Shop Update 2021-05-04

What a busy new year! I began a large custom commission batch, and as I was attempting to work on those, new orders kept coming in! Its fantastic, but it’s also overwhelming! Banjos that once had been a “luthiers choice” banjo, were “undone” to be made into a custom order. There was a lot of undoing, which is very inefficient, but necessary at the time. While working on these banjos, I am also busy keeping up with all the general Luthier work I also get in. We had just one customer bring in 20 bows at once to be re-haired, and another with 10 bows, and add to that the garden work, yardwork, construction work, and there’s just not enough days in a week!

So I am finding myself coming to a temporary solution. I am going to begin opening and closing the custom order window beginning now. So as of right now, the custom order window is closed.

Currently, underway are 12 custom banjos and that’s enough for me this summer. I’m just one guy doing all of the work from hand cut pearl inlay to shaping the necks. So I have decided that I will reopen custom order availability beginning August 1, 2021. I will leave it open until October 31, 2021. At that time it will close again temporarily. During the closed periods, you can still fill out the “Build-A-Banjo” tool and even pay the 30% down payment, but no building will start until November 1st with a goal of finishing before or during spring in the following year.

If this system does not work well, I will discontinue its use. However, if it does work well, I’ll keep it going until such a time as I see fit to change. My building methods and structure continues to improve in efficiency each time I start a new batch.

It is my goal to continue with several core values in building banjos. First, is hand cut and engraved inlay. To me, this is where the artist shines through, and to me, switching to CNC cut pieces would lead my instruments away from my desire to build Artisan banjos. So even though its more efficient, CNC cut inlay is not where I want to go. Second is to continue 1 on 1 custom ordering. The Build-a-banjo tool helps facilitate a starting point for talking, but no design is finalized until a 1 on 1 discussion has been had. I want each owner of a Snowbird Banjo to have the EXACT banjo they want so that when they play the instrument, they are given the great gift that music offers. Third, it is my goal soon to begin cutting my own locally sourced woods. I love ebony and tiger maple, and they will remain as an option but maple must be sourced north of us, and ebony comes from the African continent. Here in Southern Missouri/Northern Arkansas, we have a lot of good woods that could be used and it is my goal to find the right combination to improve sustainability without changing the quality or the style of each banjo. I have plans on purchasing a bandsaw sawmill and building a kiln to pre treat each piece of wood. This will give me more control over the type of cut, the quality of the cut, and the moisture content.

With an eye on improving every aspect of Snowbird Banjo Co, to make it faster, more efficient, competitive, and to retain my sanity, I hope you will understand the necessity of this change. I also, have need of a larger shop, another “to do” item when I am not working on all the others.

Take care!

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