Reproduction 19th Century Tack Head Fretless Banjos

The Banjo Factory

When I made the prototype, I was specifically trying to create a larger Converse style deep voice banjo for my stage performances. I made the scale length just over 27 inches. (Any longer and I would have to special order longer strings.) When available, I can string it with genuine gut strings, but the "New" Nylgut is an excellent substitute.

If you want a deeper sounding fretless banjo, the Deluxe 14" Minstrel banjo is your choice. I provide two bridges. A regular height for indoor play and a higher bridge to accommodate the relaxation of the rawhide when played outdoors in the cool or damp.

The above is a customized version of the Deluxe Minstrel 14 and is 3" deep with a 28" scale length and gut strings. It has carvings on both sides of the neck and scarlet ribbon trim under the brass tacks.  The bridge is capped with rosewood.  Both the nut and tailpiece are matching rosewood.  The sound sample below the picture will give you an idea of what it sounds like.

All the wooden shell banjos are multi-layered shells, which reinforces their round shape.  Because of the unavailability of straight grained maple, all my banjo necks are now made from mahogany.

Deluxe Banjos
Deluxe Minstrel approx. 14" x 3" deep
Banjo ..................................................................................$499.00
The rosewood fingerboard is standard.
Single or double carved "ogee" neck is standard.
Rosewood tail piece is standard.
The scroll peg head is standard, but you may choose either the Stichter

  or the rectangular style at no additional charge. Just provide a note in the comment

  section of the order form as to your choice.
The red ribbon trim under the tacks is standard on the deluxe banjo.

Plain Banjos
Plain maple necks with plain straight sides - no carving.
Plain Minstrel Banjo approx. 14" x 3" deep Banjo              $389.00

Rosewood fingerboard                                                         $80.00
Optional "ogee" carved neck is an additional                       $30.00
                                       (For both sides $70.00)
Rosewood capped bridge add                                               $8.00
Ribbon trim, add                                                                   $25.00
Rosewood Tailpiece, add                                                     $10.00

(Mechanical tuners vary in price up to $130 or more. If you would like this option included with your kit banjo, please check out the mechanical tuners link under "Options" and note your preference in the Comments section of the order. Please contact me if you have any questions.)

Shipping and Handling (S&H) domestic                              $68.00

    For foreign or over seas shipping, please ask for a quotation. 

Black Coffin case with green felt lining                              $200.00 (ordered with banjo)

With Victorian style lining, add                                             $30.00 

Rectangular case with green felt lining                              $179.00 (ordered with banjo)

Many of the minstrels in the 1850s played 14" diameter banjos.  Frank Converse was an advocate for these larger head size instruments.  This larger size remained popular through the 1880s.  The larger head provides a strong resonant sound which carries very well.

The Minstrel 14" Banjo is my largest fretless banjo with a premium grade deer rawhide head and a rosewood finger board on a mahogany neck. The multi-layered laminated wooden shell is approx. 1/4 inches in thickness and just under  14 inches in diameter. It is approx. 3 inches deep . 

Hear a sound sample below.  It has a 29" scale length and is strung with new Nylgut. 

  • Oh Suzanna0:20
  • Polly Wolly Doodle0:17
  • Rosin the Beau 14 inch minstrel0:37