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
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 for a traditional art form. I gather inspiration, ideas and innovation from a multitude of music genres. 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
My own style of playing is rooted in the traditions of Round Peak clawhammer banjo. Round Peak style is is best featured on a fretless banjo. Picking fretless offers the player a whole new dynamic of tone & technique & challenge. Early on, I was drawn to the recordings of Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed & Fred Cockerham.
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;
Adam Hurt, Jake Blount, Dwight Diller, Roscoe Holcomb, Mike Seeger, Back-Step, Greg Hooven, Tommy Jarrell, Eddie Bond, Chicken Train, Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, The Dry Hill Draggers, The Black Twig Pickers
Way back, when I got the banjo bug...I was all-in for Enoch Tradesman banjos. I started saving my pennies. Eventually, I got the crazy notion that I was going to build a fretless banjo.
The first Renan banjo build started around 2009 and was constructed in a Chicago Scene Shop with a bandsaw & table saw. The maple neck was carved with a drawknife, a bastard file and the peghead holes reamed with a violin peg reamer. The maple pot is a hex construction with a thin wood soundboard, the fingerboard; Goncalo Alves (tigerwood), it is the only Renan Banjo that features a brass I.D. on the dowel, #001.
Walks and talks like a duck.
Inspiration for that banjo was found in the book: 'Musical Instruments of Southern Appalachian Mountains' by John Rice Irwin.
Shortly thereafter, the 'North American Banjo Builders Series' by Craig Frailin' Evans was released. I probably logged over 100 hours in the first edition alone. The seed had been planted.
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.