The "Wagon Wheel" Tenor Banjo - a unique heirloom instrument hand-crafted by Ben "Gitty" Baker
So rock me mama like a wagon wheel, rock me mama any way you feel...
Perhaps you've heard the song, "Wagon Wheel," which has become a modern American anthem. I've been playing it for years, and even after hundreds of times, I still love it as much as I did when I first heard it.
Before I had even finished my last heirloom build (the One-Way Ticket Steamer Trunk Guitar), I started thinking about what my next project would be. I can't remember exactly when it came to me, but at some point the idea popped into my mind: what about building a guitar from an old wooden wagon wheel? I could name it after one of my favorite songs, and of course play that song on it... I knew I had to do it.
To see the full story of the creation of this amazing instrument, and especially if you are thinking of buying it, please check out the full Builder's Photo Diary I wrote.
My hope is that the very special person who buys this banjo does so to play it, but I understand that it has just as much appeal as a piece of wall art as it does as a playable musical instrument. It is hard to sell something like this - it's almost like letting a child go. In fact, I won't be sad at all if it never sells.
Scale Length: 19 inches
# strings: 3
Tuning: G D A E (Irish Tenor)
String Type: Nylon
Tuners: Amber button short-shaft
See Ben's Builder's Diary for this amazing instrument here, where he walks through the process of its creation.
A note from Ben Gitty: "It is hard for me to let any of these instruments I build go - this one especially. So much time and feeling goes into each one, and the end result is so meaningful to me, that selling one feels somehow sacrilegious. But, I can't hold onto them all and I want to have a reason to keep building them, so I must let one go once in a while. This is not an instrument for a person who wants a shiny, new, perfect banjo. Go to Guitar Center and by a factory-made strat if that's what you want. Likewise, this is also not an instrument for someone who just wants a cheap, basic homemade instrument. These are hand-crafted and hand-decorated one-of-a-kind works of art that I pour my heart and soul into, something that I think is truly unique. I build rustic instruments, and by design they are not meant to be perfect, smooth and shiny. I try to build the sorts of instruments that both challenge me as a builder, but also tell a story that springs from the reclaimed and repurposed parts they are made from. I know there are folks out there who will see the value of that, and who won't balk at the price I have chosen to put on my work. Please, don't buy this instrument if the words above don't resonate with you - I want these instruments to belong to folks who really get it. I know that's not the sort of sales pitch that will win any awards, but I'm OK with that."