The Boucher minstrel banjo is a replica of the banjos built by William Esperance Boucher in the 1840's and 50's. and was first built by Bob Flesher in 1991. It is without exception the most accurate, finest crafted, and most original sounding Boucher replica on the market today. The dimensions were taken off an original Boucher banjo and is the most popular of our minstrel banjo reproductions because of it's Boucher "trademarks", the off center scroll peghead with "beehive" mounted in the center of the scroll and the "bracket" or double ogee shape on the top of the fingerboard under the 5th string. This was to mark the finger positions up the neck. Many Bouchers were made with a single ogee but the model used for deminsions had a double ogee. A single ogee can be substituted if you desire. These banjos have a 12 inch oak or maple rim that is either scalloped or straight on the bottom with six brass exact replica "butterfly" shoes, hooks and wingnuts. This is the way they were originally made. Anything else is inaccurate. Only on the much later models did the add the cast shoe. I make my models in the original way. The tension hoop is brass as per original and it comes with an ebony Boucher-shape tailpiece, five vertically mounted ebony friction pegs, a period mounted skin head, exact replica minstrel bridge, and real gut strings. Some Boucher banjos were available with a tigertail maple neck. Another option was a straight bottom maple rim painted bright red on the inside and a dark green on the outside. To the bottom outside edge of the rim was a bright red ribbon attached with brass tacks. This is quite attractive when it is assembled with the brass hardware. This option is an additional $75. This banjo comes in your choice of brown or amber stain with a straight grain maple neck for $1850 or a select tigertail maple neck as shown for $1950.
The Joel Sweeney minstrel banjo is a replica of a banjo made for him by the Boucher Company and probably belonging to one of his left-handed cousins, since it is made left-handed. This original banjo is in the Los Angeles County Museum. It has the same scalloped 12 inch oak rim as the Boucher with 6 butterfly shoes, brass hooks, and wing nuts. It has an ebony Boucher-shape tailpiece, five vertically mounted ebony friction pegs, a period mounted skin head, exact replica minstrel bridge, and real gut strings. The neck is of straight grain maple as per original with a scroll peghead and single ogee on the fingerboard, under the 5th string. The most distinctive feature of this model is the curved fingerboard from about the 9th position on. This was their solution for getting the neck under the tension hoop. The original instrument is stained dark brown. This model is available in dark brown or amber stain. The original has a straight edge fingerboard under the 5th string. This is also available upon request. Although not original, the neck can be made with select tigertail maple wood. This model is available in straight grain for $1850 or select tigertail for $1950.
Bob Flesher | (352) 270-8734 - Email: FleshrBnjo@aol.com
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