Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Other Banjo-Related Topics
 Shopping Advice
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Helix: Discussion

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Page: 1  2  

Helix - Posted - 11/16/2009:  15:25:11

Helix Jackrabbit now $449!!

The volume, tone and light weight of the Helix rim was a happy accident, I was just looking for another way to make a rim. I made my first one in 2006, it's quite competitive with all the major brands and types of tone rings, I know because I jam weekly with all kinds of different banjos, all makes, models and variations. We were all surprised....

I also participated on a team from the Banjo Hangout making a Chestnut 5-string, rim made in Arizona, neck and resonator made in Kentucky, bridge in Texas, and assembly in Ohio by the owner, I wish there was more of that.

Value emerges in a depressed market:

Helix Jackrabbit @ $449 is made from high pressure VERTICAL 50-year bamboo flooring, very springy acoustic qualities. Weighs just 5 pounds with the tone ring..

specs: 18 brackets Helix rim/ 3 piece Helix neck of bamboo, laminated solid peghead and heel design. Helix tone ring and tension hoop. Ren head, Gold Tone hardware/entry planetaries. The neck has a Rosewood fretboard, Walnut top/back/heel caps. Bamboo headstock inlay. Helix headstock. spikes @ 7 & 9.

Bamboo Longneck for $49 extra. That's a Helix Antelope Jack, backwards truss rod, solid peghead and heel..

$50 shipping case required, 50% buyback on the case. Refund of shipping overages, reimbursement of overnight letter, return policy.

I am a new custom builder, I've been on the hangout for 3 years, 2 years with my trademark. I have 36 rims in 36 months being played.

The idea for the bamboo rim came from different hangout members, Xnavyguy, Roll Player who used bamboo bridges, tank772, and way leads unto way. Bamboo is structurally sound, acoustic, renewable, GREEN and lightweight.

Made in Arizona.

The Banjo has helped me immensely, I have met the greatest and best people here. Real culture aided by electronics. I am very grateful and very supportive. Thank you Eric, and all others involved.

"Chance the Banjo" of the FUZZY BOTTOM BOYS taking a break after chasing a Helix Jackrabbit

Edited by - Helix on 12/17/2009 04:51:08

banjered - Posted - 11/26/2009:  20:10:06

Kind of hard to "discuss" a banjo you have never seen or heard......TC

xnavyguy - Posted - 11/27/2009:  06:16:04

Having built a lot of banjo bridges out of bamboo flooring, I can tell you that, because of the way the flooring is constructed, it is very consistent in its properties and, therefore, very predictable in performance. Larry's Helix (tm) design allows for maximum transfer of sound energy from the banjo strings to the outside world, with very few losses due to obstructive glue barriers present in a lot of more conventional rim designs. Whether or not this is the type of discussion Larry is seeking, I can't say. I tend to like the fact that he takes the time to share what he is doing with us here on the hangout, whether we've heard it or not.

1four5 - Posted - 11/27/2009:  08:12:04

I can only discuss the one I play.
This banjo photo from his website:

Is the maple rim Helix built for me. Two weeks from concept to a playing banjo. It's taken over all my practice and gigs since the day I got it. It's voice leans towards that of a honkey-tonk piano (my wife's description) and it's volume is stronger into a michrophone than either of my resonator banjos. Set up with a thin frosted remo that is "bluegrass" tight, a 7/8" x 2" spaced bridge, GHS-150's, Kershner tailpiece, duel co-rods. The Hazen neck works perfectly with it. Full length 5th string, jumbo SS frets, 25 1/2" scale, 5-star tuners. Custom banjo, sounds incredable, for less than the cost of a new Goodtime. Oh yeah, and only 5 pounds

Helix is a super great guy to work with, bend's over backwards to meet your needs, keeps you posted with every step of the way, and is more interedsted in getting a good banjo into your hands, than getting your money. Five stars!

Edited by - 1four5 on 12/30/2009 07:57:19

Helix - Posted - 11/28/2009:  02:06:54

Wow, I guess Dean got results. Makes me a very happy picker.

