Over the years…

I started building banjos when I was sixteen years old. I felt like they were decent enough to sell by the time I was seventeen. I’m nearly 23 now and I’ve been building ever since. I’ve now sold over 60 banjos and probably built close to 75.

Here is the workshop. Its the messy back half of my parent’s garage. The only electric tools I use are a bandsaw, table belt sander, drill press, hand router, and a handheld jig saw. They are all I need. You can have all the fancy equipment you want but what good is it if you don’t need it? I use a few hand tools as well: a 1″ chisel, a few files and rasps, and sand paper.

I dug two of my first banjos out of my closet today. I robbed the skin and strings off of them years ago.

Wow, let me tell you, these things are rough. Yes, that black thing is a frying pan. I had a piece of plywood on top as a soundboard. Surprisingly, this thing played nice, even with the paperclip wire frets. The other banjo was a tackhead, but the skin was droopy and the tacks cracked the flimsy pot in many places. I played both of these a lot, but I knew they weren’t the best. The necks were cut out of old 2×4’s with a hand saw and then shaped with a bench grinder.

I’ve always made my own pegs, but I’ve really come a long way in the past three or four years. It took me years to develop the peg blank that I use now. They kind of  slowly evolved over time into something I am quite pleased with.  I start with a blank that is the general shape of the peg then turn it down on the side of my belt sander. It used to take me nearly an hour to make five pegs. Now, I can crank out about 20 in the same time.

I’m always improving my banjo designs. Who knows how different they will be in five years?

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5 Responses to “Over the years…”

  1. Greg Says:

    Great post!

  2. brycesapp Says:

    Hey man, I love the banjos! Really beautiful work. I had a couple quick questions for you… on the frying pan banjo, did you cut a soundhole in the plywood top or was it solid? Also, what kind of gourds do you grow for your banjos?

  3. Myles Says:

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