hawthorn banjos

About Bradford & Franzke Hawthorn® Banjos, Mandolins, and Guitars

In the Fall of 2014, Kansas City area residents and musical friends Mark Franzke and Glenn Bradford decided to open an acoustic stringed instrument shop. After acquiring an initial inventory of professional quality, newer used and vintage banjos, mandolins, and guitars, the decision was made to build some new instruments for the shop. "Hawthorn" was chosen as the name for the Bradford & Franzke line of instruments as the Hawthorn rose is the State Flower of Missouri, where the shop was to be located. The highest quality available banjo, guitar, and mandolin tuners and parts and tone wood were purchased and a number of instruments were constructed for sale in the shop, named the Bradford & Franzke Fret Shop and opened for business in June, 2015.
As time went on, several working partners were added to streamline and improve the build process. Experienced luthier Randall Wyatt of Searcy, Arkansas, accepted the task of CNC machining the pearl inlay for all Hawthorn instruments. Later, banjo neck maestro Ron Coleman of Nashville, Georgia, came onto the team to construct all Hawthorn banjo necks. Missouri banjo legend and former Bluegrass Boy Lonnie Hoppers agreed to work on helping to develop a signature "Hoppers Tradition" five string banjo. Steve White of Kansas Brass began to work with us in early 2015 with the goal of making our own bronze alloy banjo tone rings and brass top tension banjo metal parts. Out of that effort came our own Ozark Thunder™ banjo tone rings and Copperhead™ brass banjo parts. Mark Franzke, an experienced builder of mandolins, banjos, and guitars in his own right, took on the task of building Hawthorn F-5 style mandolins and dreadnought guitars, as well as having the final responsibility for the fit, finish, and setup of all of the Hawthorn instrument line.
Hawthorn designs generally follow the traditional Martin and Gibson forms familiar to most musicians but we try to improve upon the traditional designs where possible. Hawthorn instruments are designed and built to be top quality, professional grade, instruments. After much experimentation, we have developed our own banjo tone ring, the Ozark Thunder™ no hole, unplated tone ring and the Ozark Thunder™ twenty-hole unplated and nickel plated tone ring. In addition, we have developed our own line of Copperhead™ brass banjo hardware for our Hawthorn top tension banjos. Currently, we offer two models of mandolins, two models of dreadnought guitars, and seven distinct models of five-string resonator banjos.
Hawthorn instruments are made the old-fashioned way, by hand using hot hide glue, hand rubbed varnish, other traditional methods and processes. We use only the finest tuners and other commercially available parts in our instruments. If a top quality piece is not available, we make it ourselves. We feel that Hawthorn banjos, mandolins, and guitars represent the finest in professional quality stringed instruments being made in American today. All of our Hawthorn instruments have a number of attractive options for personal customization and if you can't find something you like in the Hawthorn line of production instruments, Mark Franzke can always custom build you virtually anything you want in the way of a custom "Franzke" banjo, mandolin, or guitar.
Hawthorn banjos, mandolins, and guitars: American made with old fashioned care and quality.