Shown here with the "Great White North" banjo that I built for him
Click here for more pics


Barry and Missy, on the Alaska Railroad
On yet another Clunker I threw together for him.
I love him because he is all about how it plays and sounds!

Objective - Extreme Duty Instrument

Make a  banjo to fly in the jumpseat of a K2 Aviation Aircraft, Talkeetna AK.
On the glaciers of Denali  and other will be doing what is not normal in an Aircraft.
Landing at 20,000 ft!
Weight is a factor. but with his upgrade from De Havilland Beaver to Otter..... he can handle it

So I picked up this project banjo from our friend Paul Blumentritt at the Folk Shop in Tucson AZ.
And we thank him for getting it to us so quickly.

(Artist's concept )


Now we could use the other Tjo, thats not a Trujo......just in case this is too heavy...

It all fits in the Samsonite Travel Case, still strung up!
Ahh, the memories!!
I put a new head and set this up JUST FOR THE PIC!!!!!!!!!

(Made by Gibson)

FON 3114A / 9281-3

The neck was cracked at some juncture, and a heavy steel rod was expertly installed.
I worry about it being too flat and for BGs needs. too heavy
I have no problem with the repair if it all acts right, I can hide the old crack in the finish

That's the Gibson FON, the Trujo 3114A is stamped on the rim bottom


Fresh rim paint

Neck all sealed, fresh finish
Now for some clear coats

Blacking in the "Trujo" on the inlay

Im touching up every spot the original artist dabbed in Crimson, and also, BG want a a Red tongue so I aim to please!

Now for the tongue

And then where the more yellow finish is broken, Im added Ochre highlights to cover them on the eyelids and other places

And now back on with more clear


The Trujo ring....nothing like it anywhere, Vintage or Modern
No one gets to see them off the banjo as often as most, so here it is in all its "Spittoon" glory!
2.5 lbs of nickel plated brass, spun thin, soldered together, a work of art
(The inside part of the scale numbers)
This would cost more than 1000.00 if you asked for it to be reproduced today

A little brassing on the bearing edge, normal

Gibson FON penciled on the ring

And the Batch #3 in the heel

Upgrading the old tube and tension hoop to some gold plated stuff I have in stock
BG likes his bling, so I aim to please!
Tone ring is buffed and waxed

I took all the rust from the hooks, and am applying Nickolas Gold Metal Lacquer to them to give them a nice glow.
Also I am adding the Nickolas to a Tension Lock, I plan to give this thing a little more boost


All Hardware on rim ready to go with a clear REMO head.
Brass Tension Lock coated with Nikolas Lacquer
And an old Gold plated armrest from the Jim Stull estate.
I will use gold 5 star tuners on it.
About 3 more coats on the neck should get it to setup phase

Gold Rod

5 Stars

Tuned to pitch and playing VG all the way up to 5/8" bridge


I have one major change to do, did not see this ahead of time so its a careful retrace of my steps, all the way back to the 9th inlay.
Scroll up 4 pics and look at the 9th, but the side dot at 10
Who plays a tenor with a marker at 9?
I've seen this many times on the Plectrums, they were known to use DGBE tuning in their teachings and learn, there are some 9 fret marked Tenor Trujo's Traipsing around.

(with banjo remaining assembled)

No use trying to save the old inlay, they are thin as paper.
I drew one off, and will cut a new piece

Since the fingerboard is streaked with reds and black, I will use rosewood dust, which darkens after the glue hits it but does not look red, you can see where I put glue on some on the vise.

Now that its packed, I have my wax paper ready to cover it after I shoot #10 thin cyano into it

That's pretty darn good, even on the first fill.
Now I will fill the few pinholes and cover with wax paper again

Really hard to see in this pic, and hard to see close up
Im on to something with this new method.
You can even see red streaks in it.

Design glued to MOP, ready to cut


Cutting new cavity

New MOP set and smooth
A little whiter MOP than the orig, which is a tad yellow
Plus this is thicker so it looks like the High beams are on.

Oh well, now it can stand out as a BEACON for Barry!

Strung back to pitch, and now I can hit the correct notes on it.
I'll settle it in, dial it in, mail it off to Talkeetna soon

I will add threaded inserts to the rim, and thread the flanfe lugs so that they can be more positive in locking the resonator onto the rim

Trujo is well known for dropping its resonator due to a sorry attachment idea.
This will not allow that to happen


The flange is beat up but I can straighten the divots



There is water damage on the back and into the side.

And some delamination on the "wet" side

My process when there is 100s of hairline cracks is #10 Stewmac water thin Cyanoacrylate, Accelerant, Wax Paper and a flat metal scraper

I gush the #10 into the cracks, allowing it to wick all thru the affected area until it starts to come out
I have a rag handy to pull off the excess, this is messy and ugly.

After the glue is  in I use the Wax paper as a barrier and take my  Accelerant and spray it onto the paper.
It soaks thru, but the wax still allows for release after the glue kicks
All the while I have my scraper pushing the raised wood all back down as it sets, its all within 2 minutes per section


I keep filling the small leftovers, spraying accelerant, scraping residual glue each time

The other side is all hairline, it was not in water

Pouring on the glue, it will show you where cracks are, work it in , rag off the residue, scrape, go again

All the inside is sealed, now for the outside ring but first Ill scrape the rings of old finish

Ill seal this down and then the side laminates

All sealed and tight, and its nice and flat

Fine line tape and new razor to hide the rings from the dark finish

2 coats of color and 1 of clear, time to pull tape

Ill clean up the rings again on the edges of the tape lines,,,,and then on to clear coats

Assembling, I will leave the inside original, so as not to cover the chalk ser#
I pulled the dents from the flange and buffed it


Banjo sounds VG and plays VG



A Modern Case that fits TRUJO!

The 1970's Ibanez Tenor Banjo Case
Deep enough...plush inside

It has a foam plug thats covered in velour that has to come out
I'll cut it out and reglue just the cloth over the bare spot

This makes me smile, to have a case for this one as well as knowing what can be used, if a good one can be found
This was just pure luck it hadnt left here before.

Now this case is closed!, and the bridge is still standing up......ahhhhhhhh

It will have an interesting life up in AK, and may even meet up with other Trujo friends there, stranger things have happened.
I hope my Boy Barry gets some fun out of it and passes that along to the good people that show up in Talkeetna

If it doesn't please him, it could end up like others I have made him!!!!



BG  says it passes muster, and so far no Moose have stampeded!

There is something about a banjo that lives in a log home in AK thats made at a log home in Texas....

It followed this one right up the old Al-Can Highway!


Vinnie, The inaugural flight of the Trujo trunk monkey went over big today, as each flight had someone with a birthday or anniversary to play for!
It's workin' out good! Thanks so much! :)

Thanks for watching