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In October, I attended the 1st “Build an Appalachian Banjo with Pisgah Banjo Company” workshop at the Warren Wilson College Folk Shop in Asheville, NC. It was one of the most fun, challenging and educational weeks of my life, and I came home with a banjo that is not only beautiful and fantastic-sounding (comparable to Pisgah’s Ramber model), but one that I’m extremely proud to say that I built myself.
I have been restoring old banjos for a couple of years, but had limited knowledge. I had been wanting to learn enough to build my own banjo, so when I saw that this workshop was being offered, I immediately signed up. As it turns out, I learned everything I had wanted to know, and more.
Considering the workshop was only 6 days, I had expected that we would be using power shapers and jigs for things like carving necks. However, Patrick handed out rasps and cabinet scrapers, and taught us how to hand-shape a banjo neck. We steam-bent rim plies, did our own fret work, etc. It was a lot of ground to cover in 6 days, especially since some of us (10 of us took the workshop) had little or no woodworking experience. However, Patrick amazingly kept us all on track, so we had 11 completed banjos at the end of the 6 days, and I think everyone was very pleased with what we accomplished. Patrick and Adam (who also works with Pisgah Banjos) were extremely helpful and really gave away their banjo-building “secrets.”
The one aspect that I really appreciated about the workshop is that it wasn’t just a lesson in working in a banjo factory; we actually learned enough to go home and build a professional-quality banjo with very basic tools. I'm already planning out my next banjo.
I should also mention that Bill at Warren Wilson College was a great host, and he and his wife went above and beyond in providing us with lunches and snacks for the week.
WWC and Pisgah Banjos are offering the workshop again March 16-22, 2014. You can see some photos of the class on PBCO’s facebook page, and I’ll try to upload a few on my BHO homepage as well.
Overall Rating: 10
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