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Jenes Cottrell Banjos

Posted by cwdean on Saturday, January 23, 2016

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As a kid I knew of Jenes not for his ability to build fine banjos, but for his work as a cabinet maker.  Both my Dad and my grandfather were carpenters and I was always aware of those who were great traditional wood workers.  It was only once I began playing banjo that I relaized Jenes made banjos.  After seeing a few of his banjos, I was hooked and had to build one of my own.

This led me on a journey to not only learn to build banjos in his style, but to try to replicate his banjos, and learn as much about Jenes as possible.  I am continually research Jenes, looking for picture, trying to hunt down furniture, baseball bats, chairs, walking canes, whistles, and other objects made by him.  I look nonstop for people who knew, or encountered Jenes, to hear and collect stories.  

Most of the banjos made by Jenes were purchased by folks that knew Jenes, respected him, admired his work, and didn not know how to play banjo.  Therefore, an overwhelming majority of his banjos sit in closets, unplayed.  

Currently, I'm on a journey that is two fold.  First, and foremost, I'm looking for an original Jenes Cottrell torgue converter banjo to purchase and pass down through my family in the generations to come.  I want to show his banjos the respect they deserve and have one to play daily, help spread my style of old time music, and to teach others to enjoy banjo playing as much as I do.  The second part of my journey is to document as many of his banjos as possible, to take pictures, put new strings on them, play them, recording video, take measurements, and take patterns.  

I guess what I intended with this blog post, is that I you know of someone that has any information, pictures, video, or a banjo of Cottrell's please let me know by contacting me at

Also, I have a few videos and pictures of Jenes but I'm always looking for more to add to my Cottrell display for the West Virginia State Folk Festival.

Thank you for your time and time!


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