Gourd banjo kit

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  • #4664
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    I ordered a gourd banjo kit as soon as it went back up on the website and got an early Father’s Day gift of a detail sander so I can customize the neck shape to my liking and maybe round or bevel the gourd circumference prior to skinning it. Also thinking about trying my hand at some inlay on the minstrel peghead. Very excited to get the kit and begin the project.

    #4675
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Hey, fellow DIY gourd heads out there. My kit arrived 1 week ago and I was impressed by the quality of the black walnut neck and dowel stock as well as the aesthetic and simple elegance of the overall design. I chose a minstrel style peghead and have been busy sanding the neck/dowel and vanishing the inside of the gourd for added strength and maybe enhanced sound projection. Also planning some simple inlay to customize this banjo. It looks like Brian has sold at least a dozen gourd kits recently so how about some of you posting about your experience. Stay tuned.

    #4679
    franklin
    Participant

    Hey folks. I’m half way through putting my gourd banjo together (my first banjo) and am really impressed with the quality so far! I think I made a mistake though by sanding down the notch on the neck that I think is supposed to hold the G string? That wasn’t on the video tutorial so I thought it was a defect. Do I need to order a replacement or will it not be a problem?.

    Also what’s the square block, that says “Gourd side” for?

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 4 weeks ago by franklin.
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    #4684
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Hey Franklin, good thing that wood is pretty forgiving. I suggest you just redo the notch you sanded down using an exacto or utility knife. You can use your photo as a guide for the position. Just don’t score too deeply into the wood, you can always adjust the notch even after the 5th string is in place. The square piece is part of the tailpiece. It should have 2 holes in the top, and you will screw the leather piece into it with the 5 holes for the strings on the top side. “Gourd side” means that side of the wood will face the gourd. Hope that helps.

    #4688
    franklin
    Participant

    Thanks @Martin this worked out great and looks terrific. Hats off.

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    #4693
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Your build looks great! I also have a minstrel peghead, only my neck is fretless. I’ll be posting photos of my build progress once it’s all finished. Stay tuned.

    #4700
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Some photos of my build process/results, hopefully in some chronological order:
    • varnishing the inside of the gourd
    • carving the base of neck to inlay a pin
    (back cut off flush) donated by my wife
    • epoxying another pin in peghead before
    finishing using tung oil
    • brewing black tea for dyeing the goatskin

    (continues on a separate post)

    #4701
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Well it looks like my posting/file uploading skills are pretty limited since I couldn’t seem to resize any photos which were within max size allowed.
    So here’s a photo of my completed banjo build which hopefully is within the allowable limit.

    In any case, the banjo was lots of fun to build and I’m having a great time learning to play on a fretless fingerboard. The gourd tone sounds great too.

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    #4791
    swordandsphere
    Participant

    Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    #4799
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Thanks for the kind words. I see that Brian has expanded allowable upload file size so I’m attaching the photos from my July 8 post which were too large to be seen. Maybe you’ll want to check these out.

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    #4804
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    A few more build details:
    • dyeing the goatskin
    • skin tacked onto gourd
    • dyeing tuning pegs taking care not to dyeing the shaft
    that goes through the peghead holes
    • the completed banjo with a nontipped maple bridge in
    place of the plastic bridge

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    #4813
    swordandsphere
    Participant

    Thanks for the additional pics Martin – instrument turned out amazing, congrats mate! Can you share any tips around the dyeing/staining process? I was googling this yesterday and found various opinions about tea/coffee/alcohol/oil based stains and where I got to was to probably just try using some strong cold tea. Your work looks great. I’m really digging the inlay too, I’ve never done one before so I probably wouldn’t attempt it on an instrument until I’d had some practice but your results are inspiring.

    #4814
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    I was quite satisfied with the results of dyeing with tea. I brewed a strong batch of loose black tea (use plenty) in boiling water, let it cool, put skin in a large bowl and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. I believe I read that the tannins in tea help retain the color and may be preferable to coffee. I decided not to mess with alcohol or oil based substances. The resulting color seemed to complement the natural gourd color nicely. As for the inlay, I confess this was my first attempt and my 1st cut into the neck was done with some trepidation, but it all worked out using only exacto blades and a 1/2 inch chisel. We are mushroom hunters and my wife donated 2 of her decorative pins for the inlay. May I suggest that you consider some woodburning design for your gourd if possible. I think it would look awesome. Cheers.

    #4825
    swordandsphere
    Participant

    Thanks Martin! I will do mate 🙂 I appreciate the words of encouragement and your advice around staining. I reckon I’ll use tea as well – yours has a lovely colour to it.

    The mushroom inlays look fantastic! I’m a big Paul Stamets fan and hearing the connection for your inlays make your banjo even more special.

    #4826
    Martin Newman
    Participant

    Hey man, glad that you appreciate the mushroom connection and especially to know that you’re a Paul Stamets fan. We here on the left coast of the Pacific in California think of him as a visionary. Are you new to banjo? If so I hope you’ll get into clawhammer style which seems particularly well suited for these kits. Maybe at some point you will order a gourd kit as well. I love the tonal quality and resonance unique to the gourd. Happy building and picking.

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