The “Cat-Jo”


Montage of “Cat-Jo” parts

A recent phone call to the CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN came from a very sweet sounding voice of a lady who was searching for a stringed instrument that she, a non-musician, might easily learn to play. In her internet search for such an instrument, she had discovered the one-stringed “canjo” as available via several on line sources. She stated that she looked very closely at all the other makers’ options and upon finding the web site, she quickly decided that what the CanJoe Company offers appeared to be, in her opinion, “the best of all (that she had examined)”, and so, she called to inquire of details, pricing, and options for ordering one for herself. Upon her discovery, too, that the CanJoe Company offers only custom created instruments, she was even more greatly interested. As she spoke about her personal interests and the reasons why she wanted to own for herself a cool one-stringed musical instrument, several details of her personal interests stood out, such as in particular, that she loves cats. After the discovery process concluded, her decision was to have an instrument designed and created that represents all about cats. Now, in offering and specializing in building whatever someone desires or has in mind, one of the first questions needing answers when creating a CanJoe Company instrument is as to what ‘can’ best represents what should be used on the instrument. The CanJoe Company shop has hundreds of collectible cans available to choose from, but it was quickly realized that none of the cans in stock have any cat images on them, except for a “Food Lion” soda, and she quickly rejected that option. So, the treasure hunt began. She decided to do an internet search for cat related cans. In doing so, she found what she wanted but was required to order a case of the adult beverages from the country of Cambodia.

Whenever a CanJoe Company custom instrument is ordered and/or created, a dialogue between the buyer and CanJoe*John, the true master craftsman of the genuine, original “Canjoe” musical instrument opens up that often requires multiple times of communicating. This sweet lady had many phone calls and emails of information between her and CanJoe*John over the course of a couple of months. She and one of her friends, together, embarked on a mission to find just the right can, as well as to find the right decorations for her custom instrument. When she found that the cat cans from Cambodia were no longer in stock, she and her friend went to several sources to locate another can of her choice. They discovered a brewery nearby her town that had beautiful, cool cans and due a Highway 420 that is also nearby her home, she chose a can with a fish on its label and the number 420 on it, as well. She likes fish, too, so that can was what she decided to use. Though not being a beer drinker, she was required to purchase a twelve pack of the cans in order to get what she wanted, but no problem, she and her friend decided, too, that as part of the adventure in finding the parts, they’d enjoy a can, or two of the beverage as part of the deal.

When choosing how to decorate the instrument in ways that the theme of cats would best be presented, she talked about maybe putting in inlays. Her budget prevented her from the expense of having inlays placed in the instrument, so she took it upon herself to do some more internet research. She discovered a company that sells their products on line and that makes/offers decals for stringed musical instrument finger boards. There, she ordered decals of cat paws, and cat related images. Being a savvy buyer, too, she discovered that she could order the decals from Canada and get them at less cost than ordering from US sources, so that’s what she did. Upon her receiving them, she forwarded them to the CanJoe Company with detailed instructions of how she thought she’d like them applied. The instrument’s beautiful curly maple body with mahogany finger board had been crafted awaiting the can and the decals to arrive and to further its completion. Once those items were received by CanJoe*John, the process to finish the instrument pursued.

Now, CanJoe*John always creates his works to be far better, often much more detailed than expected, and he often upgrades the orders just because he can. While building this particular fine work of musically functional art, a beautiful gold cat with emerald eyes, at one time an antique broach pin as jewelry, was an item he had sitting on a shelf in his kitchen. While washing dishes one evening, and while still working on the instrument, the gold cat caught his eye. Immediately the decision was made to inlay that cat into the instrument’s head stock… kind of a bonus item to make the instrument a bit more ‘canplete‘. Though she was unaware of that decision, it was to be a surprise when it was to be received by her. Well, of course, once she did receive her instrument, that little bit of extra was like super sweet icing on the cake… she LOVED it. Not only did she love the cat, the WHOLE instrument is so stunningly beautiful that as she and her friend opened the shipping package, together, her friend, upon seeing it, could only make one remark, WOW!”. To see why, take a moment to view the photographs of this official, genuine CanJoe Company exclusive, hand crafted by CanJoe*John, below…

This instrument has earned the name Cat-Jo, and for anyone desiring to own, or to order a fine custom instrument, too, contact CanJoe*John, directly, by calling 423-323-0174, or 423-612-4320 for all inquiries, prices, details, and options.

Cat on back

About CanJoe*John

CanJoe*John began making and marketing the authentic 'canjoe' instruments from their origin. Introduced to them by their creator, Herschel R. Brown, in the early 1990s, John, from the beginning, helped Herschel manufacture them in Herschel's shop. John relocated back to his home state of TN in 1993 and continued, initially with Herschel's direct assistance, to make and market them, establishing the licensed sole proprietorship, the CanJoe Company, in 1994. As a professional musician CanJoe*John became billed as the "world's most unique musician, playing the world's most unique musical instrument, the canjoe" (aka, canjo). Always with his own personal canjoe instrument in hand he was awarded the adult "2007 Male Bluegrass Instrumentalist of the Year" by the North American Country Music Association International (NACMAI), and now having the distinction of being the first and only canjoe picker to ever perform on the Grand Ole Opry, has literally taken the one-stringed thing to the outer limits! CanJoe*John is a master craftsman and artist who designs, creates and crafts these instruments as custom works of musical fine art for those who respect and require the best of the best, truly genuine, original one-stringed musical instruments. He can be reached via email at, or by phone at 423-612-4320.
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