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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: About an old Gibson Trapdoor.


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/354431

CGDA - Posted - 06/04/2019:  02:29:51


Hello.
I have an old trapdoor with a short scale neck (20 fret-13"). The tenor I normally use has a scale 15"2/8, 19 fret. My question is: on that short neck tenor is better to use thick or fat strings?
Thank you for answering.

Knows Picker - Posted - 06/04/2019:  06:35:17


In general I always think that lighter is safer.

If you want more Thump, change to a thicker head.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 06/04/2019:  06:41:26


Generally speaking, a shorter scale requires heavier strings in order to maintain any semblance of tension. I hjave seen exceptions to this, however.

I do suspct that your scale length measurements are not accurate. A short scale is usually about 19-21 inches, and a long 19 fret tenor is usually 22-23 inches. The correct way to measure scale length is to measure from the nut to the 12th fret and double that distance. That doesn't make any difference in the fact that short strings usually need to be heavier, however.

When I had a trapdoor tenor a number of years ago, I found that slightly heavier-than standard strings worked well. I only remember that the bottom "C" string was .032 wound. I can't recall the rest.

Banjotrading - Posted - 06/04/2019:  08:04:21


I have a very short scale trap door (as in my profile pic) with tone ring and it seems to like 10s > 13>24>33 with the best sound using bronze on bass.. just a personal preference though as I have played around with different single string sizes.

CGDA - Posted - 06/04/2019:  09:57:59


I apologize, the correct question was "Thin or thick strings?". I can't understand how other weird words came on.frown. I see that you have understood, anyway! Thank everybody for answering.



Marco

CGDA - Posted - 06/04/2019:  10:03:02


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Generally speaking, a shorter scale requires heavier strings in order to maintain any semblance of tension. I hjave seen exceptions to this, however.



I do suspct that your scale length measurements are not accurate. A short scale is usually about 19-21 inches, and a long 19 fret tenor is usually 22-23 inches. The correct way to measure scale length is to measure from the nut to the 12th fret and double that distance. That doesn't make any difference in the fact that short strings usually need to be heavier, however



When I had a trapdoor tenor a number of years ago, I found that slightly heavier-than standard strings worked well. I only remember that the bottom "C" string was .032 wound. I can't recall the rest.






I will repeat the measurement the way you suggest. Thanx.



 

CGDA - Posted - 06/04/2019:  10:15:37


George, I measured the Gibson's fretboard from nut to 12th fret = 9". That's correct according to your instructions. Thank you so much!
Marco

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 06/04/2019:  13:07:03


I had forgotten just how short the scales were on those old Gibsons. Most 17 fret tenors are a bit longer, although some of the very early tenor banjos tend to be on the short side scale-wise. I suspect that your trapdoor is like the one I had; 17 frets from headsock to pot with a fretboard extension for the other three. It's fun trying to change heads on those.

By then way, I always enjoy hearing you play.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 06/05/2019:  08:31:59


quote:

Originally posted by Tbert

I have a very short scale trap door (as in my profile pic) with tone ring and it seems to like 10s > 13>24>33 with the best sound using bronze on bass.. just a personal preference though as I have played around with different single string sizes.






That sounds pretty close to what I used on my trapdoor Gibson back when I owned it. I think I used a .012 , .016, .024w, and .032w.  Mine also had the tone ring.



I wouldn't bet on these sizes working as well on the lesser models without the ring, though. I currently bang on a Slingerland 17 fret banjo with a simple metal rod instead of a tone ring, and strangely enough, it requires lighter-than-usual strings in order to sound decent: .009, .014, .022w. I couldn't find any steel 4th that worked--they were all too stiff and dull sounding--so I am using a classical guitar "A" string for that one.



 

CGDA - Posted - 06/05/2019:  13:04:04


That's my basic trapdoor. No tone ring.


G Edward Porgie - Posted - 06/05/2019:  13:48:43


If I had one like yours, I'd still try the heavier strings first.



I've always had to do some experimenting to find what works for me on any banjo. It's always best to start with the idea that shorter strings need to be a little heavier to maintain the proper tension. It's simple physics.

Banjotrading - Posted - 06/05/2019:  14:09:38


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

quote:

Originally posted by Tbert

I have a very short scale trap door (as in my profile pic) with tone ring and it seems to like 10s > 13>24>33 with the best sound using bronze on bass.. just a personal preference though as I have played around with different single string sizes.