What I like about the Helix rim is that it gives the player a choice in the wooden tone and voice they are looking for. Maple and Hickory are bright. Mahogany and Cherry are more mid-range. For this reason, I have Osage Orange, Grapefruit, and Orange rims on the way.

Xnavyguy and I were talking bamboo on the phone, he went and made some bridges of bamboo the next day, they rock.

If I build a Helix, I always have something here to compare to . I know what they sound like, even if just a few people believe me. Doesn't change the truth.

The 50-yr. bamboo flooring rim and neck combination is a nice innovation, they take less time to play in, like a jackrabbit, they just hop away, don't need much help.

I'm working on my first bamboo longneck, pictures soon.

rvrose - Posted - 11/28/2009:  21:01:29

If you want to hear a Helix Hurricane - I posted this practice tune. I was 2 1/2 or 3 feet away from mike. The fiddle player was right in top if it.

Excuse the raw nature of the recording - we are still a little rough on this one.


Edited by - rvrose on 11/29/2009 12:23:42

Helix - Posted - 11/29/2009:  05:57:18

Hi Rick, which one are you in the picture?

And also, would you please comment on whether you think you'll be needing a resonator. Just curious.

Happy Havest.

1four5 - Posted - 11/29/2009:  07:36:52

Hey Rick that a neat arrangment and great playing! Fantastic sounding banjo! It sounds like you've found the michroiphone magic in your Helix rim too. I still look down at mine sometimes wondering where the power supply is. No resonator needed here.

rvrose - Posted - 11/29/2009:  12:32:39

Originally posted by Helix

Hi Rick, which one are you in the picture?
And also, would you please comment on whether you think you'll be needing a resonator. Just curious.
Happy Havest.

Hey Larry - I don't think I'll need a resonator. I really like the light weight and it is plenty loud. I went to a slightly lower bridge and the action is perfect on the long neck. I want to get some Keith tuners (keep dropping hints to the wife) and I will have one super versatile machine! I am having a lot of fun playing Christmas carols in different tunings with the long neck. We have several gigs coming up, so I'll let you know how they go.


Kirk Jacobs - Posted - 11/29/2009:  16:28:23

I was in awe at the idea of a bamboo rim, talk about a green product. Is there any clips of this bamboo banjo being played? I would love to hear its tone.

rvrose - Posted - 11/29/2009:  18:20:59

Originally posted by Kirk Jacobs

I was in awe at the idea of a bamboo rim, talk about a green product. Is there any clips of this bamboo banjo being played? I would love to hear its tone.

If one of those Jackrabbits happens to hop by my place - I'll gladly post a clip!


Helix - Posted - 11/30/2009:  08:19:42

I am working on the first bamboo longneck, we're calling it an Antelope Jack. There is a real rabbit called an Antelope Jack, he's as big as a dishwasher.

The bamboo wakes up faster than the hardwoods, like it wants to send signals, we renamed the bamboo to jackrabbit because it was springy like that.

Edited by - Helix on 11/30/2009 08:20:23

rickeym - Posted - 12/06/2009:  19:43:57


Originally posted by rvrose

Originally posted by Kirk Jacobs

I was in awe at the idea of a bamboo rim, talk about a green product. Is there any clips of this bamboo banjo being played? I would love to hear its tone.

If one of those Jackrabbits happens to hop by my place - I'll gladly post a clip!


Helix - Posted - 12/09/2009:  05:29:49

We'll hop to it.

Tortoise wins.

1four5 - Posted - 12/12/2009:  17:45:59

Just want to thank Helix again. Went to a jam today, basement full of guitars, and a bass. It's so much more fun when you can play relaxed and be heard. Can't speak for my abilities, but having that much punch sure makes me strive to play better! There's no hiding behind a whimpy banjo if Helix built it...folks are going to hear you play, that's for sure!

