Tom Nechville opens Banjos West in Sisters, Oregon

Tom Nechville, banjo innovator and founder, designer, and builder of the pioneering Nechville banjos, has found the perfect activity since leaving the company in the hands of his trusted staff in Minnesota. He’s opened a banjo shop in Sisters, OR called Banjos West.

Now Tom hasn’t retired, he still manages all the manufacturing and sales for Nechville, but he does so from his new home base in Oregon. In these days of networking and instant voice and video communication, it’s not much different than being in the next room.

Banjos West has an online component where people can purchase previously owned instruments from the comfort of their homes, plus Tom and his partner, Linda Leavitt, also welcome visitors to the shop in person to check out banjos in the Pacific Northwest. They will also be offering instructional events on site, as well as traveling to regional festivals, jams, and camps to carry the Nechville banner, and share their knowledge and passion for bluegrass and banjo music.

Linda has a background in teaching music, and will serve as the creative director at Banjos West. She been offering instruction in bluegrass singing and jamming workshops for some time, and is the on-site coordinator of the American Banjo Camp in Port Orchard, WA. In Portland she spent nearly 10 years as co-coordinator for Taborgrass, which taught adults to play bluegrass, and she has performing experience with Oregon bands Mountain Honey, the John Montgomery Band, and now with Tom in The Lois & Clark Expedition. On top of all that, Leavitt is on the Oregon Bluegrass Association board, and is the editor of the Oregon Bluegrass Express

Tom, of course, has been a banjo player his whole adult life, which is what drove his devotion to find news way to imagine and build them. His Heli-Mount design has a great many advocates in the banjo world for the way it has simplified head tensioning and changing, while also removing dozens of parts from the complicated Mastertone-style pot assembly.

He says that production is humming again at the Nechville Musical Innovations shop in Bloomington, MN after the pandemic slowdown, and that they have seen increased demand since.

With his own retail outlet. Tom can now stock the sort of models he thinks will have appeal to players who visit the shop. That includes several new Nuvo Nechville models with the integrated capo system, a factory built installation that ensures perfect capo placement at every fret. The Nuvo is used on tunneled fifth string models, which means that the fifth string can also be easily detuned below the stand high G note. This system is made with a small channel along both sides of the neck that both the integrated capo and a fifth string capo roll along when changing capo placement.

In this simple video Tom shot, you can see him play a bit and then move the capo from one fret to the next with no tuning distortion at each move, even to the top of the fingerboard.

Tom says that he currently has four new Nuvo Nechville models in stock at Banjos West, and that this is the first time he has ever had them available for immediate sale. The Nuvo capo system has been available for years, but only on custom orders. He says that he is very pleased to have some for ready purchase, believing that this system has an obvious application for serious players, which they will realize once they are able to see it and try it out in person.

If you are interested in banjos and bluegrass music in Oregon, Nechville Banjos West should be on your list of sites to visit.

More information is available online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.