SHOP TALK

BUILDING

Each banjo begins as a piece of dried rough sawn lumber picked out by us. It’s always amazing to watch it go from a plank of wood to a musical instrument. Every banjo is hand shaped starting off with a spoke shave and ends with fine sanding and scraping. After we are done shaping the neck and turning the pots, Eden starts with hand cutting inlays and engraving. We finish up with final sanding and putting on the finish. Once everything is in place, a few final tweaks and it’s off to its new home!

Favorite Inlay Materials

  • Mother of Pearl
  • Abalone
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Brass
  • Copper

Woods We Love

  • Cherry
  • Mahogany
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Ebony
  • Rosewood
  • Wenge

A few things to think about when ordering

There are several different factor that will really determine the sound of your instrument. The choices between wood and pot size to the differences in tone rings and drum heads will help shape your instrument into something you love. Think of what situations you'll be playing in, It can help to determine the qualities that will make you the most happy with your banjo. 

WOODS

Maple is the brightest and clearest sounding of the woods we use. It ages beautifully and Flamed Maple is incredibly striking.

Cherry is a medium density wood that offers a warm and sparkling sound. It's has a hint of red to it's color that intensifies over time.

Walnut is a similar density to Cherry, and also has a lot of warmth and bass to it's tone.

Mahogany is the darkest sound. It's got loads of plunk and a low tap note. 

TONE RINGS

Rolled brass has a great mid-range and a plunky, warm sound. It’s become a staple in the Old Time community. I believe everyone should have at least one rolled brass banjo in their arsenal. 

Whyte Laydie is my favorite tone ring. It’s mid range has a lot of sparkle and cuts through in a jam really well. 

Dobson tone rings have a lower end range and strong bass, but still manage to really pop. 

Tubaphones have a lot of power, they really ring out. It’s a brighter, crisper, clearer sound and yet warm.

POT SIZES

An 11 inch pot cut through and have a good sustain in their mid-high range. Certain tone rings sound better on different size pots, like a tubaphone adds a lot of clarity to an 11” pot.

12 inch pots have lower, more bass end quality to them. They add heft to the sound and feel of the instrument. I love a whyte laydie on a 12 inch pot. 

A 12 inch pot versus an 11 inch pot is like the difference between a dreadnought guitar and a small bodied OM or parlor guitar.


CARING FOR YOUR BANJO

Now that you have your Ozark Banjo we have some suggestions on how to care for it.

As a general rule when the heating goes on in your house it’s time to start humidifying your instrument. Keep your banjo in the case with a humidifier when the temperatures start to drop. Ideal humidity levels are between 45% -55% humidity. The finish will not protect the wood from moisture loss, so keep an eye on the condition of the instrument year round and avoid leaving your banjo in a car during anytime of the year but especially during the summer. There are a ton of great humidifiers available today, we recommend any of the Oasis Case Humidifiers.

Keep a dry cotton cloth in your case for dust and debris that might get on your banjo. This will take care of the majority of cleaning. The fretboard is made of a more porous wood and one or two drops of oil (mineral, lemon or linseed) can be used to rehydrate the wood every year. For those of you who don’t want your brass plate on your half fretless or scoop plate to develop it’s own patina over time some very fine “0000” steel wool will buff the brass to it’s original shine. Avoid commercial metal cleaners as they can potentially damage the wood.

We always recommend a fiber glass case when flying with your banjo, but a well constructed hard shell case will do fine. Always check that your banjo is snug in it’s case and the headstock is supported. Never check your banjo in a gig bag. Gig bags are great for light travel and going to and from jams. Boulder gig bags are great as they are light with comfortable straps and have lots of pockets for spare strings and capos. 


WARRANTY

All Ozark Banjos come with a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner. We stand by our work and any problem with the construction of the instrument is guaranteed. General wear and tear such as damage from dropping and/or improper handling, wear in the finish, exposure to weather or extreme temperature, and improper humidification aren’t covered.