Monday, August 31, 2015

In the beginning: Banjos!

I built a banjo from a kit some time in the year 2000. It was a basic kit, and I stained it green. So far as I know it is still working and now belongs to my friend Matthew Robins. In the intervening years I’ve restored and tinkered with a fair few others, and about seven years ago I put together a slightly higher quality kit for my girlfriend. This instrument is still going strong and actually sounds fantastic (for which I can’t take much credit).

This year, after realising that the jazz guitar style I was teaching myself was damaging my somewhat flimsy finger joints (in what felt like a permanent way), I built another banjo. Banjos in general can be set up much lighter than a guitar can, and the tunings and techniques are a little easier on the fingers. The banjo, I’ve found on returning to it, is also very suited to the various types of music that I’ve attempted, with more or less success, to play on other instruments.

11" openback banjo with dobson style tone ring. April 2015

This instrument was not a kit as such, but I used a rough cut neck blank and a pre-formed steamed maple rim. I put a good deal of work into it, and I enjoyed and obsessed over this work so much that when I’d finished I more or less immediately built two more, and filled sketchbook after sketchbook with notes, ideas, and techniques. This blog is a home for those ideas and instruments and a place to document my progress as a maker.