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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Quilting Hoops and Bottle Caps


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/235074

ClayTech - Posted - 05/01/2012:  06:58:54



After reading many about many possible solutions to improving the sound of my old aluminum bottle cap, I finally tried adding a wood ring to the interior f the pot. Since I don't have the time or equipment necessary to steam bend my own wood, I went in search of pre-bent wood hoops. My initial thought was embroidery hoops, but while at the fabric store I found some quilting hoops, which are much wider. So for around $9.50 I picked up two 14" hoops. Each consists of two individual hoops, so 4 wood hoops total. I installed 3 of the hoops in the pot, pushing them right up against the head, and glued them together. They are not attached to the pot in any way, just friction. I had to notch them around the rod, but no big deal. The whole project took about 30 minutes.



The quality of sound coming out of my bottle cap banjo has dramatically changed for the better! The ringy echoes are gone, and the melody notes can now be heard separate from the rhythm. It's really an amazing difference in tone. Previously I had put on an Elite head and heavy Moon bridge, both of which helped, but the wood ring was by far the most dramatic change. And I still need a rag stuffed under the head. I may actually stop looking for a wood pot now...




Pot Clamped


Pot Done

mike gregory - Posted - 05/01/2012:  07:07:53



Anything that can improve tone for under $10, and less than an hour of work, and can be quickly removed if it doesn't work, is worth a tinkering.



Thanks for the information.




Done tinkering

   

Bupahe - Posted - 05/01/2012:  08:52:33


I also have a " bottle cap " and have tried various things to alter the tone. Will now go and try the quilting hoop. Thank you for the tip.

ClayTech - Posted - 05/01/2012:  17:25:38


Let me know your results!

xnavyguy - Posted - 05/01/2012:  17:31:13



Neil,



Congratulations on your discovering the wonder and potential of your bottlecap.


ClayTech - Posted - 05/01/2012:  19:12:58


Thanks, xnavyguy. I love the durability of the aluminum rim since I've got small kids and dogs running amok in the house. It's great to finally have it sound like something worth playing. I'm even going to try putting the resonator back on!

aeroweenie - Posted - 05/01/2012:  19:56:53



Brilliant!


banjered - Posted - 05/01/2012:  21:54:56


Great! Now can you call it a spun UNDER? Ha! Banjered

Bupahe - Posted - 05/03/2012:  12:40:27


Hi ClayTech,

I couldn't get hold of any quilting hoops. well none as reasonable as the ones you bought over in the US, so as I had some 1/4" thick Balsa wood lying around the house I thought I would try that, I soaked it well and cut it into 2 half hoops . Bingo , it worked ,I really like the sound now. I'm not going to put my resonator back on the banjo again though. I have the thicker Aquila Minstrel strings on it and have been trying the dADF#A tuning. I reckon now it's just about right. Thank you for the tip.

goldtopia - Posted - 05/04/2012:  00:37:06



Very good tips, well worth remembering.



Bill.O

motleyminstrels.co.uk

motleyminstrels.co.uk


ken61 - Posted - 05/04/2012:  04:08:30



GReat, I found some hoops my wife is not using, now  if I could only find a bottlecap, I could tinker some more.



ken


arkred - Posted - 05/04/2012:  06:37:05


A bottlecap banjo. That's a new one for me. But as a friend of mine told me once, "There are more of the "ferrin" banjos being played than Deering's or Gibson's". I've found that a little tweaking helps any banjo sound better. I've changed heads, bridges, strings, etc. on these "bottlecaps" and had good results. Thanks for the tip about the quilting hoops. The next bottlecap I get in for an adjustment I'll see if the customer will let me try that.

ClayTech - Posted - 05/04/2012:  12:27:36



quote:


Originally posted by Bupahe




Hi ClayTech,



I couldn't get hold of any quilting hoops. well none as reasonable as the ones you bought over in the US, so as I had some 1/4" thick Balsa wood lying around the house I thought I would try that, I soaked it well and cut it into 2 half hoops . Bingo , it worked ,I really like the sound now. I'm not going to put my resonator back on the banjo again though. I have the thicker Aquila Minstrel strings on it and have been trying the dADF#A tuning. I reckon now it's just about right. Thank you for the tip.








