Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I've had the parts finished since August, but I just got around to the final assembly.  This is the fourth banjo I've made and I've improved a bit on each one. I was mainly interested in historical accuracy on this one, although I deviated a bit from the original.  This was modeled after the Redwood Shield and Scoop banjo on the Banjo Sightings Database and the dimensions are as close as I could get.

This is the original

Front and side views of the reproduction.  The neck and pot are both made of maple, stained with aqua fortis (ferric nitrate) and finished with multiple coats of boiled linseed oil. The pegs, nut and tailpiece are rosewood.

I filed the shoes out of 1/8 " brass bar stock, attached the protrusions with silver solder, made the hooks from 3/16" brass rod and made the nuts from a piece of brass bar.  The tail piece is attached with violin tail gut.  I've always wondered about the accuracy of attaching them with copper wire and figured that a 19th century luthier would have used tail gut instead. The flesh hoop is made from 1/8" brass rod and the tension hoop from 1/2" x 1/8" brass bar stock.

  The original banjo had a turned, round dowel rod. I don't have a lathe, so I made a tapered, square dowel stick.  The pot is 12" in diameter, 3" deep and 1/4" thick.  Scale is 26".  I have a thick skin and all criticism is welcome. 

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Hurrah. Looks great. I'm still enjoying mine. Anything different?

It is an unusual design you don't see copied very often. Mine produces a very earthy "plunk" tone which I like for a lot of things. I don't know if you are attending AEBG IV Jeff, but I'll bring mine. I'm sure folks will enjoy checking it out.

Have you decided on a price for this?  It's a gem.

Beautiful looking finish to it!


Tim - this one is identical to yours except that it has a brass tension hoop.  Carl - This one is not for sale.  I need something to play. I wouldn't mind building an occasional banjo for sale if I could streamline the process to the point where I wasn't working for $2.00/hour.  I understand why some of the well-known makers charge over $1,000.00. Building these by hand takes a lot of time.

Wow, it is beautiful!  It so amazes me to see you  folk make a banjo from scratch, no manufactured parts etc.   very impressive.  Makes me want to learn.

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