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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 1925 RB-3 Original Five String Ball Bearing


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/346265

revellfa - Posted - 09/08/2018:  13:14:02


This one is all original except for the head and bridge. Fifth string tuner has been replaced but is in my possession.

FON 8127-16 making it the third or fourth earliest RB-3 Mastertone that we know about.

Let me know what you think.


Chadbanjo - Posted - 09/08/2018:  13:38:46


Is that the same one youve posted videos before with or a new find. Either way it sounds great both styles and i remember the other soundn great to my ears.

Partial to clawhammer though ...real nice sound

Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/08/2018:  16:17:41


I used to have one; shouldn’ta sold it. Mine still had the original 5th peg, which worked fine.

The Old Timer - Posted - 09/08/2018:  20:25:40


O Lordy, an original 5 string. Lucky duck! It sounds great both ways. I believe B.B.s are great "in-the-house" banjos, where top volume or carrying power isn't what's needed.

Thanks!

revellfa - Posted - 09/09/2018:  07:19:26


quote:

Originally posted by The Old Timer

O Lordy, an original 5 string. Lucky duck! It sounds great both ways. I believe B.B.s are great "in-the-house" banjos, where top volume or carrying power isn't what's needed.



Thanks!






The old BB volume debate lol.  I haven't seen too many that lacked volume when set up correctly IMHO.



BBs are all about tone to my ear.  The springyness, the reverb, etc.  

BTuno - Posted - 09/09/2018:  08:13:26


Congrats Frank, NICE! What are your set-up parameters; head tension, height of tone ring above wood rim, strings dia., bridge, TP height, etc. ?

revellfa - Posted - 09/09/2018:  14:54:13


quote:

Originally posted by BTuno

Congrats Frank, NICE! What are your set-up parameters; head tension, height of tone ring above wood rim, strings dia., bridge, TP height, etc. ?






Good question.  Ill check.  It is as I received it in the videos.  Ill tinker a bit...

csacwp - Posted - 09/09/2018:  15:31:13


Could you post some detailed photos of it?

revellfa - Posted - 09/09/2018:  17:36:31


quote:

Originally posted by csacwp

Could you post some detailed photos of it?






Sure will.  

The Old Timer - Posted - 09/09/2018:  19:14:39


Frankie, "springiness" is an excellent word for ball bearing tone! Well done.

Iderhobanjer23 - Posted - 09/09/2018:  20:01:57


Sounds great, Frankie. Just proves it's all about the old wood - the more, the better. I bet if you dropped in one of the flathead conversion rings I would sound very much like an original RB flathead. I think the BB sounds good in it's own right for it's versatility, though. If you're ever selling.........

revellfa - Posted - 09/10/2018:  10:11:57


Thanks Luke! I've sold nearly 100 percent of the banjos I've ever owned so you never know! Yea, I'll bet it would sing like a pre war flat head with a Sullivan conversion ring. There is something about a pre-war RB neck!

Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/10/2018:  10:41:24


Here’s a link to pix of my old one. Should look pretty much like Frankie’s:



frets.com/FretsPages/Museum/Ba.../rb3.html

 

revellfa - Posted - 09/10/2018:  12:39:41


That's really cool Bill. In all my searching online I couldn't find a whole lot. What was your FON?

Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/10/2018:  17:42:30


I have no idea. I had it back in the 70s when folks knew little about FONs, so I never paid attention to it.

Haskells RB3 - Posted - 09/10/2018:  19:02:08


Congradulations. I own its litter mate 8127- 25, original 5 string. Mine has the friction 5th .They sound and play really good, got mine thew Steve Huber years ago . Its on Greg Earnest site.

banjoben10 - Posted - 09/10/2018:  19:36:32


solid banjo

phischer - Posted - 09/10/2018:  19:41:48


Boy that thing really thumps and has such woody voice. I wouldn't switch a thing about it. The old volume debate... If Earl had one that first time at the Opry I am sure it would have sounded great. And Ralp also played an original 5 string BB for some time so it isn't like they haven't been used. I am jealous of that banjo ~ super cool! Couldn't have gone to a better home!


Edited by - phischer on 09/10/2018 19:42:33

revellfa - Posted - 09/10/2018:  20:11:36


quote:

Originally posted by phischer

Boy that thing really thumps and has such woody voice. I wouldn't switch a thing about it. The old volume debate... If Earl had one that first time at the Opry I am sure it would have sounded great. And Ralp also played an original 5 string BB for some time so it isn't like they haven't been used. I am jealous of that banjo ~ super cool! Couldn't have gone to a better home!






