Barry Grant's

"Great White North"
Tenor banjo


Once a Wild man, always  wild man!

When I first got into the Internet world of banjos back in  99 I came across this fellow and had I known what I know now, I may have ran screaming !


Me and my favorite pilot, Id fly with him anyday.
Truth be known without Barry in my banjo life and life in general, it just wouldn't be the same.
BG Spent 22 years with Air Evac out in AZ as an Air Ambulance Pilot, and has flown into some of the most hair raising landing places you can imagine.
He decided he would try his hand up in Alaska, where he now resides, and has decided it's
The place to be"


Playing one of his Casino gigs out WestBack Home looking much cleaner, with Mom!
Looking good as a Granpa!

Up in AK, ready for a trip out into the bush

With Bagpipes and Mastervox, this is no man to mess witha man's only TRUE LOVE.........Beer

More serious times, Katrina disater from the Air Evac planeOne of the Medical teams who volunteered in the Super Dome

Flying a mission over Meteor Crater, AZ

With Daughter Holly, his Plane in the background

Parked next to a bird we all know and love!

And the latest pic.
Fairbanks AK

Bathtub Gin band, Talkeetna AK
Barry is playing a banjo that has been around!
I made it from parts for him back in the late 1900's
It predates the Pietsch Mastervox and was only done for grins
Vox lower assembly, Gibson style peghead inlay..
Its something that can be battered around on stage without fear of remorse. :)



Based on Jim Stull's  prototype modified to his latest design aspects and built to my specifications with the help of Eric Sullivan at FQMS.
Thanks Jim and Eric!
I decided upon this setup after considering several others.

 28 Bracket Bottom Tension
20 Hole JLS 12 flathead tone ring
Notched Tension Hoop
Custom F-Hole Flange by Jim Stull
Vox style deep resonator, highly flamed.
Heavy rolled maple rim
This banjo will surely have the power and projection I desire.
Now I will decide what engraving patterns will go with my theme and it will head to Ron Raymer for some more custom work.


The #12 ring should give the banjo plenty of low end and some nice clear high notes.

The Heart of the matter....
JLS12 has the closest match to Prewar Gibson dimensions of any clone ring, and the metallurgy is there too.
They are the most underrated ring on the market.
The Cox Rolled maple rim cut for this ring should be a formidable weapon.

The jacket is a fitting background, it came from Barry as a gift long before we got to this juncture!

Commissioned !!

Looking at some of the similarities that exist between Orig and Custom
Very few!


Since this is the "Great White North" banjo, it has been my intent to create a finish that would emulate this.
I chose a white lacquer that will be misted onto the wood, not thick pure white.
I want to see some grain after I add the white and then the tint

The tint will be blue, in clear Nitro.
I am going for a "Glacier Ice" look

Base and tint applied

Alternating Airbrush with some white to "Cloud" it up

Coloration complete, including my finger.
Now I have the Arctic sky with clouds....fitting for a fly boy
Back to adding clear.

Domino likes to show how he keeps everything secure, ....

Rim finish complete
It looks like it's -20F  now :)
Ready for  hoop and flange to go to Ron to be engraved, and then off to my plater.

Equipped with the JLS 12 tone ring I do believe it will be a formidable weapon of Bass destruction!.

Fingerboard sketches-Custom Pearl Inlay

Dave has the theme nailed down, and both Barry and I were just as pleased as we could be on this undertaking!
Picture all this in MOP and various inlay materials

Peghead overlay


And we just flow right on up the hill and right out of town, into the ' Great White North"
That is just super.,     Thanks Dave.

Dave sent me a few pics of the inlay progress, and I was rendered speechless....which is foreign territory to me.!!



Complete with Aurora Borealis..........its OVER THE TOP!!!!

Dave was slotting it for frets today so it is speeding right along


I love the name inlaid in wood instead of Pearl

The slant of the peghead is perfect to make the perspective appear as it is going away from town.
And the truss cover is actually a wooden sign?....HOW COOL IS THAT!


