Merrill’s Marauders/ Honoring a Hero

Head Stock MM 1

Patch emblem of Merril's Marauders

“Merrill’s Marauders (named after Frank Merrill) or Unit Galahad, officially named the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), was a United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit, which fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, or China-Burma-India Theater (CBI). The unit became famous for its deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines, often engaging Japanese forces superior in number.” ~ Wikipedia

A ninety year old man from Soddy Daisy, TN recently was introduced to the cool one-stringed musical instrument, the authentic, original CanJoe Company created instrument called, The Canjoe“. He fell in love with it and wanted one for himself. Being that the CanJoe Company creates these instruments as musical works of art, and that each one made is only custom created for the individual owner, personal information was supplied about this ninety year old that could be incorporated in his instrument. Details of his life include that he served as a member of the elite US Army unit of Merrill’s Marauders during WW2 and that he received the Bronze Star award, and the Purple Heart award for his part in that historic event called the “Burma Campaign”, as a soldier fighting in Japan.

This specific man who now owns this custom created Canjoe musical instrument is a true American hero, so it was quickly decided that his instrument should reflect his sacrifices and his gallantry as having served with the Merrill’s Marauders. This specific instrument is symbolic in every way, in by its choices of materials used to fabricate it and in its design, to honor his service.

The body of the instrument is comprised of the finest of mahogany in the world with a most beautiful curly maple finger board laminated on. The mahogany was sourced from what was originally made for use to become a dowel for a casket handle. A company that makes caskets, nearby, supplied the special mahogany dowel. This dowel symbolically represents the hundreds of the members of the Merrill’s Marauders who lost their lives in the line of duty from wounds acquired during the 32 ground battles that they engaged with the Japanese forces, or those who lost their lives from the many diseases contracted from the severe environments that they encountered. The stunningly beautiful piece of curly maple used as the finger board came from the Gibson musical instrument company, as a piece that would be too small for use in their products, but just right for this purpose. Combining the two pieces by methods of laminating them together in the shop after acquiring them began the process of physically creating this exquisite finished work of art.

Researching about the history of the Merrill’s Marauders, a necessary requisite for designing an appropriate memorial, was not only very informative but a real pleasure in discovering the profound sacrifices of those who served this elite unit and of their superhuman accomplishments that helped win the war for the allies against the Japanese in the World War 2. First, before doing internet searches and a lot of reading, my own brother, an avid amateur historian of WW2, was contacted and during the initial phone conversation with him about this project, upon hearing of the fact that this 90 year old man was a member of the Merrill’s Marauders caused him to nearly fall on the floor from astonishment. He was beside himself in hearing that a member of this legendary unit was still alive. His first words upon hearing this was, “do you know who the Merrill’s Marauders were?”, and, with less knowledge than him, of course I said, “not yet”. He then went on to “school” me on their history and after that conversation, I was intrigued and amazed. Here, I’ll post a link for those reading this to use in case of further desire to learn about the most incredible feats of human effort that any armed forces members from anywhere ever pulled off…

Just reading the source from Wikipedia will enlighten the curious:

After the research phase, it was decided to place the Merrill’s Marauders unit patch on the instrument’s head stock. The photo introducing this page is of that symbol artistically rendered. The official Merrill’s Marauders unit patch incorporates a sun in the top left quadrant and a star in the bottom right quadrant. In making this instrument I, the artist and instrument creator, took some artistic license and imbedded a diamond as exchange for the sun, and a gold foil star in the bottom quadrant. The diamond, though representing the sun, also represents the unbreakable, un-scratchable, super hardened, sparkling drive and fortitude of these men. The gold foil star represents, too, that absolutely every one of those who served in this elite unit not only were awarded the Bronze Star but were also as men of men representing the scintillating, shimmering stars of what America represents as being among her finest of heroes.

The designs on the curly maple finger board became from his military awards of the Purple Heart, which is rendered by the purple ribbon design between two frets, and his awarded Bronze Star as represented by the single star between two other frets. In between these emblems is placed the modern day unit patch of the US Army Rangers; the reason, the Merrill’s Marauders as made up of 3,000 volunteers who became trained to become the United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit, and whose value and honorable service eventually led to the formation of the modern day US Army’s Rangers, since.

The red, white, and blue that trims the instrument’s finger board should be self explanatory. The new owner loves root beer, so, a vintage 1939 logo design of a collectible “Frostie Root Beer” can was chosen as the resonator.

These men, and especially the 90 year old who now owns this special instrument, should ALL be remembered and honored for their extreme sacrifices and service to this country and the world, for what they endured and for what they did for all free nations in that campaign. Too, it is of the highest honor for me, CanJoe*John, to have been chosen to create this fine instrument, and as a US Navy veteran, myself, the honor is even greater magnified for me, personally, in that my contribution by creating this simple token of art as rendered in this cool, one-stringed musical instrument, and that this man will undoubtedly cherish, is also to honor a fellow veteran of whom I salute as a true American hero.

