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I have built a handful of mandolins a couple banjos and several bodhrans (Irish frame drum). I build primarily for myself although sold most of the drums to local players. I started working wood in high school and picked it up again after college, primarily making furniture. I've played music since I was a kid. I finally joined these tow interests when I couldn't find a mandolin I wanted to buy and someone suggested I build one. The first one took a lot of time and study, but I learned a lot. Each instrument adds to the knowledge. One of the most fulfilling projects I have worked on was a banjo that was started in the 1960s. A relative of a neighbor started it but ultimately set it aside. By the time they gave me a box full of wooden parts, he had died and his plans were long gone. I had to work backwards from the parts to a plan, then move the project forward. Along the way I spoke the the original makers son and grandson and learned some things about the man. Like me, he built as an avocation and for his own use. His son said his dad helped him build a guitar. I could see his toolmarks, and read some of his notes left on the pieces and learned something of him from that too. It was a great project. I used what I learned to work on a second banjo, that I built with my son to try to pass the skill and passion along.
I'm no Stradivari or Gibson, but there isn't an instrument on the planet that means more to me than one I make myself.
posted 3 years, 9 months ago
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