US grassers are rapidly getting used to the idea of bluegrass music being a truly international endeavor. It may be, and may long remain, a primarily American musical form, but important contributions from beyond our shores are a regular component of bluegrass news.
Eastern Europe in particular has witnessed an explosion of more than the music, with a number of internationally-prominent bluegrass businesses cropping up as well.
A new one is Banjolit (pronounced banjo-light), the brainchild of Slovak banjo player Richard Cifersky, who has assembled a team of inventors and entrepreneurs to create innovative products for banjo players worldwide. They include luthier Robert Neuszer, woodworker Miroslav Durai, web and app developer Jiří Markalous, electronics designer Ivan Benkovič, and banjo picker Bennett Sullivan to help conceive, design, develop and bring new products to market.
Their first is available now, a wooden banjo armrest they call Dr Arm. Designed to reduce arm fatigue and increase comfort, these are made using common banjo hardwoods (maple and mahogany), and attach quickly using an ingenious, screw-in system.
Cifersky said that the project began about a year ago, when he and Durai were discussing the idea of a wooden armrest. Both agreed that they preferred wood to metal, but neither were satisfied with what was available on the market.
“We started working on our first prototype, and did testing for couple months. I tested various radius and finish options on the wood for a month each. In the end we have our final armrest, which has a natural wax finish and a very comfortable radius.”
This video demonstrates quite nicely.
Dr Arm can be ordered for US or European delivery. The US price is $45, plus $5 shipping. More details are available online.
Richard tells us that they have more products to add soon, including an ointment made from the Comfrey plant to reduce inflammation in players who have paid or soreness issues with their hands or arms.
He is also involved in Radio Velvet, a listener-supported 24/7 streaming bluegrass radio service based in the Slovak Republic. It features a mix of hosted and automated programming, all of it 100% grass.
Check them out at radiovelvet.eu.