Summer banjos and such

I had been meaning to continue with monthly reports showing what I’ve been doing in the shop, but over the summer I let myself fall behind.  I’ll get back to doing things in a more timely way now that fall is here.

In June I started by building a custom fiddle with walnut ribs and neck and a curly maple back.

P6180042.jpgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then I made a neck and pot for someone who was building a tenor banjo and wanted the parts partially done so he could apply the finishing touches:

P6300007.jpg

And a rim for another customer:

P6300010.jpg

Early in July I completed banjo #79, one of my regular 12″ walnut banjos, shown on the Banjos page.

In mid-July I finished #80, an internal resonator walnut banjo similar to #66 that was made for the BHO giveaway.  This banjo has a John Balch goatskin head.  I had heard a lot of good things about Mr. Balch and his work and the head was even nicer than I had expected.

P7150014.jpgP7150017.jpg

Later in July I made this washtub bass for a customer, based on the information on Dennis Havlena’s web page.  The customer wanted flush frets, so I used jatoba inserts on an ash fingerboard.  Most of the rest of the wood was cherry.  The height-adjustable toilet plunger foot was also an idea of the customer’s.

P8010033.jpg

In August I made two C scale banjos for people who had meant to buy the last stock one I had made.  #81 is mahogany and #82 is walnut.

P8040042.jpgP8160006.jpg

#82 is set up with nylgut minstrel banjo strings and tuned in open G.  The customer sent the strings to be put on it and I was surprised by how well they worked on such a short scale banjo.

The rim I had made for a customer in June evolved into banjo #83, supplied unfinished.  I didn’t get it done till early September.

P9130004.jpg

Banjo #84 is a cherry A scale with a 12″ pot.  This was my first time using Rocklite Sundari which is made to look like rosewood, it’s the fretboard and rim cap on this banjo.  I like how it works and looks and will continue to use it.

P9140010.jpgP9140013.jpg

In mid-September my other project was to make a marimbula, which was a thing I hadn’t heard of till the customer asked about it.  This was made for the same folks who commissioned the washtub bass and several other instruments over the last year and a half.  I’ve had a lot of fun working for them and getting to try out new things.

P9190018.jpg

Right now I am working on a left handed custom banjo and a stock 12″ walnut banjo which I hope to have done in the next ten days or so, along with a few sundry parts for other folks.  I will post a shorter update sooner next time.

Back at it again

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am back in the shop and making banjos (and other things) again.  My trip went well and for anyone who may be interested I’ve posted a trip report on the Adirondack Forum at the link below:

http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?p=269958#post269958

Here’s a link to a photo album on Flickr of some of the things I saw along the way:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/124694935@N08/albums/72157699145078491

I’ve got some custom jobs lined up through the end of November, but I’ll also be hoping to get some in-stock banjos made this fall, once I get caught up with things here on the farm.

I’ll be away August 22-28

I’ve not been keeping up with posting pictures of the things I’ve been building, but I will get back to it soon.  It’s been a busy summer at the farm, and I am leaving on the 22nd for my annual vacation, bicycle camping in the Adirondacks.  I’ll be out of cell service most of the time while I’m up there.  I’ll be back on the 28th and will reply as promptly as possible to all emails that have come in while I was gone.
Zach

29176461016_b363e36894_o (1).jpg

May banjos

I am very late in posting this, but I can still remember what happened in May so it’s not too late yet.  I’ve gotten involved in an unexpected roofing task which has been keeping me busier than normal this month in my ‘day job’ here at the farm.  May started out with #76, another banjo very much like #64 and built for the same owner:

P5150030.jpgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP5150032.jpgP5150033.jpg

Next came #77, a custom walnut C scale:

P5240003.jpgP5240004.jpgP5240005.jpgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My custom job for the last 10 days of May cancelled so I had some spare time and made a C scale banjo from mahogany to have in stock, #78.  It’s shown on the Banjos page.  I’ll have more to post soon about June’s instruments.

April- a parlor guitar and a roundneck resonator

April was almost all guitars for some reason.  The first project (for the first half of April) was my 5th acoustic guitar, and first parlor guitar.  It was a custom ordered project, made from walnut with Stew-Mac torrefied spruce for the soundboard and braces, persimmon fretboard and curly maple binding.  I was surprised by how big the sound of this guitar was, it has as much volume as any I have built.  Here’s a link to a very short video clip of it:

P4150054.JPGP4150055.JPGP4140049.JPGP4140047.JPGP4140046.JPGP4140051.JPG

During the construction of this guitar I also took a bit of time to set up banjo #75, which I had mostly built by the end of March.  It ss a stock walnut banjo and is shown on the Banjos page.

The second half of April mostly went into making my third resonator guitar.  It was also custom ordered, and was my first roundneck resonator(designed to be played like a regular guitar, not flat on the lap with a steel slide) and first guitar of any kind with a cutaway.  It was made from cherry with walnut binding and an ebony fretboard.  I didn’t make a video of it as I have not learned to play with a bottleneck slide, but when the customer picked it up he seemed to like the sound.  It had the same hardware as the two squareneck resonators I built before, using a Beard Original cone and Beard #14 spider, and since the cone and spider are what produce most of the sound it is pretty similar to them, I think.

