Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Made this for a friend. Testing it out.

Views: 124

Favorite of 1 person

Comment by Paul Draper on March 10, 2017 at 2:28pm
Lucky friend
Comment by Timothy Twiss on March 10, 2017 at 9:06pm

Excellent. It must be quite satisfying to build it....AND play it.

Comment by Chris Prieto on March 11, 2017 at 3:07am
It's a fun lil banjo. Got a few more in the works.
Comment by Strumelia on March 11, 2017 at 11:48am

What scale length di you make it from nut to middle of head, Chris?

What tuning do you like for it?

Comment by Chris Prieto on March 11, 2017 at 12:00pm
Due to various snafus it came in at 23.5. But the friend I made for has lil T-Rex arms like I do. Currently tuned to D/G and it plays very well. I figured it be easier to tune up if desired vs being in E/A and trying to tune down.

I tried to make a very "my first fretless banjo". I tried to make action super low and space between strings is really wide. All things that bothered me about my first few banjos.
Comment by Strumelia on March 11, 2017 at 12:22pm

lil T-rex arms... my laugh of the day!   =;-D

With a slightly shorter scale like that, I'm guessing you have the Nylgut "Minstrel Set" on rather than the Nylgut "Classic set".  The minstrel set is just a bit heavier so will work better for the shorter scale for you.  
A slightly shorter scale helps on gourd banjos which will give you some peace of mind for when you crank it up to E/A.  
I also find on gourd banjers that once you go over a certain tension on the strings (and assuming your pegs hold) you suddenly fall off a cliff in losing resonance...doesn't happen as much on hoop banjos.  It's kind of creepy really how drastic the sound change is, you get this ominous feeling that something's gonna give... then when you back off and go a bit lower the rich resonance comes back right away.  That's been my experience, anyway. The gourd tells you to 'cut it out' in no uncertain terms, like a donkey it'll just sit right down and refuse to cooperate.  

Comment by Chris Prieto on March 11, 2017 at 1:32pm
Yeah I went with the minstrel set. I just got a shorter menzies banjo that came with the classic set and even in A/E the strings were pretty flabby. I changed those to minstrel set too and it sounds great. He also used a *thick* goat skin very similar to African skins I use on djembe repairs which I never seen before but it sounds friggin nice

I have a sneaky suspicion skin thickness comes into play too. I usually use a medium to thick skin. But I went with a thinner one on this one for aesthetic reasons and it is more ringy and resonant. A nice high pitched hum and some belly rumbling which I generally only get from the hoop rigs. Thin skins almost sound hot to me I dunno, like slightly overdriven audio.
Comment by Strumelia on March 11, 2017 at 2:06pm

You got that Menzies on Ebay?  Cool I was looking at that.  Yeah Jeff usually puts the classic set- I suspect because newbies want to tune up closer to oldtime tunings which puts a big strain on the strings -and the thinner classic set can handle that better.

Comment by Strumelia on March 11, 2017 at 2:08pm

I switched my Menzies gourds to the Minstrel sets.  I have the classic set on two non-gourd banjos that I can use in oldtime sessions and tune right up to A and D oldtime tunings without capos.

Comment by Chris Prieto on March 11, 2017 at 4:01pm
Oh nice that's good to know, I honestly never thought of taking the classical set past A/E since I'm so minstrel music centric at the moment.

I got hoop banjo with a blue mahoe neck he had on Facebook this january. I spoiled myself for Xmas and picked up two banjos :)


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