Banjos with wooden bodies and soundboards date back at least to the 19th century. In the 1890's an instrument called a mandoline-banjo was sold by August Pollmann. Pollmann was a distributor of mostly brass instruments at the time and there is evidence to suggest that these instruments were actually built in Sweden. Check out the History Gallery for detailed photos of this instrument and the many discussed on this page.

Another name used to describe these unusual hybrid instruments was the banjo-lute. It's important to differentiate these instruments from another important instrument that is typically called a banjo mandolin.

The History Gallery

The term banjola was created by Edward Victor Dick in 1996 to describe his own version of a banjo mandola hybrid. It differed from the Pollmann instruments by having a larger body, a longer scale length, and employing a guitar style pin bridge. These innovations give his instruments greater volume and a more robust tone than the Pollmanns. The original prototype was purchased by noted songwriter and musicologist Dick Weissman.

It seems that the name "banjola" was also used as early as 1981 to describe a 4 string wooden bodied version of a tenor banjo built by Irish luthier Paul Doyle. Goldtone claims to also have independently invented the name in 2001 to describe their Asian manufactured 5 string instruments.

One of these early examples of an Victor banjola was reviewed by Ken Perlman in the Banjo Newsletter in May 1998.

In 1998 Edward built his first 6 string banjola. His intention was to expand the range of the instrument to that of the guitar (tuning gGCgcd). Examples of both this instrument as well as the 5 string version can be found on his 1999 Taptones cd. It was at this time that EVD also copywrited the name "Banjola."

In 2007 Edward redesigned both his 5 and 6 string banjolas, enlarging the bodies even further. He introduced several new models including a long neck version. In February 2008 Ken Perlman did another review of the redesigned Banjola in the Banjo Newsletter.

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All articles and photos used with permission.