Well Casey that about makes my day.  Thanks for those kind words.

phischer - Posted - 09/10/2018:  20:51:15


wink


Edited by - phischer on 09/10/2018 20:51:41

RG - Posted - 09/11/2018:  02:22:18


One of the best old-time sounding banjos in my opinion, CH, 2 finger thumb, 3 finger, whatever... such a versatile banjo, love those old BB's...

revellfa - Posted - 09/11/2018:  08:34:49


quote:

Originally posted by RG

One of the best old-time sounding banjos in my opinion, CH, 2 finger thumb, 3 finger, whatever... such a versatile banjo, love those old BB's...






I couldn't agree more!  Since I play all of those styles (often solo) this is my perfect banjo!  And, I love the tone.

revellfa - Posted - 09/11/2018:  10:47:41


quote:

Originally posted by Haskells RB3

Congradulations. I own its litter mate 8127- 25, original 5 string. Mine has the friction 5th .They sound and play really good, got mine thew Steve Huber years ago . Its on Greg Earnest site.






That's great.  I've seen that one on the site many times.  That was Haskell McCormick's banjo, correct?

revellfa - Posted - 09/11/2018:  10:49:32


quote:

Originally posted by banjoben10

solid banjo






It sure is.  It is also about 3 lbs lighter than a flathead.  Handles all styles, extremely rare, lightweight, sounds old.  What's there not to like?

revellfa - Posted - 09/11/2018:  10:55:28


quote:

Originally posted by revellfa

quote:

Originally posted by BTuno

Congrats Frank, NICE! What are your set-up parameters; head tension, height of tone ring above wood rim, strings dia., bridge, TP height, etc. ?






Good question.  Ill check.  It is as I received it in the videos.  Ill tinker a bit...






So, head tension is about an 88 or so on the drum dial.  Strings feel like custom lights perhaps.  Bridge is a McPeak I think, 5/8 inch, tailpiece is finding it's own way--it is almost touching tension hoop and is sitting at about 3/4 the height of the bridge.  I'll bet it I could find a way to crank her down it would really crack.  As for the height of the tone ring above the wood rim I couldn't measure it but I did stick a nickle in there and had a little more room to spare.  



Since taking this video I shimmed the neck for a little bit lower action.  I'm thinking I could also file the nut down a little bit and perhaps take just a smidge of bow out of the neck by cranking the truss rod just a wee bit.  



The pre-war neck is just dreamy dreamy dreamy.  



Since it is all original I don't plan on tinkering too much more.  I'd put a 40s hide head on it but I would want to find me a pickguard first.  

Haskells RB3 - Posted - 09/11/2018:  12:15:59


Quote,

That's great. I've seen that one on the site many times. That was Haskell McCormick's banjo, correct?



No, that one I sold . This one is a different one. Check  out on the FON on Gregs site. This one has a original Ebony fret board, which is rare but has been seen on others . When I bought this I asked about the fingerboard and Joe Span and Steve Huber confirmed it is original, I believe Joe Span  said His original 5 string Flathead also has a original Ebony fingerboard.


Edited by - Haskells RB3 on 09/11/2018 12:18:10

Brett - Posted - 09/11/2018:  18:29:33


I have only owned one ball bearing but I have also read someone saying crank the head until there is a nickel clearance under the ring. I cannot comprehend what is wrong with those peoples banjos or what’s wrong with mine. I’m confident every flat hook on mine would have no bent hook or threads or the head would break or tension hoop explode if mine was cranked to that spec. My springs cannot be compressed hardly any, if at all. I guess I’m odd man out, I believe Gibson intended to make an assembly that was going to keep the ring from touching rim and used springs to ensure they wouldn’t compress. Maybe mine was just never played and had the original skin head, loose, and my springs didn’t suffer metal fatigue?

revellfa - Posted - 09/12/2018:  06:16:35


quote:

Originally posted by Brett

I have only owned one ball bearing but I have also read someone saying crank the head until there is a nickel clearance under the ring. I cannot comprehend what is wrong with those peoples banjos or what’s wrong with mine. I’m confident every flat hook on mine would have no bent hook or threads or the head would break or tension hoop explode if mine was cranked to that spec. My springs cannot be compressed hardly any, if at all. I guess I’m odd man out, I believe Gibson intended to make an assembly that was going to keep the ring from touching rim and used springs to ensure they wouldn’t compress. Maybe mine was just never played and had the original skin head, loose, and my springs didn’t suffer metal fatigue?






