Iain was one of my pupils at Royal High. He built this banjo in a single week, in May / June 2012, when the school’s usual teaching timetable was suspended and pupils were offered a selection of alternative activities. Iain was in year S3.
I marked out and rough cut the neck and instrument stand at the band saw, but Iain did almost all the rest.
The rim (pot) was turned on the wood lathe from twenty-four hardwood segments of a tropical hardwood. The neck was formed from elm; there isn’t a separate finger board. The peg head veneers are burr elm.
Goat skin was soaked in coffee, to accentuate the natural colour variations, then stretched over a brass tone ring and fixed to the rim with furniture tacks. The brass tone ring was formed in school from 6mm round bar, bent using a ring roller. Its ends were soldered together at the brazing hearth.
Guitar fret wire has been used instead of banjo wire, as it’s easier to press in place than banjo fret wire. The neck was fixed to the rim using cast aluminium brackets (cast in-house) and hardwood wedges. Nylon (Nylgut) strings were fitted.
The instrument stand is made from 4mm birch plywood. Its components are a friction fit, and easily dismantle for transportation in an instrument bag. Bicycle rubber inner tube has been glued to the plywood, to prevent the banjo being marked by the stand.
High Resolution photos of the banjo are available at Royal HIgh CDT’s Flickr account: