CURTIS CARLISLE BOUTERSE & BANJERS: FRETLESS BANJOS
1. Banjers: Fretless Banjos | 2. Banjers & Banjer music | 3. Gourd Banjers 1 | 4. Gourd Banjers 2 | 5. Gourd Banjers 3 | 6. Some Other Banjers | 7. Still More Banjers | Links | Contact Me | Banjo Query
BANJERS: GOURD BANJERS 1
1270115.jpg
My first banjer, in spalted maple with trade bead eyes and a necklace of tiny whitehearts.
Hear five of these gourd banjers, and four other banjers, played on my first CD. For information click here.
320020.jpg

330021.jpg

My first two gourd banjers were 4 stringers (3+1) made from the same oval-shaped gourd. The heads were literally in the shape of heads, tilted back, singing, reminiscent of a scroll shape. (If I had made the eyes closed they would have resembled Southwestern story tellers, but that's for another day.) I gave the one on the right to my best friend, Robert Webb of Phippsburg, Maine. It's surprising how many tunes we've discovered can be played on just 3 strings. (Tunings, melody strings: 1-5-5; 1-4-5; 1-5-7; 1-5-8; etc., with chanterelle tuned variously.) [You can hear mine on Down the Road, track 16, and Waiting for Nancy, track 16.]

340022.jpg
500038.jpg

510039.jpg

In the early years of the nineteenth century American society combined their rugged individualistic ways of doing things with exciting new ideas from the rest of the world. This 5-string instrument incorporates one of these fashionable elements: the paisley. The swirling "boteh" leaf shape of Persian design is integrated into the curvilinear peghead and brass tacks accent the edges. The entire neck is shellacked in a dark mahogany shade.

1210109.jpg

1290117.jpg

This banjer was influenced by the early drawing attributed to Jamaica (or the Western Sudan: see my inquiry elsewhere) but with European-style pegs, albeit inserted from the front. It is another 3+1 stringer. It is the banjer on which I developed "Bonja Moan."[Hear it on Waiting for Nancy, tracks 9 & 16.]

1310119.jpg

1300118.jpg
1320120.jpg

Another 3+1 string instrument with a totemic eagle, or hawk, peghead of African inspiration. A simple, early style, integrating the essence of the European and African traditions. It is in spalted red maple and uses the other half of the gourd used for the "bonja." [You can hear this banjer on Down the Road, track 14.]

1330121.jpg

1340122.jpg

[Click on any picture to enlarge.]

CURTIS CARLISLE BOUTERSE. PO BOX 84025. SAN DIEGO CA 92138

To go to my Personal Site, click here.

To go to my Medieval Instruments site click here.