Sweet! Good to know it wasn't just my banjo it worked on.


ClayTech - Posted - 05/04/2012:  12:31:00


arkred- If you're changing out the head it would definitely be easier to do it then rather than snaking it around the rod like I did. Probably be a 10 minute job with the head off. But even with the head on it's pretty darn quick compared to steam bending your own hoops. Now if I can just figure out how to build an entire pot out of quilting hoops and paper clips....

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 05/04/2012:  13:45:59



I used a cast-off section of 3-ply rim cut off to install a metal tone ring from some one els's project.- there's a blog on my homepage about it "WaldoTone"   I would think Balsa would really dampen the sound rather than just warming it up some, but if you are looking for a "plunkier" sound and using nylon strings, that might be exactly what you want.


ClayTech - Posted - 05/05/2012:  10:37:18


Klondike- your blog post is what inspired me to try this. I had read it a few monts back and had been thinking about ways for me to do it without having an old wood rim laying around, and without fabricating my own rim.

The quilting hoops I used are made of fairly soft wood, 3 layers laminated together. I use 3 hoops, so a total of 9 layers. Even though the wood is soft, it hasn't affected the volume of the banjo at all. I think that more than anything it just absorbs a lot of vibration in the aluminum and keeps it from ringing so much. Before, the 5th string would ring forever. The wood is putting very little pressure against the head, since it's just pushed up against it. It's not above it and holding head. So there it's having a similar effect to stuffing a rag under the head.

The main changes to the sound are that the note separation is much better and the sustain is considerably less. It doesn't get all muddy after strumming a cord. It's also plunkier, with a bit of that plunky 'pop' sound when you play a note.

I'm still using light steel strings, but I'm thinking of switching them out for medium. Thoughts on that?

xnavyguy - Posted - 05/05/2012:  19:30:21



Neil,



If I were you, I would stay with the lighter strings.  My experience with heavier strings is that, while there may be a slight increase in volume, they feel a lot more constipated to my right hand and "seem" to require a lot more digging to get the same amount of sound as the lighter strings.  I think, ultimately, it boils down to a preference issue and whether or not you like the feel of the heavier strings.  I'm not that sure that there would be a lot of difference in the sound.


Bupahe - Posted - 05/05/2012:  23:15:12


Hi Klondike, I looked at your page and found the photos interesting, and will go back and read the info. on Bottlecaps when I have some more time later on. Thank you.
Like Claytech I didn't have anything remotely like a spare wood rim lying around and the only quilting hoops that I could find were just too expensive, so it had to be the quarter of an inch Balsa.I have just finished sanding and tidying it up and am quite pleased with the sound. Yes it is plunkier but it has lost the sharpness that I wasn't too keen on. The 4th string still has the sustain but in the lower tunings it doesn't seem to be as noticeable.
Had to change the strings to the heavier Aquila Nylgut Minstrel strings when I went down to the lower tunings, as I found the lighter strings would slip across the neck when I was playing making " pull offs " useless. However the slipping could I guess, be because my hands are smaller and lighter female hands , not able to hold down the lighter strings firmly enough.

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 05/06/2012:  15:48:25



Neil, Sylvia, Jerry, I'm happy we're all discovering new ways to have fun with our bottlecap banjos.  I like my light weight banjo. If i fell the need to lug around a heavy instrument, I have a 20 lb tuba which can hold its own against 20 banjos (or more)wink


xnavyguy - Posted - 05/06/2012:  18:42:53



quote:


Originally posted by Klondike Waldo




Neil, Sylvia, Jerry, I'm happy we're all discovering new ways to have fun with our bottlecap banjos.  I like my light weight banjo. If i fell the need to lug around a heavy instrument, I have a 20 lb tuba which can hold its own against 20 banjos (or more)wink






Bob,



Today, I 'bout decided to get rid of my two tone ring banjos.  Every once in awhile, I get them out when I'm practicing, just to see if they have any advantage over my light-weights.  Turns out the only advantage they have is the extra weight which really makes my neck hurt.  Maybe, if I didn't spend so much time playing, I could get use to using a heavy banjo but I'm toast after having one of those things around my neck for as little as 15 minutes.


