Gill Banjos was launched with the idea of creating affordable banjos with the aesthetics of past banjo greatness. The founder is my cousin, Dave Gill. Dave is a prolific collector and probably the best clawhammer player you never heard of.
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Through years of collecting and playing, Dave has researched banjo tone systems extensively in search of a formula for ideal banjo tone. He also wanted to bring back the aesthetics of the late 19th century and early 20th century. In order to make the instruments affordable he enlisted the help of well known Vietnamese luthiers Antonio Tsai and Bruce Wei.
The Vietnam Connection
You may have seen the work of Vietnamese luthiers online. They excel at inlay work. Hand cut and hand inlaid, creating over-the-top complexity of fanciful floral patterns, dragons and more. The only risk associated with Vietnamese necks has been movement in the wood. To guard against this problem, we have aged the necks in the dry climate of Arizona for at least two years. Therefore, we can offer these fancy necks with confidence.
The Hickler Banjo Connection
I have been building banjos for over 20 years. In that time, I have taken a great interest in rim construction. It was natural for me to partner with my cousin to create the rims that are used in Gill banjos. Dave wanted to take his favorite rim style, Bacon internal resonator, and combine it with his favorite tonering, the Silver Bell. And for a finishing touch, natural skin heads.
Imagine you are rummaging around your grandparents' attic and you see a dusty instrument case. You open it and behold a work of art in the form of a banjo. That is the feeling we are after in creating Gill Banjos.