First Project

(Pronounced as "python")
We will be incorporating
Stromberg,Vega, Liberty, Bacon and Day, Leedy, Paramount, and Epiphone type modifications
And a slew of others I havent thought of yet.

Genesis / Day one
The chosen parts for beginning this project are:

Liberty banjo 19 fret tiger maple blank, with steel reinforced rod.

Ebony fingerboard, bound in ivroid and inlayed
Ebony peghead overlay, off the bottom of an original "Govox" overlay, furnished by Paul Morrisey

Old overlay from the seventies, from a prototype that Paul was involved with, that was electric.

Neck shaping

Since I am using what tools I have,and not what is standard, I will list what I used to shape the neck
2" drum sander - 36 grit
1/2" Dremel Drum sander- 80 grit
Half round rasping file
Scroll saw

(Approx time spent on roughout / cut profile/ sand smooth/ drill tuners/ install overlay/ final shaping)
12 hours
I used the 2" to hog off what excess wood that I couldnt get with my scroll saw.
I wanted a heel shape in the plain fashion of a Lange challenger, with more slant to the back.

I chose a basic pattern from a  Lange triple X, for the peghead shape
Drilled tuners to accept new geared tuners...
The dremel was used in the final shaping of the peghead profile,after scroll saw cut to profile.

, with an Epiphone style thumb rest.
Ebony peghead overlay is attached,as i wanted to do the pearl work with it on.
Fingerboard is not attached, this is just a glamour shot.
I will inlay it before it goes on.

After smoothing with the dremel sander.
As you can see, i like "Pointy" pegheads!
I have an inlay pattern in mind to accent it.
Everyone has their own styings in mind, and this is mine.
Sorta Stewart, sorta Lange, definetely Vinnie.

Fretless....I think not!
Theyll come later, with the inlaid fingerboard installed
I will also pull off that binding,and use some black I got.

Inlay choices
I used what I had the most of....stars, and a few more things as well.
I am not looking to make alot of "friends" with this choice,as its too non conventional for most folks.
And that big Abalone "M", was destiny, I believe

I use white lacquer to overspray them, for quickness.
After inletting, I wipe it off with thinner,and sand the rest.
Works for me!

After MOP inlaying, fretting/ binding/ MOP side markers/ heelcap/ staining / tinted lacquers/ first clear coats

(Formatted for timesaving!)
Im too busy to show all what goes on, on this one.
I used a honey amber stain, and dark walnut tinted lacquers

I took my vintage Liberty 3/4" 12 ply rim, that was beveled on top, and smoothed it up.
I built archtop stanchions, outa Padauk wood, very dense,and glued the to the rim
The outside edge is cut back, for the outside brass head bearing to land.
I put a coat of Honey amber dye on it, to bring out the grain.
It will have a fade job. like the neck.

There will be a ten inch "Active" playing surface,and design is such that when head is on,there will be a "pinch" area, created by the arch of the head,and in reverse, the bevel of the rim.
I believe it will make the tone I want.
 alot of sustain.
The rise of the arch is 1/4"

Mock up with the neck.

First assembly,
Well, I recieved some of my hardware in from RICHELIEU BANJOS today,so I decided since it was a holiday,I could work on my own stuff!
I ordered my tension hoop from Rick too, so I drilled the rim, for "Bacon" spacing.
I recieved 26 bracket shoes,shoe bolts and nuts, hooks and tension nuts, and geared tuners, all new, Gold plated.
I used one of my NOS Liberty gold armrests, and soldered brackets onto it, to fit the rim.
I installed a mother of pearl nut, for added brightness.

As you can see, I extended the fingerboard, mainly because I like the look of extensions.
It sits 1/16 over the arch ring.

I have a Vega Artist tailpiece on it for now, until my Richelieu tensionator arrives.

Rim is still unlacquered,and will turn out nicely when shadings are added.
This is just the first setup, to check fit,and set action, etc.
It will come apart at least once or twice more, before I get it all set up right.
I have it on a 21/32" bridge height right now.

My triangular air gap is what I intended it to be.
A tone ring of simplicity.

There are some misalignments in the shoebolt holes,vertically, due to my hand drilling of them.
I am not concerned in the least with perfection,as this isnt "production line" work.
Its my banjo,and I want it to look homemade, thru and thru.
There are plenty of "Sterile" banjos out there in the world, if you crave perfection! LOL
Hooksets are darn straight tho!


I like the no dowelstick, no coordinator rods approach.
I have two lag bolts, with my neck already cut to the proper action,and bridges can do the rest of the fine tuning.
With an extension on the fingerboard, making neck removal nessesary for head changes, a simple on /off should be in order.

And now, to tear her back down
I am proud of todays progress.
15 hrs and still going!

Disassembly for rim paint

I added some shading, and a few coats of clear.
It not a "true" finish,as its a work in progress, so I am changing things so much, i cannot maintain a perfect finish so...this ll do.

Also, a Fiberskyn head.
I like it much better with this head, as tone is deeper.
Thats my Stromberg tailpiece, while I wait on my tensionator

Good enuf for now.

 1/4" 20th fret.....to make that last "F" with

Resonator inlaying

I have decided on the bindings , from what I had laying around, from old Liberty stock, and since the resonator is as well, that should go OK.
I have soaked the veneer to make them pliable, and will use titebond.

And a double on the side, to try and checkerboard it.

Then a black plastic on the top.

Added the Liberty flanges on, while I am lacquering

Rootbeer is vigilant as always, watching for idea stealers!

After the heel cut out, and inside stain

Some final daylight shots


Well, that about does it for this project, destined to be an heirloom for my daughter Meredith,

and more than likely my only "example", as I am not really tooled up for construction, and I only have a little spare time between customer restos, to fiddle with such.

It was a fun experience, and I learned alot, although how much of it was "correct" is left to be seen.
It has a Paramount like sound, that is very clear on the highs, and a bit thin on the lows, but I do have light gauge strings on her.
Now its time to fiddle with the setup, for a year maybe!
Thanks for following along.