Helix - Posted - 12/13/2009:  05:59:15

It was so much fun to hear how you help others with your music.
Thanks for giving me a chance.

rvrose - Posted - 12/13/2009:  14:07:54

I have played my long neck Helix for 3 Christmas gigs in the last few days. I had it tuned to open D and I thought it sounded great - it mics very well. I switched off from my Deering for songs in D. I would have played the whole concert on the Helix if I could afford some Keith tuners. (Maybe Santa will bring me some). I did "Christmas Time is Coming" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain"on the Helix. I captured a fairly good live recording. I'll try to post when I have time to break them out of the large wav file.

country frank - Posted - 12/14/2009:  06:06:20

Larry i have to chime in and say what a privilege it is owning and playing one of your instruments. My Helix AT is my MOST used banjo, its the only banjo i take to gigs these days primarily because the weight to tone ratio is perfect for me. What i mean by that is instead of hauling 13lbs of bluegrass banjo from one side of London to the other i carry 8lbs of Helix woody that cuts through a band like a hot knife through butter. It barks, it bites and it will frighten small children and the infirm if you stand too close.


I can imagine a time when people say 'have you HEARD a Helix?', heard one, i was there when the first few came out, its a bit like where were you when.....

Top job Larry, top man.

Helix - Posted - 12/14/2009:  12:28:03

better banjos through simplicity...

Just light a torch in the fog, why don't ya????

I had a great year because of you people, your willingness to play, and that more abundantly. Because of that I got to play Saturday night, myself.

Nice job everyone. I'm honored that I could help.

Edited by - Helix on 12/21/2009 04:59:55

1four5 - Posted - 12/21/2009:  07:53:35

True story, just happened this morning:

Yesterday I was in a comparing mood, and spend several hours playing both my other banjos. I've been playing my Helix 98% of the time for about 2 months. I play in front of a large plate glass window, and was really putting them through their paces, playing hard, and doing comparisons. After a couple hours, I put them away and played through my regular daily practice with my Helix Sunbeam (Helicaster). This morning, as my daily playing time approaches... my beautifull and loving wife says:
"Dean, could you please wait until I go Christmas shopping if you play those klinky-clunky banjos today, they were driving me batty yesterday"

To which I replied:

"don't worry, I'm going to play my favorite one today"

And her reply:

"Good, I don't mind that one, it sounds musical. There would be a lot of happy wifes in the world if more banjo players had that kind."

... now keep In mind that my wife hardely ever makes comments, positive or negitive, about my playing, so for her to say anything is earth shattering. She is just happy that I've found something I love doing. She knows that I own three banjos, but if I lined them up, she wouldn't be able to tell me which one was which, so her comments were totally from what she hears. I figured Helix would get a kick out of this. I actually got the same reception from my bandmates, the first time I played a gig with my Helix. Sometimes I wonder if he even relizes just how sweet his rims sound comparitively.

xnavyguy - Posted - 12/21/2009:  11:05:14

Originally posted by 1four5

Jan's Comment:

"Good, I don't mind that one, it sounds musical."

Sounds like your wife & mine share the same preferences when it comes to banjos.

Helix - Posted - 12/22/2009:  06:49:59

Thanks, Dean and Jerry, we all want better music, and less carpal tunnel.

I was sitting-in with a group of Kingston Trio fans in 2005. They were using three dreadnoughts, not really playing, just having fun, so they were each strumming 6 notes down and six notes on the upstroke, 36 notes in 2 beats.

The Gold Tone OB250 I bought to battle THAT was not enough to punch through a 'clinic' of guitars. They just wanted the banjo there, didn't quiet down during solos and stuff like that.

In, 2006, My wife also noted that from the other room. "Is that your new Gold Tone?"

No dear, THAT's the new Helix, what a difference.

I used standard hardware and a Renn head to show nothing up my sleeve. So the rim and the construction of the rim is what makes the sound of a Helix.

I jam regularly with all the major brands, ALL. I know what they sound like, don't sound like, and what they weigh. Whew.

I'm not an engineer, I don't welcome the comments of threadkillers, because it draws attention to them while they are dragging bait. I Play. Sometimes the threadkillers don't even PLAY banjo, hurts my sensibilities.

Now, in the meantime, some other people have concluded by the behavior of the Helix rim, that there is truly something there, and worthwhile. Who knew that if we went back and asked the wood, that the response would be so friendly and useable, repeatable, and maybe a nice little clothespin mute once in a while.

