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I started making banjos full time in the mid 1970s, when Bob Flesher and Paul Morrissey asked me to join them in making the Liberty banjo line of instruments.

Within a couple of years, we were joined by Mark Horvath, Dave Moretti, Winston Bish,and quite a few others who stayed for a short time before moving on.

At that time Phil Forbes, a pilot for Eastern airlines, was doing most of the heel and resonator wood carving.

Usually reserved for Saturdays,I recall Steve Katz and Dave Kipputh teaching bluegrass banjo, Jeff McHugh teaching old-time and Irish styles, and myself teaching tenor and plectrum banjo, and mandolin.

Some of this site will be about Liberty Banjo, where a bunch of us spent a few creative years which were educational,productive, and lots of fun.

I left Liberty in the mid 1980s to start my own business. Interestingly, although for 24 years my focus has primarily been on guitars,that I have actually made a greater number of banjos, primarily because of the concentrated production of hundreds of Liberty banjos within a relatively short period of time.

It was in the 1970's that I met and befriended Ray Alden, and from that time until his passing in 2009, we had turned out together dozens and dozens of old time banjos. Ray's own designs, apart from his originals, were derived from 19th century instruments, old New York buildings, and all the way to the works of Wassily Kandinski and other artists. Over the years, he and I had discussed and experimented with ideas to bring the best out of a variety of banjos: rims with diameters ranging from 10" to 13 1/2",some made from solid wood,or spun nickel/silver over wood, brass, etc.

As a result of this, my old time banjos are available with standard setup, or the "Alden setup", as I call it. These banjos feature a handmade bridge usually 3/4" high with normal action, special attention to scale length and neck length determined by the rim size and sound potential, along with other considerations.

 

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DeCava Banjos
Phone: 203-243-4036
Email Us: jim@decavabanjos.com