Two Cool Banjos On Display At New Earl Scruggs Center In Shelby, NC

Jan 6, 2014

Earl Scruggs was a North Carolina native, a banjo virtuoso who was instrumental in the development of the classic bluegrass banjo sound.  There's a new museum, the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, North Carolina, which honors his legacy. Annmarie Reiley-Kay is the curator. We asked Annmarie what she's most excited by in the new collection. She immediately told us about two of his instruments.

The Super Earl

There are only 5 "Super Earl" Banjos in existence. They were made by the music company Gibson to honor Scruggs, who played Gibson banjos throughout his legendary career. Scruggs of course became known for the curious way he played the banjo, in a three fingered style. Just before Scruggs was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gibson announced plans for this mother of all banjos. Think 14 carrot gold inlay block, with pure silver hardware.

The Super Earl
Credit Gibson

The banjo is signed by the man himself, it even has his image on the back, hand drawn by the artist Randall Martin.

Back of The Super Earl banjo
Credit Gibson

The Earliest Banjo

Another banjo you can see at the new museum is from Earl Scruggs' childhood. It's his dad's, and is the instrument on which young Earl learned to play. Curator Annmarie Reiley-Kay says, "His father died when Earl was quite young. The story Earl's brother Horace tells if that the kids would wake up to listen to their father play. He played the fiddle and the banjo, and the kids used to wake up to music. The family played together, and all the brothers learned to play instruments."

The new museum opens this Saturday, January 11 with events for the public and a star-studded concert.