My background is rooted in visual arts. I was raised in Virginia and studied interior architecture and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve worked in and around the entertainment industry as well as custom woodworking, milling and cabinetry.
I’ve been playing music in one form or another since I began to speak. There isn’t one genre that I don’t find interesting, but I have a special place in my heart for traditional Irish music, old-time Appalachian dance music and the origins and history of the banjo: African music. The banjo is such a unique instrument. It took a clash of cultures, thrown against each other, to develop what we know of it today. Despite an unfortunate history at times, the banjo is truly an American icon.
I am influenced by all types of art and that conveys in what I make. To me, the construction and aesthetic of an instrument is just as important as its sound. I put careful consideration into composition, wood choice, patina, pattern, materials and aesthetics. My desire is to make simple, yet elegant, banjos, and it often takes a painstaking editing processes to achieve that goal. I’m seeking to make the best possible instrument, one banjo at at a time.
– J. Tyler Burke