Years ago when I was spending a lot of time with Martin Simpson, the great guitarist from England, he had a Turkish Cümbüş that he had converted to a five string nylon fretless banjo. I remember that the neck had a super glue rubbed finish that was pretty cool. Martin used this Cümbüş on his amazing album, “Cool and Unusual”. The aluminum bowl has an amazing strong percussive sound and the nylon strings give it smoothness that is just, well cool and unusual.
While traveling in Italy a few years ago for a guitar Festival in Sarzana, I came across a dealer of Turkish instruments tucked in the mountain side of Cinque Terre. I bought a Cümbüş there and carried it all the way home to the US knowing someday I would convert it like Martin had done.
Robert Anderson, a renowned banjo maker, moved to Weaverville North Carolina just miles away from my home. I showed Robert the instrument and he was excited about trying something new. He had never seen a Cümbüş before but was game for the project.
Robert is a true artist who loves to do carvings and extensive inlay work. This neck was fairly simple compared to many that he does.