About Me and Banjos


Dennis at Bob Rock's workbench     I remember being in Bob Rock’s blacksmith’s shop when I was about 10 or 12 years old. He was a real “hammer and anvil” blacksmith that hand built four wagons and a two-wheeled cart that I used on the dairy farm where I was raised. On one visit to Bob’s place, he took me upstairs to his banjo shop and showed me where he made over 800 banjos. I’ve always liked the sound of a banjo. Something about that day just stuck in my mind. I thought, “I could do that someday.”

     Fast forward through years of shop class, experiences with the foundry, lathe, welder and torch. Add my hobbies of stained glass, bending wood for “Oval Shaker Boxes” and woodcarving. Prior to starting D&D Enterprises, my jobs included working in a metal fabrication shop, assembly line work, and construction building decks, enclosures, and kitchens. All this and more fit together to make me feel very well prepared to make banjos.

     In 2009, I found a Bob Rock Tenor and then one of his 5 Strings. This further fueled my desire to build banjos. I had the good fortune of being introduced to Bob’s nephew, Eugene “Corky” Wyrick of Woodsong Banjos. Corky helped Bob work on banjos, then went on to make 142 more.  He added modern improvements which made the banjos neck more adjustable, as well as created the elusive sound the bluegrass players are seeking.  The banjos also evolved to include more inlay options.  Corky IS a true craftsman who now has moved into creating sculptures.

     My opportunity to build banjos came about from this relationship with Corky. He invested time into teaching me art of banjo building. I could not have asked for a better teacher. Corky has been a friend, and he still takes time to answer my questions as there is always more to learn.

     As I built my first banjo, I took time to make jigs and templates to make the next ones faster and more consistent. After Corky finished his last banjo, I was honored to receive some of Bob’s and Corky’s tooling. I have added a propane-fueled trough for bending bands; jigs for bending and gluing; fixtures to make the heel cut on the Bridgeport mill; vacuum templates for Mountain banjo tops and bottoms; and patterns for sand casting the tone rings.

     I am committed to developing my banjo-building skills, and expanding deeper into areas such as engraving, wire inlay and scroll design.  Time is a challenge as I am also committed to my marriage, construction business, several Christian youth organizations, and church. However, building banjos has given me some cherished quiet time alone to reflect on keeping the most important things first.

     Although not banjo related, check out the video below showing my construction trailer that I designed and fabricated. I always enjoy a challenge.