The choice of a primary wood for a new banjo is one of the first things most players consider. For some, it’s a purely aesthetic choice. Others may desire the subtle tonal quality inherent in a particular species. While it is true that most hardwoods carry their own tonal personality, other material choices (head, bridge, strings) tend to have a more profound effect on the overall sound of a banjo. All new Bad River banjos are made from domestically harvested North American hardwoods — walnut, cherry and maple.
Every Bad River banjo includes a peghead shape that is inspired by original designs from the late 19th or early 20th century. Each has been meticulously rendered for historic accuracy, with consideration for modern aesthetics and scale. A number of banjo brands have shared similar peghead shapes through the years. I’ve named this set after some of my personal favorites.
I provide two options when it comes to banjo hardware: nickel plated and raw brass. For aesthetic purposes, I lightly age new hardware with a patina that darkens recessed areas to build an added dimension of depth and character. Every Bad River banjo comes standard with Gotoh planetary tuners, vintage style round bracket shoes and a no-knot tailpiece.
Standard Bad River banjo models can be either fretted or fretless. A frailing scoop can be added as part of the standard package.
As of 2019, I no longer use ebony for fingerboards or trim in my banjos. It has been replaced by Richlite, a manufactured material that is both sustainable and renewable. Richlite is commonly used as an alternative to ebony by many leading instrument manufacturers.
While it doesn’t effect playability or tone, a specific heel shape can help unite the overall design of your banjo. Your own choice may be based on period/historical accuracy or personal aesthetic preference. Bad River banjos come with one of three different heel styles: Dobson, peaked or rounded. The heel plane on peaked and rounded styles can be capped with a contrasting trim material or left blank.
I try to keep pricing straightforward and simple. There are a few custom options that may add to this standard price (additional hardware, labor-intensive features, etc). If you have specifics in mind, I am happy to clarify any added fees. This standard price includes a Guardian 11″ hardshell case. Shipping fees are billed separately, and international orders are welcomed.
Part of my role as a quality banjo builder is to provide recommendations and thoughtful solutions to questions you may have. The best way to get started is to reach out to me with your initial goals and ideas. Together, we can start to add shape to them and craft a truly one-of-a-kind banjo design that starts and ends with you.