I was commissioned in the summer of 2001 to build this custom banjo. The theme was to be the Italian Renaissance ( between 1380-1600). Designer Ruy Rubart researched and designed the artistic inlay. The banjo was completed over a period of two years, being delivered to the customer in the USA in early 2004.
The fingerboard shows "Comedia del Arte" masks and is enhanced by a lute player on the peghead. The back of the resonator shows various scenes that are indiginous to Italy, all positioned in a circle around an early edition of an astrolabrium. All scenes and engravings to be found elsewhere on the banjo have a direct link to the art and lifestyle of that period . The basic construction of this banjo is modelled on the Bacon & Day design. This particular banjo features an 11 1/2'' size rim that enabled me to create a big and sweet sounding instrument. The idea for this unusual size goes back to early B&D days, but was revitalised by famous US banjo builder Mr. Dale Small. The size of the rim made some modifications necessary. I also incorporated some of my own ideas into the tone ring and rim construction by replacing the customary rolled brass ring with a tight fitting square brass ring. This adds more contact surface to the rim and makes for a better transmission of tone.
The resonator is flat on the inside and slightly curved outside, made of two plys of solid ebony on a core of quarter sawn mahogany. The rim is veneered with solid ebony and triple bound with rosewood bindings. The neck is fastened to the rim by means of my very own screw-in dowel stick which is operated by a horseshoe clamp which can be easily disassembled for a neck reset.
This banjo features the first sample of my custom made 11 1/2 '' Oettinger tailpiece which is half an inch longer than standard in order to regain string pressure on the bridge. The fingerboard has a standard 22 7/8' scale length with an added 20th. Fret. All the mother of pearl inlays were hand cut and hand engraved .
The banjo's design makes good use of at least half an ounce of 750K fine gold !!
I hope you will enjoy all the photographs on this site and be sure to come back for more