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  • flatfootjohnny

A good year for minstrel banjos

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

2018 saw the start of 7 minstrel / grain measure banjos. Three of which were completed, the others will be finished early 2019.

The first to get finished was a short scale (24") with a stained sycamore neck and single ply oak pot with purfling.

The custom headstock took a little toing and froing of ideas between myself and the customer in order to get it just right, with great results. The 9 frets are made from old bone piano keys. The motif above the frailing scoop is a genuine civil war musicians insignia found on the Gettysburg battle field. The cast bronze shield bracket shoes were designed in house and cast in a small local foundry. This banjo was delivered to Oregon.

Next was another great challenge... to carve a horses head. Being still relatively new to carving this was both terrifying and exciting in equal measures. A minstrel banjo with a custom horse headed headstock bound for Belfast.

English Sycamore neck with double ogees, single ply English oak, scalloped, pot. The Boucher style bottom mounted brackets are made from water jet cut brass (occasionally digital technology is fun).

This grain measure banjo was a long time in the making. Using parts from early builds that i rejected about 5 years ago i finally decided that i wanted an early banjo for myself.

The pot is an antique wooden sieve, on which i needed to repair the previous holes I'd made. The flush fretted neck is one which i was trying out a few new techniques which didn't go exactly to plan. But with the repairs, alterations, as well as some careful antiquing techniques (i.e. getting knocked around the workshop for 5 years) the result is a convincingly old/primitive look banjo with a fantastic tone.

So much fun to play its staying with me but there will be more coming soon...

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