Luke Mercier Flushfret Banjo #43(Fairbanks #243)
© Luke Mercier photographs LM
A very special feature of this banjo as its maker is the unique hardware assembly. It is my own adaptation from images of an early American banjo ca. 1860's (maker unknown). Awe-struck from first glance I felt compelled to recreate it. Each bracket or shoe which secures the hook (cast in bronze) engages the edge of the rim and is fastened with a brass threaded bolt, secured by a square nut and washer. The hooks are brass with a square face and are slotted for the thickness of the brass tension band. This prevents the hooks from movement upon tightening or loosening. The pyramid shaped nuts are also individually handmade from brass and can be adjusted using a 1/4" square drive. Although the maker of the early banjo from which these bronze shoes are derived is unknown, the invention of this method of engagement with the edge of the rim can be attributed to Robert McManus of Brooklyn, New York with accordance to Patent No. 215,647, dated May 20, 1879 which is contemporary to the early Fairbanks from which the peghead and neck is inspired.
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images.
-An Homage to- Fairbanks Banjos thanks to Hank Schwartz.
mp3 Audio sample -Luke plays Lost Indian
From the day that I got it I've had trouble putting down Luke's banjo.
Strung with gut strings and tuned low it's like an extension of my
musical self. I love the feel and sound of the banjo, the lightness and
ease of playing. I love the attention to detail; the wonderful cast
brackets, the peghead and heel cuts, even the rounding of the ends of
the hooks. It's my daily fretless player and I'm glad of it!
Info: email Luke Mercier
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