MM 1

In honor of a true American hero

Military symbols

The "Bronze Star", Ranger's patch, & "Purple Heart ribbon"

Vintage Frostie

1939 Vintage "frostie Root Beer Logo can


Laying in my fiddle case!

For all orders, inquiries, prices, and options, please call the CanJoe Company at 423-612-4320.

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The phone number to reach CanJoe*John has been changed to 423-612-4320. Anyone calling the old number that has been most commonly posted will now reach a message directing them to call the new number. When inquiring about or ordering any instrument, it is required that the contact be made via a phone call. If anyone desires that they receive a call, instead, then send email to with name, phone number, best time to call, and the CanJoe Company will gladly contact accordingly. Every instrument offered by the CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN is always custom made to order. The CanJoe Company does not pre-make instruments to sell. In the twenty + years of doing business, the majority of those who have purchased or received any instrument designed by and hand crafted by CanJoe*John has desired and requested theirs to be crafted with specific cans, wood types, and parts for their instruments. These instruments are always made to reflect the personal desires of whomever will own them. Prices are not posted on the web site, though always very affordable and the quality of every instrument made surpasses way above the prices charged, each instrument created is unique in design and materials used, so the prices can not be pre-determined. Please call the new number for a brief phone call that will determine what the cost of making a custom instrument to your desires will be. Thanks, CJ*J

The CanJoe Company is located 2357 Feathers Chapel Rd, Blountville, TN/ Phone 423-612-4320/ email

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Today is Thanksgiving Day, 2014. It is also my 59th birthday. As the administrator of this site as well as the owner and creator of the CanJoe Company, I have much to celebrate and much to be thankful for. I began the CanJoe Company over twenty years ago, in the year 1994. Previous blog posts on this site tell the story of how I got started, and why. Without repeating all the details, as one can find those details in the previous posts, I was a close and personal friend of Herschel R. Brown who originally designed and created the very first in the world one-stringed musical instruments that he called the “Can Joe”. Herschel gave to me, and I still own, one of his very first ever made instruments. Soon after, he and I began working together to market and distribute them. Herschel always used only pine wood that he recovered from his construction jobs to make his simple, but well made instruments. He did not stain, edge, or add any finish to the raw pine wood that he used to make his. He mass produced the simple pine wood finger boards that he sold to a wood working supply catalog as kits. I quickly found a different niche of buyers who wanted something better, something more personal, and who chose to invest in a higher level of products than the simple, less than finished version that Herschel offered. Folks that I met would ask if I could make theirs with specific cans, special woods, or with much greater detail than the simple pine wood versions. I grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee and my grandmother managed the Blue Ridge Parkway Craft Center in Blowing Rock, NC for 27 years, beginning in the year that I was born. She was an expert on the high end hand crafted items created by the finest craftsmen of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild. I grew up learning from the works of these fine craftsmen that detail and quality matter, a lot! When I began making my versions of “canjoe” instruments, with and by Herschel’s full support and assistance in getting started, my goal was to create them at the highest level of craftsmanship and accuracy as possible. I also had two other goals that came from life’s circumstances that I was experiencing at the very beginning of my starting the CanJoe Company. That beginning was at the time when my wife, Sissy, was dying from cancer and before she departed this world I promised her that I’d someday reach two other specific goals with the instruments, besides creating them into fine art. One of those goals was that I’d someday play the Grand Ole Opry on a canjoe, and on November 4, 2006, I made that goal realized. I debuted the Opry on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium to a sold out crowd and earned three rousing ovations during, and a standing ovation at the end of that performance. So, that goal was finally met. I also had promised to Sissy that I’d put smiles on faces that deserved to smile, and after my debut on the Opry, I began an exclusive tour of children’s hospitals, called the Tour of Smiles, where for seven consecutive years, I toured, entertained, and gave thousands of my beautifully hand finished instruments to very sick kids with chronic illnesses, like cancer, as for what I called “smile therapy”. Thus, I’ve achieved that other very worthy goal, as well.

In the past twenty + years, my instruments have evolved to become truly works of the highest level of craftsmanship art possible. I do not make junk, or sell gimmicks. In all the years that I’ve made them, there has never, ever, been even one single complaint of the quality of my crafted instruments, or of the prices anyone has ever been charged or has paid for purchasing them. My finished workmanship speaks for itself. I have no need to prove to anybody outside of my customer base that what I make is worthy. Those who purchase or own any of my instruments know without doubt, and 100% agree. With over twenty years of experience, with making thousands upon thousands of my instruments, and having tried every conceivable size, shape, and type of can, or every possible concept of design; two stringed, three stringed, electric, every size, upright bass, or miniature versions; I am far, far past the experimentation stage and every instrument that I create becomes an absolutely accurate, extremely solidly built, highly durable, highest quality, real musical instrument. I use only genuine musical stringed instrument parts; quality tuner keys (not eyebolts); real frets (not staples); steel instrument strings (not nylon fishing string). My instruments are always fully warranted for life, signed, dated, and custom made to the desires of the owner. So, I have fully achieved that first goal, too. Some of my instruments are on display in museums, many are kept in glass cases by private collectors, and some have actually been buried in the caskets of a few children who loved theirs so well that their parents put them in with their precious babies who’ve passed on from their diseases, and no greater honor could be bestowed my work than that, period.

It’s obvious that I have much to be thankful for. As I, too, am quickly reaching the age of being a senior citizen, I also realize that my time on this earth is becoming shorter with each year, each day, but hopefully many more that will allow me to continue offering my craft, my art, for those who appreciate owning these cool, fun to play, genuine instruments. I will continue to make my instruments at the highest level of craftsmanship possible. I will not ever compromise, lower my standards of workmanship or quality of product in order to “compete” with those who have more recently jumped in to take advantage of a growing market that I have spent twenty years creating, with their conceived versions of cheaply made inferior products, either. What I personally hand make and others now attempt are not as “apples to apples” by anyone else offering, and more than often, are not even close … no brag, just fact. I make no apologies for any statement made here, either. I create my instruments for those who require and desire to own the absolute very best, the highest of quality possible of ‘canjoe’ instrument made, and who choose to deal with a 20 year well established business that has a sterling world wide recognized and respected reputation. The CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN is the only maker and provider in existence of the truly genuine, original, master crafted one-stringed musical thing, trade branded as the ‘Canjoe’. For all inquiries, orders, or options, please call 423-323-0174, or cell 423-612-4320. Orders for Christmas should be made as soon as possible in order to assure delivery on time. ~ John L. VanArsdall (aka CanJoe*John), Proprietor

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Fanty 3

In honor of 40 years servive!

The CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN, established since 1994, is the only existing official, original, authentic maker and provider of the cool one-stringed musical instruments made using the diatonic scaled fret boards with cans as resonators. When first starting out as a business, the only way that these instruments could be effectively introduced and marketed was to pre-manufacture them and then to take them out and demonstrate them openly to the public. In the early days, seeking out the most logical places where folks could encounter these instruments required some very creative and often very expensive ways to get them seen, and heard, by large groups of people gathered together. A long road followed in attempt to successfully get these, then, newfangled musical ‘cantraptions’ recognized, publicized, and marketed. Herschel R. Brown, the creator of the first designs of these instruments, contributed largely to this venture by initially supplying parts and with encouraging support. The financial expenses and physical efforts, the concepts and implementation of creative marketing, the travel, the intense, persistent, and regular, interactive “pressing the flesh” with the public potential buyers, though, came solely, completely, and directly from the sole proprietor and founder of the CanJoe Company, John VanArsdall. As a musician and entrepreneur trying to attract other musically inclined folks to pick up and play stringed instruments, it was clear that those who might be intimidated by fretted stringed instruments would easily understand, once demonstrated, that the one-stringed ‘Canjoe’ instrument, (the brand name used to identify the CanJoe Company product since its origin), can be played by most anybody and by most every age group. So, John began the long hard climb up journey to beat the nearly impossible odds of selling something on a wide scale market that nobody most anywhere had ever before seen, and of which appeared, at first to many, as another “flash-in-the-pan” gimmicky idea. Besides making quality built instruments and getting out into the public, a conceptual and plausible marketing scheme required also for newly creating logos, slogans, fliers, brochures, writing out new tabs and publishing the printed music for new owners to learn, creating and publishing instrument specific song books, branding and creating both a newly introduced product and the entire market for it, all from scratch.
Starting out, getting himself and his products into public view also required a whole lot of communicating with and convincing reluctant venue owners/managers to allow any opportunity to present them for sale. Once in, though, the natural attraction of the simplicity of design and ease of learning to play these cool little instruments gathered huge crowds as they were publicly performed on, proving to all witnesses that they were, and are truly “real” instruments and that “real” music can be played on them. From the beginning, too, there were those few who would pick one off the display table, study its simple designs, and profess that they could go home and make them, themselves. As time has evolved, these instruments have now found their popularity to have grown exponentially around the world. They’ve more recently popped up like berries on bushes, everywhere, and many are being made by amateur hobbyists and others who have jumped on the wagon train. There still remains a huge difference from those new ones being made, sold, or marketed by others verses the originals, though. Experience, for instance, is something that most have yet to accomplish. Yes, there are many who can fabricate items that look similar, but what they who have more recently jumped in to this market, ALL have as one main thing in common, that as their only goal is to make money, to make a profit. Unlike the rest, though, that aim is not, and has never been the primary purpose that John, aka CanJoe*John, ever began the CanJoe Company. Making a living is not all about making money. As John’s experience over the past 20 years, now, has progressed, the instruments that he designs and creates have also greatly evolved, have majorly improved, and have become a whole different ‘creature’ from their introductory models. Just like any artist that creates, these musical items each hand crafted by CanJoe*John are true works of art and are exclusively his own original designs with each and every one that is made by his hands. No longer referred to as “customers” but instead as clients, each instrument ordered is always made custom and specifically for those will own it and is always artistically hand created to meet and match individual personalities and desires of the receivers. Every instrument produced by the CanJoe Company will always greatly surpass the expectations of all those who order them and always will be of greater value than the amount of money expended. Whenever someone contacts John to inquire about purchasing one, or more, of his instruments, the whole experience between them is personal. Information gathered that helps him guide the choices and inspires the final creation is integrated into every fiber of the process. Recently, as just one example, a man called the CanJoe Company phone number after searching the net looking for the “best” made “canjo” that he could spend his hard earned money on. He decided after comparing all others that the CanJoe Company clearly won over his admiration and respect. In the conversation of discovery as to what would suit this man’s needs, he chose to order a lesser expensive “Deluxe” model to start out with. It was also discovered that he had served 40 years of active service in the US Army and that he wanted a camouflage design on his can to reflect his experience. Having a “Real Tree” can in reserve on the CanJoe Company shop shelf, this was the choice he desired. Well, instead of creating his instrument as a “Deluxe” model, though, John decided to significantly upgrade this order. The reason, as John’s personal way to honor this man’s service to our country, as a fellow veteran, and because of the trust and admiration expressed by him for the quality of craftsmanship of the CanJoe Company made art. So, in all consideration John personally felt compelled that this particular instrument deserved the very highest level of attention. Instead of using the poplar wood that is usual with the “Deluxe” models, a fine piece of antique, beautifully aged, black walnut was used and a spectacular piece of curly maple was veneer fixed on its surface as the finger board. The creative stain pattern applied on the finger board was designed to emulate, or symbolize, a military award ribbon, but also to match the colors of the camouflage can. This ‘way and above’ super premium model, when finished, was then promptly mailed to the new owner who had no idea that he was to receive anywhere near the beauty and quality that he now owns. His recent phone call to John to express his thrilled reaction and his personal honor to own it, was received with almost as much the joy of satisfaction that went into making it. This is but one example, too, that is the common practice, the rule and not the exception of the way that CanJoe*John and his CanJoe Company operates; to always create true art, to always produce and provide way above better than considered or expected, to put smiles on the faces of others as being far greater rewarding than any amount of money ever offered for or received for any CanJoe Company “product” that leaves the shop… so, let’s see, too, of how many out there can, or will even attempt to make or offer anything as remotely or justly “similar”, at any price …

As another example of the detailed personalization that is represented by the hand written inscription on the can, though the image is also artistically photo altered, this salutes the newest receiver of this custom made CanJoe Company instrument for his 40 years of service to our country:

Fanty Can 2

Made custom for Command Sergeant Major Kenneth W. Fanty, US Army (ret)

For all inquiries, prices or orders, please call 423-323-0174, or 423-612-4320.

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What’s In A Name?

The CanJoe Company was established as a licensed business in the year 1994 and has now been in continuous operation for 20 years. There were no other prior existing operations, businesses, organizations, or similar products on the market anywhere using the word “canjo” , or the name “canjoe”, to identify, classify, or to be in use as any brand name of any product of any kind, musical or otherwise, anywhere in any market in the world. Except for the instrument’s originator, Herschel R. Brown, who officially coined the term by calling his initial one-stringed musical instruments that he created as “Can Joes”, the actual first use “CanJoe” in commerce, anywhere, as a trade name for the purpose of branding of the product, or as used as within the business name, the “CanJoe Company”, a public identity for “doing business as”, both were as first used publicly and legally established in that year, 1994. A start up business often spends many years and huge sums of money to become established. A well established company name identifies itself to the public through being in public view throughout those many years of arduously earning its reputation, for its public identity, for its products and for its business practices, which always includes the requirement of expending massive amounts of its hard earned funds through expensive marketing to become as established and recognized. It appears that some don’t feel it necessary to either respect established proprietary interests or to follow business ethics in this new competitive world era of “doing business”.

