Made for the 1980 exhibition of the Guild of American Luthiers
Gryphon Banjo

© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF

We made this banjo at Gryphon in 1980 as a display piece to show off some of our techniques. It was made entirely from a single (big) piece of curly "fiddle back" maple. The shell is a laminated and lathe turned to a conical shape, similar to the Weymann banjos of the 1920s. The tone ring is a modified Mastertone style cast brass ring, and all the metal parts are silver plated. Richard Johnston designed and executed the inlays depicting water lilies growing from an abalone pond a the base of the fingerboard. He also used aniline stains to hand-rub the sunburst finish directly on the wood, before lacquering with clear nitrocellulose. I did most of the "rough" work: carving, laminating, lathe turning the shell and resonator.

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