Gourd banjo project

bcob

Newbie
Joined
Jun 21, 2010
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27
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So Cal
So I alluded to this in the Appalachian/Old-time musicians thread a while back and I have finally started working on it this week. I'm extremely pleased with how it's turned out so far, and it is very close to being complete. My woodworking skills are nonexistent and my instrument-building skills are not much better.



The first day I spent cutting and sanding the gourd. It took about 3 hours to get the top as flat as it could be, rubbing it on a piece of sandpaper on flat ground. Then I sanded the edges of the gourd so it doesn't cut the goatskin.



The next day I cut some holes for the dowel rod that attaches to the neck, and spent a few hours with a file making sure it was a good fit. I had someone else make the neck for me because I didn't feel up to the challenge of making it with only hand tools. He also took care of installing the tuning pegs because I don't have a peg reamer or shaver. The only modification I made to the neck was rounding the butt a little bit. That looks very ugly but it fits to the gourd surprisingly well, even better than in this photo.



On the third day the neck was stained with some stain from a cheap gunstock finishing kit. I've never done anything like this before so like most of this project it was done by the seat of my pants. Here it is hanging out to dry afterwards.



The next step, gluing and tacking the goatskin to the gourd, was the most nerve-wracking. All I could think of was what could go wrong: the skin wrinkling or tearing, the gourd being crushed by the tightening skin as it dried, etc. It took me forever to get started. It was like being a shy kid trying to work up the courage to ask a cute girl to dance. It was extremely sloppy and won't win any contests, but nothing horrible happened and it should be good enough.



Today was spent putting a few coats of finish on the neck and making it nice and shiny and smooth. Tomorrow will be for cutting out the leather tailpiece, poking some holes in it, and slotting the nut, pegs, and bridge. In two or three days after the finish has had some time to do its thing, I'm going to give the neck a good polish, put it on the gourd, take a deep breath, and string her up.
 
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bcob

Newbie
Joined
Jun 21, 2010
Messages
27
Current Location
So Cal
Here it is!



My clawhammering is not very strong yet, but here is an attempt at "Old Joe Clark" recorded with my crappy built-in mic: gourd banjo.mp3
 

soundpath

Pilgrim
Joined
Feb 11, 2010
Messages
97
Current Location
planet x
I just listened to the track, sounds great. Nice tone. Thanks for sharing the building process.
 
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bcob

Newbie
Joined
Jun 21, 2010
Messages
27
Current Location
So Cal
hat looks sick. how much did it cost ya?
About $120, mostly because I didn't make the neck. With some patience and a few tools it could be done for much, much less. There are a lot of great ideas online if you ever want to try building one.
 

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