Custom made open back Tenor banjos
The new JP banjo arrived from its trip across the pond just fine with no customs hassles whatsoever -- four days from door to door. I've had a chance to pluck away on the banjo for about a week now, and I REALLY like it! Good volume and tone, and great sustain, but I particularly like how light it is, how nicely it sits in my lap (no more heavy resonators in the way or open-back hooks digging in!), and how easy it is to play with the 22" scale length. Maybe it's just in my head, but I believe my playing has actually improved over the past week! I also like the consistency of the wood grain and colour throughout, which is a very nice dark walnut. Very tastefully done with the tulipwood inlay. The unique decaphonic rim design is brilliant and I'm sure contributes appreciably to the banjo's sound.
Last fall I had the opportunity to borrow a friend's Whitechapel model at an Irish music retreat in Texas, and that pretty well sold me on ordering one. The tone ring cast by the Taylor Bell Foundry for the new Whitechapels doesn't sound any different to my ears from the original Whitechapel -- both sound just great. Definitely a keeper!
Maberly, Ontario, Canada
I picked up the banjo yesterday afternoon, got it home and tuned it up immediately. I ended up playing it for a few hours on my own before heading off to a local session and playing a few more hours with some folks. I couldn't be happier with it! The sound is amazing and the whole thing is a work of art. Everybody in the session commented on how well it sounded and how nice it looked. I really can't believe how light and loud it is. You've really found the right combination.
Thank you so much for making me a beautiful instrument! I can't wait to get home tonight to play it some more.
Seattle USA, June 2018
To let you know that “the eagle has landed” and we had our illicit liaison at the end of the B&Q car park! The guys were driving a sizeable van, so that became the most appropriate meeting point. And there between them in the middle seat at the front of the van (with the seatbelt around it), was my banjo. So tlc all the way......
And what a cracker, well done Jim!
Cathy and Colin wanted to hear it, so there and then behind the burger van in the car park I gave them a quick rendition of Callum’s Road. That did it for me, so easy to play. I don’t know what Cathy and Colin thought.
My wife was impressed, particularly with the banding and that lovely internal curve between the tone ring and back. I’m sure that shape contributes to the sound. I can’t believe the amount of sustain from something so light and well balanced.
And I see what you mean about that case, fitting like a glove.
I have already contracted my granddaughter to make a “banjo cushion” - a 10”x4” cushion to squeeze between the coordinator rod and head - as a silencer so my wife doesn’t get too blitzed with it.
I’ll now just extend that contract with my granddaughter to include a saddle (using the same fabric), to support the neck in the case a tad more.
Then and I’m already thinking, I may well try to sell on my Mastertone clone, as after just a few minutes with my JP and it’s lack of weight, I can never see myself actively playing anything heavier.
Again, it’s well done Jim, well done, thank you so much......
Aberdeenshire April 2018
I love my JP banjo. All my other banjos have become obsolete and only come out of their cases now when I feel guilty for not playing them. I have in fact begun working on downsizing other banjos out of my collection.
The tone and volume can be heard at any session without being harsh or overly loud, it is both warm and cutting at the same time. In a loud session, the open back design lets me hear it without me needing to deafen the person sitting on the other side of the banjo. The scale length is perfect, making the high B more easily reached, while notes on the the low G string still hold together, I doubt I will ever play a 23" banjo again. The looks of the banjo are also top notch. It has an elegantly understated beauty that never fails to draw comments at sessions.
Dr Brian Shaw
College Station Texas, USA, February 2018
I just wanted to let you know that I am delighted with the banjo. The action, tone and look of the banjo is excellent and I can tell you take a lot of pride in your work from the quality of the instrument. The intonation is spot on and I feel like i’m already a better player because it is so easy and enjoyable to play.
It is more than a few steps up than my old framus banjo. I’ve shown it to many musicians and they were all equally impressed with the banjo. Thank you for all your work , you were great to deal with and I have and will be recommending you to anyone who asks about buying a banjo.
I’m sure I’ll be touch with you again and best of luck in the future.
Alan Walsh, Galway, January 2018
Hi Jim - It arrived in fine condition today. It's EXACTLY what I wanted. I like the inlay in the walnut, very beautiful. Thanks for marking the bridge - it didn't move at all during the journey but I was worried about that.
My wife hasn't seen it yet but I've played it for over half an hour. It sounds GREAT! Those Whitechapel tone rings are the business.
Thanks for making a really fine banjo. I hope we can do business again!
My wife played the new JP banjo last night & loved it. She had been playing a 17-fret Gold Tone IT-800 (20-inch scale). The tone on the JP was FAR superior. Congratulations on producing a GREAT banjo.
North Dakota USA, September 2017
Last year I had the honour of meeting and playing with banjo virtuoso and fellow JP Banjo customer, John Carty at the Auld Triangle pub in Finsbury Park, London. It was during this meeting that John informed me of Jim Patton, who, by mere coincidence, I had met earlier in the year at Fleadh Cheoil na Breataine in Preston.
It was therefore a pleasure for me to try out three of Jim’s hand-built banjos at his home in Liverpool. As a session player and performer, the most apparent qualities of these banjos were their impressive light weight and stunning sustain.
The tone ring, which is distinctive in the construction of these banjos, allows the player to be heard clearly but not lambasted for dominating the sound of other instrumentalists.
Amazingly, a single note echoes when playing the following note. The option of having a renaissance head as supposed to a standard one has a measurable influence on this too, also adding to the overall attractive appearance of the banjo.
