View Full Version : My take on the Tenor Banjolele

08-20-2016, 02:45 AM
Iíve never had a banjo/banjolele, but after looking at a few websites, I realised one can be made using a tambourine/fixed/tuneable drum. I chose a Stagg tuneable 10Ē drum TAWH-100T (£30) as the basis for my instrument.

Simple instruments are open backed and employ either an adjustable metal coordination rod or a fixed wooden dowel across the back of the wooden hoop to give it the required rigidity. I decided to opt for a fixed neck setup using a built up one piece construction. This necessitated building in the required neck angle. A small notch was cut in the hoop for the joint at the heel and a router provided the curved slot in the neck.

The neck is made of cherry with a eucalyptus head veneer. The metalwork was removed from the drum to allow some improvement to the finish which is in Tru Oil. The neck is glued to the hoop at the heel and retained at the tail with an insert nut and bolt. This also holds an angle bracket to which is attached the tail piece (£3 off Ebay) for the strings.

It was made over a period of 4 or 5 days, approx 15 hours.

After playing it a couple of days with Worth brown strings, Iíve decided its fun. It feels solid (approx 2.5 pounds) and as set up, though loud, is not as banjo sounding as expected. It has some sustain which disappears when the instrument is muted with cloth stuffed in the head. Overall I think it sounds good but then I donít have another banjolele with which to compare it.

Iím trying hard not to be sucked into refining the art and making more exotic banjoleles.


Vespa Bob
08-20-2016, 03:45 AM
That looks great! The neck construction and joint seem well thought out. Looks heavier than my method, but banjo ukes are meant to be heavy, right? The cherry wood seems to match the drum pretty well. How easy does it carve, I'm thinking of using it on my next project? I also bought a tunable drum to replace the one on mine, but I think I'm going to build a new neck for it instead!


08-20-2016, 04:19 AM
I'm not an artist like you Bob, so as I said when you posted yours, mines a plain Jane.

I'm not sure where my Cherry was grown: UK, France, USA? It's harder than mahogany, but I like it because it doesn't split, chip or tear, though there are occasional small blemishes in the timber. It also doesn't need filling so finishes well.

My research on the internet suggests a solid heavier build gives a better tone and more sustain than is likely with a light build obtained using a drum. Also having a good connection with the neck helps with this. That explains my design.

Heres just one video about the Mya-Moa beansprout that gives some info.