Tomorrow, I’m going to try to find a good chunk of hardwood to use as a “dowel-stick” for my canjo. There are two other things I need as well – a kitchen fork that will work for a tail-piece and a set of banjo strings. I was going to make a bridge but found an inexpensive one for sale and will start with that. I’m considering trying a slightly different approach to the dowel-stick-neck-can assembly. Instead of forming the end of a stick to fit into a drilled hole in the neck, I’m thinking about drilling into the stick and the neck and joining them with 3/4 inch dowel and glue. For strings, I considered going with nylon, and using fishing line of various diameters, but I think I want to use light-gage steel strings, at least for now.
If I can find the materials I need, it’s possible I’ll have it built this weekend.
Let’s listen to a variety of home-made instruments just for fun….
Here’s Super Chikan playing the shotgun guitar…
How about a fry pan uke?
The bamboo bass..
The oversized dowel stick with 2 contact points just has to be much better than a single point. Excellent idea, it should make the whole instrument more stable
L & M is the place to buy steel strings. $3.25/set of 5 unless they raised their price since I last bought some. In banjo strings the term ‘light’ can mean just about anything. I use .09’s for the outside strings (the inside string diameter varies with manufacturer). Some folks consider 0.10’s to also be light and there is a noticible difference in playability between the 2. Dont cheap out and buy just 1 set, start with 2. The .09’s are fine but they have an annoying habit of breaking when installing them if you dont get them wound just so. Your neck doesnt have a steel truss rod running inside the length of it and because of that long term you might consider nylon strings. You can buy sets of nylon banjo strings but I cant tell you where, I have seen them for sale online but not in any store I have been in. Steel strings tuned to pitch will place enough strain on the neck to put a bow in it, but that would take some time and steel will be fine to start with.
I like the plan of using dowel rather than trying to shape the stick although Im not sure I would trust my ability to drill a straight hole in the end of the stick. Maple would be the wood of choice for the dowel stick if you can get it but you are likely already fully supplied as I type this.
My neck actually does have two truss rods going through the neck. I didn’t see them at first because they were hiding in the neck. Actually I wouldn’t exactly call them rods…there are two flat steel pieces parallel to one another. I didn’t think they were still in there until I started working with it. You got me thinking about points of contact. I decided to use maple 1X2 for the stick and to join it to the neck with a pair of 5/16 dowels. This is pretty tricky for a guy who comes from the school of shaky carpentry but I have managed it and created a clean joint from neck to maple stick with the two dowels. I glued the joint with gorilla glue and it is drying now. I have also cut the hole in the can and that was no big deal. Because I’m using 1X2, I’m going to be able to get 2 points of contact on the heel as well as the neck. I think I’ll set it up with a single point of contact at the heel first, and then once I get the angle adjusted, I’ll add a second point of contact.
I went to L&M in Mississauga and strings were indeed 3 and change. I bought 3 sets of .09s. I also stopped by Goodwill and invested $1.51 in a selection of forks to make sure I have the right one when the time comes.
So far so good. Tomorrow, I’ll drill the bottom of the can, make the tail piece, and hopefully finish up.