Mark Hulse
Accutone Tenor
Number 10 of 10
Serial number 2008-02
Build page

Start date 6--17-08
Mark is a good friend, and I plan to work very hard to make the last of the Accutones "Noteworthy"

Theme chosen
"Olde Anglo"

Components chosen:
Tony Pass Lost Timbre"Thin skirt" Rim
Jim Stull JLS-12 20 hole flathead tone ring
24 bracket One Piece flange configuration
FQMS Engraved "Kings Crown" Hardware
Gold plating
Custom 20 fret Maple Neck with Inlay by Dave Nichol's at Custom Pearl Inlay
Radius fingerboard
Double cut peghead
Resonator (Custom, Artist to be named soon)
Theme on back of resonator, rough draft

First piece, JLS12, in unplated "Bell Bronze"

This will be the power plant that runs this machine, and a good one it is.
Well loved in both 4 and 5 string circles, you can never go wrong with one of Jim Stull's products.

The "Ring of power", ready to go for engraving and plating at FQMS


Eric and the boys at FQMS did a very nice job on this batch

The JLS 12 is not scribbled upon!
This will be such a fine banjo.
I will mail this tone ring and flange to Tony Pass for proper fitting next

MOP buttons for the tuners, MOP truss cover and the rim Logo

Tailpiece is nice, "Hulse" is much clearer than this pic denotes

So now lets get a rim under this thing and get ready for a really wonderful neck from Dave Nichols at Custom Pearl Inlay

Inlay- 20 fret Radiused fingerboard

Well, Nadine Nichols with  Custom Pearl Inlay    surprised me today with some preliminary shots of the neck inlay work as it is in progress, so here we go!

In order







Next to a 26 Granada neck

Got some more pics in from Dave, a rare treat that someone will actually take time out of a very busy day to show us these phases
Thanks Dave (and Nadine, who I know is doing some of it!)
Custom Pearl Inlay RULES!

Truss rod installed, and peghead ears glued into position and peghead profile drawn.
Dave has a special design, that will go well with the English theme.
Bold, but not overstated.

Making the cut

Very nice!
Truss rod cavity opened
Template for neck profiled installed

Ready to saw down the profile

Making the cut

The other side..............

Ebony backstrap installed

Shaping the backside on the spindle shaper

Rough shaping complete, ready to shape heel

Dave is Dremel'ing the excess out if this area

The heel cut is coming up, which will be for Gibson Style 1 piece flange.
While Dave makes some sawdust, I think I will do the same!

Spindle shaper at work on heel cut

Fingerboard glued and clamped

Peghead inlay


Dave NAILED the exact script I was looking for, and the Coat of Arms is Awesome!

not to mention how "M" like , the Shield resembles!

Example of "Pattern carved" resonator
I am thinking along the lines of this method to complete this banjo .
I imagine it with the ..

... in the center, surrounded by appropriate background and Peripheral decoration

Done in this fashion

Now the finish out on this would be quite extensive but the rewards would be worth it in my opinion
I am discussing with with Ron Raymer, the Artist that I will chose for this project.
Ron's work is well known in banjo circles, and is some of the best in the world
Visit his webpage to see more of his stunning work

Tony Pass Rim

The "Lost Timbre" thin skirt Birch rim came in today, Tony was super fast in his service and we thank him for that.
Visit his webpage to see what "Lost timbre" is all about.

Domino says "Never put a tree this close to me, it could spell trouble" :)

The thin skirt should be just the thing to make a tenor sing!

 Ready to stain

First tint coat, Reddish brown will be the color
As you can see Dom likes to stay up on the bench most all the time.

Fully shaded and clear coats beginning
Over Mahogany to show the contrast

I thought it fitting to put this pic in with this instrument, it was conjured up at this event. :)

First rim assembly
(Used REMO clear head)

Nameplate installed

I will use this head and when I do the final setup, I will install the head of Mark's choice.
This will show how the banjo sounds at it's most strident.

I like the functionality of an FQMS grover 2 hump tailpiece.
Its strong adjustable and has a strong spring in the cover.

No flash....that yellowed it up huh?

Neck Arrives!!!

Dave mailed this out to me and I received it this week, and man, what a beauty!!
The pics do nothing to show the fire and luster in the inlay patterns.
The radiused fingerboard is excellent with ebony polished like a mirror.
Now to pick out some appropriate side bindings, I am leaning towards ablam.
Custom Pearl Inlay RULES!

And I told Dave to go ahead and surprise us on the peghead reverse, and he did....................



We have a beautiful medieval princess
The detail is astonishing and the Abalone is wonderful
What a nice addition to finalize the pearl work
Thanks Dave and Nadine, for what you do!

Resonator scheme

Ron sent me a rough draft of his idea for the background and I think it is a good choice.
He plans to correct the anatomy of the Knight  a little, I mean he is a short stubby Lil Knight after all :)

The Resonator chosen will be a Gill, with Ivroid binding and a thin "Black/White"

I will get this out to Mr. Ron Raymer for carving, this will be one fine resonator!

