banjo parts
The banjo pot is walnut with a rosewood tone ring.

Several years ago, Amber heard John Hartford playing a banjo that sounded as incredible as his playing. It was mellow without being tubby, and had tons of tone. She did some research and found that the banjo was a modern instrument that featured a wooden tone ring. (The tone ring on a banjo is the part the head rests upon; usually it’s made of metal, and can be very simple, like a rolled brass hoop, or quite an intricate profile, like the famous Whyte Ladie)

The idea of a wood tone ring intrigued both of us.

banjo parts
I added maple dividing strips to highlight the wedge construction of the partial resonator.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve been asked several times if I would build new, 5-string necks for vintage tenor banjo pots. I’ve never said yes, because I wasn’t set up to do it (and because it hurts me to de-tenorize nice old tenor banjos).

After listening to a bevy of banjos (and her critiques on each) while Amber was shopping for a new one, I reconsidered.  After all, I am almost set up to make banjo necks. To practice, I thought I’d build a banjo from scratch and see how the wooden tone ring sounds.  I discovered a banjo builder and pot turner who is interested in wooden tone rings: Mark Hickler. I ordered a walnut rim with an internal resonator and an East Indian rosewood tone ring.

I’ve dressed up the pot a little and rough-carved the walnut neck. So what’s left to do is shape the headstock and add a bunch of inlay.

Then add a little more inlay.

(This is a banjo, after all.)

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