In the safe lay the really valuable instruments; the insanely valuable ones got stored off-site in a safe deposit box, but that's another story. My favorite was, not surprisingly, a banjo. For some reason, I've always recalled it as a Vega White Lady, but the more I think about it, it was probably an Epiphone. I'd beg my boss to take it out of the safe just so I could look at it.
Whatever the brand, it was definitely a whorehouse special. It was a creamy white, with a closed back covered in gilt and mother of pearl inlay. The headstock and the fingerboard had more of the same. Everything that could get encrusted on this banjo gleamed. This thing practically glowed in the dark.
A few weeks ago, I found my second favorite banjo.
Using the torque converter for a '56 Buick and an aluminum dishpan, Jenes Cottrell (pronounced JEN-ess) built this banjo on a foot-powered lathe in a Clay County, West Virginia home with no electricity, gas, nor running water. He'd even make banjo pots out of pressure cookers.
You can hear some archives of Jenes's music and jokes here.
Best of all is the inlay--slices of plastic knitting needles set directly into the neck (there's no fingerboard), back, and headstock.
Given my susceptibilities, how could I not fall in love?