Yea, this is my third ball bearing banjo with the springs and I have to say that it doesn't follow conventional wisdom regarding head tension.  

9470 Granada - Posted - 09/12/2018:  07:17:47


Wow Frankie, this is great. I love those "Ball Bearing" banjos. This one sounds great.
-Jim

Brett - Posted - 09/12/2018:  14:50:04


Is there anyone out there reading who has disassembled a ball bearing and tried to compress one of the springs between their thumb and index finger? Because that’s what I figure it’d take to be able to crank down the ring to a nickel slip? I don’t even think you could put a notched tension hoop and round brackets and crank it that far.
The only reason I’m curious is i don’t think mine is an anomaly and therefore I think the crank the head until the tone ring sits on a nickel clearing above rim is a folk tale. THose unfamiliar with flat hooks could read that and break the heck out of j hooks. It doesn’t take much to ruin flat hooks. It’d be great to dispel that old wives tail if it’s untrue, to prevent some poor soul from ruining their hooks and maybe damaging something else.
I’ve played a half dozen ball bearings of other folks, but have not disassembled but one. At least with mine, absolutely no way the ring could get anywhere close t a nickel laid on top of the rim without collateral damage.
Frankie, like you probably, that was about all the setup advice I found about ball bearings and I just cannot see how it’s possible to put a ball bearing tone ring that far down with it assembled as stock. Maybe whoever started that rumor has no ball bearings r washers, or something’s amiss.

Brett - Posted - 09/12/2018:  15:03:08


OR, it’s a ‘25 only setup trick, mine is a ‘26. Maybe there is some minor tone ring difference? I’m really curious about this....

BTuno - Posted - 09/12/2018:  19:11:03


The nickle spacing came from a fellow BHOer quite awhile back. I've had 3 BBs and strived to set each at that spacing, with pretty good success. Maybe blindly, I just cranked the nuts until that nickel just slipped in. On the first 2, no disasters, no bad effects, sounded good. My current one, a 25 style 5, is not quite there yet, and it sounds good a little wider, so may not push it. I did have to use modern replacement washers on several of the assemblies.

If the spring/washer/bb assembly has been taken out and rearranged, it may change the height of the bb. I've noticed that sometimes the washers are stacked differently in some holes. Heck, some are just pieces of paper! If the washers are removed the bb will sit lower in the assembly. I believe that they were originally used to level the top of the bb so that ring sits evenly, touching each bb before tensioning. Its easy to envision that if a washer is removed or replaced it could change things. That is a WAG!

Then, when tensioning, I believe the head (plastic) will reach a certain tension, then additional tension is absorbed by the springs. The head tension is played against the spring tension. Another WAG. So maybe the Davis ruler & quarter method or drum dial doesn't work very well for bb. The nickle method seemed a better gauge for these banjos, getting it close, then using your ear to get it to sound as you like.

revellfa - Posted - 09/12/2018:  19:22:27


quote:

Originally posted by 9470 Granada

Wow Frankie, this is great. I love those "Ball Bearing" banjos. This one sounds great.

-Jim






Thanks Jim.  I just got done playing it and it is pretty amazing.  Sounds just like I think a banjo ought to sound--I'm a HUGE ball bearing fan.  To own an original five string is an honor beyond my comprehension.  Pre-war necks are amazing.  

revellfa - Posted - 09/12/2018:  19:27:00


quote:

Originally posted by Brett

Is there anyone out there reading who has disassembled a ball bearing and tried to compress one of the springs between their thumb and index finger? Because that’s what I figure it’d take to be able to crank down the ring to a nickel slip? I don’t even think you could put a notched tension hoop and round brackets and crank it that far.

The only reason I’m curious is i don’t think mine is an anomaly and therefore I think the crank the head until the tone ring sits on a nickel clearing above rim is a folk tale. THose unfamiliar with flat hooks could read that and break the heck out of j hooks. It doesn’t take much to ruin flat hooks. It’d be great to dispel that old wives tail if it’s untrue, to prevent some poor soul from ruining their hooks and maybe damaging something else.

I’ve played a half dozen ball bearings of other folks, but have not disassembled but one. At least with mine, absolutely no way the ring could get anywhere close t a nickel laid on top of the rim without collateral damage.