Every person here is on a quest, something touches the hum of your heart. the strings do that. So, with less banjo, less enjoyment.

Otherwise, I have video tape of the Prescott Folk Festival in 2008 where a person playing a Helix steps away from the mike to solo.

Usually at the jam, I solo, then someone always takes a look at the headstock to see what just happened.

It's ok to make instruments this way, this is not factory work. I am not behind on orders, and I work my butt off. The hangout is quite the place, ain't it?

XNavyguy and others have built their own Helix in pure curiousity and fun, with hopefully great results. My banjos play better with XNG bridges. We thought we were doing pretty good already, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Power was never the quest, a person has the right to protect their intellectual property. I've heard loud and brassy banjos. Lots of 'em.

But being able to play and produce TONE, quality, reliability, and oh yeah, these rims vintage quickly don't they, that's my interest, helping people enjoy our music more, and the players get enjoyment, too.

rvrose - Posted - 12/22/2009:  09:38:54


I just got an early Christmas present from my wife - 4 Keith Tuners! I put them on my Helix Hurricane long neck. Wow - now I have a super versatile nice sounding light weight banjo. I can tune it to open d and play G fingering or pop it back to open "E" and do the same. And of course just capo for the rest of the keys. I don't have the XNG bridge - is anyone else using them? How thick are they? Do they give even more volume. I'm using a 1/2" compensated bridge now.


Edited by - rvrose on 12/22/2009 09:39:31

Helix - Posted - 12/22/2009:  11:05:56

I'm really happy to hear about your Keith tuners, you've been very good this year..

You are the first one to use a Helix longneck this way. Way to go. My hope would be that no buzzing would happen, so it looks like you are all alone for a while, enjoy the spotlight. You are in new territory, great work.

Did I mention bridges? Nope, none to be had, a phantom, a dream, happy hunting. I don't know of anyone using them, they don't NEED compensation, and they don't produce more volume and tone, they produce gobs of both. They set every banjo on its individual edge, oops. Roll Player and XNavyguy did something for the entire banjo community, shhhhhhh.

Edited by - Helix on 12/23/2009 06:14:44

1four5 - Posted - 12/22/2009:  11:28:32

I have a 3/4" xnavyguy bridge on my Goodtime...and it turned it up to an 11 for volume and tone! I still just have a StuMac 3/4" bridge stilted up to 7/8" on my Helix. One of these days I'm going to have figure out what it will take for Jerry (xnavyguy) to make me some 7/8"-1" maple/ebony spillway blanks to try on my Helix. I like high bridges and my neck is cut for that. All this long neck talk....

atracksler - Posted - 12/23/2009:  08:47:18

the helix is for real.

Helix - Posted - 12/23/2009:  13:02:50

Thanks Adam, he offered to do the Helix Taste test back in February '09. A fair and impartial curiousity. Totally fun.

xnavyguy - Posted - 12/23/2009:  13:21:25

Originally posted by 1four5

I have a 3/4" xnavyguy bridge on my Goodtime...and it turned it up to an 11 for volume and tone! I still just have a StuMac 3/4" bridge stilted up to 7/8" on my Helix. One of these days I'm going to have figure out what it will take for Jerry (xnavyguy) to make me some 7/8"-1" maple/ebony spillway blanks to try on my Helix. I like high bridges and my neck is cut for that. All this long neck talk....

Dean, you know how much I hate to say no but right now, I am stuck out on the barren plains of west Texas and won't be around my wood pile for awhile. Maybe, and remember I said "maybe" I can figure out something for you next week when I get home. That is if I can remember.

1four5 - Posted - 12/23/2009:  16:43:14

Hey no sweat Jerry... don't forget that KsBlugrass is gearing up to make bridges too... if he can get his saw to stop chucking blades!

rvrose - Posted - 12/23/2009:  17:50:05

Jerry - If Dean gets one for his Helix - I want one too! I have to keep up with the Jones! I may have a long neck - but I like short bridges!
Have a Merry Christmas all.


