About Us

Functional design, comfort and playability make Nechvilles stand apart. and that’s why we are so popular with experienced players who usually already own nice regular banjos. Many have heard about Nechville, but they get more interesting the closer you look.

Originating in the mid 1980s, Nechville Musical Products has blossomed into a world leader of banjo innovation and design. As a fully integrated manufacturer of several styles of banjos, Nechville holds patents on Helical mounted or Heli-mount banjos. Nechville is also responsible for the newest  trend in banjos known as Flex-Tones. This gives traditionally made hook and nut style banjo bodies a chance to live on, mounted to an adjustable Nechville neck via the patented “Flux Capacitor” neck connection. Nechville has not only advanced the modern banjo, but introduced new improvements to the Bluegrass, Old-time and Traditional worlds. FLUX-Mounted necks have given openback and traditional bluegrass players infinitely more control over their set up and playing style while adding the benefit of portability. With Nechville’s neck system, the action is easily adjustable and the neck pops off for easy packing and travel.

Every component of the banjo has been evaluated  and optimized for top performance by Nechville. For example, The Enterprise Bridge is uniquely shaped, weighted and measured for repeatable in-tune performance. The Nechville Inline Tailpiece offers more efficient string vector pull with fewer parts and no need for fasteners. Nechville re-engineered the armrest for beveled comfort in gorgeous figured woods. Nechville necks are optimized for glitch free performance with perfect conical radius fingerboard and perfectly dressed frets. The many conveniences and  sound freeing aspects of “Heli-mount-ing ” the tone ring and head as opposed to a banjo held together with 80 or more extra parts are truly “revolutionary” to anyone familiar with the old, heavy, standard banjos. Nechville’s Top-of-the-line offers his own patented “Capo-bility” system. A complete built-in capo that is always there and goes to every fret including the zero fret without retuning.

Nechville designed accessories are also available such as the all new dual pickup, three control, banjo amplification system called the  Crescendo Acoustic Harness. The Nechville factory is now equipped with state-of -the-art turning and machining facilities for producing the world’s best precision tone rings. Distributor and builder inquiries are invited. Straps, caps, shirts, capos, expert service and parts, as well as Tom’s book, The Dynamics of Banjo Sound are all a part of Nechville’s offerings. If you are a collector of Gibsons or some other traditional name banjo, you may also want to inquire with Tom about his Vintage Collection.

Nechville fulfills the needs of all performers from the grass roots all the way to top entertainers with their high quality, thought-out and trouble-free designs. Steve Martin continues to expand the profile of the banjo with his custom Nechville Orion resonator banjo. New solutions developed by Nechville originally for Bela Fleck,  Alison Brown and the Dixie Chicks have helped open doors to banjo popularity.  Nechville has custom designed banjos for the hit Broadway musical, “Once”. The Meteor Electric Banjo continues to project the banjo’s sound into millions of  ears through top country groups like Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Springsteen’s band, Zac Brown, The Hollies, Big & Rich and others.

Brief History

Nechville started in Tom’s home garage shop in the 1980’s. Early prototypes of the Heli-mount banjo were introduced in Nashville in 1989 and sales began slowly in the 90’s. Tom moved into an office/shop headquarters converted from a 1930’s farmhouse in 2001. The location served them well for a few years until the city purchased the Nechville building due to street widening in 2005, paving the way for an expansion into a more productive factory/warehouse and office.

The current home of Nechville Musical Products is a 13,000 sq foot industrial / office / retail building located at 9700 Humboldt Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55431.

The latest Nechville expansion was the acquisition of Woodhaven Industries, The nation’s top tone ring producer. Now NMP is geared for OEM Tone ring production giving Nechville a firm vertical integration in the growing banjo market.

The goal of Nechville Musical Products is to innovate to meet the changing needs of modern musicians. Reducing nearly seventy parts of a traditional banjo to two has benefited thousands of Heli-Mount  players with time saving and purer banjo sound. Tom’s electric banjos and pickups continue to find solutions and feed the evolution of the banjo. Nechville is eager to build the instrument you’ve been dreaming about.