There have now become many who have taken up the idea of making and selling to the public of these musical instruments made with cans and have also, by popular assent, decided to apply the term “canjo” for identifying any musical instrument design that uses a can, or cookie tin, as part of the instrument’s design. This was never the initial intent that the term “canjo” would ever be used to identify anything other than the one-stringed instrument of Herschel’s original concept, though the term does apply nicely in categorizing instruments made with cans… This, of itself, is not a problem… It’s when others decide to enter the market who then make items that might be similar in design and concept, but then publicly use the term “canjo” or “canjoe”, regardless of spelling, to publicly identify their similar product, as being the brand name of their product, and/or by those who incorporate the combined use of the terms “Canjo” and “Company” within the title of their separately, completely unassociated business name, as means to identity to the public as “doing business as”, through the illegal copying use of, or the using of any very similar name identifier of an already well established first in business entity where infringement unfairly and unethically causes confusion to the public consumers.

How does or how can anyone in the public know to differentiate between titles such as the CanJoe Company, vs the American Canjo Company, vs the Merican Canjo Company, or any similar arrangement or wording, thereof? Most who look for a product, these days, do so on line. If when looking for a specific maker/provider of a product that has advertising on line or in the public view and with using almost the very same name, how are the public consumers to know, or to be sure, that the business they’ve actually contacted is, in fact, who they thought they were looking for? Businesses in the USA, in all states, are protected by federal trade laws for the proprietary use of brand names, company names, trade names, or as in the contents of any published marketing materials, and including that of the public identity as used in business by any person legally identified by and publicly associated with an established business. The ‘first in use laws’ affords legal businesses exclusive rights of protection for these proprietary identifiers as means to protect both the welfare of the established business and to protect the public consumers. Consumers everywhere, those in the public market to buy any product, have the full right to know who exactly they are dealing with, as well as not to be made confused through unethical marketing methods by those who intentionally use resembling titles, brand names, or business names as means to unfairly compete for business. The world-wide recognition and trust gained over many years for the products created by the official, original CanJoe Company has more recently become unfairly subverted by a few who are new to the market of selling similar products, and who have neither earned or established a comparable reputation, either in product quality or in business practice.

A recent phone call from yet another individual, among many, who had originally attempted to locate the CanJoe Company business, unfortunately found others before finally getting the connection she intended. She related a now common story that in her search, she first found a guy calling himself “Canjo Joe” (a clearly unethical, illegal use of identity as means to sell to and/or confuse the consumer) of who sold her a cookie tin instrument that he called a “canjo”. Though it was fabricated from rough, unfinished pine wood, had staples used for frets, with an eye bolt for the tuner key, she was, never-the-less pleased with the way it played, but she gave it away to a grand daughter. She then went searching on line for a replacement and ordered from then another who used the identity of “Canjo Company” within its business title. She bought one of their instruments for around $40, plus $10 to ship (total $50), and when she received it, she was most disappointed. Thinking she had bought the product from the official, original CanJoe Company, she called to complain. Having then explained to her the cause of her confusion and making recommendation that she might prefer the ‘real deal’, she ordered one from the source. This lady, named Georgia, was a very nice older woman who wanted her finished instrument to sport a Coca-Cola can. As a commissioned work of art, a fine piece of antique yellow pine became the finger board. That she reflected herself as being the sweet, southern type, a theme of “peaches & cream” (from the thought of a “sweet Georgia peach”) took the product finger board to become finished with complimentary colors of vivid red and pearl white, matching the can and her personality. Now that she knows, truly, who she is ordering from, her trust of getting what she wants and her obvious excitement of receiving a truly original, one-of-a-kind CanJoe Company creation are both over-the-top.

Below are photos of her “Peaches & Cream” original work of art. For details, just click on the images. For all inquiries, orders, or other business, please call the CanJoe Company at 423-323-0174, or cell: 423-612-4320.

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Collector Cans!

More Cans

Recently acquired collectible cans

The CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN is the official maker and provider of the authentic, original one-stringed “canjo”, or as properly branded, the canjoe. Having now over 25 years experience in designing and creating them, and having been licensed to do business since the year 1994, the CanJoe Company has been and will always remain the fore running, premiere pioneer of these instruments to the world market, introducing them many, many years before anything similar by any name or design ever became available by any other source anywhere in the world, except by their official originator, Herschel R. Brown (deceased). Herschel, too, helped originally to get the CanJoe Company started in business with his direct, personal support.
In all these years of being in the business to create, design, hand craft, and offer these cool instruments, the CanJoe Company has accumulated a huge inventory of highly collectible beverage cans. Many of the cans in stock are unique short run designs by major soda beverage manufacturers, or are very valuable, highly sought after, collectible antique cans from the 1960s, ’70s, or even much older. The history of cans as used for drinks dates back to the year 1932 when the Kruger beer company first offered their product in aluminum cans. (The CanJoe Company actually has a 1933 Kruger beer can in the collection). The Budweiser beer company began offering their products in cans in the year 1936. Interestingly, too, Coca-Cola did not start canning their product until the early 1960s.
The CanJoe Company has plenty of cans for folks to choose from. Part of the price a custom finished CanJoe Company instrument may charge is based on the market value of a collector can that may be chosen. Some antique collectible cans are just a few dollars, whereas the most rare could be very pricey. Either way, some folks want special cans and the CanJoe Company has most whatever the public is looking for. The photo of the cans at the head of this post are recently acquired cans and are among the other hundreds of cans that can be chosen from. Of course, there are the common, modern cans that can be used, as well. Anyone looking for that special, unique, one-of-a-kind, hand crafted musical instrument may contact the CanJoe Company by calling 423-323-0174 (office), or 423-612-4320 (cell) for all inquiries or orders.

