Making & Playing A Tension Banjo
(This article first appeared in Mugwumps Volume 5, #5, Summer 1977)
|The steps involved are as follows:
- Obtain two empty soda cans (or other similar cans). Tin cans work better than aluminum.
- Using a can opener, completely remove the opened end. Make sure there are no sharp edges left. Use pliers to clean up any rough spots.
- Wash the can thoroughly.
- Using a sharp awl or nail, poke a very small hole in the center of the bottom of each can.
- Poke two holes, opposite each other, in the side of one can, very near the open end.
- Push the "E" string out through the hole in the bottom of one can and in through the hole in the other can.
- Hold the string in a pair of pliers and twist a small loop into the free end of the string. Insert a spare string ball-end and twist the loop tight. This will keep the string from pulling through the bottom.
- Tie a piece of twine to the can with the two holes, making a loop large enough to allow your upper arm to pass through.
- Hold as shown in the pictures, with the string around your right upper arm, the far can in your left hand, and a thin flat pick in your right hand.
- By stretching and releasing the string, the tone gets higher and lower.
- The sound is similar to a mouth bow or a Tremoloa or a musical saw.
- With practice, whole tunes can be played.
- Coffee cans make a good bass Tension Banjo.
- This is 100% recycled, limited only by your imagination.