Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Gourd Banjo Making Workshop

Berkeley , California @ the Caning Shop – 926 Gilman Street

Sunday Nov. 8th (9am) – Friday Nov. 13th (5pm)

Tuition is $695 all materials included. $200 non refundable deposit required

To register please email Jeff: jeffsbanjer@yahoo.com

Enrollment is limited to 12 people.


Jeff Menzies is a Professor of Sculpture and Instrument Making at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.  His instrument making practice is very much an extension of his sculptural practice. Jeff embraces the history and traditions of banjo making yet is not limited to producing reproductions, playing with form and function. Jeff has been teaching instrument making internationally for over 10 years. Jeff’s instruments are created on a commission basis and are in many museum collections and in the hands of many professional performers worldwide. The instruments Jeff creates are both sculptural and highly functional. Teaching instrument making fuels his creativity and is an integral part of Jeff’s career as an artist and educator.

No previous wood working experience is required for this workshop. Students will experience hands on, step by step instruction with each process demonstrated and deconstructed.  Jeff will oversee the student’s progress throughout the course and guide each student individually.  Each student will design and create their own instruments. It is to the students benefit to come to the class with drawings or rough sketches of the instrument they would like to create. This workshop is labor intensive and it is likely that we will work long hours each day, often into the night. Regardless, the class environment is quite relaxing with a “good vibe” and many tunes being played throughout the day. All course materials and tools are supplied. Students will be required to bring their own basic tools, such as, scissors, utility knife, steel ruler, sand paper, dust masks.  A complete list will be emailed in short order prior to the start of the workshop. For first time students it is recommended that they create a gourd instrument. For repeating students they are welcomed to make an open back tack head banjo.  

Students will complete the course with an individualized fully functional banjo of their own creation.

Please email Jeff with any questions you may have.

Jeff Menzies


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I play my Menzies pig-headed gourd every week... I'm so fond of it!  It's the very instrument that led me to explore minstrel tunes, stroke style, and low tunings.    :)

Only 2 more spaces available for my upcoming November Berkeley Workshop!

I tried very hard to make this a reality for me as it is so close but I could not financially swing it, it does sound like really great experience though.

I always enjoy this class in the Berkeley area. The class normally fills with previous students who want to take the course again.

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