Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Short scale banjobuild, my first complete banjo! I made the metal parts, too. Purchased violin pegs. Calf skin head, dyed with leather dye, and treated with Renaissance Wax. Maple and purple heart neck. Rim formed by my brother, from wood from his land...poplar? Purple Heart rim cap. I planned on purpleheart pegs, but might change that idea, since it is very splintery.

Views: 113

Comment by Strumelia on March 31, 2018 at 8:15pm

Just beautiful!

Hey... that looks a lot like my couch!...lol...

Comment by Chris Prieto on April 1, 2018 at 12:06am

Nice banjo. Love all the details and oak leaves! I got a few builds with purple heart going too. Lovely to work with.

Comment by M'lou Brubaker on April 1, 2018 at 1:22pm

Thank you! 

I am glad to hear that someone else is using purpleheart in banjos. I began to doubt my choice when it chipped and splintered out on the rim of end of the fingerboard, and even more when I encountered it among the maple of my decorative carving on the back of the neck! It splinters, and is of varying hardness throughout the grain, which I found difficult. I managed to fill all the little grain voids in the top surface of the fingerboard by putting on many coats of Tru-Oil and then sanding the gloss off. I was making this up as I went along.

What parts of your banjos are you making with the purpleheart? And how do you finish it?

Thank you very much for your comments.


Comment by Chris Prieto on April 2, 2018 at 1:39am

Yeah I believe purple was the pantone color of 2018. It is a lovely banjo and all the details really do bring it together well.

I've only used it as overlay for peghead and the fingerboard. I didn't do anything as intricate as your carving but it did chip in a few along edges. It did have lovely figuring down the sides tho.

I live in CA and truoil is illegal here so I use shellac which provides a similar finish that dries to a hardened shiny surface.

All in all I enjoy it and it does look great. I was bummed to find out it eventually darkens to a muddy brownish color but it's great while it's purple. It was also mildly annoying to have to let the wood oxidize a lil bit each time it was sanded since it turns grey before the purple comes back.

I still have a bit left of it as I picked it up a bunch from a retired clock maker. The dirty hippy in me would prefer it wasn't from the center of a tree in the rainforest but I feel better knowing it was in some guys garage for the last two decades.

Heres a pic of the figure. I have few pics of recent builds on my page.

Comment by M'lou Brubaker on April 3, 2018 at 2:23pm

That color is beautiful on the fingerboard!

I would not recommend it as a carving wood. Every time I ran into it in the lamination stripe on the back of the neck it gave me trouble. And the end broke off my purpleheart tailpiece, so I think I will make one of brass instead. I don't feel like recarving that thing. Maybe I will set a purple stone on the brass!


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