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"The Black Pony" banjo is coming along!

Posted by revellfa on Monday, March 22, 2010

As some of my friends know I have been a banjo nut for many years.  It wasn't long (actually about 20 years) before the bug bit me and I decided that I would like to try and build my own banjo.  Ok, I don't really mean "build" as in cut the tree down, etc.  I did however acquire a nice walnut neck from a fellow hangouter and I got my hands on a brand new maple rim and gold-no hole almost pot assembly minus the tailpiece and flange from Mr. Jimmy Cox himself.  I later obtained a Gold RK flange and a brass Stew Mac Presto tailpiece.

My plan has been to build a banjo called, "The Black Pony" in honor of my Dad's outfit in Viet Nam.  After spending a couple of years pondering and thinking about what the banjo would look like I finally decided the following.

1.  That the actual banjo itself would be as dark as possible to honor the name "Black Pony", thus an ebony fingerboard was utilized.  The neck that I got came with a rosewood peghead, but I am willing to overlook that.

2.  That all of the hardware would be gold.  I have obtained some Gold Goth tuners with black buttons.

3.  That one of the two would happen.  First that it would have a clear head with the "Black Pony" insignia airbrushed on the opposite side of the clear head to prevent rubbing, etc.  Or, second, that it would have the insignia airbrushed onto the back of the resonator (which is mahogany) and that it would have a black banjo head.  I am a little reluctant to have either a clear head or a black head on my banjo as I have never tried either one.  Then again, I have never build my own banjo before either!

4.  That this banjo would be an archtop instead of a flat head.  This was a tough one.  But after reflecting on my Dad and his 36 RB-3 archtop conversion and the fact that we play some Reno stuff (which sounds GREAT on an archrop) and the fact that he has always been a Ralph Stanley fan, I finally decided to call Mr. Cox and place my order.

After spending way too much time researching things on the hangout and way too much money on "essential" tools from Stew Mac I am proud to say that I am finally making some progress.

Here is what I have done so far.

1.  Glued the ebony, pre-slotted fingerboard onto the neck

2.  Sanded the neck

3.  Cut out all of the inlays

I can't way to get started on installing my inlays and frets.  After that I will have to send the banjo to somebody smarter than me (which shouldn't be hard to do) so that they can cut the heel to fit the rim.  Then I will make the final adjustments to the nut and string her up! 

In terms of sound I am really interested to see what the gold cox pot assembly with three--ply maple rim, walnut neck, and mahogany resonator will sound like together.  I guess it is all just one big experiment.

I can't wait!



2 comments on “"The Black Pony" banjo is coming along!”

banjotom2 Says:
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 @2:53:49 PM

Sounds like fun!

Beats the heck out of going to a music store!

Yours will be a REAL banjo!

Made like they were BEFORE the age we live in now!

Love to see a posted picture of it when you're done!

f#dead Says:
Thursday, September 2, 2010 @7:54:21 PM

Frankie, that should be great and nice that you honor your Father this way. Keep us posted.

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