Just in from Malone NY and a look in the Tx Sun!

None of the pics show the brilliance of the inlay work!!!

I'll start by adding the maple binding and doing a little shaping on the sides.

Ill start the finish on the peghead

Storing my Nagley's sign so I will know where I put it.
And look at that ol Mastervox/BG inlay, been here since 1999!

Cleaning out all the contours and removing saw chatter marks

That side is ready for sanding

Now for the other....

1/2 way around, you can see the undone vs done.

All ready to final sand

1 coat sealer applied, I like to protect the clean wood from any accidental stains flying around here

Now to chop the heel down

Ill sawccut the mass, then belt sand it to the final dimension

Thats enough room to add the heel veneers

Blue tint applied

Most of this will be washed off, Im soaking it


After washing it to the color I really want.

Heel cap is Blue/Black/Blue

A coat of sealer over it as well

Gluing some laminates together for backstrapping

Glueing / Clamping the same veneers to the peghead

Nice clean look, I really like using the wood side bindings.

After 10 hours in the clamps, I am doing the contour shaping on the laminates

Reaming the tuner holes to accept Schaller tuners
That will end up at 3/8"
Also, I have decided to go with Nickel and Chrome hardware, the gold just does nothing for this theme in these colors.

I pulled my center laminate back a tad so I could have a split line effect instead of rolling it all the way around.
Everyone likes to be different.

Sweated BULLETS drilling out as large a side marker as feasible.
I will use a method Dale Small taught me, and that is with Brass tubing and colored epoxy.

Cutting the red epoxy filled inserts

Inserted and glued, ready to file
They will show out much better when smoothed and clearcoated

2 more coats of sealer, Ill ream the tuner holes to 3/8 and install the Schaller B4s, Chrome.

I'll get all this "Dry fitting" done, make the nut and then do the fretwork before continuing with Mohawk Lacquer.


I will also tint this blue a bit more to better match the rim and side bindings

Flange-Tension hoop
Engraving by Ron Raymer, complete

This is how it appears before plating, which will be Chromium

Tailpiece hides this non engraved area

The theme couldn't have matched my vision any better

The amazing detail can be seen best in this pic
Thats Ron, another fine job!
Now its off to the plater

Neck attachment

I am using a single adjustable brass rod and one lag with a cap nut for the adjusters.

The front adjustment on this style rod is very efficient and does not require a deep depression into the front of the rim to actuate properly
I will polish the brass and lacquer it for protection

When the plating returns from FQMS I can assemble the rim and work on the setup while I finish the neck and Ron works with the resonator


All fret are glue and press on this style fingerboard, and I am pressing the last few to cure out the adhesive under pressure.

Leveled and crowned, ready to polish

 Of course, the old Stromberg still looks more "high tech" :)

Resonator binding / Plating
First Quality Music

The parts came back in from Eric and the boys at FQMS today and the chrome is exactly what was needed for this project.

Much colder looking than Nickel or Gold.
Thanks FQMS!

Eric stripped off some figured maple into binding for me and added a white divider, and now I can plan this color scheme for Ron to do his artwork upon.

There is a nickel coat under the chrome which improves adhesion


I will go with a clear head, I want the inside to be shown because there is more to come in that area
On Jim Stull's rim design the head goes on, the flangeplate rests on the stretcher band and the hooksets pull from the bottom side, a nice strong design and with his JLS-12 tone ring, I expect one heck of a volume but with bottom end out the wazoo.

Hooksets are Nickel, to give a slight off color look to the chrome.

I will assemble it on from here to test all the playing functions .
I  have to decide what type of tailpiece works best on this baby.

neck notch cut, resonator hardware threaded and mounted

Thumbscrews with thumbwheels, 4 positions

Ready for the tailpiece so I can string it up and get a feel for the feel of things
You can see that the blue in the overlays is darkened to a more desirable color contrast now.


