Information to Help with the Ordering Process
I build custom necks as well as complete banjos. An order can be placed without having all the details finalized. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have to help guide you through the decision making process. This will assure that every detail has been covered. After we have all the details worked out for your project, I will email a completed order sheet to you with all the details listed and complete pricing for your approval.
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There are four common types of wood for a banjo neck, Mahogany, Walnut, Plain Maple and Curly Maple. Mahogany has the warmest and deepest tone of the four types of wood, with a deep rich red color. Walnut is a slight bit brighter than Mahogany and has a darker brown color. Plain Maple has a very bright tone and can be stained to most any color. Curly Maple is very popular because of it's beautiful grain and traditional bluegrass tone. (I also have a limited supply of old growth Honduran Mahogany and some "Oh my God" Curly Maple for an additional cost.)
Neck Wood Samples - Click Here
The four most common types of resonator woods are Mahogany, Walnut, Plain Maple and Curly Maple. Also available are Quilted Mahogany, Burl Walnut and Quilted Maple. There are 3 styles of resonators.
- The "Standard Style" 3-ply Poplar back lining with three horizontal Maple plies for the side walls and the veneer wood of your choice on the back and sides.
- The "Vintage Style" 3-ply Poplar back lining with a vertical grain center ply in the side walls as done in Pre-War days. You may choose the veneer wood of your choice on the back and sides.
Resonator Wood Samples - Click Here
- The "Top Tension Style", vintage style side walls only, with thick book-matched Mahogany, Walnut, Plain Maple or Curly Maple for the back and matching side wall veneer. These resonators are flat on the inside and carved on the outside for that vintage top tension style project.
You can pick any vintage inlay pattern or any combination of patterns from this vintage banjo site. www.earnestbanjo.com We can reproduce any of these vintage inlay patterns or you can design your own inlay pattern. We can hand-cut or CNC cut any inlay pattern. You can also personalize your custom neck with your name in the pearl block at the 15th or 21st fret, depending on the pattern you choose. See Name Blocks below.
An engraved Truss Rod cover is another way to personalize your banjo. You can put your name or a short saying on the cover. (Space is limited on the fret board Name Block and the Truss Rod Cover.) Available in Black Plastic with White lettering or Pearl with Black lettering or Brass.
Engraved Truss Rod & Samples - Click Here
Rosewood and Ebony are the most commonly used fingerboard woods, Rosewood for that original vintage look or Ebony for good contrast with the Pearl inlay. We can also use Cocabolo Rosewood, Granadillo, Snakewood and many others. At Heartland Banjo, radius fingerboards are our specialty. We do a standard "Straight" radius (same amount of radius at the 1st fret all the way to the 22nd fret). A commonly used straight radius is 14 inch, comparable to a Martin guitar radius.
Fretboard Wood Samples - Click Here
At Heartland Banjo, radius fingerboards are our specialty. We do a standard "Straight" radius (same amount of radius at the 1st fret all the way to the 22nd fret). A commonly used straight radius is 14 inch, comparable to a Martin guitar radius. We also do a "Compound" radius, a tighter radius at the 1st fret, gradually going to less of a radius at the 22nd fret. The Compound radius is very helpful if you like really low action and play with a lighter right hand attack on the strings.
Some examples are Scott Vestal's Stealth banjos have a 10" radius at the first fret and flattens out to a 16" radius at the 22nd fret. Bela Fleck's Custom Heartland neck has a 5" radius at the first fret and flattens out to a 9" radius at the 22nd fret.
Wider necks are another specialty at Heartland Banjo. We hand-cut and hand shape our custom necks from 3"x3"x30" raw stock. We are not restricted by pre-cut or machine shaped neck billets. Many of the new generation of banjo players are going with wider necks, with a radius fingerboard, to give them more space between the strings and more comfort of playing. Wider doesn't mean that you will have a fat or clubby neck because we can make your custom neck thinner from front to back by using our custom stainless steel 2-way truss rod.
Binding & Trim Options on Necks & Resonators
Neck Binding Options - Click For Samples
Resonator Binding Options - Click For Samples
- Single White binding.
- White binding with a thin Black or White stripe along the bottom edge.
- Same binding as above with an accent purfling along the bottom edge. (Wood Marquetry Granada Style, Abalone, Gold Sparkle, Checkerboard Style 6 and many other materials to choose from.)
- Accent binding around the peghead.
- Custom wood or pearl inlay on the back of the peghead.
- Custom heel caps of Ebony, Rosewood, Pearl or many other materials.
Concentric Rings - Click For Samples
- Single White binding on top and bottom of side walls.
- White binding with a thin Black or White stripe on both binding strips.
- Same binding as above with an accent purfling along both binding strips. (Wood Marquetry Granada Style, Abalone, Gold Sparkle, Checkerboard Style 6 and many other materials to choose from.)
- All of the above bindings can be done in Stripped Ivoroid.
- White - Black - White rings
- Wood marquetry rings (Granada Style, Style 4, abalone, pearl or many other materials can be used.)
Speed Finish on the Back of the Neck:
- Nitrocellulose lacquer buffed and hand rubbed to a high gloss finish.
- Nitrocellulose satin lacquer finish to give your instrument that vintage and aged look.
- Sunburst finish on the back of the neck and resonator adds a nice accent to the project.
- Antiquing the binding for the aged look.
I am not a big fan of the common so-called speed finish. Removing all the finish and stain from the back of a neck leaves the wood unprotected.
I do what I call a "Semi Speed Finish". The neck gets stained as normal, but only 2 thin coats of lacquer are sprayed on the back of the neck to protect the wood and seal in the stain. Then the heel & peghead areas of the neck are finished as normal with six to eight coats of lacquer. This process gives you the fast, dry feel of a common speed neck, but it also protects your neck from moisture while giving the neck finish a professional look.