Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nechville to Start Making Irish Tenor Banjos

In a field where tradition is the norm, Tom Nechville has managed introduce some time-tested innovations over the last three decades. 
Tom Nechville

Proprietary terms like “Heli-Mount” and “Cyclotronics” are not gimmicky buzz-words but are in-fact the foundations of Tom’s successful and functional design (simple, uniform tensioning of the head, easy neck adjustment), directly contributing to Nechville’s characteristic clean, clear sound and comfort.
"Tom's probably the most innovative guy in the world when it comes to building banjos," said David Schenkman, owner of Turtle Hill Banjo Co. in La Plata, MD. 
The fact that all Nechville banjos can be made as 4-string tenors is nothing new, but now Nechville is working on developing an instrument specifically designed with the Irish session player in mind. The phrase “Irish Tenor Banjo” gets used to describe various types of plucked, GDAE tuned banjos. Tom Nechville has done research and consulted with some Irish tenor banjoists to hone in on what he thinks may be the most advantageous combination for the majority of players.

In an email to me, Tom listed these specs:

-Maple, 19-fret, 22.25" scale* tenor.
-G D A E tuning (low to high).
-11" Remo head with top frosting sanded smooth and tightened to 93+ on drum dial.
-Curly maple resonator (Excelsior open back also an option).
-Heli-mount black frame - Cyclotronic (ball bearing) mounted on 3 ply maple rim.
-40 hole archtop tone ring (other options available).
-Ebony fingerboard with pearl diamond trio pattern.
-Classic neck shape (slim but not too narrow).
-Comfortable low action (adjustable).
-Low, flat armrest - flush and at same height as tailpiece.
-Sturdy 2 foot bridge approx 21/32" 2 grams (neck adjusts for different bridge heights and action)
-High quality Gotoh tuners with black knobs.

*There is a trade off between the quick playability of a shorter scale neck and the superior power and tone potentials of a longer scale. We are offering 2 tenor choices at the moment, 22 1/4" and 23 1/2".
This will be a highly sophisticated banjo that will be comfortable, easy to play, adjustable and easily transportable. We are working on a flight case to carry the instrument in 2 pieces. We also build to custom specs.
Nechville tenor banjo
Tom is hoping to keep the cost under three grand. The first prototypes should be available by summer 2015.  I am looking forward to giving one of these a test drive!

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