax is a small out-of-the-way shop tucked behind some other music-related businesses. We parked in back of the building via the alley that goes behind them, half expecting to meet a garbage truck coming the other way on its rounds.

Greg, the proprietor of Classic Ax, met us there and showed us in. I was concerned about leading 11 and 6 year olds into a small space with valuable instruments hanging nearby, but they were well-mannered as usual, plus Greg seemed okay with it. As a matter of fact, he gave them a cute little plush guitar-playing bear toy, which they really like!

Then to the banjos. The Stelling was first. After playing it for just a few licks, it was obviously sounding much better. Greg had done a complete ‘tune up’, including filing and polishing the frets, tensioning of the drum head, bridge modifications, a slight neck warp correction and new D’Adario Medium gauge strings. It sounds like a Stelling should sound once again!

The old Lark banjo, my very first banjo, needed a bit more work. The part of the neck that houses the truss rod end had been broken internally and so it needed repairing and reinforcing. It’s all finished now as well and just arrived in the mail.

All in all, I’m very glad to have taken the banjos in and gotten back just what I was expecting– no surprises!

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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