It all started with Greg and Janet Deering’s friendship with John Hartford, a friendship that began over 30 years ago when Greg worked with John to design and build his first signature Hartford Model banjo. John’s Deering low banjo was an iconic part of his sound for many years and was an inspiration for many banjo players. Alison was one of those inspired by John’s unique voice on the banjo. As a proud owner of John’s prototype Deering low banjo, a long time friend of the Hartford family, as well as a fellow San Diegan, it seemed fitting for Alison to reach out to the Deerings to collaborate on an updated version of John’s original low banjo.
The new Julia Belle Banjo is a testament not only to Alison’s friendship with John, but also to his music and his art. John actually attended art school and over the course of his life made countless sketches of the things that he loved including the riverboats which fascinated him. The Hartford family graciously gave Alison permission to peruse their personal collection of his sketches, allowing her to choose the images that spoke to her. As she poured over John’s drawings, the design concept for the new banjo took shape.
When Alison discovered John’s enigmatic sketch of a woman in a flowing dress she knew the new banjo needed to be called The Julia Belle. The mysterious, faceless lady fits perfectly on the peghead and has been brought to life with with flowing copper hair and an elegant blue dress. John’s sketch of Captain Trone, the captain of the famous Mississippi riverboat The Julia Belle Swain and the man who taught John to pilot the paddlewheeler, adorns the third fret and an inlay based on an original pattern from the now famous riverboat adorns the rear of the peghead and also frames Alison’s signature. One of John’s riverboat sketches is inlaid at the 12th fret and, at the 22nd fret, the name Julia Belle is immortalized in John’s own handwriting.
Tonally, The Julia Belle is specifically designed to shine when played in lower tunings such as E or D, though she does sound wonderful when played in standard G tuning. She is made of mahogany which brings out a beautiful warmth, and also boasts a radiused fingerboard and a brand new head design by Evans that recreates the fat, full tones of the original 5 Star heads. This head is a bit thicker than a standard head and that helps to bring out the deeper tones that Alison loves in a banjo
We inspect each an every instrument we ship out for maximum playability. We adjust the action and adjust intonation when needed. If you would like a specific adjustment, just add it to your order notes and we would be happy to adjust to your liking.
The exact appearance of new instruments vary. These photos may not be of the actual instrument you will be receiving. Actual photos available upon request.
If you would like to hear a demo of this Banjo: CLICK HERE
Beautiful “Julia Belle” Inlay in Peghead
Alison Brown Signature Inlay in Rear of Peghead
John Hartford Inspired Pearloid Fingerboard Inlays
Extended Ebony Fingerboard
Slender Deering Neck Shape
24 Glued In Nickel Silver Frets
Adjustable Truss Rod
Deering Planetary Tuners with Black Tuner Buttons
Deering Geared 5th String Tuner with Black Tuner Buttons
5th String Capo Spikes at Frets 7 and 9
Vintage Satin Finish
Deering -06- Bell Bronze Tone Ring
Deering Premium Violin Grade 3-ply Maple Rim
Brass Notched Tension Hoop
11” Custom D’Addario Banjo Head
24 Round Hooks with Hex Nuts
One Piece Cast Zinc Flange
Nickel Plated Hardware
Deering True Tone Tailpiece
5/8” Deering Smile™ Bridge
Mahogany Back and Sides
Resonator Sides Are Specially Tapered On the Inside For Projection of Tone
Resonator Back Is Accented With Black Trim
Brown Mahogany Stained Resonator Interior
Vintage Satin Finish
Tuned to in standard E tuning (e,B,E,G#,B)
End Type: Loop
e,B,E,G#,B in standard E tuning Can easily be tuned in other tunings as well.
Neck Width at the Nut 1 1/4″
Scale Length Nut to Bridge 26 1/4″
Resonator Diameter 13 7/8″
Rim Diameter 11″
Overall Instrument Length 38″
Weight Approximately 11.5lbs
Alison’s preferred string gauges for The Julia Belle (12 14 20w 24w 12) reveal a banjo with a brilliant tone that is complimented by an underlying depth and body that is irresistible.
Deering Hardshell Case Included
Important information if shipping outside of the USA:
Please note: To help insure the future availability of certain materials used in the construction of this instrument, additional fees and/or documentation may be required when shipping this item outside of the USA. This is due to the CITES treaty, which regulates international trade of certain materials like rosewood, abalone, and pearl. If you purchase this item to be shipped outside of the USA, we’ll determine whether the regulations apply to your order, and will contact you with more information if necessary