Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Riley Baugus Round Peak–Style Banjo

Sponsored By

Peghead Nation instructor Bill Evans demonstrates a special open-back banjo.

by Teja Gerken
August 10, 2020

Peghead Nation instructor Bill Evans has a large collection of banjos, many of which he uses for his The Banjo in the America performances. While he is best known for playing bluegrass banjos such as a 1929 Gibson Granada, he also owns several unusual banjos, including this Round Peak–style open-back banjo built by musician and luthier Riley Baugus of Walkertown, North Carolina. 


The instrument’s Round Peak–style refers to the type of setup used by many old-time players in Surry County, North Carolina, including Fred Cockerham and Tommy Jarrell. The most distinctive feature of this style is a fingerboard that is fretless from the first to the seventh position, and then again above the 17th fret. Even more unusual, the lower portion of the fingerboard is covered with a thin piece of metal, which creates a smooth sliding surface. Traditionally, players have removed the unneeded frets and installed various types of sheet metal, including bits of galvanized roofing or copper plates. Built from the ground up with the Round Peak setup in mind, this Riley Baugus banjo uses an 18-percent nickel silver plate.


The banjo has a walnut and cherry neck and pot made with a two-ply steam-bent maple rim and walnut cap. The head is mounted with 18 brackets, which are held by zinc-plated brass shoes. Unplated brass is used for the instrument’s hoop and stretcher band. A German maple and ebony bridge, a No-Knot tailpiece, and Gotoh tuning machines complete the banjo.


In this video, Bill discusses the banjo in detail, and demonstrates the Round Peak style by playing a bit of “Reuben” and “Cluck Old Hen.”


To study banjo with Bill Evansenroll in his Beginning Banjo or Bluegrass Banjo courses now!

Category: Instruments & Gear

Related Instruments and Gear Videos

Bob Thornburg Gourd Banjo

Peghead Nation instructor Steve Baughman demonstrates his fretless gourd banjo.

Hawthorn Top Tension Banjo

Peghead Nation instructor Wes Corbett demonstrates his main banjo.

1931 Gibson RB-1

Bill Evans demonstrates the vintage instrument known as the “Grace Attfield Banjo.”

Bishline Danny Barnes Amplified Woody

Danny Barnes demonstrates his signature model banjo.

Huss and Dalton Singletree

San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Rik Elswit demonstrates his 11-inch open-back Huss and Dalton banjo.

Jim Hartel Minstrel Banjos

Bill Evans demonstrates two reproductions of 19th-century banjos.


Article Thumbnail
Nov 24, 2020
A great mandolin duet of Sarah Jarosz’s original tune, recorded live at the Marshall Mandolin Summit.

Start Learning Today

One Course: $20/month or $200/year
Two Courses: $30/month or $300/year
Access to All Courses: $100/month

Peghead Nation’s String School is your source for roots music instruction, bringing you full courses in guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, fiddle, and Dobro, featuring talented instructors, high-quality video instruction, accurate notation and tab, and fun songs to play right from the beginning. Enroll and become a Peghead today!