The LouZeeŽ Banjo -- great sounding banjos with a strange sounding name.
Those of you who visit this site regularly will recall reading about Mike Longworth. Mike was the head inlay man for the Martin guitar company for many years, as well as being their historian. He was also a good friend of mine. Mike passed away in January of 2003, but not before he could apply his expertise as a luthier to the design of just one more instrument.
In October of 2002, Tony Pass and I went to visit Paul Hopkins in Shelbyville, Tennessee, right after the IBMA convention. That night, there was an historical meeting between Paul, Ron Satterfield, Tony, Mike, David Hopkins, Lee Nease and myself. The subject was these banjos.
To understand what was about to take place, you need to know some background information. Paul Hopkins' name should be familiar to most of you. He owns the RB-4 that Earl Scruggs used to record "Ground Speed" on the Foggy Mountain Banjo album. This banjo is a phenomenal instrument. Paul purchased this instrument from Mike. Tony needs no introduction. Lee Nease is a machinist who makes the Hopkins-McPeake tone rings and the Hopkins Flathead tone rings -- as well as a fine banjo player. Ron Satterfield runs Nashville Plating Service. David Hopkins is Paul's son, and a fine banjo player and setup man as well.
That evening Mike announced the idea of making a banjo that had a fine sound but a strange name, so that it would be the sound, not the name, that sold it. He detailed the idea of a special tone ring, which was a development of one that had been submitted as a prototype to Martin and some other manufacturers years before. When he said the name was to be "LouZee," we did not know what to think.
The banjos were to have the Tony Pass Lost TimbreŽ rims, the new special tone rings, and other deluxe accoutrements.
Sadly, Mike passed away before he could see these banjos actually come to light. However, they are here now and may be viewed at the LouZeeŽ web site.
My LouZeeŽ DeLuxe Plus
My LouZeeŽ DeLuxe Plus is one terriffic banjo! It features walnut neck and resonator, ebony fingerboard, engraved hardware, chrome plating and a maple rim (Tony Pass Lost Timbre). Friends, after extensive A/B testing against Paul's RB-4, I can tell you this -- it sounds so much like Paul's banjo, it's scary.
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Many well-informed banjo players have joined the "LouZeeŽ Gang" since they first appeared. Look for the ads in Banjo Newsletter!
LouZeeŽ banjos are carefully crafted in the D P Hopkins facilities near Shelbyville, Tennessee.
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©2006 Bill Palmer. All rights reserved. For permission to republish contact Bill Palmer. The opinions expressed on this page are strictly Bill Palmer's. Mastertone, Stelling and the other brand and model names are the property of the manufacturers and other people who own them.