In Support of Emily Yates

You may have already seen the video about Emily Yates getting arrested with her banjo. If not, you need to watch this video that led to her arrest where she was being very reasonable and peaceful then suddenly got violently cuffed and dragged away.  It is extremely upsetting. Have they changed the constitution to outlaw peaceful assembly and freedom of speech while I have been away?
She is right, apparently we live in a police state. I am amazed and shocked at the injustice done. At the same time I deeply admire her courage to stand up and publicize the sad state into which America has fallen. Not having been an activist to date, I live like most Americans, slightly aware, but indifferent to most stories about rights violations. This arrest, however, involving someone I know personally and furthermore a banjo, jars me from my complacency.
I am not as courageous and influential as Emily, but at least I can broadcast my opinion. If they come after me, I too will go down unwillingly. For now I will use my rights as a US citizen to speak out. I hold conservative values and I am optimistic about music and its abilty to de-fuse conflict. This video is an amazing and eye-opening look at what America MUST NOT BECOME. Why is this not on the front page news?  This story is real, provoking news that needs to be in America’s focus. Violence and the fear of terrorism is the lifeblood of the media, It’s time we put things in perspective and heard some raw truth.Probably 99.999% of people are not terrorists, so why all the fear? Do you cower at the thought of being hit by falling space junk? Our chances of being a victim of a Muslim extremist attack is about the same. I am not against reasonable security measures, but overblown fear has lead to everything from airport delays to restriction of our constitutional rights as clearly evidenced in the video. Fear mongering has been counterproductive to the economy and blinded us to potential solutions.

Her reason for being on that public land was presumably in protest to further US military involvement in Syria. I think most Americans would agree that sending troops to that volatile region without a clear objective would risk worsening and prolonging the suffering there. Neither should we turn our backs and say nothing. In this information age, there are millions of people who can share ideas and offer solutions. Why can’t the US use its massive resources and governmental influence to provide citizens, diplomats and concerned parties in an information driven template for sifting out the best global solutions? If the priorities of the conflicting parties are computed along with the top solutions, a template for specific action can be drawn up and even enforced if necessary at some future point as an extreme last resort. As things are today, we as a country have no business sticking our arsenal in their faces without any sort of clear plan of action. Our diplomatic forces need to listen to all sides of the conflict and sort it out. The tools are right there in front of us.  America, we can become a freer society while telling the rest of the world that we care. I think the computer and internet has given all of us a voice, and I hope we will use it.
Emily  has done us a great service. I hope she wins a huge lawsuit against the arresting agency.
There is more to be said about this, but if you agree, please do something, you can contribute to her defense fund at this link: Emily Yates Defense Fund.

The Pro’s Guide to Heli-Mount Banjos

Heli-Mount banjo design

Much has been written about the benefits of Helically mounted banjos, or Heli-Mounts. But if you have not tuned in to Nechville.com lately or have not viewed our banjo setup videos, you may not be aware of the amazing simplicity and versatility of Nechville’s design.

The Reasons for Helical Mounting

The main acoustical reason for helical mounting is the separation of structural components from the acoustic components of a banjo. In a standard bluegrass banjo, the neck is directly connected to the rim and tone ring imparting mechanical stresses and interference to the pure tone of a rim / tone ring that is mounted without connections to metal parts.

The many side benefits to helical mounting add up to make it the clearly superior method of banjo construction. Tone component changes and adjustments are quick and easy plus the Heli-Mount frame provides an easy, secure, adjustable and removable neck connection.

Head Adjustment

You may have heard of the Heli-Mount’s unique ability to switch heads in 2 minutes or less.  The threaded flange is the only moving part responsible for tensioning the head. Perfect concentricity, and perfectly even tension is applied automatically to the head.

This sets Nechville in a league of its own when it comes to clarity and evenness of tone and volume on every spot of the fingerboard. You turn the 2 pinion wrenches counter-clockwise to tighten the head. Since you are applying tension around the entire perimeter of the head, you will have to turn both wrenches with sufficient force to bring the head up to the desired level.

Use of Drum Dial

A dial indicator mounted on a base, called a Drum Dial, is useful in determining the approximate ideal tension for the head. If you tighten until the dial reads 90 -92 you are in the Bluegrass head tension range. If you can hear the pitch of a tight head, some players try to tighten it until the G# note predominates.

