May banjos and an octave mandolin

I was late getting my May banjos set up, since I started more than I had time to complete during the month. I think June 8 was when the last one got done. June is a 3-1/2 banjo month this year, so I should be able to get done on time even though I started so late. The first thing that was completed in May was an octave mandolin that I began in April.

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This was a stock instrument but was already spoken for before it was built. Banjo #212 was made following the internally tensioned pot design invented by Rudy and posted in a diagram on Banjo Hangout some years ago. The customer had seen this design and wanted to try it, since it is more comfortable without the hooks and shoes on the outside. This banjo was shipped unfinished. I had a problem with the pot veneer the first time, it is thicker than what I have mostly used and I pre-bent it on a hot pipe, the same way I do guitar sides. This left a couple of voids between the rim and veneer, and when I sanded the rim the veneer over the voids got thin and soft. The customer noticed the soft spots during the finishing process. I have just replaced the veneer and the top and bottom caps, and this time I bent the veneer dry, right onto the rim, which took much more force but makes a more consistent shape.

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Banjo # 213 was a real oddity, with a 5+1 design and 22 frets per octave. The customer knew what he wanted and i told him I would be happy to build it if he did the math to figure out the fret placement. Luckily he lives somewhat locally and was able to come and pick it up in person.

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Banjo #214 was a fairly standard design for me, but using padauk, which is new to me, as well as persimmon and walnut. The customer made the decisions about wood choices. I was happy to get to try padauk, it’s something I may use on a stock banjo sometime too.

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All of these custom banjos were done by the end of the evening on May 31, but then I still had 5 stock banjos to sand, finish and set up, which took another week or so. Banjos 215-219 are shown on the Banjos page. Once I get the June banjos and a neck done I will be making another octave mandolin, this time from cherry. It is to be a stock instrument but is already spoken for. I’m hoping that by giving it my undivided attention I can get it done in a week or two. The there will be a few July banjos to build, and maybe another chicken head fiddle if time permits. I’ll hope to post my June report in a more timely way than this one.

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