Also made a start on Steve's Ash mountain banjer.
Been working on Brent's Walnut open back this week, just need to the cut the heel, level the radiused fingerboard, cut the scoop, install the frets, carve the neck and we'll be nearly there!
Also made a start on Steve's Ash mountain banjer.
A great Friday in the workshop today, finishing off these two tackhead banjos with some Kenny Baker cranked up on the stereo!
Both have 11" 2 ply steam bent Ash rims, Goat skin heads, Ash necks and Maple bridges.
Tom opted for additional Ebony fingerboard and peghead overlay and Alan went for Grover Champion friction tuners and a geared 5th.
Tom's below (yes, the 4th string is wound the wrong way, a momentary lapse of concentration whilst listening to Kenny's awesome fiddling!)
Finished Mona's banjo today, a rather nice short scale fretless with discreet markers. Neck is a Cherry 2-piece with 23.5" scale Ebony board, peghead overlay and heel cap, strung up with Nylgut Classics and married to an old 'Matthews' pot.
Heels, scoops and pegheads cut on the 2 Tackheads this week (Alan's left, Tom's right), just need to finish carving the necks, shape top and bottom of rims, make dowel sticks, plenty of sanding and they'll be ready for staining!
It has been a while since my last update, I had a few weeks off for a much needed holiday, spent a week doing some more DIY stuff to the house and just spent last week sourcing/ordering materials, typing up new orders, servicing tools and doing some general banjo luthiery work.
This week I've been getting my arse into gear and carrying on with the commissions I had started before my holiday, Mona's fretless banjo has just had the 1st coat of oil applied and should be playing by the end of next week. The 2 tackheads are roughed out ready for working on next week and both should be at the oiling stage by next Friday.
These last few weeks I have received a huge amount of new commissions, this means the wait time for new orders has now gone up to 9 months. Some exciting builds to look forward to (for me anyway), an 'Ashborn', a 'Tubaphone' and a long neck being three of them.
Left to right: Mona's Cherry neck and 'Matthews' pot, Brent's Walnut neck and rim, Ash tackheads for Tom and Alan!
Spent the last couple of weeks getting my shit together before getting stuck into the next batch, getting all steamy, bending slats like it was going out of fashion and slotting fingerboards, even managed to spend 3 days wrecking the house doing some dodgy DIY!
The left pic is a few of the dozens of Oak, Ash Cherry, Maple and Walnut slats I bent ready for gluing, I have couple of Tackheads to build in a couple of months for Tom and Alan using the the Ash, the rest are for some slightly different open-back designs I'm working on.
The photo on the right shows a few necks I'm getting on with, a couple of these will be for 'stock' banjos later in the year.
First neck is a Cherry, 23.5" scale, flush fret I'm fitting to a vintage 'Matthews' pot for Mona, this will be heading to the French Island of La Renuion, out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, that'll be a first for one of my banjos!
Just got the fingerboard radiused and slotted this afternoon for Brent's banjo, the Walnut neck has the 'humbug' effect (Maple,Ebony, Maple veneers) through the middle and will also have Maple veneers under the fingerboard and peghead overlay, which looks great with a slotted peghead.
Some photos and videos of the 3 banjos finished last week. Video quality is crap as my camera is now refusing to stay in focus, but you get the idea!
Finished this one mid week, the old 'Temlett' pot was given to me earlier in the year and just needed a new skin. As the pot was on the small side I decided to fit a 23.5" scale neck to it, making it an ideal 'child' size banjo, in the hope one of my kids will learn! The super thin skin and small pot give this banjo a really sweet tone.
Ash's banjo was finished about 10 minutes ago, the goat skin still has some stretching to go but it is sounding fantastic. An 11" Walnut rim with Indian Rosewood and brass tonering and Ebony rim cap. The neck is Walnut with a 25.5" Ebony fingerboard and 'Dobson' style heel
Graham's banjo is 99% finished, still need to get the brass scoop plate cut and engraved and make a suitable bridge. Graham's inspiration for the design was William Blake's 'I want! I want!' etching, with the frets representing the ladder to the moon, the words will be engraved in the scoop.
It is looking fantastic, the combination of Cherry, Ebony, inlayed Gold pearl/Paua dots, Brass and slotted peghead all work a treat.
Just finished Gary's mountain banjo this afternoon, I had great fun putting this one together and trying out new ideas. Made pretty much entirely from Ash, except for the Rosewood fingerboard, peghead overlay and Cherry bridge. The 8" Renaissance head can be tuned using a flat screwdriver from the rear. This is the first fully fretted, steel strung mountain style I have made and it has turned out better than I'd hoped, this thing has a lovely tone and would kick the s**t out of a lot of open backs I've heard.
I've also just started oiling the other 3 banjos I'm working on, at least one of them should be finished by the end of next week.
A few pics of where I'm at with the current batch of commissions.
Applied a nice rich brown stain to Gary's mountain banjo and the first coat of oil, I'll get a tone ring made next week whilst waiting for the oil to dry then should be able to assemble the end of the week.
Inlaid the mixture of gold mother of pearl and New Zealand Paua into Graham's banjo neck, just need to carve the rear of the neck and cut the fancy brass scoop before sanding.
Ash's banjo is all ready for final sanding prior to oiling. The Rim was all finished but some modifications were made to the tone ring so it needs to be re-finished, the difference between the unfinished Walnut neck and the oiled rim can be seen in the photo.
I've also been trying to finish off the neck for the old 'Temlett' pot I was given by Tym earlier in the year. I stretched on a new super thin calf skin as the old skin was past its best, the pot only came with half a neck so I cut the dowel off and will inset the original makers stamp into the rear of the new dowel stick. I also tried a new heel shape on this one, copied from an old 'Matthews' neck I have.
Looks like next week will mostly be spent sanding, can't wait :(