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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: cookie tin banjo

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hoser - Posted - 02/05/2010:  13:38:23

does any one know how to make a cookie tin banjo. with frets for cheap under 30$

Edited by - hoser on 02/05/2010 14:08:43

youdye - Posted - 02/05/2010:  14:09:27

try this link:

hope this helps!!

hoser - Posted - 02/05/2010:  14:28:30

it good but the gears cost more then $30

mike gregory - Posted - 02/05/2010:  18:36:23

Shall I e-mail you my extremely simple plans?
I offer them free, to whomever asks.
I use eyebolts for tuning pegs, but a simple set of guitar tuners costs less than $20, and fishline strings are aout $3 a spool, which should equip a dozen or more banjos.

My frets are simply drawn on, but you can put a narrow saw cut at each line, and press in "real" frets, or epoxy on straight wire, and then pull the neck gently across a tacked-down sander belt (cut open) to bring them all to the same level.


Since I do not know how to attach these plans to an e-mail sent BY me through the BHO to you, the best way to get them is to e-mail me your request, and I can attach them to my "Reply".

Edited by - mike gregory on 02/06/2010 06:57:48

gdoc - Posted - 02/05/2010:  22:09:33


I'd appericate it if you would send my your blue prints for the cookie tin banjo and square banjo.


ausiepluker - Posted - 02/05/2010:  23:08:35

Mike , I also would appreciate it if you could sent me your simple banjo plans.

Cheers, Pete

Prof - Posted - 02/06/2010:  06:58:07

I used clothes hanger wire for the frets on my frying pan banjo. I used the thinnest gauge I could find in the house, and just super glued (gel type) them in place. They are a bit high, so if I had to do it over again, I'd make shallow slots for them.

mike gregory - Posted - 02/06/2010:  07:05:47

NOTE to first-time makers of Frying Pan banjos:

ALUMINUM is a lot easier to work with than CAST IRON.

goldtopia - Posted - 02/06/2010:  07:06:52

If you buy one of Mike Gregory's square Eel banjos, you can swap it for a Gibson.


Ira Gitlin - Posted - 02/06/2010:  07:11:26

I used flat toothpicks for frets when I made mine back in the '70s, but they wear out pretty fast. ;^)

Bizdoc - Posted - 02/06/2010:  07:13:01

I made a cookie tin banjo, including the neck and inserted my own frets out of wire, tailpiece, and bridge, and I gotta tell you that even making everything myself, it was not under $30.00. I'll believe that with the wood, polyurethane, wire, strings, sand paper, tuners (which were under $10.00 for the set) I have closer to $70.00 in it. I also put an arm rest on it (not included in the $70), which is optional, but after a while of the rim of the cookie tin digging into your arm, you may want an arm rest. You can see mine on BHO at :

You can see how some of the parts fit togeather in some of the pictures.

Also posted a tune with the cookie tin on the BHO at :

Not exactly a Gibson, but it's fun to play, I do actually like it for strumming, it has a nice tone for strumming and singing with.

Good Luck

mike gregory - Posted - 02/06/2010:  07:16:12

Originally posted by goldtopia

If you buy one of Mike Gregory's square Eel banjos, you can swap it for a Gibson.


If Bill O. suggests it, it might be a Very Good Idea!!

Since, at this time, there are fewer authentic Squared Eel banjos made, than there were authentic pre-War Gibsons made,
there should be a higher price for the more scarce Squared Eels.
However, the price of $50 USD (plus shipping) is the current price.

Of course, I will swap a Squared Eel for any Gibson, even post-war. And since you're paying the shipping on the Gibson, I'll pay the shipping on the Squared Eel.
What could be fairer than that?

TCBI - Posted - 02/26/2010:  20:07:11

have a look at

Bigbike4 - Posted - 02/26/2010:  23:03:21

If you look careful enough at yard sales, church sales auctions etc you can find the cookie tins for under $1.00 ea. The neck could be made out of a solid thick tree branch, which you would have to cut and shape of course-so found tree branch-$0.00 Various hardware to attach branch to tin $1.00 Fret wire or tooth picks-the picks are cheaper at about $2.00 per box. And that leave $26 for tuners, which I am sure you can find some cheap used guitar tuners for that price or mandolin tuners etc.

Down here in the TN hills, people made banjos out of what they had available. And I do mean what they found on the farm or homestead or the road. And they played those instruments. Wander over to the musuem of appalachia website to see actual home made pie pan, cookie tin, metal oil can banjos and a whole host more.

vernob - Posted - 02/27/2010:  03:05:36

Oh boy, it looks like Mike has some converts. Look out, world. We apparently need more banjo makers.

Bob Robert - Posted - 02/28/2010:  17:08:40

Originally posted by vernob

We apparently need more banjo makers.

And why wouldn't ya?
Of course we need more banjo makers!

mike gregory - Posted - 02/28/2010:  17:25:07

Originally posted by vernob

Oh boy, it looks like Mike has some converts. Look out, world. We apparently need more banjo makers.

Thanks for the compliment.
To put it in proper perspective, see the post about the Museum of the Appalachians.
Those guys & gals were making cookie-tin banjos back before I was part of the Big Family idea Dad got off a Clifton Webb movie.

I don't make converts; I simply offer a method to those who have already decided to give it a shot.

And I got MY basic idea from the FOXFIRE books.

mpetrequin - Posted - 02/28/2010:  18:32:30

Hi Hoser,

Well, you can't do it for $30, but here's what I've done:

I've made a bunch of cookie-tins with the wooden banjo kits offered by Hugh's Dulcimer Company, out of Colorado -- no website, but you'll find their number with any quick search. The kits contain six body pieces to glue together into a hex and attach to a 3-piece neck. What I've done is use a cookie tin instead. In the past they've given a little price break when I 've told them to keep the body pieces.

I have no idea what the current price of the kit is.

Another place you might try to find an inexpensive neck is Backyard Banjos.
Good Luck, Mac

mike gregory - Posted - 02/28/2010:  20:00:34

I used to order their kits, and either retail them as kits, or glue 'em up and sell the finished item.
Not hard work.
Here's a link:

goldtopia - Posted - 03/01/2010:  01:34:19

How do you use a drum dial on one of Mike Gregorie's Square Eel banjos ?


mike gregory - Posted - 03/01/2010:  05:53:03

Originally posted by goldtopia

How do you use a drum dial on one of Mike Gregorie's Square Eel banjos ?


Thanks for asking.

The manufacturer recommends that you use a bar of Dial, rather than a drum.

As the old saying goes,
"Cleanliness is next to ..." ( religious topic word screwpillously avoided)

bordertownbrown - Posted - 03/03/2010:  10:17:40


have a look at

What a cool site, brings this type of instrument to a new level!


hoser - Posted - 03/17/2010:  10:18:58


Cedric Staré - Posted - 06/24/2010:  11:37:22

Hello all!

Mike, would you send me the plans for that banjo as well? Thank you In advance!


leemysliwiec - Posted - 06/24/2010:  15:21:49

It is humbling to see the instruments made by third world musicians. Usually, they don't make them like that for fun like some of us do in the states. They are doing the best they can with the materials on hand. When in Nicaragua I saw a set of drums made out of cardboard boxes and the homemade guitar in the band had pilfered telephone wire for strings. That was the best they could do. Got to love it!!

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