Edward Victor Dick built his first wooden bodied banjo hybrid instrument in 1996. As a banjo player and a guitar builder, he had been pondering this idea for a couple of decades. He chose a teardrop mandolin body style with walnut back & sides, cedar top, and a mahogany 5-string style banjo neck with a 25.4” scale. He used a guitar style X bracing and pin bridge.
He coined and copywrited the name “banjola” for this new instrument.
This first banjola was sold to noted songwriter and musicologist, Dick Weissman, who introduced Edward to another hybrid wooden bodied instrument built circa 1890 by the August Pollmann Company. This instrument differed from Edward’s design in that it had a smaller body, shorter scale, floating bridge, tailpiece, and was ladder braced. The name given to it was “mandolin banjo”.
Weissman complained that this instrument didn’t intonate properly and wasn’t very loud. He thought Edward’s “banjola” was a vast improvement in both tone and playability.
In 1998 Edward built his first 6-string banjola. His intention was to expand the range of the instrument (tuning gGCgcd) while still retaining a unique non-guitar-like sound. He enlarged the body and widened the neck to accommodate 6 strings. The short string was now the 6th. Sound clips of both this instrument as well as the 5-string version can be found on a CD he produced in 1999 entitled “Taptones”.
In 2007 Edward redesigned both his 5 and 6-string banjolas, enlarging the bodies even further. In February 2008 Ken Perlman did another review of the redesigned Banjola in the Banjo Newsletter.
At that time, harkening back to his training as a lute builder, he also began building nylon string banjolas.
He has also built several Petite models (19” scale).