ABOUT RENAN BANJOS

RENAN BANJOS (Pronounced REE-Nan) are hand crafted in Henrico, 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?

My goal with Renan Labs is to formulate new concepts, practices and methods for the traditional form of banjo building. I gather inspiration, ideas and innovation from a multitude of music genres and visual art forms. American Country roots, Old Time & early Bluegrass music have a special place in this art form but there is much to glean, gather and immerse oneself in; in world cultures. Whether that is through the practice of visual art making, anthropology or ethnomusicology. 

My goal hasn't changed as a builder: 

 

I am here to build visually distinct &

sonically resonant banjos

ABOUT THE BUILDER

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

Builder Notes:

 

Favorite Tonering: Whyte Laydie or Integral Rosewood

Favorite Scale: 25.5" x 12" pot, Railroad spike 7th

Fretless or Fretted? BOTH, one of each 

Favorite Tune: Yellow Cat 

Early on, I was drawn to the recordings of Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed & Fred Cockerham and the Round Peak clawhammer style. These days, I'm listening to dance-heavy tunes and contemporary string bands that haunt the North Carolinian and Virginia Appalachian Mountain areas. I'm most drawn to heavily rhythmic banjo picking, where the banjo is featured as the percussive instrument in the band. 

 

Though self taught initially, along the journey I befriended Dwight Diller, who I regard as one of the finest contemporary Banjo & Fiddle masters. What is most striking about Diller's teachings is how deceptively simple mastering 'rhythm' can be. He has perfected the art of creating 'the background', highlighting the silences & 'notes in between' the melody. This background brings context, drama and haunting attitude to West Virginia traditional music. His teachings have no doubt affected how I attack my own clawhammer style.

A lot of what I listen to, influences the type of banjo I want to build.

Some of my favorite artists include;

Light & Hitch, Earl White Stringband, Rylie Baugus,

Dwight Diller, Back-Step, Greg Hooven, Travis & Trevor Stuart, Eddie Bond, Chicken Train, Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, The Dry Hill Draggers, The Black Twig Pickers

IMG_20200507_072637_386.jpg
RB #26 - March 2020

When not building banjos I can be found tending to our homestead. The wife and I operate a mini farm in Varina, VA.

We have 1/2 acres of lush cover crops, pollinator & vegetable gardens along with 2 dogs & 6 chickens.

Favorite pastimes include:

Gravel & single track cycling and craft brews

 

Established 2015