Remember to click G+1 if you like a post... It will make me happy :-)

12 April 2014

More Dreaming about Building a Banjo

I've been spending more time wondering whether I've got what it takes to make a banjo. For the main part this has meant hours on the internet and lots of little scribbles on scraps of paper as I try to gather my thoughts. Let me try and explain some of what's been going through my head...

Fiction and reality are beginning to overlap. I wonder if this picture will make its way into my new comic? We'll just have to wait and see! 

Let's start with a rant!

I discovered a flaw in Google+ a couple of weeks ago when I became the victim of censorship. I was having a little bit of fun with my "followers" releasing this "selfie" of me playing my banjo. This version of the picture has been doctored slightly to ensure that it doesn't get flagged a second time. Get this... I'd shared it privately. I'd much rather that the person had blocked me than censored my post. Sooooo angry!

Here's a shot of me dismantling my Windsor Whirle to have a looksee inside. It really is a beautiful thing to behold. I've taken the resonator off in this photo and I'm looking at the dowel. See the fancy neck bracket. I wasn't sure what it was for when I took this picture. Many hours of investigation later I discovered that this bracket is there to ensure a tight fit between the neck and pot by applying pressure from the inside.

Also notice the tone ring that has been set inside the rim. It's little details like this that separate the men from the boys!

I've spent such a long time pondering the best way to make this banjo. It seemed that the more research I do, the more I needed to figure out. For example, I hadn't realised that banjo necks are made slightly off-centre. It's that bloody fifth string. If you imagine making a true 5 string instrument then the centre-line would naturally run down the middle 3rd string. This is the line I'll need to use when joining the neck to the pot to ensure that the strings sit properly on the fretboard. However... the top of the neck through to the head runs off another centre-line based upon the four strings that extend that far. Confused? I was too!

Hopefully, you can see what I'm talking about in the picture above. What I'm guessing is that the frets need to be aligned to the true centre-line, but I need to do a bit more research to verify this.

The bottom half of this picture shows my current preference for joining the neck to the pot using a long threaded bolt. The bit I'm worrying about here is that I'm going to have to be spot-on with my measurements, else it's just not going to play well. Nothing like a little bit of precision engineering to keep things interesting!

I bought a table-saw. I was so excited! It took ages for me to line up the delivery and when it arrived I was desperate to get it all set up. All didn't go according to plan unfortunately...

DAMN, DAMN, DAMN! The bloody thing's been damaged! Look at the handle! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I've had to package it all back up again to send back. A replacement is apparently on the way. I'll let you know what happens next. 

I tried to avoid buying all the bits I'll need for this build until I had a clearer idea of what I'd be doing. I couldn't resist getting these planetary tuners though. Aren't they great! The peg buttons are ebony. What I'm thinking at the moment is that I'm going to use ebony embellishments here and there to spice this build up a bit. Whilst the neck and pot will be mahogany, I'm wondering about perhaps adding ebony veneer for the headstock and heel. Perhaps I'll do some fret inlays in ebony too? I've also considered making an ebony armrest too. As you have probably picked up... I'm still thinking this part through.

I've bought some hooks and lugs too. Like the tuners, I've got to wait for them to arrive from China. I've ordered 24 hooks to give me options for how many I use in the build. 

I've done inlay of fret dots in the past, but nothing more complicated than that. I'm wondering whether this build should be the one where I try my hand at something a little more adventurous? Wouldn't something like this picture be amazing! I'm thinking maybe inlaying maple into the ebony veneer would look good?

Here's some more comic art for you. This time I'm wondering how good El Pancho is on double-bass. Ha ha. Well he certainly looks the part! 

I'm going to leave you with a little tune that I came across earlier this week. It's by a gentlemen called Sam Amidon and is called As I Roved Out. I don't know anything about him, but I dig his banjo! I think you will too! ;-)


  1. If you do put banjos in the comic then please don't put squealing pigs in the storyline,as well.
    Remember I am Jewish and sex with pigs is not Kosher (and let's not bring up my wife on a technicality here ;-) .
    And as for the censored banjo pic,it could have been worse.If you were playing a flute instead I could understand people not wanting to see you in the middle of a naked blow-job.

  2. Agree, squealing pigs might be a step too far. I guess you won't be up for these either then?