You can also use the top of the tension hoop as a rough guide when using a medium crown Remo head. When in the proper range of tension, there is only about .1″ between the top of the tension hoop and the surface of the head.


Choice of Bridge and Placement

You probably have a bridge that came with the banjo or an alternate bridge that you plan to use. There are many reasons to consider a higher bridge, and so I generally suggest bridges that are 11/16″ or taller.

Be sure that the bridge you choose is radiused to match the curvature of the frets, and be sure that the 3rd string is correctly intonated especially high up the neck. I strongly suggest the use of only Enterprise compensated bridges for Nechville banjos. Place the bridge using the 19th fret harmonic and match the fretted note at that location. If the action is too high or low, you will address that in the next step, and you will need to re-intonate the bridge for proper placement once the neck is finally set.

Neck Angle and Truss Rod Adjustment

The neck needs to be in the proper angle to achieve perfect action, plus the shape of the neck’s bow must simultaneously be correct for the playability to be optimal.  If you hold the taut string against the fingerboard at the 1st and last fret and inspect the distance between the string and the middle frets, It should only be about .01 or the thickness of a business card.  Some people go a little more or less and the neck angle can be set accordingly.

With a straighter neck, the neck angle needs to be a little shallower, raising the action so strings do not buzz. More bow means that neck angle can be set back for more uniform playability from low positions to high. Intonation problems tend to crop up more when the neck is too bowed, so I suggest straighter necks with fairly low action down low and gradually getting higher as you go up the neck.

Tailpiece Adjustments

The Nechville inline tailpiece has down, left right and forward back adjustments through turning the set screws on the back of tailpiece. You may want to check the note that comes from the tailpiece side of the strings and get it to match a higher octave of one of the string’s harmonics. I use that 19th fret note and try to bring the tailpiece back far enough to get that note behind the bridge.


If strings are slightly off center, you can turn either the left or right set screw until the strings line up as desired. Downward pressure generally should be minimal for fuller sound. Tightening the center set screw brings tailpiece lower, sharpening the sound and lowering the action slightly (which is another micro action adjustment to keep in your bag of tricks).


Once you have snugged up the head and set the neck for perfect action, you can be confident that your HELI-MOUNT WILL GIVE YOU COUNTLESS HOURS OF FUN and entertainment.

The Banjo Dream

tb11cBeing a banjo player you are like me in certain respects, especially concerning the banjo. We can’t tolerate anything being out of sorts for the most enjoyable and  confident playing. Even the look and feel of the instrument needs to be right for the experience to be its best. It’s my job to fulfill banjo dreams.  Whether that means fixing those irritating problems through a professional tune-up or providing a whole new banjo, we can agree that it’s more fun to play with the right equipment.

When I dream, the banjo often recreates itself in my mind. Nothing about the instrument need be held as sacred in the fantasy world of recreational invention. But assuming we are bluegrass musicians, let’s start dreaming on the iconic image of “banjo” that for many of us may be a 1934 Gibson flathead five string. The old flat heads that have withstood the test of time, still sing with a timeless voice that defines the classic sound of the instrument.

In your dream let’s say you pick up this imaginary instrument a garage sale for $100 tb11band you are thrilled. After playing it for a little while you notice that its weight begins to drag you down. Your dream instantly provides you with a lighter weight flat head of the same vintage with the similar character of sound. Your playing commences only to be interrupted by the thought that the neck was profoundly narrow for your style and hand shape.  Poof! The neck widens into a shape that makes chokes and slides effortless.

The shape of the fingerboard raises up slightly down the center of the fingerboard almost to meet the strings. Your left hand is now more comfortable than ever, but you notice that the old bridge is saggy and certain notes don’t ring with the same pure sound.  Poof! The bridge grows taller, especially in the middle and you find clarity of every note until you find the third string going sharp. Poof! The bridge reshapes to provide correct compensation and all is well again.

tb11ASuddenly one of the strings pops out of the bridge slot because the tailpiece is was apparently originally designed for a narrower 4 string banjo.  Poof! The tailpiece widens so that each string has the ideal straight line break angle over the bridge, and your dream goes on until dark when the dew appears on the wildflowers.

