This is a my second gourd banjo built over Christmas 2001. This is a pretty small gourd, maybe six or seven inches across, but it was very hard and thick. I sealed up the interior of the gourd with wood hardener. I also had to superglue two cracks I accidentally installed! (these little dudes are slippery-from now on, I'm making them in bed.) Oh well, at least I know that my glue joints are stronger than the original gourd material. The head is goatskin, is stretched pretty tight and is glued with hide glue. I can tell you this is a crispy sounding little banjo. The scale length is 23.5 to 24.5. I have it tuned to "E" comfortably now, I have tuned it to "G", and could go to "A" as well. The neck was purchased as mahogany, but may be African ironwood. I toned it with a walnut stain, and finished it with linseed oil (gunstock oil). The neck had a surface check running down its length for a ways, and you can see where I added some key inlays from the same material to stabilize it. This is a beautiful piece of wood. The fingerboard and peghead overlay are ebony. The nut is paduk. Mother of pearl and abalone inlays. I have it strung with gut strings with a wound nylon fourth. I added the star cutouts in the gourd to increase the volume. Those are painted with gold metallic acrylic paint.
My sweet wife calls this the Wilson Gourd. Here's why. During the making of it, I spread a sheet on our bed, and she paused from her reading to help me install the skin head, always a time of high stress! After we were done, and I trimmed the edges and cleaned up the glue, she was handling it, and thumped the taut, but still damp, head with her finger. Ohhh, I yelped, don't do that - it'll stretch! Well, later on in the wee hours of the morning I awoke, went into the next room, retrieved the gourd, and returned to bed. I was just playing with it, inspecting it, rolling it around in my hands, and tapping the now dry, and very tight, head. Thump, thump, thump... She awoke to this spectacle, and commenced to share her true feelings with me: "David, this has gone toooo far - get that thing out of the bed! It's like a...a... a 'Wilson'!"
If you don't understand this little story, you may have to watch the movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks.
Listen to this banjo: TS_LastChance.mp3