Video produced by Johnny Baier

Renee Karnes - for Design & Manufacture
By virtually every benchmark, banjos manufactured during the 1920s by major manufacturers such as Vega, Bacon & Day, Paramount, Gibson and Epiphone are believed to have reached a level of design and craftsmanship which is seldom equaled and rarely exceeded in today's musical marketplace. However, on occasion, a contemporary banjo maker emerges who embodies both the vision and skills necessary to rival the priceless instruments of the past in both form and function. Renee Karnes is such an artist. As a young banjo player and enthusiast in California, Karnes began her banjo making career as an apprentice of Henry Lea, a highly respected banjo repairperson. Beginning by doing the "busy work" of Lea's shop, Karnes proved herself and able and enthusiastic student, eventually graduating to skills which equaled, if not surpassed, her mentor. After Lea's passing, Karnes was no longer content with masterfully repairing and restoring vintage instruments and began creating new, completely hand-made instruments of her own design. Her blending of rare and exotic materials with craftsmanship skills never before seen in the banjo world has resulted in today's musical community enjoying a very limited number of totally unique banjo creations. With an unquestionable worldwide reputation, the name Renee Karnes is synonymous with "excellence" in the banjo making art.