A personal interest in old timey music led to the beginnings of the company. As a frailer, finding a good open back banjo that was not an expensive vintage instrument was challenging. It was clear that there was a need for a contemporary line of open back banjos dedicated to frailing/clawhammer style of playing. That dedication has never changed. Special thanks to Art Rosenbaum and John Burke and the many other great frailers who have supported, and consulted with WILDWOOD over the years.
All traditional open back banjos feature fancy curly maple necks with the exception of the MINSTREL (which uses a non figured maple), and hard rock maple block laminated rims. All models feature the classic Tubaphone-style tone ring, some models have traditional bracket shoe bands, and all with a dedication to sound and style you expect from WILDWOOD.
Wildwood Banjos have always used block laminated rims. Actually, we helped pioneer this rim design in 1970 with several other custom builders in the Los Angeles area. We are the ONLY company continuously using this style of rim. It has become our standard and distinguishes WILDWOOD BANJOS from others.
The Traditional models are designed around 2 basic rim assemblies. The standard assembly for the MINSTREL & TROUBADOR, and the bracket band assembly for the HEIRLOOM & BALLADEER. The new EXOTIC WOOD SERIES has an integral wood tone ring design for a little different sound—warm and “woody” while staying surprisingly clean and clear. Adornment increases with each model such a fancier figured maple, more complex mother of pearl and abalone inlays, binding and wood purfling. Standard options for all models include neck scooping, adding a bracket shoe band, heel carvings, specialized inlays, gold plating and engraved hardware.
Bracket shoe bands are a standard feature on both the HEIRLOOM & BALLADEER models, but can be added to any model (as an option). The effect of the bracket shoe band is a “warmer” sound, increased volume and sustain. The rim is turned to accept the solid brass bracket shoe band much like a flange assembly on a bluegrass banjo rim. The result is a look typical of the finer vintage banjos. The bracket shoe band does add about 1 pound to the overall weight of the banjo.
Traditional Banjo Specs:
- Eastern hard rock maple necks –figure increases in intensity with higher priced models
- Unique Wildwood block laminated rims—E. Hard rock maple
- ebony fingerboard, peg head, and heel cap
- bone nut, bone 5th string nut
- cream colored ivoroid binding and wood purfling (except on Minstrel)
- 2 way adjustable truss rod
- nickel silver frets
- 26.25” scale length
- width at nut—1 1/4” width at rim – 1 15/16”
- Gotoh geared tuning machines
- nickel plated brass hardware
- Tubaphone style tone rings (made in house)
- bracket shoe band (made in house)
- all inlays cut from premium abalone or Mother of Pearl shell