Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I am starting a new banjo project.  This is primarily for myself.  The banjo will be an American version of one of Jim Bollman's ornate British banjos.  The 13" pot will be heavily veneered and the whole fingerboard will be covered in marquetry.  It may well be a six string.  The catch...it will be made entirely of New World woods.  

Now the question.  Would anyone want me to post a series of photos in an ongoing journal of the build.  I do not want to jam up bandwidth with photos if there is no interest.  

Let me know, I hope to start the build next week.  I have been lining up veneers for about a month.  

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George,  I am a  builder/restorer of 18th and 19th century period furniture and would be extremely interested in seeing a photo journal series of this new project. 

What types of figured wood will you be using for your veneers?

Most definitely!! Ive been trying to get my hands on some old British banjos so that I can maybe reproduce one... so far with no luck. I love those old Tunbridge ware models and am realy interested in how this American instrument developed slightly when it came over here.

I think its an excellent idea!

Crack on! :-) John

For woods I am looking at

Burl birds eye oak, ash  and maple

Crotch walnut, cherry, oak

Curly beech, maple, pecan

It should be a blast to make.  

Count me in, George. I find this "build blog" stuff facinating and instructive. The several series posted by Dan Knowles over on BHO have been outstanding.

I'd love to follow too. I know mine is the Cremona of the early style banjos, so seeing a photo journal of your work would be of great interest.

I do have three questions...

1.  Will you have it ready by the EBG?

2. Are you building a 6-stringer thinking that you might get to keep it?

3. What do you treat your gut strings with?

yes -- please do!

Yea, that would be great!

Big Yes.



flatfoot johnny said:

Most definitely!! Ive been trying to get my hands on some old British banjos so that I can maybe reproduce one... so far with no luck. I love those old Tunbridge ware models and am realy interested in how this American instrument developed slightly when it came over here.

I think its an excellent idea!

Crack on! :-) John

John--

I'm no expert on 19th century six string banjo construction, but, oddly, I do happen to have one that I restored a few years ago.  I picked it up from Fred Oster in Philadelphia in pretty rough shape.  Fred obtained it in London.  It dates from around 1860. It is all original except for pegs, bridge, and strings.  The peghead, neck, and dowel stick are carved from a single piece of wide-grained spruce japanned with black lacquer.  The rim is made from a single bent piece of black japanned spruce.  The fingerboard and back are made from mahogany.  The back has a sound hole.  The flush position markers are made from brass fret wire.  The tone is quite different from most banjos.  The timbre is very mellow with a very long sustain.   All the hardware is also handcrafted.  Each hook, shoe, and nut are individually made, tool marks and all.  There are several photos of this banjo on my member page.

I would also be interested in watching the build progress.

By all means.  Should be a great trip.

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