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renan banjos
handmade in Richmond, VA

RENAN BANJOS (Pronounced Ree-Naan) are hand crafted in Richmond, Virginia, by J. Tyler Burke.  Named after Renan, Virginia - a small community at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains where Tyler's family has roots.


What Renan Banjos offers:

  • Quality craftsmanship and playability

  • Lifetime Warranty on all wood parts

  • Wood sourced locally and responsibly

  • Value placed in reuse and recycled materials

  • Value placed in alternative Inlay & Fingerboard materials

  • Hardware made in North America, Gotoh Tuners made in Japan


Where Renan Banjos is going:


What is the aesthetic of the 21st Century Banjo?

What defines the 'sonic acoustic-ness' of tomorrows open-back banjo?

I am here to build visually distinct &

sonic-rich instruments


Tyler's background is rooted in the visual arts and woodworking.  Raised in Virginia and educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,   he has worked in and around the entertainment industry and in custom woodworking, milling, and cabinetry for over 15 years.


I am influenced by all types of art and that conveys in what I make. To me, the construction 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, which often requires a painstaking editing processes.  I’m seeking to make the best possible instrument, one banjo at at a time."


– J. Tyler Burke

Builders Notes:

While the methods used to build banjos are traditional; my push has been on introducing modern & contemporary art forms to the aesthetics of the instrument. Mother of Pearl has traditionally been used as a decorative material in inlay. As our Oceans warm, MOP is fast becoming a finite resource. I place value in using alternative materials such as reconstituted stone, paper, acrylic and hardwoods. There is infinite room for creative expression utilizing alternative/ sustainable materials.  


For Me 

Aesthetic inspiration is fueled by a feeling,

a gesture, an emotion... from that I formulate a theme~ it ultimately becomes a storytelling device. I'm pulling decorative inlay ideas/expressions from: 


Tattoo Flash, Pop Art, Interior & Exterior Architecture, Industrial & Graphic Design,

Folk & Outsider Art, etc. 

photo credit: Erin Van Vleet


My ideal banjo & setup: 

25.5 - 26" Scale length x 11" Diameter pot 

I prefer quick attack, lasting sustain (think electric) and lower guitar-like action. I do not like suspension bridge taller than the damn alps banjo action.. it makes no sense and it's less efficient.

Can you play that thing all day? 

Equal balanced tone. Thumpy bass blended with snappy mids/ trebles, just a touch of twang.

I dig the understatement of black walnut~mellow latte bliss. I love carving cherry and the neck feel is smooth all day. Maple for vertical grain, stain-a-bility and volume up to 11. Quilted maple is just real purty. 


Whyte Laydie tone rings on maple or Silver Belle over walnut. Deeper the pot the better, 3.25" pie shell. Scoop length short as I play over the t-hoop. 18-24 Hooks really is the magic sauce, I've experiemented with more and less and there is reason the industry standard is 18. Don't mess with a good thing!

Or do?


Cast bronze tailpieces and or adjustable. The adjustable tailpiece is akin to the tone knob on an elec guitar.

Also bridge design and construction is a crucial element and is often overlooked. No perfect science there, it takes experimentation, setup and patience.  Head choice varies with desired banjo tone & setup but more often I choose mylar. 

When I hear a banjo in my head; 

all I hear is the crunchy bright twang of Ralph Stanley belting it out. 

Established 2015
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