First I am applying the white coat, which is 50 percent white, 30 percent clear, and 20 percent reducer

Then the interior sky blue on the peghead and the heel cap

Ready to add sky blue fade at the heel and top of the neck

I will mock it up for some pics and then continue adding clear coats.

Inside of resonator also taking on clear, the outside willl have a different scheme

Picture the brass rod as color co-rod-inated (play on words)
It will painted to match the insides



OK, enuf looking, back to work.

Co-rod match complete, with 3 coats of clear on top of it


I did not like the blue on the peghead reverse as much as I thought, and I decided to go with a white celluloid instead.
So I ground them both away and reprepped for the celluloid.

I time compressed this by not taking pics until the restart

I began by removing the temporary finish so that it could be sent to Ron for carving and detail work

Smoothing the new cap

Profiling the new reverse

All sealed with an ultra thin coat of sealer so as not to inhibit Ron's carving


Sullivan offset tuners with real MOP buttons are the choice now.

I will send it to Ron with the tuners, so that he can center his detail work properly


This used to be available but is no longer in production
It allows flexibility in setup and changes of tonal output.
Barry just happened to have one, still in the box from the 1980s, so this solves the dilemma of a good tension hoop mounted tailpiece
I will change it to Chrome and mount it.

Now if I can just get this guy to ship it!

Side bindings dyed, and smooth sanded with one coat of sealer, ready to go see Mr. Raymer

After Ron does the relief carving in the heel, and engraves the Celluloid on the heel and peghead reverse he will do the resonator work that we settle upon.

Then it will come back here for overcoating with the "Ice fog" and head back to him for the detail paint work.


Barry saved me, he had one of the last of this style tailpiece.
I went to order them and Rick said ... "No more"
I have the armrest fabricated and will mount it up next but right now Im going to work on the playability, just strung it up and to pitch


We have a great action on a standard Grover 5/8 Bridge you can see the rooster tail....  its cutting donuts!!
Good tone up and down even before the fret dressing so I am grinning.
I will allow the neck to settle in under tension, mess with the  truss to see how it reacts'll need the side dots. :)

Raymer sends some sketches 6-10

Recent Barry Activities
Hope AK
Nice little festival.


Everyone in town is here...

The old "EagleVox" still giving good service.
That was another fun project.

The boys in the band down at the "Latitude 62" , just hanging out lookin to make some music!
Thats the old MasterVox, with the EagleVox resonator.
I see some "Shape Shifting" and a little "Presto Chango" goin on here! LOL

Well..what should I have expected????



This will be done in "Rhodium", a whitish looking and very durable plating
We will entrust that to Paul Poirier, who gave me the idea.

Artwork completed _ Ron Raymer

I want to use alot of fancy words right about now but my mouth is gaped open and drool is forming too quickly
















Look what came to Texas today..


First coat of sealer, now to the FINISH line!


One more time for the sequence on installing a new head.

Set the flange over the head
Remo medium crown " cloudy " head was our choice, it gives the "Ice fog" look

Put the tension hook over the flange, start a hook on the back

Pull in the other side of the flange tight, then put the other hook on.

Then do 2 in the front and snug them

Then one on each side and snug them, now everything will be in alignment to drop in all the rest of the hooksets

all back to tension

Neck buffed and reattached

This banjo will get real MOP buttons, that is as ICY as it comes!!!

I changed the tint on the inside of the resonator to a deeper shade of blue so the highlights would better match Ron's work.
It will show thru the cloudy head just as I wish

All buffed and waxed ready to install.

Now it is ready for its tailpiece and armrest to come back from Massachusetts, where it is getting it's "Rhodium" plating, and the setup will continue

It will have time to settle in and get a couple of head adjustments and will be ready to head to the Far North real soon


Trying her out on the front porch



I like seeing my shadow with Denali in the background.
This is a very special banjo to me for many reason and when I look back on this and all of the banjos  my friends have asked me to dream up and think how special a point in time that this really is.
Now we will see if it can stand the extremes of Alaska!
Thanks for watching
Love ya BG!


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