Gourd Banjo

Drawing The Neck Outline

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Now that the peghead overlay and the fingerboard have been joined with the neck blank, the next step is to draw the shape of the neck onto the blank. I have decided to just copy the shape of the neck on my minsrel banjo since I like that shape and I don't have any better ideas. This is my first banjo from scratch, so I don't want to try to be too creative all at once. The fingerboard on the minstrel was copied from a similar banjo made by Boucher back in the 19th century. It is a nice, double ogee shape.

Here are the neck and the minstrel together.

Neck and minstrel

I drew the straight line of the neck using a ruler, and then I measured the curved side, point-by-point on the minstrel and copied it over to the blank. I like the shape. The curves and points serve as reference markers for finger placement when playing. For example, the point in the middle between the 5th string bulge and the second bulge is about where the 7th fret would be on a fretted banjo. I belive that the second bulge is about where the octave (12th) fret will be found. The place where the 5th string bulge comes off of the neck (toward the peghead) is about where the 5th fret would be. These are not totally accurate, but they serve as guidelines.


Oh, man! Look at the figure in that fingerboard! It really comes out in the photograph. I can't wait to put a finish on that!

I sketched out the peghead shape using a ruler. I am going to make a plain peghead shape on this banjo because the scroll-shaped head on the boucher neck would be too hard for this first try.


Well, here it is. I hope you can see the pencil outline in the photo.


I drew the tailpiece on the board from which that will be cut. The tailpiece will be rectangular in cross section. It will be a wedge-shaped piece from the tip to the heel of the neck.


The wedge shape will allow me to fit the tailpiece to the holes in the gourd with a friction fit. If I make the tailpiece straight then it would be more difficult for me to get a tight fit. I just drew the outline of the tailpiece using a ruler. The actual size of it is not relevant since I will cut the holes in the gourd to fit the tailpiece, whatever size it turns out. I think that it tapers from about 3/4 inch at the tip to about 1 1/4 inch at the heel.

Doing the outline took me about an hour.

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Last updated December 2, 2007