My wife has expressed interest in learning banjo, and I thought I would make her  one.  I am planning to use a 10" tambourine and 4 strings (thought about cookie tins for lower cost, but those that I've heard online sound more guitarey, less banjoey).


I'm thinking that with the light thin surface and less strength than a solid top (like a guitar), bridge pressure should be less and I should use a shorter bridge.  Am I on the right track and does anyone have a rule of thumb or somesuch on bridge height?


Is a tunable head on the tambourine needed, or will a fixed head be adequate?


Thanks in advance!

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That looks very nice Kyle, congrats on the completion of that project!

Oh, did you ever say what the neck was made of?

Hi Kyle,

Your banjo turned out beautiful. Hope she sounds as good as she looks. I like the shape of your headstock as well. Very nice lines.


Ok, I have heard of homemade banjoes that do not have Drum Heads. Am very curious about them. One person said they probably were built around resonators, but he was not sure. Care to educate me - and perhaps post a set of plans if you happend to have them lying around handy?

 I guess it depends on your goal, different sound? Easy to build? Just something different?

If the goal is relative simplicity and ease of design/construction, I would consider a Canjo. I have seen/heard them built from "gas cans" or "cookie tins" and they can have a bit of a resemblence to a banjo sound, with a little "crude roughness" thrown in.

If "something different" is the goal, a "resojo" or "Banjinator" could be cool in my opinion. But its going to be a more complicated design and build.

As I suggested alsewhere in this thread, playability is the most important factor.

I have often intended to work out a "full set" of plans or drawings for one of my builds, but it rarely gets past a rough sketch or two to work out the finer details and the rest is off the top of my head.

The contents of this thread, and similar threads on banjo, as well as non banjo builds scattered about this site should answer a lot of questions. But this is kind of an "individual interpretation" builder site, after all-there are no rules!

Let me know if theres anything I can do to help!

Hum-m-m. What is my reason? It is for a son-in law. My daughter already bought him a regular store bought banjo after he said he wanted to learn how to play banjo. He is a workaholic type "A" personality, so he has not taken the time - that is slowed down long enough - to learn.

He likes rustic stuff. He has old windows hanging on the walls as decoration, a tin can man by the fire place, a table made from an old window, that sort of thing. He even has a couch made entirely of cardboard. He runs an Inn in the Colorado Mountains that is made of Logs. He looks like a bearded mountain man. I am trying to come up with something that is banjo - or played like a banjo - with that window frame art ambiance. Matbe then he would be motivated to slow down long enough to play with and learn how to play.

So, want to get away from the traditional store bought look while keeping as much of the sound as possible. Perhaps something that one may expect to be right at home on "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" just listening to the sound track?

So, the answer is  - retaing the most resemblance to the store bought banjo sound - while meeting the requirement to look like it is rustic, rural, homemade, backwood, high country, coal mining, log cabin, hound dog, shot gun totin, appalacian, folk art, found in a museum, foxfire in origin.

Might I suggest a gas can style banjo (Google gas can banjo, should get you some hits) and "relic" it.

Love the idea of a gas can banjo! If I paint it John Deere Green I honestly believe he cannot resist such a contraption! His neices and nephews call him "Tractor Boy". Thanks for the suggestions, will start Googleing as soon as I post this. Main problem I see at this point is how to attach the neck and reinforce the can body for the bridge and strings?

If you could find an old John Deere (or similar) can with some age and patina, it would make a nice project too!

I dont think you need or want to reinforce the bridge area, and a thru-neck or dowel neck construction to support the string tension should suffice.

I know there are several builders that are regulars here have built something along these lines, but Matte Resist's work comes to mind. You may want to try to contact him with specific questions.




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