Making a Banjo From Scratch with Richard Scott Newman October 3-11, 2020 (9 days)


$1485 tuition; $500 payable to Richard

Key Points:
*Resawing, steam bending, drying laminations
*Scarf joints and laminating rims
*Precision turning on the wood lathe with an x-y compound
*Slotting fingerboards
*Installing, leveling, crowning and dressing frets
*Mother of pearl inlay
*Use of jigs and fixtures to make parts quickly and accurately
*Rolling brass tone rings
*Banjo set up for best tone and playability

Sold Out. Please Call Paula at 317-535-4013 to be added to the waiting list.


Richard’s objective for this nine day class is that each student build a complete five string, open back banjo from rough lumber – including cherry, walnut and ebony. This is an ambitious undertaking, building an instrument from scratch, while learning about structure, technique, and maybe a little decoration if time permits. Students will use hand and power tools, along with jigs and fixtures, which is much more efficient than doing all the work freehand, and will make completion realistic. To that end Richard will pack a van full of his jigs, fixtures, materials and specialized tooling, plus examples of his work in progress to make the process easier. He will demonstrate hand skills for those who may want to build at home. For efficiency, students will all make an instrument of the same general size and configuration and will need to work as a team which will make the process faster. Peghead profiling and neck shaping will be by hand and will allow personal expression. Pearl inlay will be demonstrated, and those so inclined can use this on their instruments if time permits. Students will resaw and steam bend laminations for the 1/2” thick rims. Focus here will be on getting the highest quality glue joints, which Richard believes contributes to tone. Students will glue up two piece necks with a center stripe, and reinforce them with a carbon fiber rod. Fingerboards will be prepared from ebony blanks, and slotted for frets using jigs. Necks will then be shaped with a variety of hand tools. A press will be used to install frets for expediency, but Richard will demonstrate hammering frets in also. There will likely not be enough time to do a complete finish, but instruments will get at minimum a wash coat of shellac or coat of oil. Students will go home with an in depth understanding of banjo design, construction and materials, new hand and machine skills, and a very special instrument of your own. It will be lots of fun, maybe exhausting, but very satisfying.