Here's Darling Nelly Grey, from Buckleys Banjo Guide of 1868, played on a copy of an August Pollman banjola.... amid the sounds of building works and the mow...

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Comment by John Deller on August 5, 2021 at 16:53

not not sure if this counts as classic banjo... maybe a bit early? Im playing it on an copy of an August Pollman banjol ive just made.

Comment by TONY BRYAN on August 7, 2021 at 14:09

John, well played - and well made!  Can you tell us something about your experience with the banjola?  I know they are available both commercially and from independent luthiers, so I was wondering if you had any views on their comparative advantages/disadvantages.  How about steel vs nylon strings?  Your video is the first I have seen of someone playing the banjola using nylon strings, which definitely puts it into the sound category of ancient instruments, thus opening a whole new realm of possibilities for the classical banjo player.  Any thoughts?  Regards.  Tony

Comment by John Deller on August 8, 2021 at 19:27

Hi Tony, thanks. Well ive only had it finished a week or so but i cant put it down. Ive not played any other banjolas so i dont really know how it compares. I was very pleasantly surprised by its tone and volume although not as loud as a real banjo and a very different sound. I chose nylon strings over steel simply because i wasn't sure how the soundboard of the vintage mandolin body would cope. I also knocked out the cross bracing below the sound hole. The videos ive seen of banjolas with steel strings always seem a bit harsh and tinny, this has a warm fuller tone. I only know a handful of classic banjo tunes, but what i can play takes on a very different feel... i automatically tendcto play them a bit slower and more gently. I suppose technically im playing banjo tunes on a 4.5 string bazouki... but i love it... ive is discovered a more romantic side to my playing.

Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 9, 2021 at 13:54

Well, I think you hit that one out of the park. I've played several "banjola" types, including Pollmans, but never with nylon strings. Much better. Softer, and indeed less 'tinny'.

So this was a mandolin body re-necked into a banjo? It looks like it has a Pollman tailpiece. Nice work, well played!

Comment by Jody Stecher on August 9, 2021 at 16:20

Are you sure it was a mandolin you started with? The size and shape of the body does not resemble  any of the mandolin types  I've seen or played.  What instrument did you actually use? (Maker , country, and approximate date).   Thanks.

Comment by John Deller on August 9, 2021 at 16:28

Thanks Trapdoor. Yes i cut off the original neck and made a banjo beck for it. I also made the brass tailpiece, copied from picture online

Hi Jody. It was definitely a mandolin. An lower quality italian job, probably made in the 1960s or maybe earlier. No makers mark. Ill find the pics of the neck chop. The body is pretty much the same dimension as the Pollman.

Comment by John Deller on August 9, 2021 at 16:30

Comment by John Deller on August 9, 2021 at 16:31

Comment by John Deller on August 9, 2021 at 16:32

Comment by Jody Stecher on August 9, 2021 at 17:06

Yup, it's a mandolin. It looks like it may be Czech. Why Italy?

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