Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Seeking insights on the dowel stick that would be plausible for the famous W.S. Mount banjo

You need to know that I am primarily a bowed strings luthier, so assume some ignorance.

I am planning on building a replica of the minstrel banjo with the Boucher-type head stock in William Sidney Mount's famous painting, "The Banjo Player." I know a thing or two about Minstrel banjos. The part I know the least about is the mid-19th Century dowel stick and neck attachment in general. Guidance and/or pointers would be much appreciated.

I am aware that there has been at least one replica made of the banjo in question and am trying to find a way to examine it. I have a copy of a conference paper given at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University (my Master's Alma Mater) about the replica.

It would help to know whether the banjo is an actual Boucher model or simply a "no-name" with a Boucher-type head.

Hope that my multi-part question is not too confusing.

Thanks in advance for any pointers.

Don

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Give me a call and I can answer your questions in depth. I have made a replica of this instruement and I have the original blueprints for the first repro from the design engineer who made them. In addition, I spent a full day with the painting and the desing engineer re-drawing the those blueprints as the first set were actually based only partially on the pinting and the rest on an extant banjo that was incorrect to the painting banjo. If my banjo was not used in the Peabody presentation then I can shed some light on the errors found in the blueprint used for that instrument.

Long story short, it is a Boucher with a neck modified (in paint) to satisfy the violin designer/ artist. It is a double head Boucher with a medium scale neck and a peg head that had to be shortened due to the position of the banjo on the canvas. The tuning pegs are the same as Mount used on his "cradle of harmony" violins. The neck will be a three piece affair with the dowell sandwitched in between the neck layers of 4/4 curly maple. The body will be a very deep grreen/black oil paint with a tack head on the reverse side. The ribbon is clealy visible under the tacks and should be glues down to give the bottom head additional strength. The nut is of ivory (I have some if you need any) and the tail price appears to have been painted but I do not this inlayed. You can see photos of the dowel stick design at www.banjodatabase.org.

If you want more, just give me a call on my cell 301-676-1864. I am out of the office this week but will be glad to help.
George,

Thank you deeply. I will definitely be contacting you.

I have built several Mount guitar-shaped "Cradle of Harmony" violin replicas, using photos of the guitar-shaped version and the patent drawings for his Savart-inspired trapezoidal COH, and Mount's naive physics notions, as guidance. Mount did have a propensity for, when reality conflicted with what he wanted, he substituted his own reality :-)

I really look forward to talking.

Regards,

Don

George Wunderlich said:
Give me a call and I can answer your questions in depth. I have made a replica of this instruement and I have the original blueprints for the first repro from the design engineer who made them. In addition, I spent a full day with the painting and the desing engineer re-drawing the those blueprints as the first set were actually based only partially on the pinting and the rest on an extant banjo that was incorrect to the painting banjo. If my banjo was not used in the Peabody presentation then I can shed some light on the errors found in the blueprint used for that instrument.

Long story short, it is a Boucher with a neck modified (in paint) to satisfy the violin designer/ artist. It is a double head Boucher with a medium scale neck and a peg head that had to be shortened due to the position of the banjo on the canvas. The tuning pegs are the same as Mount used on his "cradle of harmony" violins. The neck will be a three piece affair with the dowell sandwitched in between the neck layers of 4/4 curly maple. The body will be a very deep grreen/black oil paint with a tack head on the reverse side. The ribbon is clealy visible under the tacks and should be glues down to give the bottom head additional strength. The nut is of ivory (I have some if you need any) and the tail price appears to have been painted but I do not this inlayed. You can see photos of the dowel stick design at www.banjodatabase.org.

If you want more, just give me a call on my cell 301-676-1864. I am out of the office this week but will be glad to help.

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