When you’re a legendary banjo player and have accumulated a whole room full of spare banjo parts over the years, what do you do? Well, if you’re Sonny Osborne, you fool around and put them together until you have a darn good banjo. A year or two ago, Osborne realized that he had enough parts laying around in his garage to actually build a few banjos. He decided the first one he built sounded good and needed to be played, so he handed it over to up-and-coming picker Lincoln Hensley. Eventually, this led to Osborne and Hensley coming together to create their own new line of banjos, all modeled after this first “spare parts” model, and christened KRAKO.
Osborne Brothers fans will likely remember the name Krako from Sonny’s many years on the road. Krako was, according to Sonny, the demon who was to blame for all of his banjo missteps – tuning problems, broken strings, and so on. In honor of Krako, all KRAKO banjos include clever engravings of a demon (sometimes playing the banjo) courtesy of Greg Rich. Although the KRAKO banjos can be made to customers’ specifications, standard features include maple rims, necks, and resonators, a 20 hole flathead tone ring, and a gold pot assembly – similar to a Gibson Granada. Osborne’s and Hensley’s signatures are inlaid on the neck at the 15th and 21st frets, respectively, and both musicians also sign the inside of the resonator.
KRAKO banjos are assembled entirely in the United States, with Tim Davis serving as the builder. Osborne and Hensley act as quality control on each banjo, checking the set-up and other features a dedicated picker would know to look for. Six KRAKO banjos have already been delivered, with numbers three through six (and all banjos going forward) following the standard features listed above. The wait list is already more than a year out. Photos and videos of the first six can be seen on the KRAKO Banjos website for those interested in the look and sound.
For those price-conscious folks out there, the KRAKO banjo is reasonable for an American-made instrument, coming in under the $3500 mark. That’s a great value, especially for something signed off on by Sonny Osborne himself.
P.S. – Sonny, Lincoln, Greg, and Tim – I’d be glad to do a full product review if you’d like to send one my way. 😊