Here's a post about my experience with Jaroslav Prucha when he built for me the first Prucha gold sparkle banjo made, in homage to the old style 6 Gibson instruments. I first contacted him in January 2015 as I had seen the banjo pot on his website which was engraved and gold plated in the style 6 manner and asked him if he was up for building a complete instrument using gold sparkle binding and a burl maple veneer for the resonator.Not only was he willing but he was also almost as excited as myself by the project. The banjo would be a challenge as it contained elements he had not used before namely the binding , the veneer, stainless steel frets and the exact duplicate engraving that I wanted from one particular example of an old style 6. I ended up sourcing the binding and veneer in February of that year as it was much harder to obtain in the Czech Republic. I sent both items to him and we were off!
At all stages I received photos of the progress and regular email to resolve detail and settle specifications. This was not something I expected from a builder as busy as he obviously is. First came pictures of the resonator in its raw state ,then the neck and then the exciting pictures of the staining at which Jaroslav is a real master. I tried not to be too impatient and only contacted him when asked to resolve detail. When pictures of the banjo in lacquer came they arrived out of the blue and I could sense his excitement with the way it was turning out. The neck wood, specially chosen, was stunning as was the colour and binding which now really came into their own. The inevitable gaps between communication raised the suspense now and I could hardly wait to see the finished instrument.
One morning it happened. I was eating breakfast and checking email at the same time when a barrage of email arrived from the Czech Republic and I was able to watch almost in real time as the banjo was constructed. A fabulous experience. The banjo even in the photos looked stunning. Then there was a silence of about an hour and I guessed what was happening ... The banjo was getting its first road test. Soon the emails resumed and now the excitement was real on both sides it sounded really good!
From start to finish was about 6 months and due to the level of communication there were no hitches and progress flowed smoothly. One thing was lacking from my point of view... Sound files. But I didn't have to wait long. The week after final construction was completed, which Jaroslav uses to let the banjo settle and make final adjustments, emails arrived and their were the sound files made by two really fine Czech players. One can be found on my home page.
Last of all came the hardest part. An email arrived with a tracking number and the banjo was on its way from The Czech Republic to Ireland. Nothing for two days except that it had left the Czech Republic and then,just I was departing for a Bluegrass festival in Wales,came details of its progress in Ireland. The banjo and I actually passed on the road, me going one way and it the other. Let me tell you it was hard to be at the festival knowing that there was that special package waitingat home, still unopened.Three days from the Czech Republic to Ireland was Impressive and even more impressive; the banjo was in tune when I finally got home and opened the package. It was thankfully in one piece due to the excellent packing even though it was shipped without a case. Altogether one of the most pleasurable buying experiences I have ever had and at all times Jaroslav made you feel in the loop and important. If I had the money and the need for another banjo, which I don't , I would do it all again just for fun. Another plus is I have all the photos and correspondence on my computer as a reminder of that special experience. If you want to see the banjo in question it is now proudly featured on the Prucha banjos website. There are also photos from the entire build on my homepage in a file called gold sparkle.
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Playing Since: 1971
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Prucha Legend gold sparkle style 6
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Last Visit 6/4/2019
I play and teach five string banjo in the clare/ limerick area.I have played bluegrass music in Europe and America and have played with many bands in my native England. Currently play bluegrass nearly every Thursday in Limerick at he Curragower pub.
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