3/10/2016

1930s/2016 Dan's Banjisen




If it weren't weird enough to have one of these instruments, it's definitely weird to have two around. Mr. Dan had me build this for him from parts he provided. I sliced, diced, put it together, replaced what was needed with parts-bin finds, and installed a cherry fingerboard. Obviously the intent is not perfection, though it does have a folksy charm to it.

It's made from a Kay/Stromberg Voisinet "KeyKord" tenor banjo neck and a Slingerland-style banjo ukulele rim. Compared to the first banjisen, this one is a lot louder and suits faking an old-time gourd-banjo sound better. Due to the short neck it's also got a shorter, 18" scale, though the same tuning (GDG) and gauges work just as well on this.


Luckily, the rim came with a head on it, though the hooks are all mismatched and the head installation was slightly questionable. Still -- it's good enough for gov't work.


The headstock veneer (originally celluloid) is long gone to show the neck wood underneath. The "4th" hole can be used for a strap -- or stuffing feathers in -- or your favorite pencil.


The bridge is all-maple.



You can't see it, but there's a big steel hoop tonering on the top edge of the rim.


Someone clearly robbed the old KeyKord neck of its fancy two-tab tuners.




You can see the simple string-retaining method -- three holes in the rim with the ends knotted on the other side.

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