Met this gem of a guy at the #didmartonbluegrassfestival in the #cotswolds this past weekend. Slim Jim Banjos, some of the finest banjos I've had the pleasure of playing.
Jim has made me a fantastic mountain banjo all in walnut, it is a work of art and plays beautifully. Jim himself is a great bloke, really welcoming, his work is top notch and his attention to detail is spot on. All in all, I am a very happy customer!
Put one of Jim's "round" bridges on Emily's goldtone and boom! Intonation & tuning spot on. Watch this space, Slim Jim Banjos is going places! Great craftsmanship & lovely guy!
Jim made me a mountain banjo (MT No 8) which is a thing of beauty! Could not be happier. Thanks Jim.
Early last year at Gainsborough, I became the proud owner of a Slim Jim banjo. Jim and I meet fairly regularly at a monthly session at Ewshot near Farnham in Surrey and he spent some time preparing to set up his banjo business, working on the designs and occasionally bringing his experimental instruments along to the session for people to try out.
Jim has previously worked as a boat builder and I was tremendously impressed with his expert skill in working with wood and the build quality of all his instruments. I was looking for a nice plunky-sounding open back banjo to play old time music with a small group and I was initially particularly interested in a type of banjo Jim was building with a wooden tone ring which evolved into his “Hampshire” model.
We discussed some ideas about the design and Jim was extremely helpful; he is prepared to build custom banjos for anyone with special requirements. As it turned out, Jim had already finalized the design of his “Duroc” model which has a brass tone ring. When this was finished, I was amazed by the superb tone quality and playability – I immediately decided this was the banjo for me!
It has been fascinating to observe how Jim has carefully crafted a range of wonderful banjos. The “Duroc” gives me much pleasure and it’s the banjo in the corner of my room I pick up & play most often.
I came across Slim Jim banjos at the FOAOTMAD festival at Gainsborough a few weeks ago and was taken by the small size and lightness of his mountain banjos and impressed by the quality of his workmanship. I wanted a small travel banjo to take in my camper van and thought paying a little more for unique, handmade instrument was worth it. I was also keen to try playing a good fretless.
I phoned Jim a week before I was due to go off to Cornwall in my van and luckily he still had one in stock. I wanted a brass fretboard as I had seen on one Gainsborough and he agreed to fit one to the instrument you can see on his FB page and courier it to me within the week.
Well I have been playing it now for a week, in the van, and I am totally sold. It is beautiful to look at and lovely to play. Not as loud as a full sized banjo but very sweet in tone. I would definitely recommend anyone who wants one to pay a little extra to have the aged brass fretboard as it looks fantastic with the overall colour scheme and as well as making slides smoother, it adds a brightness to the tone. Mine came with Aquila red strings, which added to visual effect.
I am really pleased that Jim makes these instruments out of recycled timber as it means you get well seasoned, dense grained woods that should not move and it probably helps keep the price low. The thought that it may contain parts of an old oak sideboard gives me great pleasure! All told a lovely and unique ins
Thanks for the prompt dispatch of the two new bridges. I’ve just spent a good while recording and playing the banjo with different bridges so for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts . . .
The banjo in question is a Goldtone Whyte Laydie WL250 which i fitted with a John Balch 4 star calf-skin head. It’s a reliable, stable banjo and I play it a lot – especially for gigs. It was fitted with a basic standard ebony and maple bridge, not compensated and I had to angle it to sort out the intonation.
Both your bridges improved the sound of the banjo but I much prefer the dark coloured bridge with the three feet. It gives a very balanced, detailed sound across all the strings and makes the banjo very responsive to a variation in attack and tone production. It gives the banjo a very fine, sweetly ringing sound and seems to bring out the innate qualities of the tone ring. It’s not a plunky sound but conveys a lot of detail both when I ply clawhammer and oldtime three finger picking. I like it a lot.
The maple and ebony bridge with the solid foot is a tubbier kind of sound with fewer overtones; the mid range is a lot less sparkly and less detailed and the treble is muted but a little edgier. There is less detail in complex passages but it has an overall more plunky sound. It kind of plays down the tone ring tendencies. If someone wants to lose detail and gain plunk it may well be a good idea but I don’t usually stuff my banjos with foam or cloth and I like them to ring and play out some detail. I think the original basic maple/ebony bridge was closer to this bridge although even “tubbier”.
To set all this in context, in the middle of a session with fiddle, mandolin, bass etc the details between the bridges may get a lot more blurry! I am talking here as a banjo sound anorak I know but the vast majority of my playing is at home solo and the new bridge makes the banjo more satisfying to play.
Thanks for the great service. I think your bridges bring out a lot of detail and deal well with intonation issues and I will certainly recommend them.
Keep in touch and hope to meet up with you for a play sometime.
All the best