Banjo making...Appalachian mountain style.

I've just finished this..what a challenge it's been..and long overdue in the completion. It's an Appalachian mountain-style banjo for Hollowbelly. This is designed to be a stage instrument so I opted to use a Fiberskyn head instead of a natural vellum as it would be less prone to variations in humidity and temperature, and it's also got a pickup in it. The tailpiece is designed to accept loop-ended banjo strings or ball-end guitar strings.

There's no exotic timbers in this, all European and North American woods...mainly cherry, with a beech lamination in the neck, black walnut fretboard and headstock veneer.  Figuring out how these things fit together was a right old game, but I've managed to do it. It's got a few neat bits...double action trussrod, and a method of adjusting the tension on the head...but the internal pot is a simple 6" cake tin, and the skin is a drum head, as they don't make banjo heads that small. The pickup is mounted internally under the head, so the output is on the weak side, but maintains the old-timey appearance and importantly manages to put out  a real banjo-ey tone when amplified.

Here's the back ring with the tee nuts for the tension adjusters. A 6mm birch ply ring fits into the circular recess and  transfers the pressure onto the bottom edge of the internal pot.

Here's the headstock..the name "The Preacher" is a reflection of the theme of some of Hollowbelly's songs. The 5th string has a"railroad spike" rather than a bone "pip" to locate's easier to install and I think it looks neater.


Cutting the main part of the pot from solid cherrywood. I used a circle cutting jig on the bandsaw and just inserted some veneer in the saw cut and glued it, loosing the joint behind the neck heel.

The finished article..ready to go.

Views: 9379


You need to be a member of Cigar Box Nation to add comments!

Join Cigar Box Nation

Comment by ChickenboneJohn on March 17, 2017 at 3:49pm

I was looking back at the photos...and thought, how the hell did I manage to make that?!

Comment by derek robertson on March 17, 2017 at 3:30pm

so much work has gone into that build well done john.


Comment by Milt Haselmire on March 15, 2017 at 4:39pm

This is an engineering marvel. Well done.

Comment by Rob Todd on March 15, 2017 at 5:45am

Looks bostin our kid!

Comment by Derek Rose on March 14, 2017 at 7:46pm

Banjo with grit and sounds as great as it looks.

Comment by ChickenboneJohn on March 14, 2017 at 12:18pm

Here's what it sounds like:

Comment by Slow Blues Dani & Ol' Grey Bear on March 14, 2017 at 10:24am
This is more than awesome. This is epic. Hollowbelly is going to be ecstatic I'm betting!
Comment by Jim Morris on June 17, 2016 at 11:23pm

Very nicely done! I'm in the Appalachian Mountains and have made a few of these but without a pickup. I've admired many of your builds but I believe you've outdone yourself with this one! I'm with Richey K - we need to hear it!

Comment by Derek Rose on June 17, 2016 at 11:06pm

Very sharp!

Comment by Kentucky Mojo on June 16, 2016 at 9:15pm

The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation?How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources


4 string info follow up

Started by Ronald Hanes in Performances, How to Play, Lessons, Concerts. Last reply by Ron "Oily" Sprague 2 hours ago. 1 Reply

Folk Outsider, 3-String Stephen LIVE at Gitty's

Started by Shane Speal in Feature Articles. Last reply by Jim Morris yesterday. 3 Replies

Thin a top

Started by Mark Werner in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Mark Werner yesterday. 23 Replies

Latest Activity

Keith Rearick liked Derek Rose's video
16 minutes ago
Keith Rearick liked Nigel McTrustry's video
19 minutes ago
Snuffy Smith replied to Snuffy Smith's discussion How do you transfer your CBG playing to digital files?
"Thanks Ron. Lots of great info there. Much appreciated. I am assuming that the iRig is much better…"
20 minutes ago
Keith Rearick liked Primitive Acoustics's video
21 minutes ago
Keith Rearick liked Mr.C's video
23 minutes ago
Keith Rearick liked 43rd Shamrock's photo
25 minutes ago
Keith Rearick liked Dave Lynas's photo
27 minutes ago
Keith Rearick liked Dave Lynas's photo
29 minutes ago
Bill Furbee replied to Bill Furbee's discussion Hello from Cincinnati in the group Ohio CBG Cooperative
"yeah, that's indeed herzog studio. i think it would be a lot of fun. last night we have a free…"
46 minutes ago
Bill Furbee replied to Bill Furbee's discussion Hello from Cincinnati in the group Ohio CBG Cooperative
"heck yeah man! let's do it, i think that would be a LOT of fun. wanna shoot me an email at…"
47 minutes ago
Dano Schultz commented on Randy S. Bretz's photo

Butternut Birds - my folk art

"A desk/workbench necessity, and a little birdie to tell you things... :)"
53 minutes ago
Rob wrobel posted a video

Padron III

Metal meets Acoustic, mini Humbucker, and Rod Piezo build , prototype
1 hour ago



© 2017   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service