Renée Karnes, apprentice to Master Henry Lea, began her tutelage at the age of 20. She developed her highly sought after skills working with Henry for 13 years. In 1985 with Henry’s passing he willed her the business to carry on in the repair, restoration, and building of banjos. She began building custom one of a kind banjos in 1982 and has continued to produce heirloom "Art" models.
The full harmonic golden tones produced and the extremely easy playability are more reasons for her great success. Renée does all aspects of the work herself except the gold plating. Her custom inlay, fine repair or restoration is highly praised nationally and internationally. An authority on Vintage Banjos, she has restored banjos for many collections around the world including Akira Tsumura 1001 banjo collection.
"Custom Handcrafted by Renée" best describes the intricate detail and fine craftsmanship in her custom inlay, engraving, and complete love of banjo building, repair and restoration. Her work is known as "NE Plus Ultra".
Renée does all her own Metal Engraving
Renée has shown her work at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival as well as many banjo conventions thru out the U.S. One of her banjos was featured at the Creative Arts Gallery in Sun Valley, Idaho, where it was said " to have stolen the show." Renée will be inducted into The Banjo Hall of Fame in 2005, in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where some of her fine restorations and custom banjos reside. You must see one of these fine original masterpieces to truly appreciate the extraordinary quality of craftsmanship.