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My "Big Three Banjos".

Posted by Bufo Bill on Tuesday, December 17, 2013


You have heard all about my previous banjos, including my Fretless Banjo, which became my favourite and the first of the big three banjos currently in my life.

The next banjo is possibly my most unusual banjo. I happened to see a picture of a small gourd banjo made by the BHO member and Luthier in Paris, Tennessee, Dan Knowles. Anyone who has read Dan’s regular posts in the Banjo Building Forums, will know what an individual and original item any one of Dan’s banjos will be, and   after a few emails back and forth the idea of a Piccolo scale, fretless gourd banjo was born. Dan let slip that the banjo that inspired my commission was called Gandalf, as the owner was a big Tolkien fan and wanted a name that related to the magic of music. For the name of my banjo we decided on another Tolkein name of Bullroarer. The banjo itself had Dan’s signature “K” brand stamped into the headstock. There was some lovely little flourishes of design including the use of a leather tailpiece. You can see some pictures of this banjo on my homepage.

It was a terrible wait for the banjo to come all the way from Tennessee, to the UK (it took three weeks, it felt like months)! It is a really nice banjo, I love to sit out in the back garden in the summer months and play this sweet toned, gentle sounding banjo.

The final banjo in “The Big Three” is my vintage Vega Little Wonder pot with a Bernie Lehmann neck. There is a lovely loud sound due to the brass tonering, and that Lehmann neck has fabulous White Laydie style inlay including that famous Griffin on the headstock. There are railroad spikes installed in two places. The pot has slight corrosion of some of the hooks but it does not have any compromise in functionality and sound.

Oh yes, it has frets too! Lots of ’em!

Bizarrely I have to concentrate more playing this banjo than I do with my fretless banjos these days, but the sound is so nice!

Next time we will investigate my neonate woodworking skills and my home-made Banjo Odds and ends.

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