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Jeffrey Weitzel

Eugene, OR, USA




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Luthier Since: 2012

Listing Created: 6/14/2012
Listing Updated: 4/29/2014

More About Me

I've been designing and building banjos since 2012. When I started researching banjo construction, I saw a lot of tradition that didn't have as much functionality as it should. I went about redesigning the resonator connection, the neck connection, the stretcher band and more. I came up with a lot of ideas that actually worked well in practice, too and then used my experience as an artist and sculptor to make it look really good. The results have been turning quite a few heads.

My prior expertise and training is not in lutherie, but in other things that lend themselves very well to it (although I have built a few guitars and ukes, too). I have been a successful sculptor, doing commissioned public cast bronze work for places as diverse as the University of Oregon, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, and an Aquarium in Saudi Arabia. I have also worked in bronze foundries (my own cast tone rings may be coming up soon...), been the studio manager for the Oregon Copper Bowl Company, and, most recently have been the Assistant Director of the Craft Center at the University of Oregon, where we run a large woodshop, glass blowing studio, ceramics area and many other studios. I have taught sculpture, woodworking (including a bit of lutherie), and other classes for both credit and non-credit.

I am fascinated by the body that my Creator put me in. I believe that looking at this creation is the best way to learn how to better build things that mimic it. Most stringed instruments are modeled, somewhat crudely, on the our vocal chords, but the banjo more closely resembles our eardrums. I am working on design ideas that will more directly imitate the design of the eardrum in hopes of improving not just the tone, but the music it makes.

A banjo does not only speak, but it listens; and this is the quality that I aim to bring out. Guitars and violins are usually extroverted instruments who like to speak for the sake of hearing their voice. When the introverted banjo speaks, it is because it has something to say. Introverts are never as "popular" as extroverts, and this is why the banjo has never enjoyed the fame of these other friends that it often hangs out with. But to those who have gotten to know it, it is an instrument of incredible depth.
I hope, through my lutherie, to be able to share my love of our creator through those things that He created. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and there is only one being worth imitating or flattering.

Comments

Beautiful banjos! I'd love to play one some day. - Samuel Mitchell


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