Photo Title : Short Takes - Curtis Harrell - Front  |  close this window


Curtis writes: "My interest in banjo began when I begged my parents to buy me a $70 dollar Harmony 5-string in 1974. I taught myself Scruggs style three-finger picking and a little of Pete Seeger's basic strum, and I was content with exploring mostly bluegrass until 1997. That's when I discovered, through an old high school friend, the joys of the clawhammer style. One of the most liberating aspects of playing clawhammer was recognizing the huge variety in old-time banjos. Gone was the slavish adoration of the pre-war Mastertone. Replacing it was the admiration of the minstrel oak hoop, the spunover rim with 50 hooks, even the bakelite rim of that old Harmony I still had stashed in a closet after twenty-five years. Because I happened to live about five miles from a gourd farm, I eventually decided to experiment with making banjos from gourds. Since gourds are relatively inexpensive, I learned a great deal through trial and error, and I documented the making of one on my website. This one went to the same old high school friend that turned me on to clawhammer." There are more images of his banjos at