“A Brief History of Time” (June 2016 update...)
A bit of tongue in cheek humor, but that’s possibly a good description of this blog entry that attempts to explain the demise of “Bluestemstrings.com”, my apologies to Stephen Hawking.
My initial web presence, nearly 20 years ago, was courtesy of one of the many free hosting websites but the material soon overtook the allowed space and the pop ups and advertisement was just too much to put readers through. I moved on several years ago to paid server space where I could present information without any form of advertisement to get in the way of a reader’s enjoyment with the tremendously successful “Bluestemstrings.com”.
"Bluestemstrings.com" contained information relating to open back, minstrel-style, travel, and backpacking banjo construction and featured free downloadable banjo designs, fret placement templates, setup guides , details for making raw brass hardware, guides for setting neck relief, guides to determine string spacing, nut slotting guides, and all sorts of general tips pertaining to the building of a banjo. Also present was a page dedicated to providing an understanding of equal temperament as it relates to fretted instruments WITHOUT the need for an advanced physics degree as well as a first-of-its-kind (and possibly the only) detailed feature page dedicated to the TOTAL step-by-step DESIGN of an open back banjo. I funded the ad-free website by marketing instrument construction guides and full size plans for several types of banjos, lap steel guitar, three string guitar, low tuned mandolin, and tenor Ukulele. The construction guide packages featured a full size printed plan, hundreds of photos, video clips when applicable, detailed construction information, and assorted bonus content contained on CD-ROM.
Over the last ten years I have sold hundreds of instrument construction guides and provided countless gigabytes of ad-free information and have seen many instruments built as a result of folks using the construction guides and free plans and information available from the website, and that made it all worthwhile.
So why throw a monkey wrench in the works and quit doing all this?
It’s an interesting question and the answer is a matter of economics; an odd but true situation. The income generated from the site by selling a few instruments and the fairly popular instrument construction guides were going to have a huge negative impact on the taxation rate of my retirement investments, so I was pretty much forced to discontinue the dot com status. I even approached my accountant with the possibility of donating all proceeds to the Humane Society, but the logistics of doing the non-profit route became way more work than it was worth. I don’t mind doing the work, but I’m not going to go into a situation where it costs me a fair amount of money to donate my proceeds.
That’s the deal. We did have a darn good run, though! (The bad part is the best stuff isn’t going to be presented.)
My best hope is that the information has been digested by others and they use those ideas to further the process. Although the website is no longer with us, many ideas have been discussed within the topics archived here on Banjo Hangout. I recommend you use the custom Banjo Hangout Google search to look for topics to help solve your banjo building questions. If you wish to confine search results to only those posts to which I have contributed just type Rudy+ in the search query box and then add what you’re looking for.
There is a bit of good news; an archived version of the Bluestemstrings.com website with a good portion of its information is accessible via the "Wayback Machine" internet archive here:
Unfortunately it's not the last version, so some of the information isn't the later more detailed and refined version, and there are sections where many of the photos are not archived. At least some of it survived. Be sure to visit the links page at the archived site for direct links to some of what I consider the best Banjo Hangout topics. Many of these are Banjo Hangout topics I’ve heavily contributed to. Once you know what to look for you can use the Banjo Hangout search function to access the BHO website directly. No need to suffer the Wayback Machine's archived versions!
DO also take note that the archived pages were taken as "snapshots in time" and the ordering information for many of the construction guides are no longer valid. The archival pages were captured before I removed the Paypal links and ordering information.
Randy (a.k.a. Rudy, my internet nom-de-plume, but I answer to either.)
Monday, August 4, 2008 @1:46:37 PM
That's an excellent design Randy. Thanks for posting this. JJ
Friday, December 18, 2009 @10:41:24 AM
Thanks Rudy for sharing
Jethro Aberdeen Says:
Saturday, April 17, 2010 @7:45:17 AM
Thanks Randy, your information is truly inspiring.
Don Huber Says:
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 @11:55:45 AM
Great choice for the thread. My 1st impression of this tune is that's it's wonderfully bittersweet. Thanks for posting!
Sunday, March 27, 2011 @5:37:19 AM
Thanks for putting all this info online. The first banjo I made was based on the open back plan you put up several years ago.
Paul Meredith Says:
Saturday, June 11, 2016 @8:04:13 PM
The Bluestemstrings website was a fantastic source of banjo (and other) information. Thanks for all your efforts over the years and thanks for archiving it so that it is still available!
Sunday, June 12, 2016 @9:30:31 AM
Thanks, Paul. I really didn't do any archiving work, though. That's courtesy of the "Wayback Machine" internet archiving project.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 @1:02:57 PM
Sorry that you have to close your web site. It was one of the best I have seen for banjo building. I know that it took a lot of time to build over the years, and had valuable information. Thanks Rudy for sharing... It will be missed!
Ernest M Says:
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 @5:46:55 PM
I have never built a banjo, and I probably never will, but I really enjoyed reading your posts and descriptions of how to do what I think every banjo player is tempted to do.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 @11:58:32 AM
Thank you very much for making resources available to builders, novice and expert. It was a lot of work but now you can use that time to spend the money you will be saving. Have fun!
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 @8:27:37 PM
Thanks Marvin, Ernest, and Hugh.
I appreciate the comments. Yes, there were hundreds of hours of work put into the site and it causes me great pain to bring an end to 20 years of hard work.
Sunday, July 3, 2016 @10:48:38 PM
I second what Ernest said above. I discovered your site, not through BHO (I didn't know it existed at the time), but by accident. I was Googling plans for a mountain banjo, and ended up downloading yours. We all appreciate your generous insight over the years on BHO. I didn't realize your site was down till I tried to access it today for tips on putting a wipe-on Poly finish on a pot I'm working on. Enjoy your retirement, but I will miss your website very much.
Monday, July 4, 2016 @8:01:32 AM
The archive is no longer carrying your site, it appears.
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