I’m taking my annual vacation this week, bicycling to the Adirondacks, as I have been doing for 10 years now. I will be out of reach of communication during most of my trip but I will reply to emails as soon as possible on my return.
Banjo #117 was a custom ash 12″ with a Whyte Laydie type tone ring and a Dobson heel.
#118 was a stock banjo, it can be seen on the Banjos page.
My last two projects were in the works at once. Fiddle #22 is a cherry chicken head and is shown on the Fiddles page, and I made a custom ash neck for a vintage banjo pot that was mailed to me.
My plan for August is to build a cherry A5 style mandolin and a walnut guitar bodied octave mandolin, and a banjo or two if time permits, as I will be gone for a week in the latter part of August as usual.
June was another low-production month since I spent a number of evenings working on the roof instead of in the shop, but now the roof job is done and I am back up to full speed, such as it is. My first June job was a custom 5+1 neck fitted to a very unusual old pot for a customer.
My last custom job for June was an OM size guitar made from cherry and western red cedar with a jatoba fretboard. It was made for a Banjo Hangout member who was kind enough to make a post about it on BHO, which I will link to below:
Later in June I made a neck for an old banjo pot I got at the flea market. I didn’t list it here on my web site but it is for sale on the classified listings on BHO at the link below.
Banjos 115 and 116 were stock banjos, I began them in June but didn’t get them completed till early July, and they are both shown on the Banjos page.
This May was not one of my more productive months in the workshop, but sometimes that’s how it goes. My first project was banjo #113, a custom walnut short scale with a WL/Electric type tone ring.
My other completed project was banjo #114, which was a custom curly maple A scale with hickory accents and the same kind of tone ring.
I spent the last 10 days of May working on a banjo neck and starting a guitar, both of which will appear in the June update after they are done. I had hoped to get the neck done in May before starting the guitar but I caught a cold and lost some time.
I am very late writing this update, but I can still remember a lot of what happened in April. My first project was banjo #111, which is another walnut C scale and can be seen on the Banjos page.
I made two squareneck resonator guitars back in 2014 or so, and the second one sold last summer. I had been meaning to make another one for a while and I finally got it done in April. This is my first walnut resonator and my first bound headstock. It’s shown on the Guitars page. I made a primitive go-bar press while I was building this resonator and used it for several of the steps, and I am very pleased with how much easier it makes the clamping of large assemblies. I didn’t think to take any pictures of it in use but I’ll take one next time I use it.
I made two necks in April, the first was an asymmetrical slothead design.
The second neck was a shorter scale length for a uniquely designed mountain banjo pot and was supplied unfinished.
My last project completed in April was a walnut custom banjo (#112) with a fatter neck and a few other alterations from what I normally build.
My first jobs in March were continued from the last part of February. I made a mountain dulcimer (#45) and a banjo (#108) from the gym floor wood, for the customer who brought the wood. The dulcimer is a bit of a departure for me as it is the first I have made with a sloped headstock and vertical tuners and a separate fretboard. The banjo is a slightly modified version of the Bluestem Mountain Banjo Nouveau plan which was designed and made available online by Randy Cordle, who goes by Rudy on Banjo Hangout. This was my first mountain banjo of any kind. Both instruments were shipped unfinished but set up.
My next job was to make a new neck for a banjo I built a year ago. The customer decided he wanted a slightly longer scale length, two more frets and a more central bridge location. He sent the pot back to me to be fitted with the new neck.
Next came banjo #109, an ash banjo with hickory trim and persimmon fretboard. This was another half-fretless. It’s the first banjo I’ve made in a while to have nickel and aluminum hardware rather than brass. I have a piece of very curly ash that I cut from for the peghead overlay, and the neck is mildly curly which I didn’t find out till I ran the wood through the planer to clean it up ready for use.
My last job in March was banjo #110, which is similar to #101 except that it is fretless and has a John Balch goat skin head and a paddle peghead with a coin inlaid.
My first job in February was making a partially fretless neck to fit a client’s pot. This was my first time making and setting up a partially fretless neck. I roughed out a neck and fretboard similar to this a few years ago, but the customer did the final work on that project so I didn’t get to see how it worked out in person.
My next project was to make a neck and rim and send them to a customer partially completed. He wanted to do the rest of the work himself.
Then came my first octave mandolin. The customer wanted one with a guitar shaped body and sent a plan for the shape. This was a fun project and I was surprised by how nice it sounded, though I don’t know how to play anything in the mandolin family properly.
I also made banjos #105, 106 and 107 during February, they are all shown on the Banjos page.
I started off the year with a couple of unusual (for me) custom jobs. The first was a mandolin made from maple lumber salvaged from an old gym floor which had sentimental significance. It was supplied unfinished. This was my first time working with Adirondack spruce, and my first time installing a pickguard and binding on a mandolin.
The other custom job for January was my first left handed fiddle, and also my first chicken head fiddle made from walnut.
Banjos 101 through 104 were all in-stock instruments and are shown on the Banjos page. I also made a curly maple dulcimer which is on the Dulcimers page, which is under the Other Instruments page.
In December my first project was to build banjo #98 from a walnut board that was supplied by the customer. It came from a tree that was planted by a neighbor of his and blew down in a storm.
My next job was to build a replacement for a broken vintage banjo neck. This also involved salvaging a piece of bone inlay from the old peghead and putting it in the new.
Banjos #99 and 100 are stock banjos shown on the Banjos page. 2018 was a very good year in the workshop. I built 40 banjos this year, more than ever before, along with a few necks and other parts, three fiddles, a resonator guitar, an acoustic guitar, a dulcimer and a couple of experimental bass projects. I’m looking forward to seeing how 2019 goes.
My first project in November was to build a cello banjo, #92. It is shown on the Banjos page. #93 was a custom walnut 10″ C scale banjo with an extra-thin D shaped neck. I used a low profile truss rod to get an 18mm neck depth along the full length. This banjo also has pearl dots instead of brass.
I also made a custom walnut 5 string neck with hickory trim for an old Vega pot:
I made another dulcimer since I have been out of stock of them for a few months, it’s shown on the Other Instruments page, on the Dulcimers page.
Banjos 94 through 97 are all stock instruments, shown on the Banjos page. Doing custom work provides more variety but stock instruments are nice to make because I don’t have to figure out new measurements before I build them. Also during November I got back banjo #62 and the chicken-head fiddle I had made for the exhibit at TAUNY last January. Someone who had seen the exhibit came down to look at the banjo once the exhibit was over, and he ended up buying the other ash banjo I had in stock at the time. Banjo #62 has a link on its page to a NCPR story with some high quality audio of the banjo being played by a very skilled musician. The chicken head fiddle can be found on the Fiddles page now that it is available.