Klondike Waldo - Posted - 05/07/2012:  08:44:13



Jerry, I am of the opinion that playing should be pleasurable, or it's no longer playing, it's just working.  If you have a banjo (or banjos) you like playing, what else do you need?



 



(BTW, 20 lbs is light for a BBb tuba) I don't even know what my bagpipes weigh, but I can play them for over an hour at a time, and that is standing up and marching.


vintagewells - Posted - 05/07/2012:  11:12:42


I did it the hard way with block rims inside, one mahogany and one walnut.
I had a chance to play a unlined bottlecap with full resonator yesterday, and my teeth are still on edge.....
I love the quilting hoop idea, and be sure to check out thrift stores, swap meets, and yard sales for extra savings. Not only are they wider than embroidery hoops, they are thicker.
I take one of mine with me anytime I am going to be outside for a while, like when we are set up at the antique fair, and it survives the 110 days better than I do. I took the resonator off that one. so it is light weight.

carpenter68 - Posted - 05/09/2012:  03:24:42


OK Guys, now I'm hooked! I'll try this one too. There is a 1/2" beech rim layin' around....I just disassembled my bottlecap and start right away to fit it in. I'm really curious how it turns out, I'll let you know. Here's the starting point:
greets Ole



bottlecap and wood rim before marriage

   

xnavyguy - Posted - 05/09/2012:  06:07:03



quote:


Originally posted by carpenter68




OK Guys, now I'm hooked! I'll try this one too. There is a 1/2" beech rim layin' around....I just disassembled my bottlecap and start right away to fit it in. I'm really curious how it turns out, I'll let you know. Here's the starting point:

greets Ole






The easiest approach, and the way I did my last one, is to cut a wide enough chunk out of the wood rim so that you can compress it and fit it inside the aluminum rim.  Check our Bob Cameron's (Klondike Waldo) blog on how he did his WaldoTone.


carpenter68 - Posted - 05/09/2012:  09:52:58


thanks Navyguy, did already. You guys have lots of good ideas to grade up our bottlecaps!!!
I sew out a piece of the rim and fitted it in the rim. Now I stained it and will put it in later for drilling the co rod holes. Kinda exited..lol

ClayTech - Posted - 05/09/2012:  11:17:12



quote:


Originally posted by carpenter68




OK Guys, now I'm hooked! I'll try this one too. There is a 1/2" beech rim layin' around....I just disassembled my bottlecap and start right away to fit it in. I'm really curious how it turns out, I'll let you know. Here's the starting point:

greets Ole






That is a beautiful aluminum rim! What brand is it?


carpenter68 - Posted - 05/09/2012:  11:30:21


Hi Claytech,
it's just a regular one. The Banjo was labeled Collins, they're sold pretty good here in germany/europe.
But since I didn't like the appearance of the whole instrument, I started pimping it up.
The rim was sanded, primed and then gold laquered, that's about it...
You're welcome to see some pics of it on my homepage here, I also posted a thread about it.

greets
Ole

carpenter68 - Posted - 05/09/2012:  11:36:48


Here's the thread:
banjohangout.org/topic/231363

ClayTech - Posted - 05/09/2012:  12:36:42


Gold paint! Whoda thunkit? It looks great. Now I'm thinking about painting mine.....

