How to Make a Banjo for Fun

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How to Make a Bango

How to make a banjo – Banjos are a basic stringed instrument with a West African heritage. Modern banjos are expertly developed and built with well selected materials by trained craftsmen, but if you aren’t too concerned with sound or aesthetics and have some basic shop equipment and abilities, making your own version may be enjoyable.

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Steps

Determine the fundamental supplies you’ll need.

1. Determine the fundamental supplies you’ll need. Scrap plywood, 18 inch (0.3 cm) Masonite composite board, and 14 inch (0.6 cm) Lauan plywood are used in the one seen in the photos.

homemade banjo
Make a decision on the size of your banjo.

2. Make a decision on the size of your banjo. You may want to use an inverted 5 gallon (18.9 L) bucket, as seen in the picture, since you’ll need to be able to scribe a relatively nice circle.

plywood circles
Make two circles with the diameter of the banjo’s body.

3. Make two circles with the diameter of the banjo’s body. Because they will be mated parts, cut them with a jigsaw, following the line as precisely as possible.

Other options include:

  • Instead, use a router or bandsaw to cut the circle.
  • For increased precision, make or buy a circle-cutting jig.
  • As the banjo soundbox, use a plastic bucket or a tambourine.
round spacers
In order for the final plywood to create a ring, scribble a line about 34 inch (1.9 cm) inside your initial cut.

4. In order for the final plywood to create a ring, scribble a line about 34 inch (1.9 cm) inside your initial cut. On opposing sides, leave some broader areas for connecting the instrument’s neck. Cut them, as well as several spacer blocks approximately two inches long and 34 inch (1.9 cm) broad on the same radius, using your jigsaw.

gucci thongs
The two plywood rings should be sanded or otherwise fitted so that they are almost identical.

5. The two plywood rings should be sanded or otherwise fitted so that they are almost identical. Make markings on their edges if they are not very round, so they may be reinstalled in the same place when they are securely linked together.

round nylon spacers
Attach two stacked spacer blocks at 5 or 6 points around one of your rings, then set the second ring on top and secure using wood screws and, ideally, wood glue through the top ring and spacers into the lower ring.

6. Attach two stacked spacer blocks at 5 or 6 points around one of your rings, then set the second ring on top and secure using wood screws and, ideally, wood glue through the top ring and spacers into the lower ring. It’s important to remember that this will make a structural round box (the banjo’s sound box), therefore it should be well-built.

used banjos
To fit one side of your sound box, cut a piece of finished grade plywood to fit.

7. To fit one side of your sound box, cut a piece of finished grade plywood to fit. Allow it to be somewhat bigger so it can be sanded to fit properly. You may scribe it with the box itself, or the bucket or other thing you used to scribe the previous rings with.

used banjo
To wrap this assembly, cut a piece of 18 inch (0.3 cm) Masonite composite sheeting or suitable material.

8. To wrap this assembly, cut a piece of 18 inch (0.3 cm) Masonite composite sheeting or suitable material. Wrap one end around the frame near where you believe the instrument’s neck will be fastened, then secure it with glue and tiny wood screws.

diy banjo
Make the neck of your banjo out of 2X4 timber.

9. Make the neck of your banjo out of 2X4 timber. Make it approximately 24–26 inches long (61.0–66.0 cm), tapering from 3 12 inches (8.9 cm) on one end to 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) on the other. Attach this to the sound box using strong wood screws pre-drilled through the sound box via one of the blocking spacers you previously placed. To join the end piece, bevel the final two inches of the other end.

banjos menu
Cut out the banjo neck end piece, tapering it from approximately 2 inches (5.1 cm) to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length, 12 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) in thickness, and 4 or 4 12 inches (10.2 or 11.4 cm) in width.

10. Cut out the banjo neck end piece, tapering it from approximately 2 inches (5.1 cm) to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length, 12 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) in thickness, and 4 or 4 12 inches (10.2 or 11.4 cm) in width. Attach it to the neck with two wood screws, keeping it aligned.

bamboo g strings
Stretch the drum material over the sound box’s face, tacking or fastening the material in place.

11. Stretch the drum material over the sound box’s face, tacking or fastening the material in place. This may be done using plastic, cloth, or even a real animal membrane. A imitation leather was acquired for this reason in the sample shown in the photos. It’s important to keep in mind that the material must be stretched extremely tightly.

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Materials Pros and Cons:

  • Clear plastic: Bright, loud, thin sound. Can make it yourself by cutting a large PET-01 plastic bottle.
  • Frosted top plastic: Common choice for bluegrass. Crisp notes with less sustain than clear plastic.
  • Fiberskyn: warmer, old-time “plunky” sound, but fairly versatile.
  • Calfskin: the original old-time classic, but expensive and vulnerable to humidity.
6 string banjo
For the amount of strings you want to use, attach eye screws to the end piece of the neck.

12. For the amount of strings you want to use, attach eye screws to the end piece of the neck. Attach an eye screw to the end of the sound box opposite the neck, and a simple block to the end of the sound box opposite the neck. Do not fully tighten these screws, since they may need room on the screw thread to revolve in order to tune the banjo (tightening the strings).

making a banjo
To string the instrument, cut lengths of string.

13. To string the instrument, cut lengths of string. You’ll need to cut them a few inches longer than the distance between the eye screws on either end, so you can attach them with a simple knot. To alter the pitch of each, use different sizes of string. For example, if you’re using nylon monofilament fishing line, try 100 pound, 60 pound, 30 pound, and 15 pound test lines. Larger diameter (higher pound test) lines give a lower pitched sound, and fine-tuning the pitch by twisting the eye screws and allowing the strings to wrap around the shank may be done.

