This is an experimental wood topped banjo, or banjo hybrid of some kind. I was asked to make something similar about a year ago, and have been meaning ever since to make one to have in stock. This one is a bit different from the first one. The bridge is somewhat further from the tailpiece, in the area of the head where I like to put them on the regular banjos I build. Also it looks more like the banjos I normally make, without the fancier details (including the customer’s fine inlay work) from the first one. The sound seems to me almost or about as loud as my regular banjos, but with a bit more sustain. The weight is 3 pounds 3 ounces, and the banjo fits in an 11″ case since it doesn’t have all the hardware on the outside of the rim that a conventional banjo would.
The neck and soundbox back are made from cherry, the sides of the soundbox (or the rim of the banjo if you look at it that way) consist of a slice of a Keller drum shell with a 1/16″ walnut veneer bringing the total wall thickness to about 1/4″. The neck stripe and heel cap are also walnut. The soundboard is western red cedar, the fretboard is jatoba and the peghead overlay and truss rod cover are cherry burl. The tuners are Gotohs, the tailpiece is a modified No-Knot, and the strings are D’Addario EJ61, all from Smakula Fretted Instruments. The fret wire is nickel-silver and there is a two way truss rod in the neck. The bridge is different than what I usually make, since I wanted a full length foot to avoid the risk of denting the soundboard with small feet. The scale length is 25.5″ and the nut width is 1-3/8″. The finish is Tru Oil.
The banjo is currently set up with a tall 5th string nut to raise the 5th to the level of the other strings, but I can shorten the nut so the string rests on the 5th fret if desired. I can also add 5th string spikes for $5 each. If you want a case with this banjo I can ship it in a Superior bump case, model CD-1535, for $150. To see a video demonstration of this banjo (or whatever it is) please follow the link below: