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Two gourd banjos

A pair of instruments from mahogany and padauk with flush frets

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Making two instruments from the same materials at once turned out to be fascinating. These are both gourd banjos with similarly-sized gourds, scale lengths, and most everything else. They both have flush frets (so they are fret, but have white markers for the fret locations). Both feature brass position markers, friction tuners, Nulgut strings, and goat skin heads stained with coffee.

The differences come down to the gourds: #11 (the one with the "snake head" shaped peg head) has a shorter bridge and thicker walls on the gourd while #12 (the "paddle" head) has a thinner walled gourd. I also pulled the skin down around the flower-shaped sound hole on that one.

To me, #11 is punchy in a way that sounds, well, like a banjo. It would cut through a crowd. #12 is warmer in a way that is more what I expected from a gourd instrument. Here are improvised samples and photos of each.

Gourd banjo demonstration (#11)

Gourd banjo demonstration (#12)

Banjo #11 (snake head)

Gourd banjo, body

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Gourd banjo, side view
Gourd banjo, full view
Gourd banjo, back
Gourd banjo, neck

Banjo #12 (paddle head)

Gourd banjo side view
Gourd banjo, side view
Gourd banjo, full view
Gourd banjo, back
Gourd banjo, neck
Gourd banjo, position markers