Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Comment by Rob Morrison on December 16, 2010 at 3:15pm

Good job, Ian.  It is indeed a formidable instrument.  So what exactly is paduak?

Comment by Ian Bell on December 16, 2010 at 4:11pm

Thanks for the kind words Rob.

Paduak is an wild looking orange and brown grained wood. It looks like mahogany on drugs. It's from South Africa so it's not exactly authentic/indigenous 19th century banjo material but when I saw a little piece of it for sale in Lee Valley Tools I couldn't resist. I also discovered it smells like incense when you cut it.

Comment by Bart McNeil on January 6, 2011 at 6:44pm

I just discovered the photos of your tack head banjo. (I'm new to this site.) Very nice by the way... I am in process of mulling over a build project and thought I'd ask if you have noticed any drawbacks to the tack head. Is it only a viable instrument in dry weather? I am the kind of guy who loves to fuss with head tension on my fretted tenor banjo. But I was thinking that because it is obviously less complex than an adjustable head banjo it might be a nice first project banjo for a do-it-yourselfer like myself. I am not afraid of the woodwork... I can manage that,,, but the metal work looks a little tricky on some of the parts since I am short on knowledge as well as metalworking equipment. Oh and by the way did you buy the tool for cutting the peg tapers and the hole taper or is there some way around that?... Stumac seems to want an arm and a leg for them. 



Comment by Ian Bell on January 6, 2011 at 10:18pm
Bart - A tackhead will change with the humidity; no two ways about it. It's sometimes annoying, but it comes with the territory. (there's a whole forum thread on this topic) My attitude has become - "That's the way we sound today". Another tackhead I built in the humid days of last August is enjoying it's first winter and is sounding just incredible these at the moment. I bought a peg hole reamer on eBay for about $15.00 and it works just fine with standard (pre-tapered) viola pegs.  There are others in the group with much more experience than me in these matters but I hope this helps.


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