“Do I need a banjo case?” sounds like a pretty simple question. Most folks would say no, if they only play at home. Let’s take a look at why you should have a case for your banjo - as Sherlock Holmes might say “An Elementary Case for Cases!”
General Reasons For a Banjo Case
We should first look at the general reasons for a banjo case:
When viewed from these aspects, we can see that whether you use your banjo for playing at home, traveling, lessons, or for performing, these practical reasons make it pretty clear that a case is a wise part of basic banjo care.
If the climate in your home is not stable, leaving the banjo out all the time may cause the neck to shrink or swell, depending on whether the climate is very dry or very moist. This means the fret ends will stick out due to neck shrinkage if you live in a dryer climate making the playing of your banjo uncomfortable. Thus keeping it in either a hardshell case or a softer gig bag will help prevent this over drying and the frets will remain within the confines of the wood of your banjo neck. This being said, it would be an important beginning banjo accessory so that your banjo has a safe and secure environment from the start.
We all love our families and pets but many a fine banjo has fallen off of its stand when little hands or wagging tails inadvertently knock the banjo off the stand. The peghead is the most sensitive part of the banjo neck and it is here that you are most likely to sustain damage on the banjo if it does fall. This can mean a new neck which can be a over $150 for a standard Goodtime banjo neck, or several thousands for a Deering professional level banjo. Thus, keeping your banjo it in a case makes for the prevention of further investments.
Traveling With Your Banjo
When traveling with your banjo a case is a must. Whether you are just going to your local jam session, gig, banjo lesson, or traveling on a long trip, your banjo needs something not only to protect it but to make it easier for you to carry. Cases also have compartments or pockets that allow you to put the items you need when you play such as books, stands, picks, care cloths, and extra string sets. The case also protects the banjo from getting damaged by bumps against harder surfaces.
When traveling with your banjo in the car, don’t put it in the trunk. It may sustain exposure to high heat or cold which is not good for the wood. Not only your neck warp, but the finish can crack or bubble if it comes into temperature extremes. Keep it inside the car with you to prevent any of these possibilities. My rule of thumb is if you are not comfortable, then the banjo won’t be either.
If you plan on leaving on vacation without your trusty banjo, then leaving it in the case can help guard your banjo from environmental factors such changes in your home’s temperatures, high or low humidity levels, loving taps pets, and accidental nudges from vacuum being run by the folks who stay at home while you are gone.