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Apr 17, 2024 - 12:56:43 PM
29 posts since 5/21/2023

Hello all!

I’m considering building a travel banjo. I’d like to have something I can carry on an airplane or pack in my checked bag when i travel. Even having something i can keep in the car for random occasions where I have a long wait and can get some practice time in…

The tranjo is very cool, but at $1195, I’m wondering if I could build something that’s “good enough” for a fraction of the cost that would work.

Has anyone ever tried this? How did this work out? Or would the cost of parts alone push it to where it’s just not worth the effort?

Here is my “parts list” that I’d need to come up with:

1) Neck - would be ideal to have a headless and put the tuners in the body
2) wood body
3) bridge
4) tailpiece or terminate at tuners
5) tuners

Thoughts?

Thanks!

Apr 17, 2024 - 1:04:44 PM
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199 posts since 10/5/2019

If I was to build a mini banjo I’d probably get a lot of parts from Gold tone as they are the only ones making small scale parts to sell. They make an 8” pot which they use for the BGmini and ukuleles.
goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldton...rts/r-bg8
They also sell the head and other metal parts for an 8” banjo.
If you’re looking for a cheap option, the Chinese Vangoa banjos keep getting improved and I’d be tempted to get one for the price. A few years ago when they first came out with these mini 5 string banjos they didn’t have a resonator, flange or armrest and the heads were flimsy clear heads. Now I’m sure they aren’t any better quality but they’ve made a lot of improvements.
a.co/d/2dFkiof

Edited by - Timothy Lindblom on 04/17/2024 13:06:10

Apr 17, 2024 - 1:29:54 PM
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62089 posts since 12/14/2005

I made one out of a small FIRST ACT electric guitar.
Cut a hole in the solid body, epoxy and tacked a flattened soft drink bottle over it, hit it with a hair dryer, to shrink it tight.

It fit kitty-corner inside my big suitcase.

ALTERNATIVE: Get a banjo uke and add a 5th string peg.


Apr 17, 2024 - 1:32:37 PM

62089 posts since 12/14/2005

Here's the side piece I added to Mary's tenor to make it a fiver.

The big black clamp was just a prop to position it for the picture.

 

OAF or FOX ACHE! The picture is FLIPPED and it looks like I made it for the TREBLE side.


Edited by - mike gregory on 04/17/2024 13:34:25

Apr 17, 2024 - 2:04:28 PM
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JayCee

USA

71 posts since 11/5/2005

Check Mark Hickler’s website and his Standard Frailer.See the video that shows him taking it apart. Jaycee

Apr 17, 2024 - 4:44:31 PM
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martyjoe

Ireland

520 posts since 3/24/2020

Here’s a bunch of travel friendly banjos. The bass is the head of the family.


 

Apr 17, 2024 - 5:08:59 PM
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8 posts since 6/5/2020

@stevenpcharles, you might consider modifying a mountain banjo kit, like the one from harpkit.com. By my (imprecise) estimate, I think you could probably modify it to a total length of about 32 inches - maybe less, if you are clever. Just a thought.

Apr 17, 2024 - 5:09:03 PM

133 posts since 3/3/2008

Just bought a standard Goodtime from Turtle Hill as my new travel banjo. It's nowhere near being a great banjo but was MUCH better than the Gold Tone basic models and is made in the USA. I considered the Goodtime junior but didn't want to get one sight unseen since I'm uncertain whether the short scale would work well for me.

Also, I played the Cox Banjo that Danny had and it's a surprisingly great sounding and playing banjo.

@turtlehill

Apr 17, 2024 - 6:01:10 PM

242 posts since 2/20/2004

Steven,
I built my own Tranjo. Just kind of copied what I saw on line.
At the time I was traveling 100 plus nights a year on planes trains and automobiles.
I’m since retired and loving life.

I’d be willing to part with it. In fact, I’m going to post on The Hangout sometime.
Built from walnut, with an A scale but can be tuned to G with heavy strings.
As per your original post it’s “good enough”
PM me if interested.

Apr 17, 2024 - 6:06:24 PM

1673 posts since 1/9/2012

I second the idea of a Gootime openback. In my work, I ended up taking them apart many, many times. It's easy. You loosen the strings and hold then more or less in place with a capo or velcro strap. The only tools you need are an adjustable wrench (I use a 4") and something like a nail to go in the hole in the co-rod.

You loosen the big nut inside the pot at the tail and undo the co-rod from the neck. You remove the little nut that holds the neck onto the rim. That's it.

On its own, the neck is 26 1/2" long, including the 1" of hanger bolts protruding at the heel. The pot is 11".

The Goodtime Jr neck is 2" shorter. But you have to consider that the scale length is 23", i.e., 3" shorter, and it has only 17 frets.

Apr 17, 2024 - 7:53:35 PM
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1910 posts since 2/28/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Gallaher

Steven,
I built my own Tranjo. Just kind of copied what I saw on line.
At the time I was traveling 100 plus nights a year on planes trains and automobiles.
I’m since retired and loving life.

I’d be willing to part with it. In fact, I’m going to post on The Hangout sometime.
Built from walnut, with an A scale but can be tuned to G with heavy strings.
As per your original post it’s “good enough”
PM me if interested.


I'd like to see pictures of that! I'm always interested in what other folks have come up with to solve their travel banjo needs. But please, don't post it for sale as a Tranjo. The name is still my trademark even though the design details are now in the public domain.  This is my twentieth year in business - I still can't believe people are actually buying the things!

Thanks!

Sam Farris

Farris Travel Banjo Co.

Edited by - sdfarris on 04/17/2024 19:55:31

Apr 17, 2024 - 8:40:59 PM

242 posts since 2/20/2004

Yes, of course it’s not a Tranjo. Your banjos are really cool. Mine is just a “good enough” folding travel banjo. Not as refined as yours. I just copied the concept.
I thought you sold out to gold tone.
Will post pics in the next few days.

Apr 22, 2024 - 4:12:34 PM
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852 posts since 9/7/2005

I have an old folding banjo made by John Sloan and it works great. As John got on in years his son Peter took over the business, but he later sold the business and that guy (I can’t remember his name) used to advertise here on the BHO, but have not seen his ads in a while.
I just did a search on folding banjos and the Sloan family still have their hands in them so check them out.

sloanbanjos.com/banjos.html

Before I had my Sloan I had a Saga SS10P pony banjo that worked well as a travel instrument, but it liked to be tuned to open C and I did not always care to play in that high tuning. It worked, but when I found the Sloan folding banjo that was a full sized banjo, it worked out to be the best option for me. Full scale length, 11” head, very easy to pack and transport and well made too.


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