The Building of a Banjo

Banjo built by many hands

A friend of mine was asked for advice by his nephew regarding his purchase of a musical instrument. The friend, on a recommendation from his banjo teacher, purchased a Saga banjo kit, and asked me if I could inlay the headstock and fretboard with something. We talked about it for a while and came up with the idea of stylized wheat. He provided a rough picture of what he wanted and I made a few suggestions. In the end we decided on some Mother of Pearl maple leaves for the fifth and twelfth frets, with MoP dots for the 3rd, 7th, 10th , 15th and 17th frets. The headstock would have a MoP stylized wheat, with an abalone maple leaf between his nephew’s initials.

Unfortunately, the banjo kit came with a bare headstock that wouldn’t show off the mother of pearl very well, so I traced out the headstock on an ebony blank, and laminated that to the headstock. Just click on a picture to see it enlarged.

As well, the kit was missing some pearl dots, and there was no way to get the replacements in time for making this a Christmas event, so we discussed what to do. It was a choice between more MoP maple leaves and simple dots. In the end we choose the dots. Once the inlay was done, my friend completed the assembly of the banjo kit, applied an appropriate finish to the wood parts and passed it over to his nephew in time for Christmas festivities.

His nephew was very pleased with his banjo. It plays well, and is special to him for all the right reasons.

Below are some pictures of the finished banjo. Just click on a picture to see it enlarged.

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