[ ZEPP Country Music]

ZEPP Country Music, Inc.

P.O. Box 306
4 East Third St.
Wendell, NC 27591-0306
Local: 919-365-5189 or Call Toll Free within USA: 866-365-5189

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Chanterelle banjos by Mike Ramsey

Use this pull-down list to find more information about some of Mike's models that pass through here:

Mike's banjos are known for that "Deep South" sound. Want proof? Check this photo of Tom Carlson playing his Chanterelle. Can't get much souther than this!

I stock what banjos I can get from Mike, but his instruments sell very quickly, and he is a small producer (No, no, I'm not referring to the fact that he's only about 5'9, I mean he doesn't make many instruments).


  • "Student" Model.

    The affordable 12-inch open back banjo. Rolled brass tone ring.
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)


  • "Stucial"

    A one-off banjo from Mike: Half Student, half Special! Rolled brass tone ring.
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)

  • Look! Click for a brief history of the Student Model.


  • "Standard" Model.

    12-inch open back banjo. Rolled brass tone ring.
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)

  • "Standard" Fretless Model. (photo)
    The fretless version of Mike's quintessential clawhammer banjo. Just like the fretted "Standard" above, this has has a mahogany neck on a black-painted, 12-inch rim with a brass tone ring.

    This has an ebony fingerboard and peghead overlay. Mike's well known scooped neck and trademark Saturn and shooting star inlays are, of course, included. Great sound is standard at no extra cost!

    Not in stock, but available in ca. 3 years on order

  • "1024" short-scale. (photo)
    This was a new model from Mike in June of 2006. The moniker "1024" comes from the instrument's 10-inch pot and 24-inch scale, making it an "A" scale banjo, effectively..

    Much like a Standard, this model has a mahogany neck (this first one is very darkly stained; it's almost black, but not quite). The pot is painted black as is that of the Standard. Note the slight color difference between the black pot and the ever-so-slightly red neck.

    Inside that 10-inch pot is a rolled brass tone ring and an internal resonator, reminiscent of a Bacon model; which you can somewhat see through the head as well.

    The 17-fret, scooped ebony fingerboard has dot inlay, and the Chanterelle peghead has a really cool, engraved gryphon inlay!

    It came from Mike with the new Gotoh brand planetary tuners, a Renaissance head and No-Knot tailpiece; we added a Moon bridge to bring out its bass, and I think it sounds wonderful.

    An exciting new model with great tone! Just think--no more capoing at those A/D OT jams! Of course, its having a 10" pot, a standard case doesn't fit, but its price includes a Superior brand gig bag. Sold.

  • Maple "Special" Model.

    12-inch open back banjo. Flamed maple. Rolled brass tone ring.
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)

  • Ramsey Chanterelle 12-inch Slothead Cherry Special Prototype Ramsey Chanterelle 12-inch Slothead Cherry Special Prototype
    A very special Special, having a slotted peghead, spalted cherry neck, and a 12-inch cherry rim.

  • Click on either the thumbnail or the link for more photos and information.


  • "Thunderdog" Model. (photo)
    This is a new-in-2006 short scale model that Mike has introduced. The one in stock (and shown here) is the prototype.

    This prototype has a 25-inch scale, and is designed to be tuned to A or D for Old-Time. It has a highly figured maple neck with and ebony fingerboard and a unique inlay in its ebony headstock overlay. The neck is scooped above the 16th fret. It features five of the new, super-smooth Gotoh tuners.

    The 12-inch pot has a flamed maple exterior to match the neck, and has an integral shaped wooden tone rim. MP3 Sound File Hear this banjo.

    Again, this is the prototype...one of a kind. Sold.

  • The "Woody," A Wooden Tone Ring Model. (photo)
    This model was introduced in December of 1999, and was based on the "Student" model( Link to elsewhere jump to the "Student"), but having a bubinga-wood tone ring (Sorry, this is a rather large photo, but I wanted you to see this ring clearly), a wood similar to rosewood in appearance and density). The sound was great, MP3 Sound File (you can hear that very prototype here) and Mike upgraded the model to be a variant of the "Special" model ( Link to elsewhere jump to the "Special"). In 2001, Mike realized what a hit he had on his hands, and upgraded the instrument again, using fancier inlays, and that is the "Woody" you see today.

    The Woody's inlay now consists of tree motif ("Woody," get it?). He is doing a gorgeous abalone inlay of a tree on the peghead, and a cluster of acorns & leaves at the 5th fret. The 12th fret marker is a single acorn & leaves. His dots are also different, having new engraving, rather than his usual "Vega" style engraving, found on the Special, Electric, and Tu-Ba-Phone models. Unlike Mike's other 12" pots, the Woody's pot is a full 3.25" deep (compare it in the photo, where it is posing next to a "Special").

    The sound is decidedly different from that of Mike's brass-tone ring models. It is brighter, and delivers that old-time "cluck" almost effortlessly. Here is an MP3 Sound File MP3 sound file of a Ramsey Woody being played.


  • 11-inch Maple Woody Short-Scale.

    24-3/8-inch scale for easy playing in D or A without a capo. Sold
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)


  • Twelve-inch pot Maple Woody Model.

    12-inch open back banjo. Out of Stock
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)


  • Twelve-inch pot Walnut Woody Model.

    12-inch open back banjo. Out of Stock
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)


  • Ramsey 11-inch Walnut Woody w. Electric Inlay.

    11-inch open back banjo. Walnut neck, Electric inlay.
    (Click on link or on photo for more info and pictures.)


  • Some Custom Woodys (Sold, but so you can see what they look like)

    A Woody recently in stock was a Maple Woody, having a highly flamed maple neck. Its ebony fingerboard is scooped, of course. The peghead's tree inlay is especially nice. This particular banjo has 5-Star brand planetary tuners.


  • Custom Woody Fretless 12-inch (photo)
    This is a great cherry fretless that Mike tells me he intended for his own use, but decided to sell as he has bills to pay (boy, do I know that feeling!).

    Its 3-piece cherry neck has a underlain ebony heel cap, and a scooped ebony fingerboard. The ebony-overlain peghead has Mike's signature "Saturn" inlay and is fitted with 5-Star brand planetary tuners with ebony button.

    The 12-inch pot is painted black similar to the pot of a Standard or an Amish, but is thicker to allow the fitting of its a wooden tone ring

    This simple looking banjo has that dynamite "Woody sound" and plays like a dream. Mike has priced this like a Woody, but included a Golden Gate "Bump" case. SOLD.

  • "Woody Dobson". (photo)
    This one has a Dobson-style neck on a Woody pot, with a black-painted 11-inch pot and a rosewood wood tone ring. It had a simple peghead with an ebony overlay and small abalone dots as postion markers in its ebony fingerboard. It had the traditional Dobson-style heel. This one had very tasteful, black knobs on its 5-Star planetary tuners, and Mike scooped the walnut neck, of course

    This instrument was sold new in 2000, and was sold used, 4 years later in mint condition. MP3 Sound File This time, I got a recording of it!


  • "Dobson" Model.

    12-inch open back banjo. Rolled brass tone ring, white ash neck. Dobson-style aesthetics. Out of stock.
    (Click on link or photo for more info and pictures.)

  • "Amish" Model.

    12-inch open back banjo. Rolled brass tone ring and starkly simple aesthetics.
    (Click on link or photo for more info and pictures.)


  • "Bacon" Model. (photo)
    We don't often stock this model, but were lucky enough to get one in recently. It's a maple banjo with a highly flamed neck; a bound, ebony fingerboard that has an engraved squares inlay pattern with Mike's hallmark shooting star at the 5th fret, and a really cool peghead inlay. The back of the peghead shows its Gotoh brand planetary tuners. The fingerboard is scooped, of course.

    The maple pot has the famous Bacon-style tone ring, and is set up with a No-Knot tailpiece and a Renaissance head (which makes it kinda easy to see the other side of the tone ring). Video see and hear it played (8MB .wmv file: The tune is Waiting for Nancy, by Curtis Carlisle Bouterse).

    The banjo is $1500; add a hardshell case from $75 and up.
  • Out of Stock

  • "Electric" Model. (photo)
  • 11-inch Fairbanks Electric

    Fairbanks Special no. 0 inlay, mahogany neck.
    (Click on link or photo for more info and pictures.)

    Mike built a prototypical copy of the Fairbanks Electric (n.b. this was a marketing term in 1890, and had nothing to do with electricity--sort of like "cyber" or "stealth" in today's jargon) made at the beginning of this century. I liked it so much, that I couldn't sell it, so Mike was persuaded to make some more.

    This model usually has an 11-inch pot with the Electric tone ring , patented in 1890 and later made famous in the Whyte Laydies. With an authentic, engraved Special no. 0 inlay pattern (he copied the pattern from my personal, 1908 Fairbanks Imperial Electric No. 0--check the photos), ebony fingerboard, and mahogany neck, this looks very much like the original. Mike scoops the neck on his Electrics--they're a dream to play. Here is an MP3 Sound File MP3 sound file of my Ramsey Electric being played .


  • "Tu-Ba-Phone" Model. (photo) Not in stock, but available in ca. 2 years on order
    Mike has now built a prototypical banjo based on the Vega/Fairbanks Tu-Ba-Phone No. 3 banjo that was originally introduced in 1909. I've always wanted a TBP, so this first one is not for sale, but we are accepting orders for these now. BTW, you'll note from the above photo that I use and recommend Stockwell Moon Bridges.

    This model has an 11-inch maple pot (1/2-inch thick above the bracket band, 5/16ths beneath & below) with a new Ramsey Tu-Ba-Phone tone ring. The edge of the rim is bound with bubinga-wood, and there is a band of shell binding inside the pot, adjacent to the tone ring. It has 28 brackets lovingly nestled into a notched tension hoop, a No-Knot tailpiece, and a Fiberskyn head. With an authentic, engraved inlay pattern, including the famous "Flower Pot" headstock inlay, ivoroid-bound ebony fingerboard, and a 3-piece, dark-stained maple neck (25-3/4 inch scale), this looks great.

    It comes with 5-Star planetary tuners, and, as mentioned, a bracket band. Mike has scooped the neck on this prototype, but a fully fretted version is available, of course. Here is an MP3 Sound File MP3 sound file of a Ramsey Tubaphone being played.

    As I said, this one is not for sale, but yours can be ordered: Not in stock


  • Custom instruments
    Custom Maple Semi-Fretless 12-inch Woody

    Tony Pass, Lost TimbreTM sunken birch block pot, Nickel silver overlay frets 1-5. Very cool inlay. Now in Stock.
    (Click on link or photo for more info and pictures.)


  • One-off 11-inch Short (24.25-inch) Scale "Special/Standard" (photo)
    This maple, "A" scale instrument is another great old-time jam instrument: No capo needed for the keys of A or D!

    Its neck is made of flamed maple with a stained-to-match pot, and it has a Mike's trademark Saturn inlaid in his classic, ebony-overlain headstock. The tuners are 5-Star brand planetaries. The scooped, ebony fingerboard has MOP dot inlays with a shooting star at the 5th fret.

    Its 11-inch maple rim has a rolled brass tone ring, and has been set up with a Renaissance head and a No-Kot tailpiece, for a great sound.

    I describe this as a "Special/Standard," because the inlay is not engraved (which is as it appears on a Standard), but it is made of flamed maple and has the extra lamination of maple--matching the neck--on the pot as does a Special. As these two models have the same tone ring, this is effectively a "Standard" from the front and a "Special" from the back!
    A one-off piece, and a great player: $1550. Sold Hardshell cases start at $75 with purchase of a banjo.

