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I'm excited about new ways to re-invent the wheel

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

One of my interests in banjo building is building from re-purposed items and then using commonly available tools and materials for what I consider to be the most daunting part of the instrument - head tensioning.  I'm currently working on a design that uses the bottom couple of inches of an aluminum pressure cooker for the rim.  I previously used the top couple of inches of the same cooker for an internally tensioned banjo, with great success.  This time I'm doing an externally tensioned banjo with an aluminum flange instead of shoes.  It will also feature (if I can make my mental plans work out) a grooved - not notched - aluminum tension hoop.  It will be much like a bottle cap banjo, but again, made from commonly available materials with commonly available tools.

My definition of "commonly available" basically boils down to "what I can afford" (with my dear wife controlling the budget).  The tool list includes table saw, band saw, disc and spindle sanders, and drill press.  As far as materials go, both the flange and the hoop will be made from 1/8" flat bar, commonly available at hardware stores.  I also propose to do both without casting, machining (on a lathe or mill), welding, soldering, or gluing aluminum.  Once I succeed, I will share my methods on the Building, Setup, and Repair forum.

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Home Cooking

Sunday, August 23, 2015 2 comments

Working without a deadline

Saturday, February 28, 2015 Add Comment

Working to a deadline

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 1 comment

Playing at Scout Camp

Monday, August 11, 2014 Add Comment

Banjo building hiatus

Thursday, May 2, 2013 Add Comment

Metal Work

Friday, March 29, 2013 Add Comment

Progress report

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 Add Comment

Real banjos

Thursday, January 17, 2013 3 comments

Back to building

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 Add Comment

World Famous

Thursday, September 13, 2012 1 comment

Build a banjo, impress a girl

Monday, August 13, 2012 Add Comment


Tuesday, June 19, 2012 1 comment

What do I do now?

Friday, April 20, 2012 Add Comment

Lipstick on a pig?

Saturday, March 17, 2012 1 comment

Banjo as art

Saturday, February 11, 2012 3 comments

More exciting banjo news

Monday, January 23, 2012 1 comment

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Playing Since: 1998
Experience Level: Intermediate


Occupation: Computer Programmer

Gender: Male
Age: 68

My Instruments:
Home built - 2 minstrel fretless, 2 short-scale, others

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Bob Flesher, Camptown Shakers, Planxty, De Danaan, Deseret String Band, any Old-time, minstrel, string band types.

Classified Rating: not rated
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 6/19/2008
Last Visit 6/3/2024

Born in Arizona, I have fond memories of a small-town Colorado childhood and suburban Bay Area (CA) adolescence. I've lived my entire adult life in Utah. A computer programmer by profession, I enjoy working with my hands in wood and metal (although I find mistakes in software much easier to correct). I built my first instrument in 1991, my first banjo (and third overall) in 1999, and have built as of 2013 about 28 instruments, including 21 banjos, mostly from scratch on my own designs. I started trying to learn 3-finger banjo in 1998, found it to be too difficult, developed a two finger style on my own, but finally got the hang of frailing a few years later. Since then I've been slooowly working on improving my technique and repertoire. Favorite quotes: "A lot of our culture is lost in our lives-the old stories that were told by mothers and fathers who would go into the bush and then return to tell the others what they had seen. The problem now is that no one goes out and does anything, so we have no stories to tell our children. We have nothing to pass on. In the old days we had to make a musical instrument and sing along to it. Now we just go into town and buy a tape and listen to that." - Mario Mahongo, !Xu Bushman, quoted in National Geographic, Feb. 2001, p 117. "As a boy, I recall going with Dad to the woods to get the timber for banjo-making. He selected a tree by its appearance and by sounding...hitting a tree with a hammer or axe broadside to tell by the sound if it's straight-grained...As I watched him shaping the wood for a banjo, I learned to love the smell of the fresh shavings as they gathered on the floor of our cabin...When the strings was put on and the pegs turned and the musical notes began to fill the cabin, I looked upon my father as the greatest man on earth for creating such a wonderful thing out of a piece of wood, a greasy skin, and some strings." - Frank Profitt, cited in Foxfire 3, p 124 from Sing Out, Oct-Nov 1963.

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