Luke Mercier Smallsize Fretless Banjo

1850's Boucher-style Pony or Backpacker Banjo

© Luke Mercier, 2005; Photos by LM


This instrument was inspired by both the work of W.E. Boucher of Baltimore, Maryland ca. 1850's and the very early smallsize fretless exhibited in the instrument gallery section of this website (maker unknown) It is a fabulous sounder and player!

I can't help but wonder where all the sound comes from in this little banjo?


(Luke plays Texas Traveller)


Click image to enlarge

Entire length of the banjo is 30"


The body is 9 3/8" across the widest point and 9" across the narrowest. The depth is a healthy 2 7/16"

The rim is 1/4" thick and is composed of two veneers. Oak outside and mahogany inside.

This peghead design is more commonly known as a Buckbee or Dobson style head but this shape predates the two. This banjo was made in the spirit of W. E. Boucher ca. 1850's. It is fitted with beautiful oversized ebony tuners with Parisian- Eyes.

Nut: bone

The fretless neck is hand carved from black cherry
Neck Thicknesses: (22mm at nut - 29mm at 12th fret position)

The length of the neck from nut to edge of rim is 15 3/4"

The overall string length from nut to bridge is 21 3/4" - 21 5/8" Very comfortable to play


The bridge is handmade from American Black Walnut and bears my personal brand as does the banjo on both dowel and rear of peghead.


The tailpiece is hand carved from white bone and is fastened with thick tailgut.

The dowel extends through the rim and takes on the shape of an endpin.




There are six brackets in total. The shoes are bronze castings inspired by W. E. Boucher ca.1850's. The hooks and pyramid nuts are brass. The tension band is 1/16" brass joined by two threaded, hammered pins.


High quality Spirit Varnish


The tension band is naturally oxidized 1/16 brass that is reddish-brown in colour, joined by two rivets. The neck is secured tightly by a tapered ebony pin travelling through the dowel.


Banjos inspired by middle to late 19th century banjomaking and beyond...


For more information about Luke Mercier Handmade Violins & Banjos


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