The invention of the long neck banjo is largely credited to Pete Seeger. Legend has it that he had a luthier cut the neck of his standard 5 string banjo and 'add' another 3 frets above the 5th string tuner, lengthening the scale. The longer scale meant that the banjo could be tuned to a lower key that Seeger found it easier to sing in. Usually tuned in E the long neck banjo is incredibly versatile; with the addition of a capo and some spikes on the 5th string a player can switch between a number of keys, even back up to the standard G tuning. This makes them popular among folk singers and as a great 'camp fire' instrument.
When we decided to make our first Long neck here at Shackleton Instruments, we cast around for a bit looking for inspiration. We'd had the idea that we'd like to make a series of one off 'Art' instruments, taking inspiration from whatever happened to come along. It made sense for the first instrument to be a long neck as we'd not made one before and we wanted to offer customers the option in future. Listening to the radio one day, we heard about this amazing art project by Wolfgang Buttress:
The piece on the radio also featured a live performance from the band BE who were formed to make the music for the installation:
The project was a real inspiration for the design for the instrument. The idea also being that anything we can do to promote awareness of the plight of the Honey Bee was also a good thing.
Completely built from AAAA Flame Maple and featuring 815mm (32") scale length and Tubaphone Tone Ring, the Honey Long neck is a complete one off hand built banjo. You can view it here. You can now order any of our banjos as a long neck banjo. Below is an example of a Long neck Shackleton Expeditionary.
You can read more about Wolfgang Buttress and the Be band here.