Old-time banjos were simple and straightforward when it came to wood. For the most part, there were just four species from which almost all of them were made – Maple, Cherry, Walnut and Mahogany. They all have their own aesthetic. And they all have their own sound.

Maple has always been hailed as the clearest and brightest of the bunch, producing a bell-like tone with quick response. Cherry has a density and reflectivity approaching that of Maple, but with a midrange that is more rich and complex. Walnut falls somewhere between the extremes of Maple (bright) and Mahogany (warm), with a sound that is earthier and darker than Cherry. And Mahogany rounds out the group, producing the warmest tone paired with a slower, gentler response.

Each of these tonewoods has its own distinct personality. Banjos made from these woods – and the music they play – tend to adopt these same traits.

But what if we were to borrow the best quality of one of these woods and add it to another? What if we crafted a banjo rim that enjoyed the responsiveness of Maple, for example, with the added warmth, character and finish of another wood?

The standard Bad River rim has a core of rock hard maple. Its density provides a tonal foundation for whatever wood surrounds it – or so the theory goes.

That’s the theory behind every Bad River banjo rim. Each is built from the inside out in three sections. The inner and outer walls each consist of a 1/8″ steam-bent ply of premium tonewood, with a 1/4″ ply of rock hard Maple in between. Capped at the bottom edge with matched or contrasted wood, the resulting rim carries the finish and tonal character of a classic banjo tonewood (Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany) with the added density and response of Maple at the core.

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