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Salad bowl banjo

The salad bowl banjo is complete (finally). It has taken me a very long time. You might say there has been an international conspiracy to prevent me from finishing.  Others might say I’m a great procrastinator. In my defense, there was a broken and dislocated ankle to contend with along the way. In any case,  it’s all built, although I’m still messing with the set-up some.IMG_3970IMG_3974My friend Jamie turned the salad bowl from maple. The skin is goat. The neck is ash. I didn’t make the bridge. I had one of David Cunningham’s fantastic bridges at home that was made for Nylgut strings, and since I’m not currently using Nylgut on my other banjos, it was available for the salad bowl.

I may remake the tailpiece. Jamie made the original one from antler, and it was a beauty, but I had some problems making the design work, and so I made a new one from ebony, which I had handy. I’d like to go back to antler, but using the new design. This one functions fine, but I don’t know if the wood will hold up under stress over time. Perhaps I’ll keep it and remake it if I have a problem along the way.


The pegs are your basic violin pegs. I drilled and reamed the holes, then shaped the pegs to fit.

IMG_3973I made the nut from a bone blank, rather than from a chunk of beef bone. I’m going to do some more work on it. I want it to be trimmer and I want the strings to sink down a little more than they currently sit.

IMG_3976I’ve learned a lot along the way. The plan is for Jamie to turn another bowl, and the next banjo is for him. I like the fingerboard laminated onto the neck. It forms a nice natural scoop. I think I’d like the bowl for the next one to be a little smaller in diameter, and a slightly different shape, and as well, I think I’ll make the neck on the next one a little bit less clunky than on this one (I like clunky – I’m talking about a fairly minor change).

I know the next question is, well how does it sound? I’ll do up a little video in a few days when I have a bit of time, and you’ll be able to hear it then.

1 Comment so far

  1. That’s absolutely gorgeous (and I’m a little jealous of your ability to finish a project like that). Of course, I’m looking forward to hearing how it sounds … likely to make me fall back in love with the banjo.

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