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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I have a hard time imagining anyone who wouldn't be interested in watching the build progress!  Can't wait to follow along.

I'm DEFINITELY interested! Good luck with the project, I plan on doing something similar this summer

SHOW ME THE PICTURES!...or video's. Thanks for sharing the process.

Thanks for that Rob, lovely looking banjo you have... real crude and clumsy looking - I love it. I do actually have 1 British banjo - check out my pictures - but i'd love to get my hands on a Tunbridge Ware  instrument (i guess i'll have to make my own). check out this website, these ladies have a great collection of crazy looking ancient banjos (but they are a bit shy at letting me see them) http://www.springersmusic.co.uk/Library/Banjo%20collection.htm

Rob Morrison said:

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.

There is a pretty good free read over at google books titled Violins and Other Stringed Instruments. It was published in Philadelphia in 1907, but seems to have been pieced together from articles in a weekly journal. I've only actually read the preface and banjo chapter and the author wrote like he was in England. The book has a pretty detailed description of a six string and a spunover piccolo banjo.

did you finish this project?  Love to see pictures.

Mike Holmes

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