Gryphon Banjo

© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF

I made this banjo at Gryphon in 1986 for a very special person, indeed. Sunshine McClenahan had the confidence to ask me to build her a bluegrass banjo with a fiddle shaped peghead and "some stars and moons", and left the rest of the design up to me. I contacted Bill Sullivan of First Quality Musical Supply, and bought the shell and all the nickel plated engraved metal hardware.

I took the peghead motif from my Washburn banjo and altered the strolling troubadour to become a portrait of Sunshine, complete with her long braids and red hair ribbons. Her hat is white mother of pearl, the banjo and boots are red abalone, her jacket is highly figured burl "heart" material from the small rare black abalone. I looked through a lot of material to find the sea snail for her trousers, with the curly figure curving to match the bend of the leg.

The banjo itself is hard northern birdseye maple with a dark red mahogany waterborne aniline stain, finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. The fingerboard and peghead overlay are ebony.

Please click the small image

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