17 Fret Open-back tenor banjo

9th June 2021Uncategorised

Trad with a twist. Here is a recently finished little open back tenor for a customer in America.

Taking inspiration from a number of little open-back banjos from the 1920s I have been lucky enough to have in my possession over the years. This is a new take on a classic.

I have always found something quite charming about the 17 fret banjos of the 20s and 30s, but there is no doubt that for a gigging musician the stability of tuning is a real issue. Adding a more substantial pot, dual coordinator rods and a two way trussrod to the three part neck has brought this right up to date.

17 frets to the body on a 20.75" scale it a comfortable little banjo to play. A soft V shape neck rather than the modern C allows for more meat on the neck while feeling more slender in the hand. With a nice sharp volute to add some crisp lines to the neck.

I really enjoyed using purpleheart wood, very strong and super stable adding a cheeky touch of colour to the banjo. But I have to confess, it has made the rosewood stripe on my own banjo look rather boring in comparison.

Pearl Inlay on banjo heel cap
Sharp volute on maple banjo with purpleheart centre stripe

Purple heart mandolin

18th March 2021Mandolins, Uncategorised

Continuing my run of large bodied mandolins is this not-so-little number in Purpleheart wood.

It's a fascinating wood to work with, hitting Janka hardness scale with 2,520 lbf. It is harder than rosewood and working it you will find yourself stopping to sharpen tools all day.

And then there is the colour itself. Only developing while the wood oxidizes when you first cut it its a light orangey brown hue slowly working its way towards the purple it is famous for.

 

This mandolin is on the 372mm scale length giving it a little extra string tension to work that bigger top. The result is a full bodied sound with a rich low end.

The larger body size at a whopping 310m across the belly makes it a really comfortable choice. Particularly for those who find themselves folding over a smaller mandolin.

This long-scale mandolin comes complete with a small fingerboard extension for a player that loves hitting that high Bb up the (usually) dusty end of the instrument!