In the moist air the fingerboard swells causing low action and string buzz, the one way truss rod suddenly becomes a dual action rod solving yet one more problem. Your dream calls you to fly to a foreign land to play. Poof! With one twist of a tool, the neck pops off and you carry your banjo through customs nestled safely in your suitcase. Upon reassembly you find that the neck has a range of adjustment adaptable to any height bridge or string height and you quickly find the perfect neck angle for buttery action, and the party begins.

Your dream is interrupted by a smart phone alarm. It is Al Price with some great news from Nechville. An all-original 1934 TB-11 one- piece flange pot was recently decked out with a matching new Nechville neck. This is a Pre-war flathead without all the weight of a full tone ring. The brass top on the 11’s old 3 ply maple rim is about 3 pounds lighter than other banjos in the Mastertone family. The wide radiused frets and compensated bridge remind you of your dream. You realize that your dream has come true when you hear about the flux-mounted neck and comfort bevel armrest provided on this dreamy hybrid of a banjo.

It’s here, It’s real, It’s a dream come true for one lucky picker. Now available from tb11dNechville for the honest value price of $4999.99. Let’s add one penny for shipping to make a round figure.

Please note that the same banjo with lesser necks have been sold for 3 to five times the price with the simple modification of adding a pre-war style tone ring. Nechville builds authentic pre-war spec tone rings and professionally installs them in our custom shop. Personally, I think it is better to keep this pot original but we have the know-how and the best tone rings to take it to that next level if you want.

If this banjo or one that pops into YOUR dreams tickles your fancy, please contact me or Al.


This story brought to you by the Banjo Revolution.

Contact [email protected]

or Call 612-275-6602

See and hear and learn more at www.nechville.com

Amplify Your Banjo for Stage Performance

Banjo has become a hot instrument in many modern groups where the term bluegrass is just not big enough to define it. New folk and rock acts are erupting in live venues everywhere. As role of the banjo expands, more players are finding need for powerful amplification without the troubles associated with playing through a microphone.

Banjo pickups have been around a long time. There are several easy methods of picking up the sound of the banjo, especially through Piezo transducers, and magnetic pickups. Specialized microphones are also in common use. It’s traditionally been a problem solved differently by nearly every musician finding the need for amplification. While at this point, no one solution seems to prevail.

The problem with most banjo pickups is that the transducing element, whether it is piezo, magnetic or microphonic has its limitations. In order to reproduce a more natural and lifelike acoustic tone, a combination of sources is advantageous. The issue has gotten the attention of some of the industries top designers.

Urged on by Nechville, EMG has recently unveiled a new banjo sensor a that has a more natural, yet big and fat sound. Nechville has combined this newest pickup in a dual pickup “acoustical harness” giving players infinitely more control over their sound than before. Heli-mount owners will be glad to learn that Nechville is incorporating the EMG component into a completely new dual pickup solution for all banjo players. Called the Crescendo Acoustic Harness (TM), Nechville expects availability by year end. The harness will have an outboard clip on housing containing magnetic volume, acoustic volume, tone control, battery and ¼” jack. The internal harness installs under the head in seconds, and quick connect wires mean no soldering. It comes with everything needed for quick installation, (except the 9 volt battery).

Nechville Musical Products is a top producer of modern and traditional banjos, electric banjos and all kinds of supporting accessories for banjoists. EMG is a leading guitar pickup manufacturer based in Santa Rosa, California.

Contact [email protected] for more information or call 952-888-9710. www.nechville.com

Fame Alert- Steve Martin Boosting the Banjo’s Profile

The comedy of entertainer Steve Martin has been a part of American life for 4 decades. We all know his hilarious movies and abilities as master of ceremonies at the award shows. He’s more than a comedian, actor and writer; he’s a true American icon and musician. Who would have thought that this untouchable star would descend to Earth and start hanging out with us banjo players?

