Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Great news! I am but a few weeks from finishing my Sweeney replica banjo! This is my first attempt at a Minstrel Banjo build and it is going great so far. I have some locally harvested Black Walnut that I am using and love the look.  Still trying to figure out how to join the ends of my tension hoop. Hardware has been ordered from Pickard Banjos. A few more hand rubbed coats of finish on the pot and I will be ready for the head to be installed. I am convinced that I am forgetting something but I can't figure out what it is! Can't wait to start playing this one!

Happy playing!

Views: 393

Comment by Brian Glass on December 7, 2011 at 9:46pm

And finally, How about some insight into nut height on a minstrel banjo. What height should the strings end up at above the finger board? I have a good understanding of it on a fretted banjo but not for the unfretted one. Now if only I could find a big piece of bone for the tail piece.....

Comment by Bell Banjos on December 8, 2011 at 12:55pm

3/16" brass rod

Comment by Bell Banjos on December 8, 2011 at 12:59pm

Thicker hoops and dense, thick rims give a clear "bite" to the clawhammer sound. But a minstrel rim is the opposite - go for lightweight and thin with a positive fit of the neck and hoop so the whole thing vibrates as one.

Comment by Bell Banjos on December 8, 2011 at 1:01pm

Look at the nuts on the database, they're not like modern banjos. Adjust your nut slots higher than a steel stringer or you'll lose all the sweet boing, bong, and boom, plus if the action is too low you won't be able to do the left hand pull offs.

Comment by Tim Twiss on December 8, 2011 at 2:22pm

Terry...do you think part of the function of the higher nut was to keep the string from jumping out of the slot due to low tension and the angle of headstock, which (for many) lacks pitch for much tension?

Comment by Bell Banjos on December 8, 2011 at 4:25pm

Ya Tim. Good point. The BEST point concerning the way they used to make the nuts. So make your nut tall and your slot deep. And NO sharp edges!!

Comment by Brian Glass on December 17, 2011 at 10:40am

Getting ready to put on my first skin head and have read a few how to's here and about. Everyone talks about submersing the head in water for a time and then toweling off the excess water for the install. I am thinking of steaming the head on the stove top. Thought this would eliminate a lot of extra water from the process and allow the head to dry faster/more thoroughly. Surely someone has experimented with this? Ideas?

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