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Thread: Banjo mandolin build question

  1. #1

    Default Banjo mandolin build question

    I had a mandolin that got smashed, luckily the neck is perfectly fine. I'm thinking about building an 8 string banjo mandolin using the remaining part of the mandolin. I've never built anything like this before and I can't find much information just searching. So can anyone recommend places to get the drum part? And just give me any tips on how to build a decent banjo mandolin

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    40.191N -74.2W

    Default Re: Banjo mandolin build question

    Buying a banjo pot can be expensive and considering you can buy vintage banjo mandolins rather inexpensively it might cost you more than the experience will be worth. StewMac sells banjo parts:

    You also might consider building a cigar box mandolin.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    knows little
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    a remote Sierra Nevada village

    Default Re: Banjo mandolin build question

    Back in the day, were homemade tin-pot or ten-cup banjos, made with a 2.5 quart (ten cup) steel kitchen pan, the tin pot, handles removed. For a *real* tin-pot sound, use a metal pie tin as the banjo head.

  4. #4
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Beaverton, OR, USA

    Default Re: Banjo mandolin build question

    I made a banjo pot from a salad bowl, a calfskin, and some upholstery tacks. Not too difficult. But your problem will be attaching the neck in a way that string tension does not pull the neck up -- in essence folding your banjo-mandolin at the neck joint. Many banjos (and the one I made) have a very stable dowel rod extension to the neck that goes right through the pot with the dowel rod either bolted to the opposite (far) side of the pot, or passing completely through it with the pot more or less floating. You might get some ideas over at also.

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  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Mar 2015
    Surrey, BC (Vancouver)

    Default Re: Banjo mandolin build question

    I think a cookie tin banjo was my first attempt at kitchen lutherie, tho I don`t think it was done in the kitchen.

    Depending on the desired final product (pro-grade, or just built for fun), if not Stew Mac, I think a cheap used pot wouldn't be hard to find. I have one from a cheap Kay that I bought for the geared tuners.
    Last edited by AndyV; Jul-16-2018 at 7:33pm.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Grand Rapids, MI

    Default Re: Banjo mandolin build question

    You could use a Remo Fibreskyn hand drum as the head. Rudy (who is a regular here) has detailed that kind of build over at the Banjo hangout. But Hank is right - you'll need to add some sort of dowel to your neck to secure it to whatever "rim" you end up with. If you're going to use Steel strings, you'll really have to come up with a solid solution to keep the neck from bowing up. Nylon strings would be fine, but I've tried Nylguts on my Washburn "Tango" (4-string mandolin) banjo and it didn't sound great.

    Here's Rudy's page on making a "wine box" banjo, and at the bottom he talks about using a Remo drum:

    And here's the YouTube video where he plays the Remo drum banjo:

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Banjo mandolin build question

    My suggestion is to visit your local instrument dealer/repair shop -- assuming there's one around -- and see if they have a banjo "pot" with a broken neck. These are not uncommon. The "pot" for a normal 5-string or tenor banjo will be bigger than one designed for a mandolin-banjo, but that's not an insurmountable obstacle; a mandolin-banjo with a larger body may avoid some of the "shrillness" that's a complaint about factory-built instruments.

    My standard gigging 5-string banjo is a luthier-made long "Pete Seeger" neck attached to the body of a 1930's Regal tenor banjo. The Regal had a busted-off neck, and my friend Dave Stutzman put the two pieces together; 15 years later I'm still toting it to gigs.

    There might even be a salvageable ukulele-banjo or mandolin-banjo "pot" in someone's "usable parts" pile. Worth asking, anyway.
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