As a player and specifically a builder, I run into the world’s best players from time to time. I am friends with several superior players. While these players represent my own personal stars, you might see the greatest banjo player in the world walking around in public without worrying about the paparazzi. The world of great banjo players exists at very much a grassroots level. The banjoist’s world represents the antithesis to glitzy Hollywood fanfare. All the players I know display an earthy and honest approach to life.

As an average Joe, my view of Hollywood is limited to supermarket pop tabloids and magazine covers. It’s an imaginary world so far from home that I don’t want to know too much about it. Thankfully there are those in the limelight of fame who are unafraid to become known to a wider grassroots populace. Steve Martin has shown us a passion for banjo music that is making a huge difference in how bluegrass and acoustic music is perceived and appreciated.

Martin has spent a lot of time touring the last several years with The Steep Canyon Rangers, a talented North Carolina bluegrass band. If you have not yet experienced their show, you are missing some great entertainment. Being dubbed Entertainer of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association is a fitting honor.  Not because Steve Martin is actually bringing anything new to the genre. His love of the music shines through in his well-arranged performances.

It’s this same joy of playing that has hooked thousands of bluegrass and acoustic players worldwide that he shares with the rest of us. Audience members attracted by Martin who may not have otherwise been in attendance likewise begin to catch the spirit of this joyful artform. To be sure, Steve’s sense of humor and jokes make the show extra entertaining, but his biggest impact is opening the eyes and ears of a much wider group of people. (Not that bluegrass fans aren’t wide enough.)

Martin’s belief that bluegrass, oldtime and new-age banjo playing, is underappreciated in the world led him to further the cause by sponsoring an unprecedented annual banjo excellence award. A panel of a few of the world’s best players help determine the most deserving candidates. In 2010 Noam Pikelney received the $50,000 prize for being a great technical player and a blossoming example of what the future may bring to the music. In 2011 Sammy Shelor, a veteran traditional player got his well-deserved recognition for his contributions to bluegrass. And in 2012 Mark Johnson, innovative clawhammer stylist combining the old-time techniques with more contemporary material led to his award. Not only does the financial award inspire and encourage the musicians, but it delivers well-deserved national attention through exposure to millions on the Letterman show and elsewhere.

On behalf of all banjo players across the globe, I’d like to heartily thank Mr. Martin for his love of the music, and his willingness to support players of this wonderful instrument in such a generous and meaningful way.  Here is an example of one Hollywood star who follows his passions and is making a difference in a “real world” way.

The Growth of Acoustic Music

The general impression of what I have seen in my travels the past few years is that Acoustic music is flourishing in many parts of the world. While recorded music sales have undergone a huge change with the advent of digital music, handmade acoustic music has grown through presentation at live festival events, along with a widening of participation as “jammers” and hobby musicians.

Music has proven to be a fulfilling and fun social event for all ages and such acoustic music including folk and traditional continues to spread at the Grass roots level. While mainstream media does not highlight this music much, increasing awareness of folk and acoustic alternatives has a positive effect upon acoustic instrument sales. In particular, the banjo has been on an upswing, and sales of Nechville banjos have been strong through the slow economy of the last few years. Sales statistics show all fretted string instruments on the rise.

The vast majority of banjos are relatively low quality imports from the far east, and many players that stick with banjo are now in the market for a better banjo. Nechville is becoming a clearer choice due to their unique and sensible high quality designs. I see plenty evidence that participatory social music of Bluegrass, Folk and Oldtime is here to stay. As more and more people discover the enjoyment and challenge of learning to play, our jamming circle will soon extend around the world.

Remembering Liz Meyer

Liz Meyer will live on in her music , in her friends, and in the mark she left on the world. Liz never gave up hope during her long battles with cancer. She never stopped working and she con-tinued to correspond with all who reached out until the end.


I was fortunate to have gotten help from Liz several times when planning trips to Europe. She was central to the European Bluegrass scene and was a great connector of people. Even while bedridden, she would do her work that she was passionate about. She didn’t say “Why Me?” She simply forged on despite the pain and cancer. We all face mortality, but I don’t know anyone who faced it with such courage and strength. She was in no shape to appear in per-son at the EWOB festival last June, but she did. It was amazing. Even her obvious pain would not diminish her smile.

