If you’re anything like me, you appreciate the beauty and satisfaction that comes from owning and playing a well-made banjo. I’ve been building banjos for nearly ten years, and have a long list of satisfied customers with whom I’ve built lasting relationships. Take some time to learn more about me and my approach to crafting banjos of character and distinction.
My passion for banjos began the moment I plucked my first string. I had the privilege of learning to play authentic old time music by ear from a fiddle player who specialized in regional styles from the Carolinas and Kentucky. At the beginning of each lesson, he would play a tune on his fiddle and ask me to create a complementary arrangement on the banjo. It was challenging at first. But it taught me to think and play like he did — and like so many before him.
I apply this respect for tradition and historic nuance to every banjo I make. No two banjos are alike. They each have their own character and story. But they all share a common affinity for craftsmanship, playability and attention to detail.
My goal in life it to create things that endure. That goes for the music I play, the banjos I make and the relationships I build.
I work in a cozy little wood shop in the basement of our family home, just outside of Kansas City, MO. I built all of the work surfaces and shelving myself — including the solid maple workbench at the center. It’s a modest space, but it has everything I need. If you’d like to see regular updates from my shop, along with step-by-step details about how I build my banjos, feel free to follow my account on Instagram.
If you’ve looked at the banjos I’ve made, you’ve probably noticed the coins that are embedded into many of them. They are all remnants of a very old form of currency called coal scrip.
The use of coal scrip dates to the late 1800s, when many coal companies looked for ways to keep miners in a never ending cycle of work, repayment and debt. Rather than receiving compensation in US currency, many miners received payment entirely in scrip, which could be used only at the company store. This eliminated any hope for workers and their families to break free or to acquire any form of wealth.
These coal mines took root in the same regions where folk music thrived. Places like North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia. And the people who worked in those mines were the same people who would have picked up and played simple folk instruments like fiddle and banjo. I believe these coins help keep their memory alive.
I’ve had the pleasure to build banjos for some excellent human beings. Here are some of the things they’ve said about the experience.