Old Banjo; New Ban-jello (or "Bill Cosby's Banjo")

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Project by darkhollow posted 07-23-2011 03:19 AM 3251 views 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These are Mountain Style, fretless banjos. The Banjo on the left is the first one I even made. i made it about 16 years ago, inspired by hearing about how my Granny used to play the banjo as a girl. Both are made loosely on measurements in the foxfire 3 book. The one on the right was just completed, strung and played a bit. It is made from a Jello mold from a local thrift store. It has a very sitar-like sound to it. I may very well cut a couple of sound holes in the top to make it louder, but I’m not sure it will have the desired effect, so i’m leaving well enough alone for now. The new one is made from, obviously, an aluminum jello mold, scrap Cherry, curly Cherry, 150 year-old American Holly, Oak for the headstock, and a touch of walnut. The older one was made almost entirely of found, scrap wood (Walnut, Curly Maple, Beech, Mystery Wood, Pine, and a section of coffee can.) The headstock is made from a part of my Grandfathers old leg vise. It has a goat-skin head that was tie-dyed by a friend of mine. Originally, it was a five string banjo, but i never got the hang of the fifth string, and got tired of breaking it, so I took the fifth tuner off years ago. the new one will be a five-string, with the addition of the tuner I took off of the other one. Next musical project: A mandolin out of a steel, scallop-shaped mold or bread-pan of some sort (I have it already, i just don’t know what it was originally for.) A lot more tension on a mandolin, though, so I’m spending a lot of time engineering it in my head.

-- You say Luddite like it's a bad thing ...

9 comments so far

View lew's profile


12860 posts in 4264 days

#1 posted 07-23-2011 03:55 AM


Been trying to learn the 5 string for over 40 years. Might as well use it for a tennis racket.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3123 days

#2 posted 07-23-2011 04:34 AM

im a banjo picker i like the 5th string it gives the finger thumb pluck a good ring to me ,these are really cool the first one ive seen.very very cool and looks great.good craftmanship Lew if you heard my picking you proble till me take up tennis not real good at it but keep trying

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View resonation's profile


60 posts in 3946 days

#3 posted 07-23-2011 04:38 AM

Great carvings!

-- Chris, Pennsylvania

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4228 days

#4 posted 07-23-2011 06:06 AM

The things you see on this site amaze me, and this is one of those amazing things.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View murch's profile


1380 posts in 3133 days

#5 posted 07-23-2011 08:33 AM

Love the rose carving.

-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4669 days

#6 posted 07-23-2011 12:03 PM

how on earth do you turn a jello mold into an instrument??!!!
amazing stuff and BEAUTIFUL

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3313 days

#7 posted 07-23-2011 01:35 PM

very unique, and very awesome. you should put a sound bite on here. I like to hear what they sound like

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View darkhollow's profile


60 posts in 3026 days

#8 posted 07-23-2011 03:56 PM

How would I put a sound bite on lumberjocks? I’d be glad to, but, fair warning, I tune and play by ear, so…you may want to cover yours!

-- You say Luddite like it's a bad thing ...

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3313 days

#9 posted 07-25-2011 03:07 PM

that would be a good question for Martin or Debbie…. “how-to” add a sound bite

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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