Click the photo to hear the sound.


by Thaddeus J.

The name of my instrument is the Banjo. I got the idea from my grandfather. It happened one day when we were sitting down and talking about his childhood days. He said, "In Jamaica we used to make our toys by hand." He also said, "One of the things I used to make were different string instruments." The Banjo is in the string family and it can make three different sounds from the strings depending on where you pluck the strings.

My instrument was made from different things found around my Nana's house:

Two pie pans found in my Nana's kitchen.

Two paint sticks found from my Nana's basement work area.

Duct tape, push pins, and three screws found from my Nana's basement work area.

Elastic shoe string bought from the store.

Two small pieces of wood found in my Nana's kitchen junk drawer.

My Banjo was made from common materials found around the house. My grandfather helped me a lot with my project and we came up with the idea together. The part of the instrument I made with no help; duct taping the two pie pans together, putting the sticks in the middle and hammering the pushpins into the paint stick. My problem was finding the correct string for my Banjo. We solved the problem by using shoe string instead of wire string. Another problem was getting the two pie pans to stay together without one pan sticking up in the air and causing less strength so the string could release sound. We solved this problem by putting an extra wood stick in back of the first paint stick and by tapping them together so the two pie pans were able to hold themselves down.

I play my instrument by plucking the three elastic shoe strings in different positions on the Banjo. The volume changes depending on where you pluck the strings. The top gives a high pitch sound, the middle and low end of the strings close to the neck gives a low bass sound. Also, by changing the two small pieces of wood from the very top to the middle section of the Banjo you can hear a different sound.

In conclusion, my reaction to my instrument was that it might not play correctly and that it wasn't going to look so good. The things I liked about making the Banjo were hammering the push-pins on the neck of the Banjo and finding the elastic shoe string. I learned while making my instrument to be careful with what tools you use; it takes lots of creative thinking and lots of hard work to get it working correctly.