23 June 2022

Beauty, clarity, and lightness: the Manann resonator banjo

Apologies to BIB readers in Ireland and to Marcin Pijanowski in Co. Donegal, in particular, for delay in drawing attention to Marcin's Manann Instruments and especially to the lightweight carbon-fibre resonator 5-string banjo shown in this video.

Marcin, a full-time maker of carbon-fibre guitars, decided to experiment with banjos. The results with an open-back instrument encouraged him to tackle the greater technical challenges of making a resonator banjo. He reported the results, together with this video, on Banjo Hangout at the start of this year, and received very positive reactions from luthiers and players on both the looks and the sound of the instrument, which weighs 3 kg - a considerable reduction from the weight of an average Mastertone-type banjo. In response to the BIB's questions, Marcin replied:

The resonator shape was dictated by the shape of the flange and the way the mould was built as well as the heel design itself. I wanted the instrument to look light and different from every other banjo - that's why I decided to go with small heel and worked the resonator around it. It's worth mentioning that the neck, pot, tone ring, and flange are moulded in one-piece carbon-fibre composite, resulting in very light, stable, and robust structure which produces good sustain and sound projection.

The tension hoop is made with unidirectional carbon fibre which makes it very stiff and prevents deflection while tightening the head. The armrest is decorated with maple veneer and it’s integrated with the tension hoop. The tailpiece is hand-carved from moulded piece of carbon which makes it very stiff, providing good amount of down force on the bridge which is carved from solid carbon sheet as well.

I wanted this banjo to be special and I asked my friend Franck Saucian to decorate it with the Celtic design which I think gave the instrument its soul. I would like every instrument to be special and unusual; that's why lot of work is done by hand using simple tools and techniques, but standard banjos are being put into production as well.

Marcin Pijanowski can be contacted by e-mail at mananninstruments@gmail.com.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home