Initial sketch complete 

Now tell me that ain't going to look spectacular
How about those shields!

Neck Progress

I will use 2 stage binding on this neck.
A thin  Black/White  bottom layer that is visible from the side, topped by an Ivroid/Black/white main binding that is visible from the top.

Bottom layer in

Ready to profile

Tape is protecting board, and also as an index to know you are close

Side markers will be an assortment of Copper, Brass and Aluminum tubing
My Pearl saw will make "short work" of it

And even Brass tube in alum. tubing!!!

Down the line bi-metal

Taking all the excess from the backside, its still real thick, I want it around 13/16 to 1"

Shaping thumbstop, which I want very pronounced

I was able to ream the tuner holes so that a full bodied tuner could be utilized.
These Waverly V2s with MOPS are nice.

Ready to begin fretwork

Resonator Returns!

That......... is nothing short of spectacular
Mark will have to take a "nitro" when he views it.

Anyone wishing a work of art such as this should contact Ron Raymer, you will not regret it.
He has served the Banjo maker's industry for many years, making us all look good.

Now it is back here for stain matching and it will head back to my Birth State of Missouri, for detail painting by Ron.

I have shot the first tint coat, using alcohol wash/analine dyes.
Im looking for sort of a "Leathery" appearance, I liken it to a Leather hauberk, something used in medieval days

A few more coats before I seal it.
I will then scrape clean the bindings and protect the stain with 3 coats of Mohawk

Bindings cleaned, 1st sealer coat


3rd coat.
I will cure this overnight, and get it back to Ron for detail painting

Taking some more of the overburden away, making for a more slim profile in thickness and a less pronounced curvature

Profile sanding peghead, all neck shaping will be complete

Adding the heel cap

Neck/ Rim finish

I have removed the reddish brown finish from the rim, added the serial number to the top, and matched it to the neck and resonator.

I had planned this ever since I made the color change to Amber/Golden brown tints.
All tint coats applied, and 2 coats of clear.
Bindings are taped

Taped pulled, additional 2 coats so far.
10-12 coats, and then it should really get some depth, and " mirror out".

Resonator Detail Painting

Ron Raymer's work speaks for itself.
We couldn't be more pleased.
Now to add more clear coats

Now in real life again and under lights,  the resonator has returned from Ron and is taking on clearcoat, after I darkened the sidewall.
I like a 2 tone, to really make the back colors pop out.

We will go for around 8 more coats, making for 12 total, to protect this painting.
These are not thick coats, the Mohawk goes on nice and smooth in thin coats, unthinned.

Working on inside of resonator, I want it to have a nice glow inside since mark will run a clear head on it.

8 coats, 2 more before wetsanding and buffing

Fret work

First, the wire need to be bent to a radius, and this is the tool that does it.
It make things easier to do this, instead of pressing a flat wire in a curved slot.

Each fret slot has cyano shot into it, then the fret is pressed into it and clamped off for a dry time.

As I move forward, I clean each slot of debris, epoxies, glues, etc., so that the fret has clearance to press.

Moving ahead

I'll stop here for tonight, the rest will be pressed with another jig, that presses over the heel.

Frets all installed, ready to level

Taking the edge burr off

Radius sanding block


Ceramic wheel polisher

First setup

Lags installed and neck attached, all looks good so far

I will put a set of tuners on and string it up

Truss rod cover installed and radius nut fabricated

I'll need a radius bridge next, this will do for the first tests, 5/8 is the max so I want to make the banjo play from 1/2 to 5/8, keeping the same action with different bridges, it is all adjustable
The first tones are very encouraging, the longer scale means lighter strings, but the tone is very clean and pure, nice.


I plan on a deeper edge on this sunburst on the reso inside, and a darker center, it is still too yellow to suit me.

Also that used head is foggy, making it all look cloudy

So far, I am pleased, and will do alot of small things to it, dialing it in, and then pull it apart and get back to the finishing.
I will say the banjo might look more elegant with either a gold renaissance head, or a n inside frosted.
It seems too regal for clear, but I am not the boss of it!

Darkening completed, I stripped it out and redid it, not an overcoat

Lugs installed

All hardware attached

Always remember to just loosen the armrest a bit, and raise it up when you want this resonator thumbscrew out.

Pfinal Pfazes


new head........ahh,

Fellini on watch, while final coats bask in the last of the warm days of this fall , I will miss them.
After curing I will wetsand with 100 and 1500 grit, then buff.

Touching the last high spots after things have settled in

Final wetsanding before buffing

Reassembly, and ready for final setup

Checking the new TKL case for proper fit
Good show Mark.
Now for a little more settling in, and final tweaking before delivery
This is a really neat project and I really appreciate all the help from Ron and Dave and everyone else   that make these things happen
Thanks for watching