Recently, I decided to start building three new banjos. It’s been a while (years?) since the last time I built an instrument… I’ve had so many ideas run through my head in that time! These three instruments will share a common scale length (24.75”), and in terms of playability I want to make them as identical as possible. However, one will be fretless (or technically, flush fretted), one will be fully fretted, and one will be partially fretted with a brass fretboard overlay between the nut and the 7th fret.
The three fretboards are actually almost done at the moment, so I’ll get some more photos up when able. At the moment I’ve got a picture of two of fingerboards getting bound. The binding is a lamination of ebony and walnut veneer, in an ebony-walnut-ebony layering. The ebony layers are thinner. The fingerboards are bocote. From the top, the binding is almost invisible against the bocote—the ebony and walnut simply look like a continuation of the bocote grain. From the side, of course, the ebony is completely black (well, kind of) and thus gives more of a bound look.
The bindings are attached with normal Titebond. I masked off the fingerboards and then used rubber bands to clamp the binding to the edge of the fingerboards.
The third fingerboard, not shown here, is rosewood, and it has plastic binding. That’s the one that will be getting the brass overlay. Also, these fretboards are upside down, hence no fret slots.
-- Rob "Scrape" French, Missouri