The best part of building banjos are the friends we make in the process. Here’s just a few of them. Come join the fun!
Grand Ole Opry member, National Banjo Champion, and HeeHaw television cast member Mike Snider is the proud owner of three Nashville Banjo Company banjos. His favorite, the “Bodac’ Beast,” was a decades-long dream of Mike’s, – a 13″ rim and hand-carved from a harder-than-nails local Osage Orange tree. Many folks consider Mike the best clawhammer banjo player around, and he and his string band The Possum Touchers keep the tradition of old-time string music alive and well each weekend on the Grand Ole Opry.
“Dave has engineered a banjo that produces a real fine sound. I own three and I highly recommended you try one. He’s a great fellow with a real talent for building you an instrument you’ll sure enjoy playing.” – Mike
Dan is considered one of the country’s top teachers and performers of clawhammer banjo and Appalachian style fiddle. Well-known among old-time music fans far and wide for his performances, recordings, and definitive instructional material for banjo and fiddle, Dan has been voted one of the country’s top ten clawhammer banjo players by Banjo Newsletter. A founding member of the acclaimed Boiled Buzzards string band, Dan has eight recordings of his own and has also produced an incredible catalog of teaching materials for Mel Bay Publications, including “Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch”, “The Clawhammer Banjo Masters Series” with co-author Bob Carlin, and his latest, ”A Clawhammer Christmas” featuring 30 Christmas favorites. Dan plays a custom 12″ figured Cherry banjo with a stained Fiberskyn head and 25.5″ scale neck. Be sure to check out Dan’s website for some great learning resources.
“I really love this banjo! It has become my go to for all playing. I know this banjo will be with me for a long time. What a fine instrument it is, and what a fine friend Dave has become.” – Dan
John is widely known as one of the leading pioneers of non-traditional clawhammer banjo music. His landmark recordings, “Carry on John” with Jim Wood, and “Hot Biscuit Jam” with Jack Pearson (Allman Brothers Band) continue to serve as the entryway for new generations of clawhammer artists. John is also recognized as the world’s foremost authority and supplier of natural hide banjo heads. John plays a custom mahogany banjo built from shelving from his family home place, featuring a 13″ rim, floating brass tone ring, and a custom brass scoop engraved by Glenn Carson.
“The banjo is great. I’m playing it all the time now and really enjoying it. First time in years I’ve played so long that my fingers got sore.” – John
George Gruhn is recognized as the world’s foremost authority on vintage acoustic instruments. In 1970, he established Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, TN which has grown to be the largest dealer of vintage and used instruments in the world. Though primarily associated with vintage acoustic guitars, George also maintains an impressive collection of rare banjos, and was excited to add this custom 12″ walnut banjo to his personal collection.
“Dave Dillard of the Nashville Banjo Company is building some of the finest sounding old time 5 string banjos available today. They are meticulously crafted and expertly designed. The tone and playability compare very well to the finest vintage collectible instruments.” – George
David is lead singer and songwriter for We Banjo 3, one of today’s hottest groups in Americana, Bluegrass, and Celtic music. David is an All Ireland National banjo champion, and after moving to Tennessee from Galway, Ireland, wanted to expand his banjo acumen into the world of traditional old-time Clawhammer style. David plays a custom 11” dark local Tennessee Black Walnut banjo uniquely paired with a 23.5” short-scale beeswax-finished neck, coffee-stained goat skin head, and hand-cut ancient Irish script brass peghead inlay designed by New England artist Colleen Conway.
“I love this banjo! It’s such a gorgeous instrument and records so well too. The neck is so lovely to play, the whole thing just sings. The dark tone just blows my mind. As a new instrument I expected “good and will play-in to be amazing,” but this is amazing and I have no idea how this can get better!” – David
Banjo Ben Clark
Following a star-studded career that included several years in Taylor Swift’s band, Ben settled down and started the world’s most popular website for learning banjo, mandolin and guitar, BanjoBenClark.com. Renowned as 3-finger stylist, Ben finally worked up the courage to dive into the world of clawhammer banjo with this custom open-back carved out of local Tennessee walnut featuring a 12″ solid block rim, custom brass “Banjo Ben” logo inlay, and a goatskin so disturbing he’ll need a permit to play it in public.