That sounds pretty close to what I used on my trapdoor Gibson back when I owned it. I think I used a .012 , .016, .024w, and .032w.  Mine also had the tone ring.



I wouldn't bet on these sizes working as well on the lesser models without the ring, though. I currently bang on a Slingerland 17 fret banjo with a simple metal rod instead of a tone ring, and strangely enough, it requires lighter-than-usual strings in order to sound decent: .009, .014, .022w. I couldn't find any steel 4th that worked--they were all too stiff and dull sounding--so I am using a classical guitar "A" string for that one.



 






The short scale I use seems  finicky with different humidity and it seems  I change the A string size and bridge alot depending on conditions to get the sound I like.  It's nice when you get it dialed in as they can really sing with good sustain.  I pretty much use it as a campfire banjo now.

Banjotrading - Posted - 06/05/2019:  14:17:17


quote:

Originally posted by CGDA

That's my basic trapdoor. No tone ring.






Cute little well built banjo, probably 10.75 inch head?   I put a frosted (inside) on mine and play it alot at my cabin.  With your talent you will get it dialed in soon.  Post some vid when you do.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 06/05/2019:  18:54:56


quote:

Originally posted by Tbert

quote:

Originally posted by CGDA

That's my basic trapdoor. No tone ring.






Cute little well built banjo, probably 10.75 inch head?   I put a frosted (inside) on mine and play it alot at my cabin.  With your talent you will get it dialed in soon.  Post some vid when you do.






Actually, it's a 10 1/2 inch head. Not all crown heights seem to be available in that size. I had to use a medium crown with a portion of the mounting hoop cut away in order for it to fit in the neck notch.



It's been a number or years now since I've changed a head on a trapdoor, and maybe they are now available with a low crown.

CGDA - Posted - 06/06/2019:  03:04:07


Tom, is also your trapdoor ringless? I barely used that banjo: one time for a gig, one time to record this tune:



youtu.be/lrNGUpa03n4



Sorry for posting an instrument badly tuned, part of the problem was because the pitch changes the more frets are pressed by the fingers (!)



P.S. My trapdoor gets a 10" 1/2 head.


Edited by - CGDA on 06/06/2019 03:07:17

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 06/06/2019:  05:53:03


quote:

Originally posted by CGDA

Tom, is also your trapdoor ringless? I barely used that banjo: one time for a gig, one time to record this tune:



youtu.be/lrNGUpa03n4



Sorry for posting an instrument badly tuned, part of the problem was because the pitch changes the more frets are pressed by the fingers (!)



P.S. My trapdoor gets a 10" 1/2 head.






Heavier strings can sometimes help with tuning issues. Lighter strings will flex more when they are fretted, altering the pitch.



Another thing that can happen is that if the neck isn't tight enough to the pot, it can flex as you play. 



 

Banjotrading - Posted - 06/06/2019:  07:53:44


quote:

Originally posted by CGDA

Tom, is also your trapdoor ringless? I barely used that banjo: one time for a gig, one time to record this tune:



youtu.be/lrNGUpa03n4



Sorry for posting an instrument badly tuned, part of the problem was because the pitch changes the more frets are pressed by the fingers (!)



P.S. My trapdoor gets a 10" 1/2 head.






Very nice playing, Marco,  I understand the frets are really close together..



   I was mistaken mine is also a 10.5" head ..I just looked up the invoice...as Georgie said hard to find many options.



Mine does have a bronze tone ring with holes.. adjustable rod...etc... I had a short video clip I posted of it last year, but cant find it now.



Can I ask what video editing, camera setup you use...its awesome.

CGDA - Posted - 06/06/2019:  09:07:07


quote:

Originally posted by Tbert

 


Can I ask what video editing, camera setup you use...its awesome.






 



That's my stuff:



Camera = Samsung HMX - H200P



Digital sound recorder = Boss - BR600



Microphone = Behringer T47



Mixing software = Nero



Camera is set up full auto.



 



 


Edited by - CGDA on 06/06/2019 09:11:04

Banjotrading - Posted - 06/06/2019:  11:54:53


Nice clean setup...very nice for home studio

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