The banjo is continuing to settle with regular practice in sessions and concerts on the London Irish trad circuit, and I'm now envied by other banjoists with this latest purchase! It allows my music to breathe and enables me to play with greater comfort and ease.
Jim's professionalism, skilled craftsmanship and close collaboration with the client make the whole process of purchasing a new banjo so much easier.
Go raibh míle maith agat!
"A very comfortable to play banjo. It's nice and light but still has great tone and looks. A nice balance of vintage aesthetics and modern design."
Earlier this year I had a wonderful weekend in Manchester where I first encountered Jim Patton and three of his hand-built banjos. I tried all three and each was more impressive than the last. As I played them, the tone, the carefully chosen timber and the stylish inlays were strikingly evident. The obvious hallmarks of these instruments for me as a professional musician were their weight and beautiful sustain. I have been on the look out for a suitable banjo for my daughter, Maggie, and picked one of Jim’s. It’s always a tricky business buying an instrument for someone else but in this case it was irrelevant as I wanted that instrument anyway! Maggie now plays the instrument as her number one and won’t even hear of me borrowing it. Jim, like all good luthiers, made some minor adjustments to suit. The banjo is improving all the time as it settles with the many hours of playing. If you’re thinking of buying a new instrument and want one that is stylish, light to travel with and above all a dream to play, I suggest you check out JP banjos www.jpbanjos.co.uk
I am so pleased with the banjo, it is the best one I have owned and I have had six, the notes are crisp and clean and playability is easier than any I have owned, the only thing which felt strange was going from a 5-string fret board to a tenor much smaller but I prefer the smaller one. The build is fantastic, I could not find a better banjo at the price and quality of these ones. Everyone loves it. My playing has improved, the banjo just feels right.
I first heard of JP banjos when luthier and owner Jim Patton contacted me to try out his banjos. I was, to say the least honoured and somewhat delighted that I be asked. We met in Belfast and Jim hand delivered his banjo. I was met with excitement like a child on Christmas morning when opening the case. I wasn't sure what to expect. I was met with a rather stunning looking banjo. Simple yet eloquent in appearance but like nothing I had seen before and I've seen most tenor banjos along the way. I was eager to hit the strings to see what she sounded like as most banjoists will search for a sound that sometimes is mysteriously unfindable. The first feature which struck me was the weight of the banjo. It was the lightest banjo I have played which for someone who suffers from osteopathic injuries caused by years of playing I was joyed with. Now the unique feature of the banjo is also a definite plus. Banjo players regularly get criticised for being loud, mainly due to the fact that when sitting behind a resonator one has to hit louder to hear oneself. Not a problem with this banjo as you can hear yourself without compromising on sound. The banjo is actually well balanced in volume and this is aided by the addition of a decaphonic tone ring, a design unique to JP banjos as its designed by Jim. The actual sound is uniform. Evenly symmetrical across the strings without the thinny sound which is associated with more modern styled instruments. The tone is reminiscent of vintage which is a rare find in modern day banjos. The workmanship is second to none. The wood grain is well noticeable and the use of nickel plated silverware accentuates this superbly. There isn't any use of needless aesthetics the banjo portrays quality through the theory less is more. The fingerboard and neck are well designed and easily fits into ones hand. The headstock again is unique to JP banjos. The whole package is true to perfect and with the lowered weight and broad sound is a definite attraction to those players who travel. With an affordable price tag JP banjos would make a great investment as all banjos are individual to the player.
Finally the banjo is in my hands. And in perfect condition too. No penetrations or indentations on the packaging. Hardly even any scuffing. The banjo and its case arrived in mint condition. I have position the bridge, tuned it, and played several tunes. Now, I find myself out of words.
This instrument is stunning!!! I am THRILLED with this banjo. It is exactly everything I had hoped for. The quality of materials and the precision of your workmanship is utterly brilliant. The timbre of the voice is marvelous. It's volume level is perfect. And not having to wrestle with a heavy and bulky resonator is a great benefit.
This is a world-class, professional-grade instrument in every possible way. It stands as an equal or better to any other tenor banjo I have heard or played. I love it! As we often say in the States "I'm running with the Big Dogs now"!
Thank you for making such a grand instrument. This will serve me well for many years. I am very grateful to you for this marvelous instrument and your patience in enduring all the madness of U.S. Customs!
I first heard one of Jim's banjo's at a session in Kerry, liked the tone and sustain, asked for a wee play, and ordered a walnut 19 fret instrument soon after.
Mine arrived after a very serious blow to the case during delivery. The instrument is very robust and it is just as well!!
The choice of woods, workmanship and finishing are excellent. The pot is beautifully put together and contoured and this, together with the setting of the tone ring, gives a balanced sound and the kind of sustain that encourages grace notes. The neck and headstock are finely crafted with very good inlay, binding and tuners. I asked for an armrest to my own spec and Jim made it in a day.
Access to the tension hooks is enough for laces to be threaded through for a strap to be attached.
I like the feel of the instrument - it is very solid and reasonably light at the same time.
It gives a powerful volume for an open back with a deep and resonant base, strong middle and clear trebles. It plays well in the 2nd and 3rd positions. I play a lot of dance music and the banjo promotes good attack, emphasis and clarity of ornamentation.
It is a big presence in a session and my playing partners like it.
You are welcome to try mine out if you are in the Highlands of Scotland. You can contact Jim for my details.