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The Perfect Match

Can 7-UP

A signature can with the official CanJoe Company trademark signature

A grandmother from the great “Tar Heel” state of NC wanted a CanJoe Company instrument to be made as a gift for her 11 year old granddaughter, but it to be shared with her 9 year old grandson, too. Durability, a big part of the quality factor, of any stringed musical instrument is an important consideration whenever spending hard earned money for any product. The CanJoe Company instruments are each created to last for years of playing pleasure.The CanJoe Company always warrants every authentic hand made instrument created to be repaired, restored, or replaced forever (except for a broken string). Details about the young lady and her younger brother as the intended recipients of this instrument revealed that they do not drink sodas and a right choice for the ‘just right’ can to match their personalities was very important. As ALL CanJoe Company instruments sold are also always custom made, finding the right can really matters a lot. During the brief phone call discussion with the grandmother, a vintage 7-Up can with a powerful message on it was chosen. Since the young lady and her brother both love music, the limited edition 7-UP can with its message, “Music makes us human” was a natural choice. Then the grandmother was very specific about the finger board design, too. She wanted it to be of mostly “natural” wood color. So, a bit of artistic color dashed under the can as vivid green brings out the colors of the can, a bright red head stock then enhances the red of the can’s logo, the white tuner key matches the white of the can, and a beautiful natural stain on the seasoned, aged, poplar wood completely finished it out as this resulting “Deluxe” model CanJoe Company instrument. (Please note, too, that the very affordable, hand crafted, beautifully finished “Deluxe” model instrument is also the least expensive version available, or offered by the CanJoe Company.)

Update note below:
After the grandmother received this one, she emailed back that she is having so much fun with it that she has decided to keep it for herself and has now hidden it from the grandkids … and, that’s why quality matters… for more information contact the CanJoe Company at 423-323-0174, or cell, 423-612-4320.

Full length view

Full length view of custom 7-UP instrument.

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Caveat Emptor

“You don’t have to preach honesty to men with creative purpose. Let a human being throw energies of his soul into the making of something, and the instinct of workmanship will take care of his honesty… A genuine craftsman will not adulterate his product. The reason isn’t because duty says he shouldn’t, but because passion says he couldn’t.” ~ Walter Lippman

There are unscrupulous shysters, quacks, charlatans, and snake oil salesmen in every occupation. As they pawn off their dregs to the public they, more often, are quickly packing up any remaining of their cheap, paltry, or ineffectual unsold merchandise and are hastily preparing to ride quickly out of town the moment that their last fast sale is made, never to be seen or heard from again. Such is the case with any item placed into the market that proves as attractive for consumers who are willing to spend their money for. There is a Latin phrase that many should always consider when the product sold appears to be a real bargain. That phrase is “caveat emptor”, let the buyer beware. After having pioneered the development and introduction of these cool one-stringed instruments as musical works of art to be sold in the world market and now having spent over twenty years creating, developing, improving upon, selling and marketing the truly authentic, original CanJoe Company musical instrument creations, there are now many who have jumped on the bandwagon to offer their various concepts of what they consider as comparable. When anyone might be contemplating the opportunity to own one, there is nothing else, anywhere, that truly compares. The CanJoe Company is not in the business to make or offer junk, and is not interested in lowering the quality of craftsmanship or product value in order to compete with those who do. Below are some previously published photos from past posts showing examples of the various levels of creations offered by the CanJoe Company from the least expensive “Deluxe” model to the very extreme custom-to-the-hilt “20th Year Anniversary” model which is CanJoe*John‘s newest and own personal instrument.

L&L 3

The Deluxe CanJoes

Clayton B Family

Daddy Bear, Momma Bear & Baby Bear

Modern Throw Back

COOL & HOT, Throw Back Old Time; Electric New Time

Brother's Custom

The 'BroJo'

RealTree 4

Full view of RealTree


A wonderful and masterful work of art!

Below are a few testimonials recently emailed to the CanJoe Company from some very pleased individuals who ordered and received their instruments; some as for their own use, others as gifts.

