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Open Back Banjo:
Traditional & progressive design & construction information

Boucher Early Minstrel Banjo (construction guide on CD & full size plan available)
Frank Profitt Mountain Banjo
Bluestem Mountain Banjo Nouveau
Bluestem Artisan Mountain Banjo
Bluestem Open Back Banjo Nouveau
Bluestem Wine Box / Hand Drum Banjo
Open Back Banjo Design Primer
General Banjo Construction Information
Open Back Banjo Setup Guide
“Why can’t I get this thing to play in tune?” (more than you wanted to know about equal temperament)
Bluestem Open Back Banjo (construction guide on CD & full size plan available)
Bluestem Workingpersons 11 Slot Head Open Back Banjo (construction guide on CD & full size plan available)
Bluestem Wood Top Banjo Information (full size plan available)

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Welcome to the Bluestem Banjo pages!

You'll find lots of free information related to 5 string banjo design, construction, setup, and other items of interest among the various banjo section pages. Please select from the links above to access your particular area of interest.

You'll also find ordering information for my complete "Open Back Banjo Construction Guide" as well as other construction guide packages and single plan sheets for other types of banjos and assorted instruments.

Each construction guide package consists of a full size printed plan for the instrument, hundreds of detailed photos and written documentation for construction as well as other pertinant information. It's like looking over my shoulder during the entire duration of the instrument's construction. Where else would you get that kind of value for your hard-earned dollars?

The proceeds from selling the guides help to defray the cost of providing the 250 megabytes daily average of information that this site provides free of charge, without pop-ups or other commercial intrusions.

Bluestemstrings makes its way to the Smithsonian Folkways collection!

Recently Craig Evans, the creative force behind the stellar “North American Banjo Builders” series of DVDs, visited us to film an interview to be included on volume 4 of the series. Here is an introduction by Craig, followed by a short preview of the interview:

Recognized for their artistry, craftsmanship and performance, Randy Cordle is one of 38 select Builders included in the North American Banjo Builder Series. Filmed entirely on location by Craig Evans, there are four volumes in the DVD Series: Banjo Builders East of the Mississippi (Volume 1), Banjo Builders West of the Mississippi (Volume 2), Conversations with Banjo Historians (Volume 3) and More Conversations with North American Banjo Builders (Volume 4). Smithsonian Folkways has created the "Instrument Builder Collection" to permanently house the Series for posterity.

Please clickHERE for additional information or to place an order for any of the North American Banjo Builder Series CDs.



For years, "Rudy" as he's known on Banjo Hangout (BHO), has been supplying banjo builders of all ages and abilities with sage advice and documentation on just how to go about building a proper 'jo. It was great to finally meet the man behind the mystique.

Randy Cordle is quiet, unassuming and quick with a smile. He's also an innovative engineer at heart. You can see his "problem solving" approach in just about everything he does. And this interview is a perfect example. Thanks to BHO (and the WWW), Randy has probably positively affected more banjo building than any one else this century. Thanks Randy!

Randy Cordle from Craig Evans on Vimeo.