Zack Deming of Staunton, VA came by my home this morning, dragging a Posie banjo he had just finished building. Zack and Dean Hoffmeyer have been toying with the idea of replicating these great banjos, featured in Jim Mill’s book. Zack, a great banjo player who has worked with several bands including the Virginia Ramblers, is also a talented banjo builder and repair/setup guy. I did a profile of Zack for Banjo Newsletter (July 2010).
Anyway, Zack came by to fool with some of my banjos, and thought I’d be interested in a Posie he had just finished. The banjo boasts a fine maple “speed neck”, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, sprayed matte finish, Presto tailpiece, one of Zack’s own 5/8 inch bridges, inlay work that is an exact copy of the original Posie banjo inlay. This one bears cream tuner buttons while most of his have amber buttons. I'll post some photos on my BHO website, but far better pics are available on Zack's Posie Banjo Company website, noted below.
This banjo played itself. It had such strong and consistent tonal quality both north and south on the neck, such an even volume, and such a responsiveness to any kind of touch. It really had power as well as gracefulness as an instrument. It was one of those banjos where, when you pound on it, everything comes out musical, everything works together – the wood, the metal, the strings, the mechanical parts. They all add up to banjo music. Some banjos just sound as though the individual parts and pieces are off doing their own thing at roughly the same time, but this recipe yielded a coherent, integrated sound with a long of depth. I’ve often found it hard to use words to try and spell out the quality and character of banjo sounds. I might not be doing any better at this now than in previous attempts, but the building equation for this banjo is so obviously right that it produces a quintessential sound.
Here’s the Zack/Hoffmeye Posie banjo website:
And here’s the reference to Jim Mills’ book:
If we ask nicely we just might be able to get Zack to post some sound files.
I should add one more thing. Zack has the instincts and attuned sense of a race car mechanic when it comes to souping up banjos. He took several of my instruments, played them, turned them every which way, dove into my tool box and proceeded to improve the sound and action and playability of everything I had in my banjo arsenal. I admire that skill with the same awe as I reserve for fine banjo playing.
Here’s his webpage:
And here are some pics: