Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Diving headfirst into the murky waters of amateur lutherie

Armed only with bad ideas, excessive confidence, a file, and some sandpaper, I dove headfirst into the dark waters of amateur lutherie, and somehow came out unscathed (although the same can’t be said for my banjo… jk lol)

So my old cheapie banjo was sitting unused, so I had taken the resonator off and tuned it to double C for clawhammer. Then yesterday, I decided it would be nicer to play if it had a thumb scoop. So after brief consultation with the professionals on BHO, I went for it. I decided to copy the nechville atlas style scoop, as it looked easy and also didn’t remove the upper frets (which I use occasionally).
It took about an hour with a file, but I am very happy with the results! It looks good, and feels great!
The photos are too big to post, so I’m gonna try and add them through my blog and link it here


Well done, young lad! You’ve stumbled upon the 1st Rule of Life: “If it ain’t broke, you can’t fix it!” :+1:


Good for you

Get yourself some wood working hand tools and practice on shaping bits of scrap wood. Learn how to steam and bend strips of timber. There’s a ton of videos on YouTube that will give you a wealth of knowledge

I love to watch the video’s of Asian craftsmen working with bamboo to create some amazing objects


Whelp, wordpress seems to have assumed that I’m conservative, and won’t let me log in anymore.
Here’s a link to the topic on banjohangout, the photos are near the end


Hi Gunnar

Yes this site server can’t cope with large image files, the good news is you can always rescale an image.

You never cease to amaze me Gman!

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I’m loving to reduce pic file size.


I bought a very inexpensive plywood mandolin to see if I was cut out to be a mandolinist. The finish was so heavy that the mando seemed to have been dipped in plastic. The finish was really sticky so moving up and down the fretboard was “grabby.” Plus, it needed a nut replacement, bridge fix, etc. @Lee_G did a real nice job on his mando. Scooping the fretboard I figured it was either toss the mando or try to set it up. I was able to scoop the fretboard using a file and I replaced the plastic nut with a synthetic material nut (from Stew Mac). While I was at it I decided to try a speed neck too. The finish was so thick I couldn’t sand it off so I had to use a sharp chisel to carefully scrape away the finish. Once that was done I sanded it and tung oiled it. I should have stained the neck before oiling it but it came out okay. It is still a cheap mando, but it is much better to play. Only problem now is I’d like a better one so what I thought would be a cheap fix is going to cost more money! The biggest hesitation in trying home lutherie for me was the unknown. What would I uncover when I started hacking on a real cheap instrument? There is a mandolin setup e-book available over at Mando Hangout. It is free and very helpful.

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