Before I finished building my first banjo, I realized I would need to design a permanent mark to represent my brand. This was no small task, as I wanted to capture an aesthetic that was both timeless and timely. And I had to be okay with looking at it for a very long time!

I set about searching through pages and pages of vintage wood type specimen catalogues from the 1800s. I landed on a combination of elements that would eventually become the mark that I’ve used ever since.

The finished design is definitely “of a period” without feeling specifically victorian or western (which I wanted to avoid). The tapered bounding shape and additional typefaces in the expanded mark capture the energy of many vintage handmade signs.

The dowel stick of every Bad River banjo is branded with this maker’s mark, in keeping with the tradition of many old-time builders from the past. It’s a simple decorative addition that my clients have come to cherish.

Bad River Banjo branded dowel stick

In addition to banjos, the Bad River mark has found a home on a series of other objects — most notably a collection of hand-dyed shop rags. I make sure to include one of these inside the case of every new Bad River banjo that ships out of my shop. I have also been looking into some small batch runs of t-shirts and caps. Stay tuned!