Helix - Posted - 12/24/2009:  07:37:52

I'm too young for this kind of stuff, next year, I'm going to try to step it up a little bit. I think I can do a little better....

You kind people who have participated so sincerely have my deepest thanks and best wishes. Let's get out there and play.

Larry Hill
Helix Banjo Rims (TM)


Edited by - Helix on 12/28/2009 06:34:25

pawsbanjo - Posted - 12/30/2009:  07:27:12

Hey Guys,

I was given Larry's name through another post, in which I was looking for great playing custom banjo that was not going to break the bank. Larry spent about 45 min on the phone with me yesterday, putting together a file of everything i could possibly want detail by detail. Unfortunately, I will have to postpone my buy for several months, but I know my next banjo will be a Helix. Thanks again for your enthusiasm Larry, talking with you yesterday got me super excited about all things banjo.

Helix - Posted - 12/30/2009:  15:54:15

What a nice thing to say.

I'm on my way to throw a ring in a volcano, anybody up for a one-way trip? Slim chance of success, certainty of death, what are we waitin' for?

This music kills death itself. Fear Beware. Tortoise wins.


Edited by - Helix on 12/30/2009 15:57:12

rvrose - Posted - 01/03/2010:  14:25:35

I just mounted one of Don's (Stringbean45) Spillway Dam bridges on my Helix. I noticed even more volume. Also it really made the high strings (1st and 2nd) really sing. There is much more noticeable sustain and ring. Don does nice custom work and goes the extra mile.


xnavyguy - Posted - 01/03/2010:  16:10:41

Now that you've got one of those Dam bridges on your Helix, you'll have to start describing the sound of your banjo as pre-apocalyptic. I don't know if that makes it better than pre-war, but those of us who live in the lunatic fringe will be able to understand what you are talking about.


1four5 - Posted - 01/03/2010:  16:36:14

Oh my... this is freeky, because yesterday I finally said to heck with it and switched my Spillway (bulit by xnavyguy) from my Goodtime to my Helix... and it's a pre-apocalyptic match made in tone Heaven! What's incredable is how hard the whole instrument vibrates. I just hope it doesn't explode

Helix - Posted - 01/04/2010:  06:13:32

A fresnel? "I've got a fresnel over here in my darkroom projector." BEE GEE

"Don't use that in your banjo , you'll melt the polar caps." Helix

What kind of wood is your bridge made of? I found the same thing with their bridges.

I jam weekly with all the major brands of banjos. Let's say tastefully, that they notice an advantage expressed by the Helix. Then, one night, it was just a little bit better, and I showed them the bridge, a collective OOOOH, AAAAAH from the room looking at that beautiful Puprle Heart. THAT's good music and great fun. XNG

There are enough people who know copyrights, patents and trademarks, non-disclosure and letters of intent. I'm disappointed that some of them have not come forward to request a separate forum taking care of questions without disclosing the nature of what someone might have been given in curioustiy, a dream, a thought that is precious and ultimately came from God anyway.

I actually read on the hangout about people still mailing themselves copies to claim a copyright when the law was changed

As a citizen, my opinion is that one of the best ways to participate in the creative matrix of our society is to copyright, trademark and or patent your inventions, thoughts, ideas and creations. It's good American law copied by the world. Piracy and bootlegging always reap what they sow.

I already had my copyright and trademark when I started asking questions on the hangout. I found the creative atmosphere to be less than I expected and discussed that with Eric Schlange who made great suggestions. I modified my approach.

I also removed 3 complete banjos with cases from an invitational situation in a high end guitar shop. "We'll make a luthier out of you yet." He's younger than me, I don't like younger people talking down to me, what's wrong with straight across. I guess I'm too young for that.

I sold every one of those banjos through the banjo hangout. Nice people got them, and they make nice music with them. Cool.

So to sweeten the discussion, I just finished some bamboo/jatoba bridges with rosewood caps, also some ash, black walnut and cherry and maple bridges.