Frankie, like you probably, that was about all the setup advice I found about ball bearings and I just cannot see how it’s possible to put a ball bearing tone ring that far down with it assembled as stock. Maybe whoever started that rumor has no ball bearings r washers, or something’s amiss.






I agree Brett.  I've read about the nickle stuff but I don't think I've gotten anywhere close--nor have I tried.  BBs are simply different creatures.  If you over-tighten they sound pinched and terrible.  

revellfa - Posted - 09/12/2018:  19:28:40


quote:

Originally posted by Brett

OR, it’s a ‘25 only setup trick, mine is a ‘26. Maybe there is some minor tone ring difference? I’m really curious about this....






Well, that could be also.  I've owned two 1925s--one with holes and one without (likely a later 25) and a 1926.  I've never gotten the nickle clearance thing down either.

revellfa - Posted - 09/12/2018:  19:31:17


quote:

Originally posted by BTuno

The nickle spacing came from a fellow BHOer quite awhile back. I've had 3 BBs and strived to set each at that spacing, with pretty good success. Maybe blindly, I just cranked the nuts until that nickel just slipped in. On the first 2, no disasters, no bad effects, sounded good. My current one, a 25 style 5, is not quite there yet, and it sounds good a little wider, so may not push it. I did have to use modern replacement washers on several of the assemblies.



If the spring/washer/bb assembly has been taken out and rearranged, it may change the height of the bb. I've noticed that sometimes the washers are stacked differently in some holes. Heck, some are just pieces of paper! If the washers are removed the bb will sit lower in the assembly. I believe that they were originally used to level the top of the bb so that ring sits evenly, touching each bb before tensioning. Its easy to envision that if a washer is removed or replaced it could change things. That is a WAG!



Then, when tensioning, I believe the head (plastic) will reach a certain tension, then additional tension is absorbed by the springs. The head tension is played against the spring tension. Another WAG. So maybe the Davis ruler & quarter method or drum dial doesn't work very well for bb. The nickle method seemed a better gauge for these banjos, getting it close, then using your ear to get it to sound as you like.






What is WAG Bruce?  As for tensioning I like Don Reno's method--tighten it until it breaks then back off....lol.

revellfa - Posted - 09/12/2018:  19:52:22


...and it should be said that McPeak bridges cannot be beaten on Ball Bearing Banjos. I had a nice Sosabee as well though..

BTuno - Posted - 09/13/2018:  07:57:32


That'd be a Wild A-- Guess

revellfa - Posted - 09/13/2018:  09:35:55


quote:

Originally posted by BTuno

That'd be a Wild A-- Guess






lol.

Dave1climber - Posted - 09/13/2018:  10:24:02


Frankie
Great tone and playing. Makes me want to have an original 25 RB BB.
I have had three BB's apart, and have tried to compress the springs by stacking weights on a BB spring. I had about fifty pounds stacked on one, and the compression was less than 1/64 inch. I have found one BB rim had as many as six washers under the spring, and in the same rim no washers under the spring. This leads me to believe that having all of the BB's touching evenly is more important than the hight of the tone ring above the rim.
Another thing that seems to be important is the fit of the tone ring to the skirt. Too tight seems to choke the tone. I would imagine that too loose might cause strange buzzes.

Brett - Posted - 09/13/2018:  15:25:38


Very interesting posts, I appreciate everyone’s time in providing their results. I find ball bearings interesting. They must be the hardest to setup, because it’s a mixed bag when someone hands you one to play. Most are poorly setup. When you get one that’s been dialed in, it’s different. It’s neither flathead nor archtop sounding, but has its own thing. Like a well dialed in Vega. Except I’ve played even fewer Vegas that were setup good for bluegrass banjo picking, I’m talking about the Pro style or Scruggs style pot. Those are vastly underrated because you can throw a football between the heel and rim on most of those due to those Allen set screws. When that’s corrected, they will also turn on very good. My 66 scruggs neck will vibrate in your hand and crank out a more bell like ode tone with zero neck gap and a Sullivan smoked bridge, whatever he calls them. Those are great bridges.

Dave Stacey - Posted - 09/23/2018:  04:34:47


I re-necked a 1926 BB last year. I love it. Incredibly responsive to play. With the rim assembled and the tension hooks just holding everything loosely in place, the gap between the tone ring and the rim was 109 thou. When cranked up nice and tight (Remo head) the gap was 92 thou. The 17 thou difference is only about half a turn on one of the nuts. It makes me think the design was more about tone and response than compensating for humidity. Pictures on my homepage.


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