Kevin B - Posted - 05/09/2012:  17:41:00



Usually when this topic comes up a member from Australia (I think) posts pics of bottle caps that he sections and fits to a wood rim like a traditional flange, tone ring combo.  I found the link banjohangout.org/archive/183807



Edited by - Kevin B on 05/09/2012 17:54:44

ClayTech - Posted - 05/10/2012:  09:42:45



quote:


Originally posted by Kevin B




Usually when this topic comes up a member from Australia (I think) posts pics of bottle caps that he sections and fits to a wood rim like a traditional flange, tone ring combo.  I found the link banjohangout.org/archive/183807






Thanks for the link. I don't think I've got the guts to cut my rim in half like that!



On schedule for this weekend: a new No-Knot tailpiece and medium strings, both from Stewmac. After that I'm going to replace the plastic nut with bone.


ClayTech - Posted - 05/15/2012:  19:26:18



This past weekend I installed a new StewMac cheapo No-Knot tailpiece and a new set of medium strings. I love the tailpiece, and the simplicity of putting on the new strings. The medium strings, which were my first, were awful! I've read several people saying how it helped tone down their aluminum rim, but on mine it just sounded dead. No volume, no sustain, no pluckiness. I did like the feel of them, but the sound was not good. Maybe without the other changes to the banjo, like the wood inner rim, they would have been acceptable. I tried them for a couple of days and never could get them to sound good, so off they went and a new set of light strings went on.


Riley Stokes - Posted - 08/29/2012:  15:15:34


Speaking of bottlecaps... does anyone have a spare WOODEN ARMREST they'd care to part with? I have a nice custom cherrywood banjo and put a chromed bottlecap a.r. on it, but it's just too much chrome. And heavy. Rosewood would be nice. I see them on some bottlecaps and they look about as good as anything out there.

And to whomever (on page one of this thread) was asking where to find a bottlecap banjo.... I see a new one about every two weeks on Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) Craigslist. They mostly look as-new in the pix. People buy and never learn to play. A couple have been as low as $100 -- a bargain for a nice-playing beater-camper-picnic banjo. I'd say go to $175 for one in really nice condition, especially if with any kind of case. Mine goes hiking with me.

Riley

ClayTech - Posted - 08/29/2012:  15:54:06


There's usually about a dozen bottlecaps on ebay at a time. Most are going for around $125 lately. I have seen wood arm rests on there, too.

Riley Stokes - Posted - 08/31/2012:  18:37:52


I see that that modification won't work in my bottlecap. It's got an inner flange (shelf? trough?), part of the one-piece casting, inside the rim and right up next to the head. It's like it was designed to be an inner tone ring, thereby making an archtop (I guess you could say). The inner flange, thoug, is not a tone ring, as it's about .020" short of the head. Since this thing is part of the casting, I'm sure it adds considerable strength to the whole structure. What else it does, I don't know.

But the flange gives me the opportunity (and thanks to you guys, the inspiration) to remove the head and install in this trough a secondary tone ring. Just let it stick up .030" or so above the built-in aluminum tone ring and I've got a wooden tone ring. A couple of wood shims will hold it in place while the head is tightened. And since this wooden ring will become the tone ring, I'll take my time finding a hardwood hoop that'll give this the best chance to work.

Anybody else got a b.c. with an inner flange like that? Mine looks plain vanilla otherwise: star points all around that I ground down; same rod attachment, etc. Brand name Maya, which I believe is or was a European importer of guitars as well as banjos. I bought the thing in 1978 in Amsterdam. Where else would an American living then in Germany buy a Japanese-made African-American instrument?

Riley

Helix - Posted - 08/31/2012:  21:46:53


Riley, you can just snuggle a liner up against the lip. Your idea of a wooden tone ring on top is superb.

My wife has a late 70's Guild which has a square tubing ring welded just .020 under the inside lip of the rim. There are holes 'trumpets' drilled facing inward. (The Stromberg Cup-O-Phone had the holes drilled facing downward. I think downward facing holes drilled at an angle have been under utilized, if at all. The square and triangular tubing tone rings are hard to roll without a die, but still quite possible for a one-timer.

