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Mac Traynham

Posted by Malcolm on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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My favorite banjo builder is Mac Traynham of Willis, VA.  In the world of old time music Mac is well known, as is his wife, Jenny for their incredible playing and singing.  However, Mac's banjos reflect a lifetime of immersion in the folkways of Virginia and a dedication of more than 35 years to old time music.  Mac uses a variety of woods but his most incredible sounding creations are made of maple and cherry.  He builds in the style (and with some of the tools) of the great Kyle Creed.  

However, what makes Mac's banjos ring is the fact that he is a renowned player of Blue Ridge music and a friend to all musicians-old and young-who love the indigenous music of the Blue Ridge.  

This year, Mac will finish his 100th banjo.  His 98th banjo is an openback that he built from wood brought to his shop from a timber sale on my Great Grand Father's farm in New York State.  Mac dried the cherry logs, helped me rough out the neck, and then when the winter storms set in, used his shop woodstove to steam the layers for the rim.  

This past Spring, he carved a beautiful cherry blossom inlay into the headstock and then followed down the neck with falling blossoms and cherries.  It is a family heirloom, a stand alone work of art, and a banjo that sounds with as much character and charm as Mac does.  

Mac is fixture on the Virginia Crooked Road, at the Floyd Country Store, near where he built a beautiful picker's dream gazebo in the Floyd city park to accommodate the overflow of Friday and Saturday night pickers.  

Mac is a great teacher, volunteering time to teach young Appalachian students how to play the clawhammer style of Floyd County, and a great member of the community.  Mac's daytime job is detailed cabinetry and woodworking, but it is quickly being taken over by demands from across the country for his banjos.  

You can find more out about Mac's work at  I'm on my second Mac banjo and hope to save the money for a third.  His work is noted for the sharp, cutting attack, yet great growl for those ancient tomes.  His banjos are played by many of my banjo heroes.

17 comments on “Mac Traynham”

5Stringtrout Says:
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 @7:33:42 AM

I met Mac at a workshop/concert at Gene Bowlen's in Port Republic, VA this past winter. At that time he had two banjos with him for sale but I had did not have the money with me. Two days later a friend sold me his banjo, #73, so he could buy a fiddle. I think I got the better end of the deal. I have since put one of John Balch's 4-Star heads. Great banjo built by a great person.

frailin Says:
Thursday, September 17, 2015 @1:55:49 PM

Mac makes a fine banjo!

alangraf Says:
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 @10:09:00 AM

Mac is just an awesome friendly guy who makes living in Floyd Virginia worth it.

atleson Says:
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 @1:32:15 PM

I agree with all the above comments. Great player, fine banjos, good teacher, and nice guy too.

Clawhammer13 Says:
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 @1:38:24 PM

Owner of #83 here chiming in (12" maple pot w/ one-piece maple neck). I have been playing that banjo for over a year and it's still one of the best banjos, handmade or factory, that I've ever played or heard. Mac makes brilliant-sounding/looking banjos. I'll post photos to my account on here before too long.

djwalden Says:
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 @2:06:20 PM

I'm the proud owner of one of Mac's banjos (I guess I ought to know which #, but I don't) that was commissioned by my wife for my 50th birthday present. It's made with all birdseye maple and rings like a bell. In addition to being a great builder, Mac is as fine an old-time musician as you'll come across. There's nothing with strings on it that he can't play.

JanetB Says:
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 @3:48:41 PM

I was lucky enough to meet Mac Traynham at a jam in Floyd where he welcomed my husband and I and even offered to split the tip. It was the highlight of our trip along the Crooked Road. When I saw one of his banjos on BHO's classifieds I couldn't pass it up. Coincidentally, you can see and hear me playing it in the newest BHO Banjo Weekly video section, right above the picture of Mac that linked me to your blog, Malcolm. I'm glad you've honored him.

GerryH Says:
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @4:34:42 AM

I took a week long banjo class with Mac this summer at the Swannanoa gathering. He is a good instructor and a fine fellow. I got to hear him play one of his instruments and the sound was sweet.

Greg Galbreath Says:
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @6:05:11 AM

I agree that Mac is a wonderful builder, musician, historian and all around great guy! I'm also proud to say that I got my start building banjos under his generous guidance.

jimmy Says:
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @2:38:31 PM

What a nice guy.
People like Mac are one of the many reasons the wife and I are packing up and moving to Floyd County next year.

huttotx Says:
Thursday, October 15, 2015 @8:43:34 AM

Spent the week with #98 and it's twin #97 before Mac delivered the banjo to you at Elk Creek. Own #50 and #84 (peghead shown). Great banjos. And Mac and Jenny are great folks.

jrobinson Says:
Saturday, October 17, 2015 @10:00:17 AM

Mac makes a terrific banjo. I have no. 71 and it sounds rich and full, and often draws compliments. His playing is superb as well. He should make more CDs!

Clawhammer13 Says:
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 @1:17:13 PM

I need to correct my previous post...I own #86 rather than #83.

lami88 Says:
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @11:59:37 PM

There are great Kyle Creed i like it so much!I'm common rail come from sensor

Texasbanjo Says:
Thursday, April 27, 2017 @4:37:16 AM

Do not click on URL from Lami88. She's a spammer!

cmooreruns Says:
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 @4:14:41 PM

Just completed Mac's intermediate banjo class at Old Time Blue Ridge Week at Mars Hill. Everything mentioned above is so true. If you can hookup for a workshop or camp with him, you won't be disappointed. Great guy. More at

staceyz Says:
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @11:41:12 AM

I have one, I don't know what number it is, it is marked: Made by: Mac Traynham Winter 1980.

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