May 2, 2015 An interview with The Banjo Reserve Recently, the fine folks at The Banjo Reserve reached out to talk to me about my banjos, and about life in general as a part-time banjo maker. The interview gave me a chance to think a little more deeply about the work I do – which is an exercise I highly recommend to anyone. Special thanks to Jim Van Zile from The Banjo Reserve for reaching out to me with such great questions. Here are a few excerpts from the article: Why did you decide to become a custom banjo builder? I didn’t set out to become a custom banjo builder in the beginning. I had made a modest banjo for myself, of course. And in time, I started to make similar banjos for a few close friends. Along the way, I studied banjos from the past. I looked at old banjos from the 1890s – instruments that were made by hand with no power tools to speak of. And I grew to respect their enduring qualities. These objects, built from such humble beginnings, were somehow still being played more than a hundred years later. I thought, “If I can make something that’s still being played in another hundred years, that would be a good thing.” So, here I am making banjos for whoever will have them. Do you work alone, or are there others involved in your construction process? I work alone. But when I’m building a banjo for someone, I never feel like it’s a solo endeavor. I enjoy getting to know my clients. And I love the collaborative spirit of building a banjo “in the air” before we settle on materials and a specific design. In this way, I feel like every new commission is also the forging of a new partnership. From start to finish, I share updates and photos of the entire construction process. Over time, this experience – or story – becomes part of the finished banjo. It arrives at their doorstep with a history already built in. Where do you get your design inspiration from? I am a designer by trade, so design is a very important part of my process. I am inspired by the very old styles – mostly from the 1890s and early 20th century. I fill my shop with tools and materials from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I have learned that if you spend enough time with these old objects, their design just starts rubbing off on you (sometimes literally). But design is more than just aesthetic. A design approach is an approach that considers things like playability, tone, construction and durability. Sometimes this calls for innovative solutions, and a fusion of things that traditionally may not have been put together. This is just part of the interview. See the rest here.