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19 April 2015

Highwayman Banjo: A Time to Reflect

I seem to have drifted into a bit of a lull with the Highwayman Banjo building. Time has been short and I've been spinning a number of different plates. Even so, I reckon I can scrape together a bit of an update for you.


I was trying to figure out the best way to attach the tailpiece to the body when I made the mistake of searching for broken drums and drum parts on eBay. What took my eye was a particularly grubby-looking lot for metal parts salvaged from a 12 inch tom tom.

I didn't really want the hoops. It might seem odd, but these don't lend themselves to banjo making due to their tall rims: you can't get the strings close to the skin without some pretty major surgery.

What had piqued my interest were the lugs. They're bigger than banjo lugs and look great into the bargain. Perhaps I could use one to hold the tail in place? Unfortunately, I've since found out that these lugs are too big for the Highwayman so they're going into a box until I can find a use for them,


What a grubby mess! The drum I bought must have spent most of its lifetime in a damp cellar. It looked like the chrome was beginning to tarnish so I figured that I'd better clean everything up if I was going to store it for any length of time. What a great excuse for me to sit out in the sunshine for a bit!

I also love finding out how things work, so this was a great excuse to understand a bit more about how the lugs worked. You can see in this picture that the chrome came up a treat with a little polish.

What interests me is the simplicity of the lug design. I don't know what I was expecting to find, but it wasn't this. The lug casing is cast metal, but I'm guessing that it would be possible to make wooden ones! The casing has a hole in it to hold a nut and in this case there is a plastic stopper to hold the nut in place. You fit it to the body and that's it! 


Here's something I didn't realise I was getting. It's the mounting bracket. I thought at first that this might have been a floor tom and that I'd only got one leg bracket, but I'm now thinking that it is one of the ones you mount above the bass drum.

I'm wondering if I could use this bracket when I soup up my washboard? Maybe I could use it to attach the cow bell?

Based upon the heads that were also bundled in, I'm guessing that this drum started out life most likely as a Stagg.


Time for a quick song. Actually, as songs go from me... this song is far from quick. I've been pioneering the 2-minute tune of late, but this song isn't a new one ;-)

Here I am doing an acoustic rendition of a song I wrote a couple of years ago. I thought I'd shared it at the time, but I can't find hide nor hair of it. This is a love song in three parts. Enjoy.


Back to the banjo.

My current thinking on the tail-piece attachment is pictured. I actually took this picture with my nose! I've never done that before... but I just didn't have enough hands.

I could kill two birds with one stone here. That lug that I'm resting against the body is actually a strap hook. But it has a hole running through it that I think would act pretty good as a means of bolting the tailpiece in place.

The problem I've had all along is that the tailpiece sits a good distance out from the body and as such what ever it gets attached to needs to sit out a good distance too. This lug is shorter, but I'm hoping that there is enough play to get this to work. I may need to grind the small lip on the tail a little that fits beneath the hoop, but it all should be possible.

I'll keep thinking about it for a while before I commit. 


One other lesson for the unwary.

I never realised the implications of going with a non-standard number of hooks. You may remember that I chose to have 14 hooks. I've discovered that all the stock banjo arm-rests you can buy are designed to fit banjos with a set number of hooks. This is because they are fitted by attaching them to the hooks. So, if I want to use the arm-rest I've bought for this project, I'm going to have to find another way of attaching it. Damn!

I have some ideas, but there is a very real chance that the Highwayman will never have an armrest fitted. 


Here's another song for you to listen to and this time it is a new one. Bloody hell... I've just realised that it's another love song! What on earth is wrong with me?

The recording quality isn't that great I'm afraid, but you'll be pleased to learn that I've returned to my shorter song-format. This one weighs in at a touch over one and a half minutes.


I love this picture shared by +Corey Graham the other day. The DEAD HAND! And there I was thinking that I'd invented it. Ha ha. I love little syncs like this.

I haven't told anyone this... not even my dog... but I'm tentatively doing a bit of storyboarding that might grow into part 5 in my comic series. I'd love to do another chapter, but I'm not sure that I can commit the time to doing it. Maybe if I storyboard the comic this will be all the incentive I need to draw it up?

Let's hope so.

On the comics: I've seen a little bit of recent interest in the comics - they're still flying off the shelves - but I'm still not getting as many reviews as I'd like to see. If you're reading this and you haven't penned a review... please do. I love to hear feedback... good or bad. And if it's funny, then even better ;-)

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Okay, okay... time to wrap this up. I leave you with a great little song I heard this week. This is one about a woman called Mona. That really is an unfortunate name. I suspect no hidden meaning here, but you'd need to ask Sam Zickfoose for confirmation of this. ;-)

I love the song, I love the playing. I love the setting of the video. Well done!




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