“Dave is building some really fine open-back banjos for some of my favorite people and players, and I’m sure proud to have one of my own. The tone is rich, the lines are clean, and the craftsmanship is excellent.” – Banjo Ben
If you find yourself in a banjo or fiddle contest with Tyler Andal, it might be best to sneak quietly out the back door and go on home. A three-time National Old Time Banjo Champion and four-time Traditional Grand Master Fiddle Champion, Tyler is one of the most talented, and humble, musicians in the world of old-time music. Tyler plays a custom Pernambuco wood banjo with an 11″ rim, ebony rim cap, and copper owl & moon inlay. Pernambuco is a beautiful red-toned hardwood from Brazil, and the preferred wood of violin bow makers, – of whom Tyler is one of the best.
“I’m loving this banjo! It’s so easy to play, – the neck feels great, the tone is really clear, and the set-up just right. Dave is a fantastic banjo builder and one of the greatest guys around! It really turned out incredible! One of the coolest banjos I’ve seen.” – Tyler
While musician, songwriter, astronomer, author and teacher Michael Card may be best known for his creative lyrics and melodies that have sold more than 4 million albums, what folks really need to know is that Mike plays a right-handed banjo upside-down and left-handed. It almost drove his childhood mentor and banjo-teacher Earl Scruggs over the edge! Mike plays a 12” walnut banjo with a goatskin head soaked in his self-roasted coffee beans with a custom tunneled 5th string to accommodate those mesmerizing sideways upside-down backwards fret-hand moves.
“A new banjo that looks 100 years old, built to 5/1000ths of an inch tolerance, and reminds me of my friend Dave Dillard every time I play it. What more could you ask?” – Mike
Katy Lou Clark
East Texan Katy Lou Clark and her twin sister Penny Lea form the Purple Hulls, a dynamic duo featuring sizzling sibling harmonies and stellar acoustic drive. With strong Nashville connections, the duo has toured with numerous country music artists and performed as a group both across Texas and internationally. Katy Lou plays banjo, guitar, accordion, and anything else that doesn’t bite or interfere with her nap times. Heralding from a long tradition of family farmers, Katy Lou’s 12″ walnut banjo features a custom brass & copper inlay of a pair of purple-hull peas, reminiscent of her group’s logo and her hard-earned ticket to a college education.
“My banjo is nothing short of a treasure — it seems that for every minute I spend playing and absorbing its warm, deeply rich sound, I spend the same amount of time admiring its stunning beauty. Every detail of Dave’s banjos contributes to their exceptional tone, playability, and appearance, and having one to call my own is a gift of a lifetime.” – Katy Lou
Until his recent banjo addiction, Jeff Taylor was one of the most respected and sought after multi-instrumentalists in Nashville. He is a founding member of the Grammy award winning Time Jumpers, can be heard regularly on the Grand Ole Opry with Riders in the Sky and has recorded with numerous artists including Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, the Gettys and the Chieftains. Jeff has two banjos: his favorite to cuddle-up with is a short-scale 10″ cherry banjo, while his go-to for studio work and live gigs is a tobacco-stained 12″ maple banjo with a built-in pickup.
“These banjos are taking me down the most delightful, addicting and joy filled musical journey imaginable! They are the most inspiring instruments that I could imagine and quite distracting when I have real work to do…” – Jeff
James Linden Hogg
A recent LSU “Summa Cum Laude” graduate, historian James Linden Hogg is working on his 5th album of original, folk, Americana, Celtic & French. A Louisiana State Fiddle Champ at age 15, he loves the music of the early American soundtrack, & has painstakingly desired to preserve those traditions. From New Orleans Jazz Fests to Riverboat Cruises up the Mississippi, he is gathering a new generation to the old ways.
