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May 18, 2019 - 4:18:12 PM
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MrMoe

USA

6 posts since 5/18/2019

At the risk of making a fool of myself I built a wood banjo. Curious what the community might think of such an idea


 

May 18, 2019 - 4:29:56 PM
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90 posts since 4/1/2016

Looks great! Howzit sound? Can you post a clip?

May 18, 2019 - 4:37:07 PM
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4600 posts since 5/9/2007

Looks great!

Probably sounds similar to ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOltq9WXO9g

Edited by - mrphysics55 on 05/18/2019 16:38:52

May 18, 2019 - 4:49:18 PM
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8572 posts since 2/22/2007

Not a banjo----can't get banjo sounds out of a wood soundboard, need some sort of a membrane for that---- but it does look like a cool banjola. Congrats!

May 18, 2019 - 4:53:11 PM

MrMoe

USA

6 posts since 5/18/2019

I loaned it to my sons band-mate and it made it on to his album
youtube.com/watch?v=Li67N5Oe6RU

May 18, 2019 - 5:12:26 PM
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Fathand

Canada

11339 posts since 2/7/2008

Banjo Mandolin?

May 18, 2019 - 5:22:04 PM
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51734 posts since 12/14/2005

No, not a banjo mandolin.
Not enough strings.

May 18, 2019 - 5:29:54 PM
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2465 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

A fixed bridge does not a banjo make. So says the Earl police, if such exists.

Also a replaceable bridge is a must for a banjo to be a banjo. Else, all those boutique bridge and tailpiece makers would be without customers.

A shortened 5th string tuned to G2 would make this a Banjola. Or a round wood body mandola with a banjo neck.

This instrument looks really nice. Thank you for sharing your talent

May 18, 2019 - 6:00:25 PM
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11870 posts since 6/29/2005

In the 1800s August Pollman patented an instrument with a mandolin-like body and a banjo neck, which was called the "banjo lute"and the "mandoline banjo". They had mandolin-like tailpieces and movable bridges, but were otherwise very similar to your instrument.  I think you are going to like it— they're a lot of fun to play.

In an album produced in around 1960 called "Walter Forbes, Ballads and Bluegrass", a Jackson Pollman Banjo lute was used to play several traditional bluegrass tunes, including "Take this Hammer". That's probably the first time they were used to play that kind of music in a recording.

They are definitely not banjos, but banjo players can play them without having to learn anything new, and they have a very interesting harplike sound with a lot of sustain.  I made one in around 1966, and then started making them in earnest about 8 years ago. I don't make many of them, but I currently have two orders for them— one with steel strings and one with nylon strings. Mine have pin bridges like yours, and scalloped X-bracing like a guitar.

Here's the page from my website showing pictures.

https://levanbanjos.com/levanbanjos.levandesign.com/banjo_lutes.html

For what it's worth here is a sound sample


May 18, 2019 - 6:46:17 PM
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7293 posts since 1/7/2005

Yes, I remember the Forbes album with the banjo lute. More recently Gold Tone marketed one under the name of Banjola. But I believe they discontinued production.

DD

May 18, 2019 - 6:46:56 PM

MrMoe

USA

6 posts since 5/18/2019

Wow! fantastic workmanship by Mr. Le Van  : )

Edited by - MrMoe on 05/18/2019 18:51:38

May 18, 2019 - 7:10:03 PM

MrMoe

USA

6 posts since 5/18/2019

Someone pointed out to me that this type is similar to "The Instrument" (Shirley Collins)
soundonsound.com/people/shirley-collins

May 19, 2019 - 4:45:36 AM
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11870 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Drabek

Yes, I remember the Forbes album with the banjo lute. More recently Gold Tone marketed one under the name of Banjola. But I believe they discontinued production.

DD


You are right.  I really dislike the name "Banjola".  It sounds to me like some kind of mechanical banjo gizmo, something you would find at an amusement park— Hey Joe, crank up the banjola so we can hear "Happy Times Are Here Again".

As you can see, I would not refer to them as banjolas, preferring the older name from when it first appeared, at least what I remember from the Walter Forbes album.

As a funny note, ever since I made the first one in 1968, I was frustrated because I couldn't play Take this Hammer like it was played on that album —I could hear it in my head and know the song, but couldn't figure out how he was playing it.  Last week, I tuned a banjo lute to double C because I wanted to play Sail Away Ladies , and lo and behold- I could now play Take this Hammer pretty much like the Walter Forbes album. DUH, it only took me 50 years to figure that out.

May 19, 2019 - 5:12:44 AM
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11870 posts since 6/29/2005

They were very popular during the 1890s, but strangely, few original ones survive.  Here is a picture of two surviving August Pollman ones circa 1890. The Ultra Artist model to the right was probably inlaid by the J H Buckbee Co.

As you see, they had tailpieces and movable bridges like mandolins and banjos.

May 19, 2019 - 5:34:22 AM

MrMoe

USA

6 posts since 5/18/2019

Thanks to all. Very helpful. If iI make another one it will have a trapeze bridge and I will call it a Lute or Banjo Lute or Lute banjo ?

Thanks again, Maurice


May 19, 2019 - 5:53:58 AM
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11870 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by MrMoe

Thanks to all. Very helpful. If iI make another one it will have a trapeze bridge and I will call it a Lute or Banjo Lute or Lute banjo ?

Thanks again, Maurice


By your pictures, it looks like you figured this out when you designed the instrument , but it's worth mentioning for others that if you make these the right size , they will fit in a normal resonator banjo case.

May 19, 2019 - 5:56:28 AM
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4425 posts since 9/7/2009

Sounds similar to these I make from cigar boxes, only I build shorter necks and are tuned to open "C".

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztxRkz7hZ4c

May 19, 2019 - 5:56:54 AM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14162 posts since 3/27/2004

I built a wood top a few years back modeled after a commercially made wood top banjo that I found displayed on the Museum of Appalachia website.

Here's a quick photo (there are several close up shots on my BHO photo page in a folder labeled as "Wood Top Banjo".  I've attached the construction plan for anyone that might wish to build the same instrument.

There's a topic posted in the archives here with sound samples if this sort of thing trips your trigger.


May 19, 2019 - 8:06:33 PM

MrMoe

USA

6 posts since 5/18/2019

Thanks Rudy, That looks real good. I am reading up on those archived posts, More helpful info. Thanks for the plan as well, I like the tail piece.

May 20, 2019 - 8:42:26 AM
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Players Union Member

wizofos

USA

5080 posts since 8/19/2012

After playing with 2 commercial instruments I decided to play with a neck profile that I liked over the typical commercial profile. I wanted something a bit wider. Anyway started with some layups and after some experimentation came out with something I like so looked for a rim to use and made a stave rim out of some scrap maple I had. Bottom line is that this was an experiment and I ended up putting Baltic birch on it for a top and made the neck with Rudy's through rim design. You can see some pics on my home page and a sound file of Mike Gregory playing Worried Man Blues. Just to keep it cheap I used fishing line for strings. The one thing I found is that it is good for quiet practice. Not as nice a Rudy's but fun to build.


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