Modeled after an INSTRUMENT in the
collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
These banjos are also endlessly customizable with variations in wood type and finish, and neck silhouettes as variable as those found in the banjos of the mid-19th century.
The base price for 4- or 5-string Minstrel-Style banjos is $1350 and includes figured wood and stained gourd. Geared turners, frets, gut strings, and custom details are an additional cost.
I only work on custom orders and my waitlist is currently closed. If you are a musician or museum with an exhibit or performance date you have to meet, please contact me. I'm happy to talk banjo if you have any special commission ideas you’d like to talk about as well. You can also get on my email list to stay updated on when I will be opening my list again and for any builder's choice banjos that may become available.
Walnut neck, s-peghead shape, simple horizontal 5th string, side-dot position markers, dyed gourd, dark goatskin head, and brass tacks.
Stained Maple, Boucher-Style, Flush Frets.
Figured maple neck stained Mahogany brown, Boucher-inspired peghead, flush frets, simple 5th string, dyed gourd, light goatskin head, and tacks.
Maple, Boucher-Style, Half-Fretless.
Figured maple neck, Boucher-inspired peghead, half-fretless, simply 5th string, dyed gourd, dark goatskin head, and tacks.
Maple Curved Paddle.
Figured maple neck, curved paddle-shape peghead, pegbox 5th string, lightly dyed gourd, light goatskin head, and hand-patinated tacks.
Maple Curved Paddle.
Highly figured maple neck, side-dot position markers, curved paddle-shape peghead, ogee 5th string, large flat gourd with light dye, light goat-skin head, dark gray tacks, and circular sound hole.
Maple Curved Paddle, left-handed.
Highly figured maple neck, side-dot position markers, curved paddle-shape peghead, simple 5th string, medium-round gourd with light dye, light goat-skin head, dark gray tacks, and circular sound hole.
Maple Curved Paddle, fretted.
Highly figured maple neck, oxidized cherry fingerboard with frets and side-dot position markers, flat paddle-shape peghead, pegbox 5th string, very flat gourd dyed red, dark goat-skin head, brass tacks, and circular sound hole.
Maple Flat Paddle with S-holes.
Figured maple neck, flat paddle-shape peghead, pegbox 5th string, lightly dyed gourd, light goat-skin head, brass tacks, and s-shaped sound holes.
Maple, Boucher-style with Custom Inlay
Figured maple neck, Boucher-style peghead, simple 5th string, red dyed gourd, light goat-skin head, patinated tacks, and role sound hole, with custom mother-of-pearl sun inlay.
Custom 5-String. The design is based on a c.1835-1840 banjo by an unknown maker and featured on the cover of the Katonah Museum of Art's catalog for the exhibitThe Birth of the Banjo.
Figured English sycamore, frets, simplified ogee 5th string peg, dyed gourd, and brass tacks.
Custom 5-String. The design is based on Surinamese Maroon artistic motifs and design elements found on the Haitian Banza.
Walnut with ebony inlay, simplified 5th string peg, lightly dyed gourd with cosmograms etched in the gourd skin, and dark tacks.
The Minstrel Era's Origin
The Minstrel Era is hybrid instrument, wedding a neck like to those found on the earliest wooden rimmed banjos to a gourd body, similar to those of the earlier, pre-commercial banjos. In 1992 Pete examined a banjo like this in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, which many people thought to be the earliest known gourd banjo. What Pete found was actually a construct. The neck of a conventional, wooden rimmed banjo made by commercial maker William Boucher in the 1840s had later been crudely joined to a replacement gourd body. This banjo -- an 1840 European American banjo neck attached to a gourd sound chamber -- has become the pattern for almost all gourd banjos made since the 1980s, but it may not actually be similar at all to antebellum American gourd banjos.