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Back to building real banjos

Posted by Jonnycake White on Friday, October 10, 2008

Finished with the "Nutcase" dulcimer, and having a couple of hours free last night, I cleaned off my work bench (well, a third of it anyway) and brought out a project I had started two years ago this month.  It has the potential to be the best banjo I've ever built.  It will feature a modified "mountain" pot design, which I have adapted to contain an internal tensioning mechanism and to work with either natural or synthetic skin materials, either mounted with a flesh hoop or unmounted.  Look at the pictures in my photo gallery of my "Missouri" banjo pot for an idea of what this will look like.  Since building that one, I have refined the design somewhat for more standard hardware and to be more faithful to the original mountain banjos, where the rings that are stacked to make the pot are sawn from solid wood (the "Missouri" banjo has a bent rim sandwiched between the top and bottom rings).  In the case of the new banjo, two years ago I glued up some solid core plywood panels, in effect, from African mahogany outer layers and a maple inner layer, for the top and bottom rings; and for the inner rings, panels of solid African Mahogany.  Last night I cut the rings from these panels.  I suspect it will take me at least a few months to finish this banjo.

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