Multi-instrumentalist Gene Parsons demonstrates his go-to banjo.
by Teja Gerken
June 29, 2017
Multi-instrumentalist Gene Parsons is best known for his work as a drummer with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers in the 1960s and 1970s, but stringed instruments have played a major part in his long career. Gene has performed and recorded extensively on banjo, bass, guitar, pedal steel, and other instruments. Developing the B-Bender string-pulling mechanism (which allows a modified guitar to make pedal-steel-style sounds) with guitarist Clarence White has had a lasting impact on country and country-rock guitar. Gene has been building and installing B-Benders in his shop in Caspar, California, since the late 1970s, and for a brief period in the 1980s, he collaborated with Japanese instrument manufacturer Tokai Gakki on a Telecaster-style guitar that included the B-Bender as stock equipment. It was during this time that Gene ended up with the Tokai Gakki banjo that has become his five-string of choice.
“This banjo was given to me by some representatives from the Tokai company back in the mid-80s. These three Japanese gentlemen came to visit me up here in Caspar,” says Gene. “Could they play music! They played bluegrass like you’d expect to hear in the Appalachian mountains, really wonderful! They presented me with this banjo, and I’ve been playing it ever since.”
In this video, shot in his workshop in Caspar, Gene talks about acquiring the instrument, shows his metal-reinforced headstock repair, and performs his original tune “Banjo Dog” in C tuning. Stringbender.com; tokaijapan.com
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