Rural Missouri - July 2019 - 23

Because he built his first banjo, Jeremy thought it was only natural to build
his own tools for making them. Jigs for cutting neck pieces and headstocks and
forms for shaping rims line a wall of the workshop. A homemade device in the
shape of a small rocket used for pre-soaking wood and the steamer box for bending rims sit to one side. As he refines the manufacturing process for each model,
he's not afraid to branch out: a maple fretboard here, a brass Tubaphone tone
ring there and then there's the curious wooden rim full of holes that's an ongoing
experiment in how changes in air pressure affect the banjo's sound.
"I always used to say if I could start over, this is how I would do it - things
like being very meticulous about my craftsmanship," Jeremy adds. "I really want
to become an artisan."
Snowbird's only "off the rack" model is the Little Birdie, which runs $850,
although Jeremy hopes to bring the price down as he streamlines his production. Custom work starts at roughly $1,000 and runs all the way up to $3,200
for something like his own banjo, which features a kaleidoscopic inlay of brass,
copper, abalone and mother-of-pearl. The ornate inlay work is a hallmark of Jeremy's style, and all of the instruments come with a lifetime warranty.
For Jeremy, the idea of building banjos full time would only work if he was
also playing. The same path that led him from repairing instruments to creating
them is what led him from strumming classic rock riffs and thumbing old Chet
Atkins tunes to McClurg. Learning to play along with Alvie and the other regular
musicians in the old McClurg store, a place where old-time music is steeped in
musical tradition and homespun charm, was baptism by fire for the novice banjoist. But Jeremy emerged not only unscathed but inspired to improve his craft,
both as musician and luthier.
"A lot of people play for years and never get above a certain level," Jeremy
adds. "When you go down there, you get above that level."
At the same time when he's ramping up to try building resonator banjos,
Jeremy's wrapping up the recording of his first album. Like building his family's
home and planting a vineyard out back, each accomplishment is a step, in Jeremy's words, toward, "creating beauty in whatever way I can." He's drawn a lot of
inspiration from the Ozark hills, more than just walnut wood and Norton grapes,
but also a hard work ethic and the ability to sit back, pick up a piece of those
woods and pick out a tune. Amid the table saws and tone rings, the back window
of the shop looks out over the Ozark hills at birds-eye level. It's a tool just like all
of the rest for keeping the artist in touch with his muse.
"If I feel I'm getting burned out, I'll just look out there for a minute and go off
into the ether," Jeremy says. "It's inspirational. Here, it just flows."
For more information on Snowbird Banjo Co., visit www.snowbirdbanjo.com,
follow them on Facebook or call 417-543-3104.

More content inside
our digital edition
www.ruralmissouri.coop

Watch Jeremy play his song "The Old Banjo"

on www.ruralmissouri.coop.
Opposite page: Jeremy Myers makes custom old-time banjos and their bluegrass cousins at
the Snowbird Banjo Co. shop in Ava. Top right: A self-taught luthier and musician, Jeremy built
many of his own jigs and forms used for crafting instruments. This piece is used for shaping the
neck of the banjo. Right: Although he recently switched to making steam-bent wooden rims,
Jeremy cut his teeth constructing block-style rims, which involves carefully cutting, shaping and
joining individual blocks to form the instrument's body. Different rings such as those made from
walnut, left, and brass, produce different tones. Below: Jeremy cuts the company's signature
snowbird from mother-of-pearl, which will later be added to the headstock of a custom banjo.


http://www.snowbirdbanjo.com http://www.ruralmissouri.coop http://www.ruralmissouri.coop

Rural Missouri - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2019

Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - 4
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Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Cover4
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