P4300016.jpgP4300017.jpgP4300018.jpgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP4300020.jpg

In May I have two custom banjos to build, and then some extra time due to a cancellation, which I may fill by making a chicken head fiddle and another C scale banjo to have in stock.

March instruments

I meant to make this post two weeks ago, but time slipped away.  In March I started with a custom banjo, #70, a 12″ walnut A scale.

P3120020 (1).jpg

#71 was a walnut stock banjo, shown on the Banjos page

#72 was a custom ordered walnut 12″ with a Dobson heel and no dots

P3200001.jpgP3200003.jpg

#s 73 and 74 were also walnut stock banjos, shown on the Banjos page.

I also had the chance to make a replacement copy of a badly broken and even more badly repaired banjo neck, the customer sent me the pot and the remains of the neck, which he had bought somewhere, and I copied the neck design fairly closely.

P3200009.jpgP3200010.jpgP3200011.jpg

In non-banjo news I also had time to build another chicken head fiddle(fiddle #19), for a customer who was waiting for it.  This is similar to the previous chicken head fiddle I made in January except it has a jatoba fingerboard instead of hop-hornbeam.

P3120008.jpgP3120009.jpgP3120012.jpg

25% off on two banjos

***Both of these banjos have now been sold.***

Banjos #39 and #40 are now 25% off, at $648 and $633 respectively.  I’m just trying to move them out to make room for new projects, and they’ve been around for 16 months now.   They’re both shown on the Banjos page.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

February banjos

During February I made 6 banjos, of which 3 were custom made to order, 2 were in-stock instruments and 1 was for the BanjoHangout free drawing which is happening now.

Banjo #64 was an A scale internal resonator custom banjo

P2190031.jpg

P2190033.JPG

#65 was a custom D scale mini banjo, my first with an 8″ pot.  The rim is one of Mark Hickler’s partial internal resonator rims that he makes so well.

P2200036.JPG

P2200039.JPG

#66 is the giveaway banjo, pictures are below in a recent post.

#67 is a walnut 12″, shown on the Banjos page of this site.

#68 is a cherry 10″ C scale, also shown on the Banjos page.

#69 is a custom banjo with a 12″ internal resonator pot with one of my Whyte Laydie tone rings.  It is the first time I have ever used Rocklite Ebano, which is a new ebony substitute that was quite easy to work with and looks very much like ebony.  The customer was very enterprising and bought the Rocklite for the fretboard and the peghead overlay all the way from England and brought them out here when he came to visit before he ordered his banjo.  I’ll be offering Rocklite soon as an option on the Custom Banjos page.

P2270026.JPG

P2270028.JPG

Banjo #66 completed

I put 5 coats of Tru Oil finish on the banjo on Sunday and put it together today.

P2210004.jpg

It has a curly walnut peghead overlay and the fretboard is streaky ebony.  It’s a bit hard to see the streaks in the pictures.  I like scoops better now that I have the power fretting saw set up so I don’t have those annoying little bits of fret slot showing on the partial frets.

P2210005.jpgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The bottom of the tone ring is visible under the flesh hoop of the head.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recently went to using screws to fasten the brass plates rather than double sided tape, but the screws are so short that I have a hard time holding onto them to get them started.

P2210008.jpg

Now that the finishing is done the bookmatched resonator back is more apparent.

P2210011.jpg

P2210009.jpg

P2210010.jpg

The armrest is of the type pioneered by Jason Romero, though not as nice as his, I am sure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made a quick video demonstration of this banjo after I got it set up tonight.  I moved my right hand up and down a bit to try to show some of the range of sounds that this banjo can make.  I hope that perhaps someone will come by before the drawing who can really play and will let me make a video of them playing this banjo, but we don’t get a lot of visitors this time of year.

Building banjo #66, part 5

On Tuesday I sanded the back of the resonator flat on the 12″ disc sander and then used the table router to put a 1/4″ radius on the corners.

P2130020.jpg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Thursday I drilled a 3/4 hole for the dowel stick using the Shopsmith.

P2150023.jpg

I carved the hole out to a square shape using a 1/2″ chisel and a mallet, but I didn’t get any pictures of that.  On Friday I sanded the outside with the random orbit sander and the inside with the oscillating spindle sander.

P2170028.jpg

I also used the Shopsmith to drill the endbolt hole which can be seen in this picture.  I use extra long 10-24 hanger bolts with a standard endbolt knob, or whatever that round part is properly called.  It’s a lot easier than making a square blind hole into the inside of the tailblock and using a normal length hanger bolt, and the end result is equally good, as far as I can tell.  This morning I hand sanded the rim, neck and armrest to 400 grit and right after lunch I put on the first coat of Tru Oil.

P2180030.jpg

I’ll be getting it all put together on Tuesday or Wednesday if all goes according to plan, and I’ll post some pictures and a quick video of the completed banjo as soon as it’s all ready.