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Dec 7, 2021 - 4:39 PM
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2589 posts since 6/19/2008

About a year ago I posted the questions whether to put frets on a James Ashborn tribute banjo I was starting. The banjo is now complete. During construction, a customer contacted me about getting a fretless banjo, and I showed him this one, which was not yet fretted. It's ready for delivery now.

Details: The rim is bent from white oak, with a similar flange glued on for the tension hooks. The neck and neck extension is hickory, and the finger board, tailpiece, heel cap, and peg head overlay are from a nice dark piece of padauk. The Ashborn tribute features are the tensioning system including the flange and the tabs wrapped around the hoop for the hooks. I'm a big fan of using flanges instead of shoes, as the banjos are so much more comfortable to hold in one's lap. Also the tailpiece design and the mechanical tuners are a tribute. I have a friend who has an Ashborn-built guitar with the slotted peghead and tuners that James Ashborn or one of his workers probably personally machined, which are simple and beautiful. I don't have that capability, but I did add brass barrels to the tuners I used to thicken the string posts, for the use of Nylgut or nylon strings. I'm highly prejudiced against the use of steel strings on fretless banjos, though I allow everyone their own opinions.

You may note that the caption of one of the pictures calls it "Ashbourne" banjo. This spelling of the name is taken from a street on which I lived, high school through Jr. college years.

Dec 8, 2021 - 3:20:33 AM
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15031 posts since 8/30/2006

Every feature shows great forethought, the 5th string tuner compartment is very original.
The tapered dowel is too cool.

I wonder what she weighs.
Very nice.

Dec 8, 2021 - 3:44:11 AM

58619 posts since 12/14/2005

I admire your work.

Dec 8, 2021 - 8:24:56 AM

2589 posts since 6/19/2008

It weighs 5.8 pounds, according to my bathroom scales. The hickory and oak are not the lightest of woods. The balance is really good, balance point is just about at the heel.

Dec 8, 2021 - 4:49:44 PM
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2589 posts since 6/19/2008

Here is a sound sample.  I quite like the sound of this banjo, for minstrel playing.  I wasn't sure I would but it seems to have played in over the last few days.  I apologize for the somewhat poor playing.  My left index finger has been injured and is just getting back into playing condition, so I haven't been able to practice much, and it shows.

Dec 8, 2021 - 5:48:26 PM

58619 posts since 12/14/2005

Sounds like a very nice old banjo.
I expect it shall only get nicer and older.

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