Liz, an awesome musician and song-writer was loved by so many Interna-tionally, and was such a valuable and central link between thousands in Bluegrass worldwide. When people like Liz are taken from us, it charges us with a new directive; to live on with-out fear but to face our challenges head on.


Thanks to Liz for all she has done and for her inspiration. Finally a bit of a rest for another hero. Thanks also to Pieter who stood by her side always, and went through these battles in nearly as painful of a way. Thanks Pieter for all you did to prolong her life so long. And thanks for having me in your home twice when I was last in Europe, The time I spent with Liz could not have been any better. Tom Nechville



New Old Banjos At Nechville

We recently acquired a couple of interesting old banjos here at Nechville that we are offering up for sale:

Gibson TB-11 (Prewar)

1930’s one piece Flange Pre-War TB-11. Original pot , resonator, tailpiece. Original neck included with brand new Flux Mounted Matching color (blue) Nechville neck with Flying eagle inlay.

It has the original Pre-war sound, but much lighter weight.  Full and powerful sounding.Could be fit with Flathead ring, currently with original Brass hoop

Detailed photos at: www.banjorev.com/tb11.htm

$6500  Please call Tom at the shop (952-888-9710) for more information.


Gibson RB3 Wreath (1989)

Gibson RB-3 Wreath Rich-era Prewar copy. Traded for and recently customized in the Nechville shop.

It has been upgraded with Nechville’s patented neck connector, the Flux Capacitor for improved tone and enhanced adjust-ability. Warm with good tone.

Detailed pictures: www.banjorev.com/tb3.htm

$2600  Please call Tom at the shop (952-888-9710) for more information.


Telluride 2011

It was great traveling with Jane; graciously she didn’t complain about driving while I did banjo set up and sales work in the car. We arrived Wednesday night and checked into Mountain Lodge at the top of the gondola ride. We set up our booth space and had a bit more room this year as there were fewer sponsors and I had room for 11 banjos and accessories. It was busy all day Thursday and Friday. We sold a meteor and a used Helimount and Sunday sold another meteor to a Denver artist and a Phantom to a player from Toronto. My banjo was played in a video shot on board the gondola,we got pretty good exposure and collected e mail addresses.

I hoped to reach out to more popular players, like Winston from Mumford and Sons. I Hung out with Winston last year. He is a rock star, but I treated him like an apprentice, not really aware of his high profile popularity. When we met he was interested in picking up more playing techniques and I was happy showing him my way of  playing. I thought we had developed a good friendship very quickly, and I expected that my instruments and banjo knowledge had sufficiently impressed him so that he would followup and request a banjo or at least open that conversation.

Somewhere along the way I must have said something that he took as an insult, although, I never held a negative thought about him and don’t know exactly what I may have said that turned him away, but a year went by and I saw him again over the Telluride 2011 weekend. I told him I had been hoping to show him my  instruments and give him more info about what we do. He said he’d come by my booth on Sunday. So he did, he brought a whole entourage accompanied by Dobro God Jerry Douglas.

Winston grabbed a banjo and began thrashing it like I have never heard. The volume was deafening but having grabbed a Heli-Mount that was set up well, the tone held up nicely to his boisterous style. I chalked that up to his Rock and roll persona and was slightly amused, not realizing that I was being ambushed. I offered banjo after banjo for Winston and his buddies to shred.

The climax of their little jam had Winston on electric 6 string with the bottom strings having been dislodged by enthusiastic strumming so that they clacked together with a weird distorted buzz, but he seemed to like it. Before I could say a word they had left as suddenly as they arrived, except for Jerry.

As I was assessing the damage, Jerry said, “Tom Nechville!”. Surprised by Jerry’s friendly salutation, I turned to him and got scolded for dis- respecting Mr. Country Winston. Jerry said that Winston said that I had twice indicated to Winston that he was not a very good banjo player. I thanked Jerry profusely for his kindness in making me aware of my faux pas. Now that we have properly disrespected each other, all is right in the world again, except for the finishes on my banjos.

But I can make more, and It was worth it, being able to entertain the banjo player who is likely seen by more people than anybody on the planet. I am glad for the opportunity to prove that Nechville banjos can take a slamming and keep on Jamming.