A few years ago, my interest in banjo history and my avocation as a maker of stringed instruments merged when I built my first gourd banjo. At about the same time there was a renewal of interest in early banjo music and a few players obtained gourd instruments. Gradually, a demand for this style instrument grew as musicians became intrigued with its unique sound and began to explore the instrument's possibilities.

My banjos have changed quite a bit over the years and will continue to evolve as I get feedback from players. My basic intent is to produce a completely handcrafted instrument that has the general sound, appearance and feel of a plantation or minstrel era banjo. At the same time, I've tried to meet the demands of modern players by making the banjo more dependable and easier to play than would be the case with a historical reproduction. For example, a head tightening system minimizes the effects of humidity on the skin head.

Since I only build on a part time basis, there are periods when demand exceeds supply and I establish a waiting list. This Thumbnail Gallery will indicate instruments currently available or, if they've been sold, will give you an idea of what the banjos are like.

All of the instruments are fretless unless custom ordered. Various woods are available for necks and fingerboards for those of you who would like to design your own instrument.

Bob Thornburg
Bishop, California