9/30/2014

c.1930 Regal Openback Bouzouki Banjo




Update 2015: I converted this to a 6-string (three course) "bouzouki banjo" for some recording and haven't looked back. I became really enamored with the sound of Cuban tres and have been here and there fiddling around with modifying stuff into tres-like instruments. This one has a great bluesy, middle-eastern, Greek-y sound to it and as you capo farther up the neck to get into different keys you can get a passable banjo-mandolin sound, too. I really like it for that "son" backing sound and rough-sounding blues licks.

This is tuned DAD and strung just like a 6-string Greek bouzouki (or, for that matter, a 6 string mountain dulcimer) with gauges 10/28w, 15, 10. The long 23" scale and extra frets give you plenty of room for capo maneuvers and there's pretty much not much else that sounds like this instrument except for something like those banjo-saz instruments made in Turkey (and often very finicky in build and ease-of-use for Western music).



This has an 11" rim with all-original rim hardware (I added a tonering, however) and a new Remo Renaissance head.


Bone nut and 60s guitar-style tuners. Forgive the headstock alteration... but why not make something more fun if you can?

The neck holds up well under tension and is dead straight. It has a medium-v/c profile and the frets were recently leveled/dressed.


Pearl dots in a dyed-maple board...


This is a 60s Harmony all-maple bridge and if you look closely you can see I've compensated it for the octave stringing.







The neck no longer has a dowel and is instead mounted Epiphone-style with a few bolts and a plate. It works just fine and has been stable in service since I last worked on it.

The action is spot-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret and has stayed there.


This type of tail lets you use loop or ball-end strings really easy so you can mix and match to make the proper-gauged set of strings.

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