The others I have seen use a cast-ion trough with inward facing holes to make a shallow archtop, chilling, like a brittle aluminum mountain bike,

The reason they don't touch the bottom of the head is known by others.

The first liner I saw was xnavyguy's

Waldo's solution is exquisite.

See? this IS banjo building.

Great thread, i learned a lot. Get vertical bamboo flooring, works great, less filling.

Kevin B - Posted - 09/01/2012:  05:57:21



Another source for lining rims if you can't find quilty hoops is flexible plywood.  Here is a link to a post about an 8" rim I used clamping it around a PVC form.  You would just need to change it to your rim as an inside form. banjohangout.org/topic/238059


Klondike Waldo - Posted - 09/01/2012:  12:10:37



quote:


Originally posted by Helix




Riley, you can just snuggle a liner up against the lip. Your idea of a wooden tone ring on top is superb.



My wife has a late 70's Guild which has a square tubing ring welded just .020 under the inside lip of the rim. There are holes 'trumpets' drilled facing inward. (The Stromberg Cup-O-Phone had the holes drilled facing downward. I think downward facing holes drilled at an angle have been under utilized, if at all. The square and triangular tubing tone rings are hard to roll without a die, but still quite possible for a one-timer.



The others I have seen use a cast-ion trough with inward facing holes to make a shallow archtop, chilling, like a brittle aluminum mountain bike,



The reason they don't touch the bottom of the head is known by others.



The first liner I saw was xnavyguy's



Waldo's solution is exquisite.



See? this IS banjo building.



Great thread, i learned a lot. Get vertical bamboo flooring, works great, less filling.






Thank you, Helix. coming from the king of thinking outside the box, I consider that a  real compliment.


Riley Stokes - Posted - 09/01/2012:  16:00:01


I had a "superb" idea? Be right back. I've gotta go tell my wife!

Riley

Seriously, though, installing a wooden hoop of some kind -- 1/4" thick or a little more would do it -- into the cast-in trough inside my bottlecap's rim is going to be a dead easy mod. I see I have some veneered wall paneling in the basement that is curling up with summer dampness down there. Good enough for a prototype anyhow. It'll raise the head, therefore the action, a few thousandths, but the action's a little low as it is.

steve j. - Posted - 10/03/2012:  11:19:46



quote:


Originally posted by ClayTech




After reading many about many possible solutions to improving the sound of my old aluminum bottle cap, I finally tried adding a wood ring to the interior f the pot. Since I don't have the time or equipment necessary to steam bend my own wood, I went in search of pre-bent wood hoops. My initial thought was embroidery hoops, but while at the fabric store I found some quilting hoops, which are much wider. So for around $9.50 I picked up two 14" hoops. Each consists of two individual hoops, so 4 wood hoops total. I installed 3 of the hoops in the pot, pushing them right up against the head, and glued them together. They are not attached to the pot in any way, just friction. I had to notch them around the rod, but no big deal. The whole project took about 30 minutes.



The quality of sound coming out of my bottle cap banjo has dramatically changed for the better! The ringy echoes are gone, and the melody notes can now be heard separate from the rhythm. It's really an amazing difference in tone. Previously I had put on an Elite head and heavy Moon bridge, both of which helped, but the wood ring was by far the most dramatic change. And I still need a rag stuffed under the head. I may actually stop looking for a wood pot now...






 wonderful idea !! thanks


Riley Stokes - Posted - 10/03/2012:  23:03:41



As I read ClayTech's original post, the essence of his idea is that his liner of wood pushes up against the head.  Thus, he isn't just lining the aluminum rim with wood to damp those jangling overtones, he's forming in effect an auxiliary tone ring.  He's modifying the way the head vibrates, and what it vibrates against.  So before I ramble much farther, I hope people can follow the description I gave above of the construction of my bottlecap, which seems different from some.  The inner trough is probably there for tonal reasons (though it doesn't quite touch the head), and, as I said, it must add a lot of strength to the structure of the rim.  I'll mention here that neither use nor have the original resonator.  This is a converted openback, with the sharp star-points ground down (a lot of work with a file!).



