Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I'm planning to build a minstrel era banjo. Does anyone know of someone who sells minstrel era brackets?

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If you are interested in a Boucher-style banjo, his brackets are simple to make out of sheet brass (I used .032" and it has worked just fine). You can see the different stages here:

I have a number of other pictures of the whole process of building my banjo here:


Now that I have built an 1840s banjo, I am in the early planning stages of building an 1850s banjo--a reproduction Ashborn. I'm actually thinking about making two of them at the same time. One with the patented 1852 tuners and one with a slotted peghead and machine tuners to be used for alternative tunings for playing clawhammer.

Keep us updated. Building a minstrel banjo is great fun!

Thanks so much Brian. Are the brackets attached to the inside of the rim with screws? If so, how many.
They are held in place with a single brass nail. My method follows George Wunderlich's method (which he explained on an episode of the Woodwright's Shop with Roy Underhill a few years ago--and that one episode is what got me started down this path in the first place) which is what he thinks Boucher actually did.

1) Punch a dimple into the bracket with an awl (you can see my awl in the photo--it is one of my prized tools)

2) Run a file across the dimple until a hole opens up--just a few swipes will do it

3) Nail it into place

Mine are very inartfully clinched into place (as you can see in this picture). I will do this better on future banjos.

i make mine in the boucher-style as well, out of a fairly thick mild steel with a dark patina. i can get a set to you if you like. they're not super cheap, but they look fantastic.

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