Glass Bottom Banjo

To see a video tour and hear the banjo click HERE.

Project Details

This banjo began as all good things do… as an idea that you can’t let go of. As soon as I first discovered the concept of a clear banjo head I knew I had to print something in the back of one. I suddenly saw the banjo as a functional frame, something to enhance the image, yes, but also to allow the banjo to literally resonate with the image. Around the same time I had the idea to make a banjo with a glass tone ring. The tone ring is in contact with the head of the banjo. Some are made out of wood, some brass, some steel, but its material and shape impacts the sound and tone of the banjo. I thought the glass tone ring would possibly add a depth or sustain to the sound that the other materials could not offer. The hardware of this banjo is made to be easily removed (as easy as it can be) so I can change out the tone ring and see the change in sound. In the images shown it has a brass tone ring on steel posts. The clear head also allows you to see the tone ring directly. I called this the Glass Bottom Banjo for a couple of reasons, the first being the obvious intention of the glass tone ring. But also the clear image of the woman in the rowboat that I created from printing a linoleum cut I made. When I was younger I took a trip on a glass bottom boat. It was so interesting to be in the water but not in the water all at the same time- to feel a part of something by being able to see through it. I wanted to simulate that effect in this banjo. Body: walnut and cherry Neck: walnut and cocobolo with acrylic fret markers Headstock: cocobolo with steel and leather insets Head: clear Remo with a linoleum-cut printing on the inside Hardware: hand-fabricated steel Tailpiece: steel and machined brass Bridge and nut: acrylic (I have versions out of holly) Adjustable damper: frosted mylar