New Brooks Masten Banjo

I recently got a new open back banjo and wanted to post a few pictures of it. Its made by Brooks Masten, has an 11″ cherry rim, fiberskin head, walnut neck, ebony fingerboard, and brass tone ring. Its basically a stock Spartan model except for his custom tailpiece. Brooks was great to work with and lives about fifteen minutes from me here in Portland. Thanks to him for allowing me to use his photos.

I had an old Lyon and Healy banjo from the early 1900’s but just ended up being not that thrilled with it. My new banjo stays in tune better (for a banjo), and the neck is just alot more comfortable. The neck and string spacing are also wider, which is beneficial for clawhammer. I know alot of folks like older banjos, which is cool. They can have a neat vibe, are often cheaper, and can sound good. For me in this case I just preferred a modern instrument.

I have been playing clawhammer banjo for a few years, it was kind of a natural progression from doing clawhammer style things on guitar. I am attracted to instruments that are fun to play in a solo context, where melody, rhythm, and other voices are all self contained. Playing clawhammer banjo this way is so much fun. Its very relaxing to sit on the couch and frail away. Of course playing in a group is fun, and the duo of clawhammer banjo and fiddle is especially nice.

I know some of the standard old time repotiore but am more interested in the banjo as a vehicle for arranging non typical tunes. I play a set of Breton tunes that work quite well on banjo, and some irish reels are nice too, though I would play them in a standard session.

Ill try to post a few videos of these arrangements sometime soon.

Comments 4

  1. Ciao Anton,
    You got a really nice banjo. I hope to hear some audio or video soon, I’m very curious about it.
    Do you play also some old time?
    Ciao from Milano,

    1. Post

      Great to hear from you Marco! Hope everything is going well.
      I do play a bit of old time on the banjo, but am more interested in arranging unusual tunes for it. I have a cool set of Breton tunes that fits well on the banjo. Ill try to put up some audio or video this week.

      1. Hi Anton,

        Everything is going well thanks.

        I like your idea of arranging unusual tunes for the banjo, I’m sure that following this path will give you wonderful new ideas.
        I’ll wait for the video/audio on the Breton tunes.

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