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 it..it'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.

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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
Wow!

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