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K. VanMeter Figured Walnut Dobson Double Spun Banjo

Price: $2,525.00 USD


This banjo is my take on a reproduction of the HC Dobson 1881 Silver Bell Patent banjo design with a double spunover rim. These reproductions have resulted from some slightly obsessive personal research into the materials and processes used to manufacture the original Dobson banjos.

The rim, cladding, and tone ring is fabricated using traditional hand cranked tin smithing machines and metal spinning forms to mirror the historic 1880’s New York job shop banjo manufacturing process. The tone ring is hand spun with a thin 24 gauge brass material, heat treated, and work hardened during spinning to mirror the resonant properties and weight of the original tone rings. The rim is 2.5” deep plus the tone ring arch height. A 5/16” diameter brass hoop on the top/bottom edges are encased by a 22 gauge brass sheet metal which wraps a thin maple core rim. An additional sheet of 22 gauge brass also encases the ¼” wood rim on the inside of the pot, making for a tone that is stronger and more focused than the standard spunover model.

My doublespun rim design parallels the traditional construction of the Buckbee and L&H rims and uses the lightest reasonable gauge sheet metal to preserve the dynamic responsiveness that the thicker/heavier clad rims seem to loose. To my ear, the heavier rims (antique and modern) will add a bit of “compression” to the sound. It is easier to maintain a consistent tone on the heavier clad rims, but seems to come at a loss of the dynamic range and tonal color potential that a lighter rim banjo can give by slightly varying plucking force, angle of attack, position of the pluck relative to the bridge, and general playing style.

The neck profile and shape are modeled after a few of my favorite HC Dobson original designs. The length from the nut to the rim is 18.5” with a comfortable 1 5/16” width at the nut. There are 3 small variances from the original Dobson neck design I made to allow for steel strings: A carbon fiber neck reinforcement, a minor 1.5 degree neck angle, and a rosewood dowel stick for improved rigidity. The banjo can be kept with the current steel string setup, or changed over to nylon, nylgut, or fluorocarbon prior to shipping.

The unique 5th string tuning peg nut is located at the 6th fret to parallel the majority of Henry Dobson’s original banjo designs. This affords a little additional maneuvering room and comfort when playing below the 5th position. The tuning pegs are Pegheads brand with a 4:1 gear reduction allows strings to be tuned more easily and accurately than traditional wood pegs without compromising the aesthetic that ebony violin style pegs give.

The banjo neck features a high gloss French polished shellac finish with a light microcrystalline wax coating. While slightly less durable than modern lacquer and urethane finishes, the shellac finish creates a very thin coating that allows for a less restricted tone and allows for much easier repairs than modern finishes. Every few years, a light coating of wax and minor buffing is all the maintenance necessary to keep the finish looking great for the next century.

The banjo rim is polished brass with a protective coating of brass lacquer of the same type that a trumpet, trombone, or other natural brass finished instrument would receive. This lacquer coating will prevent corrosion and preserve the polished brass finish.

The general banjo specifications are as follows:

11? Brass Lacquered Double Spunover ¼” Rim
Hand Spun 24 gauge Brass Tone Ring
Figured Walnut Neck
French Polished Shellac Finish
Paddle Headstock Shape
1-5/16? Black Oxe Nut
26 1/8? Scale Length
Narrow/Low Fretwire
Oiled Rosewood Fingerboard
Rosewood Peghead Overlay
5th string at 6th fret position
Lacquered Brass Fingerboard Extension and Hardware
Mother of Pearl Inlay Dots
.011” Thick Bleached Calf Skin Head
Dark Golden Antiqued Brass Hardware
Pegheads Geared 4:1 Violin Style Tuning Pegs
Lacquered Brass Custom Dobson Tailpiece
22 Hook 1/8" Grooved Tension Hoop
Lacquered Brass Ball End Shoes

Video sound samples below:
youtu.be/kG2Uc8DL12M
youtu.be/X6Lx-ACDbtY
youtu.be/NH8EJudKxWU
youtu.be/K4GssCvlixo

I can also offer a Superior Gig Bag or Hardshell case if desired, just let me know!


Interested? Contact Seller to arrange purchase


Shipping: Shipping approx. $75 USPS

Posted By: kylevanmeter
United States, Liberty Twp, OH, 45011

Condition of Banjo: New

Type: 5-String Openback, Brand: K. VanMeter

Ad Status: Active, #104991, viewed 603 times


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