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banjos, bikes & major awards!

*RB39 completed May 23rd~ a real beauty, sounds great, photos soonish.

*Longtime friends gifted me a framed Style article (2022) hangs front & center.

It's a major award!

*Bikes bikes bikes. When I'm not in the garden or in the shop, I'm on a bike. Pretty much everyother day I'm biking. It's how I spend my time. I have an affinity for things that go round.

Wife and I celebrated our 10yr anniversary bike-packing from Draper to Galax to Draper, VA via the New River Trail. 84miles round trip. This weekend 05/27 marks 5months of sobriety. One day at a time...Proud of myself and proud of where I'm going. 40 and feeling 15.

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what's on the bench in January 2023.

this last month I have been working on generating new conceptual renderings, gourd templates and RB37 which is a replica neck for a Ramsey Woody banjo, serial #1777, produced in his original shop in Appomattox, VA. This particular banjo is owned by a local friend and compatriot. The original neck unfortunately began to separate at the glue joint (2-pc quilted maple neck) years back and it has become an issue of reliability. Let long live Mike Ramsey, may he Rest In Peace.

For the most part all of the specs from the original neck measurements/ action and scale length was saved, the only aesthetic liberties that changed is the Abalone Inlay & engraving on the peghead. The new neck features a 'Mad Broccoli' deco inlay copied from the clients cell phone hard-case. Weird request but not at all out of my wheelhouse!

As I type on this sunny cold Friday morning I am in the process of warming my fingers over radiator heat and 'zening' out my brain to spatial tunes in order to begin the process of carving the quilted neck by hand. I only ever begin this task in the morning and in a certain/ measured state of mind bliss. Right mind, right focus.

Shop cleaned and tools laid out. I favor my Stanley spokeshave the first hand tool I ever bought as an adult. A purchase I made to build the first RENAN BANJO #001 back in 2009. My trusty calipers which really is the most used tool in a luthiers catalog, a hand-forged Large Japanese Dragon Rasp, 1- Nicholson Bastard File and my scraper of choice: Lenox Gold box blades. I fold/curl the edge with 2 strokes over an anvil. I have a catalog of English spring steel scrapers that I never use. They work great but I favor the Lenox gold blades, as they are the perfect size to scrap away imperfections and file marks even in the complex curves of a boat heel.

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Last October I hit year 40 head-on and with that came visions of the future or how I'd like my growth in the following decade to pan out. With this new decade and new year comes some changes both professionally and physically.

As of this Saturday Jan 28th I will have been sober 3-weeks. I am not competing in a Dry-January, that is not the goal. My goal is to be alcohol free for life. It will be a challenge but I take grace in knowing I have an incredible support community of family and friends.

I can't remember the last time I was sober for 2 consecutive weeks, it probably was 20 years ago. I've had enough drink to fill 2- lifespans and now is the time to quit. I will say that quitting so far has been a lot easier thanks to the new boom of Non-Alcoholic beers and Hop infused Teas that taste as-good or even better than normal beer. As an avid cyclist the post-ride beer(s) was always my reward but little did I realize that I over-abused and over-indulged; which if anything was counter-productive to my health and physical fitness! No more.

I've picked up the guitar again, my one true love and girlfriend. It has been a beacon of light as I relearn old tunes and celebrate generating the new. I've been picking the banjo 15+ years and my right hand technique & tempo far exceeds my youthful skills on guitar~ due in large part to learning to play and mastering clawhammer banjo. 18 years ago I put down the guitar and picked up the banjo and the rest is history.


Goals this year will be measured in what is built.

I hope to build:

2 Booker Spec'd banjos

2 Artisan Intermediates (less hooks, simple hybrid banjos)

2-3 Gourd Banjos

1-2 Electric guitars

A recording studio shed

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