Alternatives from the store:

  • Metal: Because most banjo strings are plain metal, the material mentioned is merely a covering on the fourth string. Warmer is phosphor bronze, whereas brighter is stainless steel and nickel-plated steel.
  • Nylgut is a synthetic gut-like substance that is warmer and quieter than conventional materials. If they come into contact with a sharp edge, they may break.
3 inch wood screws
Cut chunks of wood for frets that are 38 inch (1.0 cm) broad and 2 inch (5.1 cm) or so long, tapering the tips so they are thin when affixed to the banjo neck.

14. Cut chunks of wood for frets that are 38 inch (1.0 cm) broad and 2 inch (5.1 cm) or so long, tapering the tips so they are thin when affixed to the banjo neck. These may be spaced whatever you choose, but try to find a comfortable fingering spot, which will be determined by how you hold the neck while playing.

how to make banjo
In the previous stage, cut an additional block to connect to the diaphragm.

15. In the previous stage, cut an additional block to connect to the diaphragm. This will close the distance between the strings and the diaphragm, allowing vibrations from the strings to be transmitted while being acoustically manipulated and amplified.

phosphor bronze strings
After smoothing and/or rounding any rough edges that will be visible with sandpaper or a block plane, finish the wood with stain and varnish, paint, plastic decals, or any other technique you want.

16. After smoothing and/or rounding any rough edges that will be visible with sandpaper or a block plane, finish the wood with stain and varnish, paint, plastic decals, or any other technique you want. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a fun endeavor, so don’t make too many restrictions for yourself.

banjo strings 5
Tune and play around with your banjo, remembering that the first instruments were created from gourds and bamboo limbs, with animal leather thongs for strings, and fashioned with hand tools, eventually evolving into the chrome and lacquer offspring you see in professional musicians’ hands today.

17. Tune and play around with your banjo, remembering that the first instruments were created from gourds and bamboo limbs, with animal leather thongs for strings, and fashioned with hand tools, eventually evolving into the chrome and lacquer offspring you see in professional musicians’ hands today.

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Is it easy to make a banjo?

When it comes to building your own banjo, it’s probably easier than you think. You can buy all of the parts and tools through mail-order distributors – including resonator, pot assembly, slotted finger-board and machined neck blank. This project was originally published in the March 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics.

How do you make egg banjo?

The “egg banjo” is a sandwich, a runny fried egg, inserted between two thick slices of bread … a very popular British military snack. Ingredients are simple – heavily buttered thick sliced bread, and one or more fried eggs.

What materials are used to make a banjo?

Generally, the body of this instrument is made up of wooden rim and rare cases you will find it made up of metal, the skin, and a metal tone ring. The banjo skin is similar to a drum head in nature.

How do you make a small banjo?

Place four loom bands over the lid and secure in place with a piece of duct tape. Next cut the end from your jumbo craft stick and decorate the stick. Attach the lid with loom bands in place to the craft stick with a second piece of duct tape. Decorate more if you please and then you have yourself a mini banjo!

How many strings does a banjo have?

The modern banjo comes in a variety of forms, including four- and five-string versions. A six-string version, tuned and played similarly to a guitar, has gained popularity. In almost all of its forms, banjo playing is characterized by a fast arpeggiated plucking, though many different playing styles exist.

What are the parts of a banjo?

The pot assembly part of the construction of the banjo has the following components:
Banjo rim. The wood rim is the main part of the pot. …
Co-ordinator rods. These steel rods keep the rim stable.
Tone ring. …
Banjo head. …
Banjo bridge. …
Tension hoop. …
Hooks and nuts. …
Flange.

What is a bacon banjo?

The egg ‘banjo’ is a simple British Army dish. It has been popular among soldiers for years. The classic egg banjo is made only with fried egg, bread and butter but we added a little bacon. As we are in England at the moment we decided to cook it on the Aga flat top just using a silicone sheet.

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How do you do Benjo?

Method
Break eggs into a bowl and whisk well. …
Heat some butter in a non-stick pan. …
Heat some more butter in a non-stick pan. …
Slit 2 pav without cutting through, open out the two sides and place in the pan and toast, turning sides, till evenly done from both the sides. …
Repeat the process with 2 more pav.

What strings are on a banjo?

The most common banjo type is a 5 string banjo and has a standard tuning in open G – the notes from the 5th string to the 1st are G, D, G, B, D. Find out alternate tunings and tunings for all other banjo types here.

What is bluegrass banjo?

Bluegrass-style banjo originated with the innovations of Earl Scruggs, who burst upon the national scene in the mid-1940s. The bluegrass style is characterized by a flurry of fast, brilliant-sounding notes and is the sound behind all-time banjo classics such as Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “Dueling Banjos.”

Why does a banjo look like a drum?

First, some background. The banjo is essentially a drum with a long neck attached for securing a set of strings. The strings are fixed at the end of the neck, stretched across the drum and fixed on the other side. However, they are supported by a bridge that sits on the drum membrane.

Is banjo harder than guitar?

A guitar has more notes and more complicated fingering than a banjo, which makes it harder than a banjo to play. Both instruments will be hard to learn if you are a beginner and if you are playing the guitar in standard tuning. This is also combined by their variation in the number of strings.

Is a 4 or 5 string banjo better?

When you’re a beginner and banjo is your first stringed instrument, a 4-string banjo will be easier to learn than a 5-string banjo. But it mainly depends upon the type of music you want to play. If you are interested in Dixieland (Jazz) and Celtic music, then you have to use 4 string banjos.

What is a 4 string banjo called?

Tenor banjos are 4 string banjos that have a shorter neck and come in two varieties, the 17 fret and the 19 fret. The name “tenor” has nothing to do with a lower pitch such as a vocalist who is a tenor or a tenor saxophone.

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