“The Bains in New Mexico have received their canjoes. Response: “Awesome”. I appreciate the extra input into the order. I know it will be appreciated by them as well. Thanks for your personal interest in my order. I can tell you take pride in your workmanship.” ~ Fay Bain

“When I got home from work last night at 8:30, they were there!! There were two other people sitting in my living room and soon we were all tuning the instruments so we could play Happy Birthday and Amazing Grace in unison (sometimes even in harmony). This went on quite long into the night They are beautiful! As promised, each is unique and lovely. I very well may hang them in the living room so anyone can pick one up to admire and play as the mood hits them. So life is extra good – the temperature is above freezing, the sun shining, the ice is melting, and music and laughter are abundant.” Thank you – In partnership ~ Anita

“I received the canjoes on Thursday(like you said!).They are gorgeous. Billy’s birthday was on Friday and he was truly surprised and stoked to have not only a new instrument to play with but also a piece of art. The knots and the faded can were perfect. The other two turned out just as beautiful and I cant wait to see the look on my uncles’ faces Christmas day. Thank you for everything, its been quite an experience! You will hear from me soon! Happy holidays!” Peace and Love, ~ Amelia Lu Lynch

Below are a photos of a few faces as they received their genuine, hand crafted CanJoe Company instruments:

Sibling 1

Brother Sebastian as he receives his new "Spiderman" CanJoe

Happy Owner


Joseph 1

Very happy new canjo enthusiast!

These examples are just the tip of a very big iceberg of the examples exemplifying the products, expressing testimonials that are of the 100% consensus of all happy CanJoe Company product buyers/owners, and of a few faces showing real people who truly love their original, hand crafted, custom built, one-stringed musical things! For all inquiries, prices and options call 423-323-0174, or cell 423-612-4320, today!

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Duluxe Model

L&L 3

The Deluxe CanJoes

When folks call to inquire about or to order their own authentic, original and always custom created CanJoe Company musical instruments, they are always offered to select theirs from many possible options. The least expensive version made or offered, the Canjoe Deluxe, like all level options created by the CanJoe Company to choose from, is always hand crafted and comprised entirely of only high quality, real musical instrument parts, real instrument tuner key, (not an eye bolt), real frets, (not staples shot in with a staple gun), real instrument string (not fishing line). The wood used for the Deluxe models is American yellow poplar, a very naturally beautiful, tight grained, stable wood (not prone to warping), and always finishes beautifully regardless of stain color or decorative finish product chosen. American yellow poplar is a highly durable softwood variety that is commonly used for many stringed musical instruments, especially guitars, due its aforementioned fine qualities. Upon receiving an order for the “Deluxe” model instruments, the next consideration for the buyer, or potential owner, is the can choice for the instrument’s resonator. The choice of can used, it’s material and design, makes a significant difference in the quality of the instrument’s finished appearance and quality of tone, or sound. As anyone familiar with the CanJoe Company products already know, the 12 oz aluminum beverage can is the most often preferred and used, and truly makes for the best quality of tone, plus allows for the greatest opportunity to match the owner’s personality or character. The gimmicky Spam cans or steel food grade cans with paper labels, often used by others in attempt to compete, do not make near the quality of the crisp, clear, good sound as the aluminum beverage cans and the CanJoe Company does not offer or use these lessor desirable, inferior grade materials for any instruments. For those unfamiliar with these specific products, the CanJoe Company is the factual genuine, premiere pioneer as maker, designer, and marketer for these items having lead their introduction in to the world market with over 20 years experience in their production. No person living on Earth has more authority or experience with these creations and very, very few who even attempt to make the alternate versions have the skills, knowledge, or experience to properly build them using the aluminum cans, of which truly make for the best quality instruments. The photo posted at the top of this page depicts the two most recently built “Deluxe” model instruments. The individual who ordered and received them is a true customer in that she bought one similar model several years ago and now, ordered these two more to give as gifts to a couple of friends. Both who will receive them are Lite beer drinkers, so she wanted Miller Lite for one and Coors Lite for the other. The finished products are obviously quite beautiful, each uniquely finished to fit the character of the respective cans, and to match the personalities and tastes of their new owners. Anyone wanting their own hand crafted, custom designed, beautifully finished, unique and well priced, inexpensive “Deluxe” model CanJoe Company one-stringed thing, please call 423-323-0174, or cell, 423-612-4320, and order yours today.

