Ian Davidson makes electric banjos out of his home workshop in Manila. After building banjos for Wildwood Manufacturing (not to be confused with Arcata’s Wildwood Music store) in the early 2000s, Ian decided to open up his own shop circa 2009 and he’s been making them since. The process requires not only working the wood, but also wiring and installing the pickups and tuners with hand-drawn wiring diagrams. Ian’s side project is making travel banjos–something high quality that’s also smaller and a little hardier. While he has a couple good looking prototypes, he’s
run into some supply issues getting the right tuners which are no longer in production.
When I first pulled up, Ian came out sporting a grin and a surfer vibe. “Are you Ian?”
“Yes! Come on in!” I got to take a tour of his space and we sat down for a few minutes talking about how he started and where his craft has taken him. For Ian, the move to Humboldt was living the dream, where he could have his own workshop, walk out the back door with his own trail to the beach, and be in an area full of
like-minded creatives. His banjos have been used by many, including Andy Thorn of Leftover Salmon, and Bela Fleck during a tour of Europe.
This is Ian’s second year participating in North Coast Open Studios. Last year, he got around a dozen visitors per day and really enjoyed getting to talk with new people about what he does.