“I love the precision of my 13″ Governor model. Dave Dillard is the Michelangelo of crafting heirloom instruments & I’m so honored to now be the steward of this boss – hog, ancient toned, theologically correct, caffeinated goat hide, endangered list, certified Nashville Banjo Company birthed by a germinated walnut.” – James
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Cindy Musselwhite grew-up playing traditional music with her siblings in the veteran bluegrass group, “The Hoyles” and was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Honor in 2014. Cindy plays a custom built 11” walnut banjo with a personalized brass scoop plate, a special gift commissioned by her friend Dennis Parker, Grammy award-winning artist and member of Ricky Skaggs’ band Kentucky Thunder.
“This banjo has been a great source of creativity for me and a daily reminder of a favorite Bible passage in Micah 4:13 to ‘Start Threshing!’” – Cindy
A seasoned musician with over four decades experience stretching from legendary Nashville recording studios and the Grand Ole Opry stage to crowded hippie communes and symphony halls, Jim Prendergast is a mainstay in the stateside Celtic/Folk music tradition. Jim makes his home now in Portsmouth, NH where he produces traditional music at his Mill Pond Music Studio. Jim plays a lively 12” walnut banjo with a hand-carved Dobson folk-style heel, branded walnut scoop plate and a snappy goatskin head that must have belonged to a goat with a real attitude.
“This is one unbelievable instrument. I’m sooo grateful!, Its definitely inspiring, and my wife’s getting a little worried…” – Jim
Dr. Steve Barnes
Gifted polymath, luthier, and multi-instrumentalist Dr. Barnes is perhaps the most industrious retired surgeon on the planet. When not building a world-class guitar or mandolin, oil-painting a rural barn scene, striking his own arrowheads from flint stones, or setting broken legs on affectionate felines, Steve can be found on his Tennessee porch frailing away on his 12″ Cumberland model banjo built with century old black walnut from his grandpa’s family farm in Stuart, VA.
“This heirloom banjo will be handed down to generations. Dave’s attention to detail, impeccable taste and ability to get the sound out of this 100 year old walnut is unsurpassed! It’s an honor to own this treasure..” – Steve
Award winning singer-songwriter Buddy Greene is perhaps best known for his harmonica playing and the Christmas classic, “Mary Did You Know?” But what Mary, and most folks, didn’t know is that Buddy is also a closet clawhammer banjo player. Give him time and he’ll take the art of clawhammer banjo to new heights. Buddy plays a 10″ cherry banjo with a goat skin head and a 23.5″ short-scale neck.
“I love my Nashville Banjo! It sounds great, looks great, and one of these days, I’m gonna learn how to play it! For now, I mostly enjoy just looking at it.” – Buddy
Multi-Instrumentalist Rob Roepke and is wife Gayle head-up the Nashville Old Time String Band Association. The association, known affectionately as “NOTSBA” hosts welcoming weekly old-time music jams in the Nashville area, and organizes the nationally known old-time music festival “Breakin’ Up Winter” the first weekend of March each year in Lebanon, TN. Rob plays a 12″ Cumberland model open back banjo featuring hand-crafted custom brass & stainless steel hardware.
“Dave built me exactly what I was looking for, – a great walnut banjo with that old-time sound! And he kept me updated with lots of pictures along the way. If you want a custom banjo, built with excellent craftsmanship, contact Dave. You won’t be disappointed.” – Rob
Heralding from Bowling Green, KY, Skip is a community activist, retired educator, and award-winning musician best known for his skills with Scottish Highland pipes, the Irish Uilleann pipes and tin whistle. Skip has performed and recorded internationally with symphonies and artists including The Nashville Symphony, Amy Grant, Allison Kraus and Ricky Skaggs. Skip has a custom built 12” walnut banjo he helped carve, and with all the extra time now on his hands, has turned his attention towards mastering a unique clawhammer style incorporating two-finger up-picking with harmonic chiming. Seriously Skip? Take a break…
“I love my banjo. Dave’s work is beautiful, and this is definitely one inspiring instrument!” – Skip