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20th Year Anniversary Model

Personal canjo

CanJoe*John's Personal Instrument

The CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN is the premiere pioneer for the introduction to the world, as maker and marketer of the one-stringed musical instruments called “canjo”, or more specific and properly labeled as the “CanJoe”. The truly official creator of the first of these instruments, Herschel R. Brown (deceased), initially designed a very simple but quite accurately functional pine wood and properly metal fretted prototype and he sold or gave away his version of these cool instruments within a local market area when he first produced his. Within just a few days of his developing the first fully working model, he showed and gave one of them to his personal friend, who then, very soon after, debuted these unique instruments to the public on various music stages as a performing musician. That friend, now known world-wide as CanJoe*John, quickly discovered, too, that Herschel’s creation had a commercial appeal. Seemed that everywhere he played his Herschel Brown made “canjoe”, people wanted one (or more) for themselves. Well, that is where this story begins. With the direct support and assistance of Herschel, John started his own production of the instruments and he named his sole proprietorship business, the CanJoe Company. In the year 1994, John solidly established the CanJoe Company, in the business to design, create, make and market these cool one-stringed musical instruments, by becoming official, getting his CanJoe Company business fully licensed and made as a legal entity by the state of Tennessee. The CanJoe Company, as of this year, 2014, is now celebrating its 20th year anniversary as being a legally licensed and in continuous operation as a sole proprietorship business entity.

Over these past 20 years, CanJoe*John has personally designed, hand crafted and evolved these instruments to become world-wide renowned and recognized as truly functional and accurate musical works of art. His creations have become so popular that many others are now trying to copy his designs, as well as his business model and methods. Nowhere in this universe, though, has anyone with more experience or greater credibility in producing these products. While there are many amateurs and hobbyists in every facet of the business world, the making of these specific one-stringed musical instruments in the hands of CanJoe*John is a very personal art and serious occupation. As a master craftsman and a true creative artist, he has spent the entire past 20 years honing his skills in order to design, create, and produce the very finest one-stringed musical instruments of their kind in the world. He has apprenticed with master luthiers in order to learn the finer details involved in building stringed musical instruments; has studied under master woodworking craftsmen to learn and to also master the skills and trade of woodworking; and, himself, has personally hand made well over 15,000 canjoe musical instruments since he began. Besides personally hand crafting all of his canjoe musical instruments, CanJoe*John also restores antique fiddles, and to add additionally to his credentials as a true craftsman, he also is an established expert in physically restoring antique late 18th century and early 19th century log buildings, as well.

As a music performer, CanJoe*John has been a old time Appalachian traditional fiddler for over 30 years and he began officially performing on and beginning with his first canjoe instrument, the one that Herschel gave to him, now since over 24 years ago. He has played many major stages, with many major music artists, and in the year of 2006 was the first and only “canjo” picker to ever, yet, play the Grand Ole Opry . In the past 20+ years of performing , CanJoe*John has always played his own personal, very fine and beautiful canjoe instrument, which is the one he always has in his hands in public, and has been seen or photographed with in every photo, and/or on every stage; his own, personal, beautiful “Dixie” can canjoe. After all these years, this exquisite walnut and curly maple instrument, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, abalone, and many special emblems made of copper, silver, brass, and even diamond and white gold, has finally worn out. On this 20th anniversary year of being in the business, though, and as a music performer, CanJoe*John has finally decided it was time that he create another personal instrument. This new instrument is now finished and ready to debut. The “New Dixie-jo” that he’s now created is made of beautiful wormy cherry for the neck with a piece of very fine curly maple as the finger board. Like his original and well known performance “Dixie” canjoe, as already described, the new one also sports the “Dixie” beer can of New Orleans, in memory of his deceased wife, Sissy, who originally gave him the name and the inspiration to become who he now is. Inlaid with multiple symbols made of various materials that reflect his own patriotic history, the theme of his new instrument is “God, Country, & Service”; with the Christian cross imbedded at the tenth fret, next, the flag of the USA, then in the middle fret is his honorable discharge button from the US Navy, with his home state, Tennessee, as the next, then the “Navy” name imbedded, and in the head stock is a beautiful multifaceted crystal glass ball imbedded that changes colors with various angles of light. The tuner key is a beautiful gold plated Gibson key and the 3/4″ jack input at the tail part is also gold plated. With the assistance of his CanJoe Company associate and friend, Jack Bradshaw, together working on this special instrument, made further design adaptions in creating a custom single magnetic electric pickup, and they added a built in EQ to control the bass, mid, treble and volume, all incorporated into an ergonomically designed and applied sound box engineered for a perfect fit. After all the components were assembled and tested, then CanJoe*John put all the finishing artistic design touches on to it to complete this masterful work of art. Below are a few photos of CanJoe*John’s newest electric, personal performance level instrument, the “New Dixie-jo”. A video of it being played will soon be produced and will post on YouTube and will also be shared on this blog site, so, stay tuned!

Click on photos to view details.

Now, it should be obvious by anyone viewing these photographs that CanJoe*John has all the skills and experience to build any level of canjo musical instrument that anyone should ever imagine to desire. For all inquiries or orders, please call 423-323-0174, or cell # 423-612-4320.

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