Anyway, my idea, given how my bottlecap is constructed, was to fit a wooden tone ring inside that trough and right up against the aluminum lip, which forms the integral tone ring over which the head is stretched; but my wood hoop would be taller, thus forming the "real" tone ring.  There'd be nothing auxiliary about it.  A trip to the thrift store yielded a 12" embroidery hoop.  It's actually two hoops, inner and outer, and the outer hoop has a metal adjustment.  Each hoop is 1/2-inch wide and .180-inch thick, and I believe the wood is bamboo (the marking is "Made in Taiwan").  I steamed and bent the outer ring to make it a tight fit  inside the trough, then sawed and filed to exact length.  I radiused the outer edges slightly with sandpaper to avoid cutting the plastic head.  I considered joining the wooden ends but then realized that head tension  would hold the ends together just fine.  Now, wanting an archtop effect, so that my wooden hoop would in effect "short circuit" the aluminum rim, I shimmed the hoop's height (using steel hex nuts --  possibly too metallic a choice)  to make my inner tone ring .050" higher than the aluminum rim.  You can pick any height you like, but remember that action and head-to-neck setup will change. With everything reassembled, the head is still stretched over the metal lip (in effect, the former tone ring).  But since the wooden ring stands higher, and is inside the metal one, it has now become the actual tone ring.



The resulting tone is definitely woodier, less metallic.  Overtones are attenuated noticeably.  It sounds sweeter (a word you'd rarely associate with bottlecaps!).  I still play with a cotton bandanna stuffed under the head, but it's mostly just to cut volume now, not modify the tone.  When playing outdoors I remove the bandanna and let it ring.  I would NOT describe the change as a step toward "plunky," however, because the sustain is quite long.  Not "guitar long," but pretty long for a banjo.  Since I pick and sing (or try to), a little sustain is welcome.  I'd further say that the overall musicality and articulation are enhanced.  The instrument just "sings" better.   I have a Bart Reiter Special and another openback with cherry rim by Dan Pennington (penndan here on the BHO) and 12" Renaissance head.  My modified Maya bottlecap sounds very different from both of those (which, to be sure, sound quite different from each other as well), but the tone is not necessarily worse.  It sounds in fact as though it were meant to be an openback clawhammer banjo from the beginning.  The action is higher but quite playable (it was low to begin with).  DISCLAIMER: I've played guitar since JFK was president, and graduated to quality instruments -- Gibson, Martin, Santa Cruz, etc -- long ago.  But I've played  banjo, to any serious degree, only 13 months, and I have not been exposed to a great range of openback instruments.



There is NO WAY I'd remove the above modification.  The new sound is simply more pleasant.   What I probably will do is replace those steel nuts with shims of hardwood. And what I MIGHT do is replace the original head with a Fiberskyn, which should further tame the beast.   Right now, I'm using the original tailpiece with a bit of downpressure dialed in, but there's plenty of room there for experimentation. And, oh yeah... the second-hand hoop cost 75 cents, the nuts about $1.50.  What that is in Euros or Pounds Sterling I don't know, but I'm guessing it ain't much.



Riley


ClayTech - Posted - 10/04/2012:  09:36:00



Awsome, Riley. Got any photos?


Riley Stokes - Posted - 10/04/2012:  20:56:09


Sorry, no photos. I wish. I'm only in this century by some horrible mistake. Since writing last night, I've been playing all three banjos today to see if what I said is really justified. It is. This modified openback bottlecap is a really nice-sounding instrument. What I said in all those paragraphs simply boils down to: figure out a way to get WOOD between your bottlecap banjo's head and the cast aluminum rim. I'd try to short-circuit that aluminum rim (aka tone ring) entirely, but ClayTech's approach apparently works just as well. For a woody tone, you need wood.

Riley Stokes


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