Thursday, August 16, 2012

El Gato BluesMaster (IW#046)

There is this guy that it has been my good fortune to play music with off and on for the last ten years or so.  He is one of these guys that can play the hell out of anything he grabs, you could give him a folding chair and he could play the blues on it.

Well, when I made the first BluesMaster it was obvious that he needed to own one.  So I began the hunt for the parts.  I also began trying to figure out what to paint the banjo head.  When we played together a bunch of years ago, he sometimes referred to himself as "Lovercat," so the black cat seemed like a good choice.

The fork tailpiece wraps around to the back.
It is not quite as loud as I was hoping it would be, but it has a pretty nice sound.  I drilled some holes in the top cake pan to let more sound out, and that helped a fair amount.  Getting the ratio of sizes right pan-to-pan is clearly pretty important in terms of projecting the sound forward instead of trapping it in the sound chamber.  The neck is a piece of maple that came out of the same board as the original BluesMaster, one that I had salvaged from a woodworker's shop when his roof collapsed and he went out of business.  The last time I used maple I only put a coat of oil on it, and I have noticed already that the steel strings are starting to stain it where I press them down.  So to try to keep the neck a little cleaner this one is lacquered. Not sure I am sold on that, though, it seems like too technical a finish for these instruments.  Should work, though.

Once again I used Corian for the bridge, I am starting to really like the results I get from it.  It is set up as a tenor banjo tuned Chicago style, DGBE.


  1. Gettin' that neck to fit the tins just right must've been one heck of a challenge, but you make it look and sound great.