We’ve written before about the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation and their instrument lending program for young pickers, Play It Forward. Bluegrass students aged 8-16 can have access to quality banjos, fiddles, mandolins, or guitars for renewable one year loans at no cost to themselves or their families.
Play It Forward accepts donations of new or used instruments, or cash, to both provide loaners for the program, and retain a fund for repairs and maintenance as needed. It’s a laudable program, well worth your attention if you value this process of building the next generation of grassers.
Steve Huber and Huber Banjos have stepped up to help by offering a special edition custom banjo for auction on eBay, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Foundation for Play It Forward. It’s a replica of the famous Wade Mainer Granada, a prewar Gibson banjo Mainer played during his long career. Huber recently had Wade’s classic banjo in his shop, restoring it to original condition using authentic prewar parts.
In a move that had collectors rending their garments, this very rare banjo – an original five string flathead – was butchered when returned to Gibson in 1961 for repair. Wade had simply wanted the gold plating restored, as it had become worn over nearly 30 years of use, but the shop replaced all the metal parts with the ones they were using at the time on their RB-800 model instead.
Of course the prewar banjo craze had yet to reach a fever pitch, but banjo players at the time immediately recognized that the Gibsons of the early ’60s compared unfavorably to the 1930s Mastertones.
Before Mainer passed in 2011 at 104 years of age, his banjo was offered for sale, but it’s value was badly degraded by the absence of original components. Its new owner sent the Granada to Huber, who dug up prewar parts and was able to restore the banjo to original condition.
Huber also built a one-of-a-kind replica Huber model, and it is currently open to bids on eBay. It’s a dead-ringer for the Mainer, but with all new Huber parts. Steve uses the same inlays and engraving patterns as the ’30s vintage Granada.
The top bid this morning is just over $4000, with 9 more days left to bid before the auction closes on August 11.
Steve explains the history of the Mainer Granada and shows off his replica in this video.
Here’s a chance to get a unique custom banjo, and support a worthwhile cause at the same time. Get all the details on eBay.