The Big Banjo at the STEAM2 Design Fair in Fort Collins
Not too long ago I put together this bass banjo. The drum head is from a 22 inch kick drum and the neck is from various pieces of wood that I had in “storage” in my basement. Of particular note are the strings on this bass; they are made from nylon weed whacker strings of various diameter similar to those sold by the Slap Happy Whackers for the Rockabilly crowd. I found a source for these strings for considerably less than what Slap Happy charges which is a good thing– the total cost in materials came to somewhere around $4.
I also put frets on the fingerboard just like a regular banjo might have. The fret wire came from the wire that was used to hold up political yard signs (I will have a considerable reserve of this material in the coming months) .
The bass tuners came from a Paul McCartney style bass guitar whose owner wanted me to convert to a 6-string guitar. I replaced the tuner mechanisms with guitar tuners and kept the bass tuners thinking I might use them someday. I believe I held on to these tuners since 1974!
One last thing: Tell your friends to look for Jim’s Big Bass at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival at the Parish Ranch in Berthoud, Co. July 6 – 10, 2016.