Pics of the My New Banjer!

I’m still waiting for it to arrive but here are the pics from ebay. It’s a fretless mountain style banjo made of mahogany and black walnut, 5 strings with ebony pegs.







Can’t wait to frail Songs for Sunday on this bad boy.

From the ebay description:

This is Banjo no. 452, brand new and made by me, Richard K. Smith in Comer Georgia. I built my first banjo in 1988, and now I’ve made over 450 of them. That’s a lot of banjos, and I’ve enjoyed building them all. This one’s made with a mahogany neck, a black walnut top and back, a black walnut hoop, and a black walnut peghead veneer. It has a bone nut, a hand made maple bridge and a goat skin head. It is put together with brass screws.

The tuning pegs are ebony and it is strung with fishing line strings. I like them better than Nylgut these days, because they do not break. A spare set is included. I do not recommend steel strings anymore. They will work, but nylon strings seem to suit the instrument so much better, and I no longer think it is worth it to put the extra stress on the neck.

The body is 10 inches it diameter. The head is 6 inches in diameter. The distance between the nut and the bridge is 26 1/4 Inches. Unlike most old-time banjos of this sort, there is a 2 degree angle between the neck and the body, where most are flat. This angle puts the right amount of pressure on the bridge to hold it against the head and help transmit the sound better and truer. You can see this in one of the pictures above. The head is not adjustable, as you would expect in a historic reproduction of this type, but it should stay tight for the life of the instrument. I take pictures of every banjo a build, because no two are alike. The grain of wood is never the same twice.

I have a little web page now. There are more pictures and a little video tour of my workshop.

To hear an excelent performance on one of my banjo, check out

and another great video at

Wonderful playing by Davide Naccarati from Italy! It truly is a small world these days. If you look around Youtube you’ll find even more folks playing them. And all of them much better at it than me.

This is a challenging instrument to play, and perhaps not for beginners, but it is a piece of history you can play and enjoy. I’ve made hundreds of these things, and enjoy sending them all over the world. Check out what others say in the profile above. Good luck, and keep on playin’!

Richard K. Smith



  1. DRA · January 8, 2014

    Sweet lookin instrament.

    • jm · January 8, 2014

      Thanks Dave, I’m looking forward to its arrival.

      Hey, have you ever thought about picking up an instrument? I could use a washboard or bodhran player. 😉

      • DRA · January 9, 2014

        I wouldn’t mind learning the bodhran at some point. Seeing it is a drum and I have always like the drums. In the present though, if you says were looking to fill out your sound I do know to play the spoons, I’m rusty, but I can do it.

      • jm · January 9, 2014

        That sounds like fun. Right now we don’t have a place for all of us to practice so maybe you could stop by and just the two of us can play.

        To get an idea of timing try playing along with the Old Time Jam Machine. Something simple like Boil Them Cabbage Down.

      • DRA · January 10, 2014

        Sounds good, Mondays and Wednesdays are best for me. Just got work as assistant building manager for my building and another in town starting in about a week or so and those will be my guaranteed days off. Shoot me an email and we can set things up.

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