  • One-off 11-inch Short (24.25-inch) Scale "Whyte Laydie" (photo)
    This maple, "A" scale instrument is a great old-time jam instrument: No capo needed for the keys of A or D!

    Its neck is made of flamed maple with a stained-to-match pot, and it has a gryphon inlaid in its Vega-style peghead. The tuners are 5-Star brand planetaries. The scooped, ebony fingerboard MOP dot inlays with a star at the 5th fret.

    Its 11-inch maple rim has a bracket band and an inverted Whyte Laydie-style tone ring (due to that inversion, it's really hard to photograph--you can barely see it in the mirror).

    If you are a stickler for detail, please be advised that this banjo shows some signs of hurried assembly. The backstrapping on the peghead has a scratch, and its fit and finish is not the best I've seen. Similarly, during the assembly process, the bracket band scratched the rim in a few places. It's set up with a Renaissance head and a No-Knot tailpiece, and, minor cosmetics notwithstanding, it's ready to be heard at an old-time jam!
    A one-off wonder: $1850. Hardshell cases start at $75 with purchase of a banjo. Sold.

  • Experimentals. In September of 2004, Bob Carlin published an article titled The Tony Pass 'Timeless Timbre' Rim Road Test in Banjo Newsletter. In this article, he summarized his experiences with a Mike Ramsey-built "experimental" banjo, using one of Tony's 11-inch block pots fitted with a "Bacon-style" tone ring.

    In 2004, Mike had made three nearly identical, experimental banjos for his pot comparison: the 3-piece, maple necks were all cut from the same piece of wood, and finished the same. Each has simple dot inlays in its somewhat wider ebony fingerboard (1-3/8"), and each has a handsome inlay in its headstock overlay. What is different is that one of the banjos, as noted, had Tony's block pot, one had a laminated, submerged (old wood) pot, and the third had a "standard," modern Ramsey rim.

    Mike sent me two of these banjos, and after Bob's article was published, I came into possession of the third. So, I thought it would be fun to allow folks to hear them without benefit or the prejudice of knowing which was which. To this end, we took the following steps:

    • Each banjo was disassembled
    • Each pot was fitted with a Renaissance head (2 already had them installed). The heads were then painstakingly tensioned using a DrumDial to achieve the same tension. Tap-tuning verified that the same tension had been achieved on each of these pots.
    • One neck was chosen to be used for testing by moving it from pot to pot
    • One banjo was reassembled.
    • I played that banjo and recorded it as I usually do, then
    • The neck, the same strings, the same No-Knot tailpiece, and the same bridge were quickly moved to another pot, and that banjo tuned up and recorded.
    • After the second banjo had been recorded, the neck, strings, bridge & tailpiece were moved to the 3rd pot, which was then recorded.
    Note that in this process, each banjo was assembled within ca. 5 minutes, and the recording was done by the same person (me) playing into the same microphone during the same recording session, doing everything humanly possible to keep things as much the same as possible (distance from mic, how hard I hit the strings, etc.). I struggled with what to play, and ended up clawhammering a simple Gmaj scale thingy, so that my selection of tune would not influence anything. The recordings were modified in my standard way, which is to run the same noise filter to take out the electric light and Coke machine noise, and then "normalized" to assure equal playback volume.

    I was most interested to hear what people think of these three pots, as there is a price difference among them. Of course, I still haven't told folks which was which.

    This one is the "Timeless Timber" brand, laminated old wood model (photo). The neck is somewhat figured, and its ebony fingerboard has simple dot inlays. It is scooped, of course. Though the peghead is classic Ramsey, it has a rather non-Ramsey-like "torch" inlay in its ebony overlay. The tuners are 5-Star brand, with black buttons.

    It's set up with a Renaissance head and a No-Knot tailpiece, and is good to go: MP3 Sound File Hear this banjo.

    This signed and dated experimental instrument is a one-off piece of banjo history-to-be.


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