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 :(
Got all the fiddly bits done on these three this week, heels cut and scoops scooped. Cut and inlaid a nice Abalone star into Gary's mountain banjo and figured out the tensioning system which is incorporated into the 'foxfire' inspired star holes on the back, all ready for final levelling before installing frets.
Finished the Cherry rim on Graham's open back, ready for sanding, an 11" rim with Ebony cap and a Brass rod tone ring. The slotted peghead and ramps are cut, just need to do all the inlay before fretting.
Ash's Walnut neck is also ready for final levelling before installing frets, the rim has been re-cut for a Brass rod tone ring which is sitting on top of a shaped Rosewood integral tone ring. The rest of the rim is 11" Walnut with Ebony cap, a goat skin head will finish it off nicely.
Finished Steve's banjo this week, a new Cherry neck for an old spun pot. Looks real nice and sounds super sweet.
Had a little break from banjo making this week to help my son make a robot for a school project, a good way to use up banjo scraps, maybe I'll start a new business venture!
After the toy making it was back to work on with Gary's mountain banjo, Graham's 'William Blake' banjo and Ash's Walnut open back
My personal banjo turned out freakin' awesome, it looks super cool and sounds better than I'd hoped. The combination of a Rosewood/brass tonering, a deep 12" Walnut rim, a thickish goat skin, a fantastic 'Buckeye' tailpiece and a little bit of skill have turned this into a 'killer' banjo.
Dan's banjo has turned out equally awesome, also armed with a 'Buckeye' tailpiece (highly recommended),a goat skin head and a 11" Walnut rim. Even without a tonering it still sounds sweet, unfortunately for me it is a 'lefty' so I can't give it a good play.
Steve's Cherry neck for his 'Dobson' pot should be up and running by the end of next week!
Been finishing off Tony's Cello banjo today, this is one helluva beast of a banjo, the deep, rumbling tones are seriously awesome.
I'll be uploading a video in a few days with some better pics after I've done a little more tinkering.
Didn't get as far with the other banjos as I'd hoped but managed to get Steve's Cherry neck ready for shaping. Hopefully I should be have the first coats of oil on Dan's and Steve's banjos by mid week.