North Lismore man Daniel Paitson’s search for the perfect banjo has resulted in an impressive and varied collection.
North Lismore man Daniel Paitson’s search for the perfect banjo has resulted in an impressive and varied collection. Cathy Adams

Antique banjos are his pick

ONE of Daniel Paitson’sbeloved banjos is 130 years old, and others are worth thousands of dollars.

But it’s not the money the North Lismore alternative therapist is interested in.

“They are just exquisite instruments,” he said.

“I have quite a few of them now, but I never really intended to become a collector.

“It all started because I went on a mad quest to find the perfect banjo for me.”

Many of the instruments are antiques bought over the internet. As a result, he’s become ‘pretty good’ at restoring banjos and spends a lot of time playing and fixing them.

“The oldest one I have is 130 years old,” he said.

“I guess some of them are worth a bit of money, but to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it that much.

“Normally I just sell them to friends, so I don’t make a lot.

“I get asked why I don’t try to sell them for more money.

“Some of them would be worth $20,000.

“But it’s not about that for me. It’s about the enjoyment.”

Although Mr Paitson plays the banjo every day he doesn’t claim to be a great musician.

“I wouldn’t say that I play well,” he said.

“But I love these things.

“I don’t drink at the pub. I play the banjo instead.

“It’s just what I do.”

The most he has paid for a banjo is $1500.

“But that’s because I was getting it sent over from America and there were costs associated with the postage and things,” he said.

Some of the more prized pieces in his collection include a few by S S Stewart, a highly respected American banjo-maker.

S S Stewart started making them in 1878 and his instruments are considered some of the finest of the ‘classical style’ banjos.

The earlier ones are highly sought-after.

At the moment Mr Paitson has a 100-year-old banjo and a 90-year-old banjo ukulele up for sale. The banjo can’t be played and is for wall-hanging purposes only.

“I just thought it was about time to start downsizing,” Mr Paitson said.



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