I have Hickory which is more than I can say about some 'experts.' I'll hold it until one of the experts bakes a pie for us from 'poor man's pecans".

rvrose - Posted - 01/04/2010:  08:15:05

Originally posted by 1four5

Oh my... this is freeky, because yesterday I finally said to heck with it and switched my Spillway (bulit by xnavyguy) from my Goodtime to my Helix... and it's a pre-apocalyptic match made in tone Heaven! What's incredable is how hard the whole instrument vibrates. I just hope it doesn't explode

Man - I feel your pain. I hope this Dam Bridge doesn't void my Helix guarantee! With all the extra volume and resonance - It's so hot - I might have to drill holes in the head to cool it down!


1four5 - Posted - 01/04/2010:  10:13:43

I heard a rumor that if your Helix banjo explodes, and you survive, Helix will build you another for free, but you only get one do-over, and you have to use grover bridges from then on.

DSGoose - Posted - 01/04/2010:  11:41:43

Hi Larry,

I sent you an email last week (to the contact address on your Helix web site). Just wondering if you received it and if we can discuss my unexplainable need for banjo #2?


Kirk Jacobs - Posted - 01/04/2010:  16:43:17

hey 1four5, is that your helix that you talk about in the openback thread?

Helix - Posted - 01/04/2010:  16:52:49

They don't explode, implode and backed the truck up over a couple for a photo. I'll publish when it's up on all four rims, banjo rims that is.

And goose, I think I replied, but I have had some trouble with emails, please retry. I'll drive to the Canadian border if need be.

1four5 - Posted - 01/04/2010:  17:27:34

Kirk, Yes it is!

rvrose - Posted - 01/04/2010:  18:57:24

I posted a test song if you want to hear the Helix with the Spillway Dam Bridge installed. Forgive the stiff fingers - it's 5 deg F here in Illinois!

Kirk Jacobs - Posted - 01/04/2010:  19:52:43

Figured it was the helix. From this thread mics are not needed even in water with the bridge. And as far as being cold in IL I concur I'm just down the road in the capitol city. It sucks to work outside but you get alot of breaks to warm up.

10gauge - Posted - 01/05/2010:  10:44:47

I just tightened the head on my Helix a week ago. I've had it now for almost a year and a half and haven't tired of the sound yet. Here's my lastest recording.

xnavyguy - Posted - 01/05/2010:  11:49:39

I guess, since we're talking about Helix rims, it's OK to post some more sound files of tunes played on Helix style rims. This one was made on my ex-aluminum rim Aria with a Helix style rim that I built out of some bits of Douglas Fir that I had laying around the house. It's my attempt to play Devil's Dream, melodic style:

This tune is called Defogger Breakdown, something my friend Art Horan (Roll Player) put together to celebrate the additional clarity & focus that I had added to the sound of one of his other banjos. This particular banjo was a Washburn B-14 but the only original Washburn parts are the metal bits & the neck. It is fitted with a Helix style rim that I built out of some Texas Mesquite flooring. Art has renamed the banjo "Frankenburn":

Old & Grouchy - Posted - 01/05/2010:  14:05:42

Just spoke with Larry yesterday for over an hour discussing my options for a new Helix! Try that with Gibson!. Larry is one special soul who really lives for his art both playing and building. I started out with the idea that the Helix will be a good brother to my first banjo (a resonator Alvarez, no laughing now) but after yesterday it may just become an only child!!!

rvrose - Posted - 01/05/2010:  18:03:46

Jerry - thanks for posting those - I enjoyed them. Very nice tone.


banjo_bro83 - Posted - 01/06/2010:  06:06:32

Anyone use their Helix for clawhammer? I don't think that I've heard any recordings.

For those of you who are Helix owners, how does your Helix compare with a similarity priced big-name manufactured banjo?

I wish there were a lot more recordings to listen to! My local music shop just has a few banjos, and none of them are lefties so I've spent all my instrument buying career (play guitar as well) more or less buying on sound alone and then getting to play the instrument when it has been ordered and I get it. So far it has worked out really well. I've got a Taylor 414 that is great and a Goodtime, which is a cool banjo to start out on.

Page: 1  2  

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Banjo Hangout. All Rights Reserved.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories