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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Sullivan Rim Comparison Videos - Vintage 35's

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9470 Granada - Posted - 09/13/2019:  10:17:17

Here's a couple new Sullivan Vintage 35's I have at the house. They are both set up the same with head tension etc..
The 2019 has a roasted mahogany neck and a roasted Factory Floor block rim. The 2017 is a normal stock Vintage 35 mahogany with a 3-ply rim.
Let me know your thoughts and opinions. Eric sure makes a fine banjo.

Emiel - Posted - 09/13/2019:  10:23:41

The "Vintage" sounds deeper and fuller, more interestingly sounding… The normal sounds good too.

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  11:57:11

my thoughts
the 17 has a few more lower overtones,the 19 has the low but not as much but a little more zing

The Old Timer - Posted - 09/13/2019:  16:31:08

I like the "normal" 2017 a tiny bit better because it is a tiny bit "drier". Clearer tones with less "sizzle", by a tiny bit. I don't like flat heads to "sizzle" or "zing".

jchipps_1 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  19:23:36

They both sound extremely good.

But my ears give the 2019 the edge.
Just seems to have a little something extra and better clarity.

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  21:11:01

my mahogany blaylock on a factory floor has zero zing, I would like to have one that had all kinds of ringy highs since I never had one. Maybe one of those roasted rims and the stuhll # 4 from what I have read about it. Of course a maple neck. The blaylock ain't going anywhere either

chuckv97 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  21:47:48

Both excellent,, I like the 2019 a bit better,, I like the fuller sound

KDBanjo - Posted - 09/15/2019:  10:22:36

Both are great but I prefer the 2019. To my ears better clarity and more of the old dry sound.

lightgauge - Posted - 09/15/2019:  14:47:13

I have been a V35 fan since they started, so listened 2 days before commenting. I prefer the 2019 both days. It seems warmer and fuller while maintaining clarity.

Bk2olKY - Posted - 09/15/2019:  17:18:28

I like the 2019 much better! It seems more open and complex. Great sustain. Even with the overtones, there is a nice softness to it. But both are nice. The '17 is definitely darker. More clarity, maybe more punch, but also one-dimensional. How do they feel? I bet that '19 is humming.

lazyarcher - Posted - 09/16/2019:  06:36:42

The '19 is just a bit bigger, like all the tones have just a bit more of everything

KD Banjer - Posted - 09/16/2019:  07:02:37

I own Sullivan banjos with several of their rim types, and although I really like them all, the new Factory Floor block rim V35 that I have has a definite and noticeable superiority in tone and power... It's an incredible rim (and banjo).

I don't have the ROASTED FFloor block rim that rim has (I have the UNroasted FFloor block rim), but I did get the chance to play Jim's V35 roasted FFloor block rim banjo while it was at Eric's shop, and it is a very impressive banjo. Very impressive.

Tim Purcell - Posted - 09/16/2019:  15:27:10

I definitely like the 2019 model better! It has more "twang" and clarity and sounds a little more responsive. The notes really pop off the head and it has really nice note separation. Great pickin', Jim!!

I personally think the Sullivan rings are some of the best rings on the market!

I'm curious if the those roasted block rims are red maple?


esullivan - Posted - 09/16/2019:  17:43:01


Thank you so much for the kind words. Our standard roasted maple block rims are red maple rims. The same exact wood we make our roasted maple bridges from.

On our regular Factory Floor and roasted Factory Floor block
maple rims what I currently know for sure is that the maple came from a building that was built in 1870 in northern Wisconsin.

As far as mechanical aspects our block rims are stiffer, more stable, more resonant, and lighter than the standard three ply rims being used today. So far we have experienced nothing but great success with them both with and without tone rings.


Dpilg - Posted - 09/16/2019:  19:17:25

I have the Sullivan V35 ring, and factory floor roasted, block rim combination. Absolutely love it every time I pick it up to play. Its hard to put down. I have it with a mahogany neck, and resonator. I have compared it in same room as older prewar mahogany, and maple. It has a very identical sound to a prewar mahogany to the point I have done blind sound tests, and it is very difficult to determine a difference.
Setup is always important to the overall sound.

Eric does the best work available after comparing to other builders out there in my

I plan on this being my lifetime banjo, and will never sell but hand down in the family.

Looking forward to doing another build and I believe the block factory, or block roasted factory is the only way to go.
Spending large amounts on prewar's makes no since to me.

The block roasted is a little lighter but gives a unique resonant sound. This rim has
no reason to be effected by humidity and expect it to be stable for many years to come. I have found it comes into its own with little lower head tension with deep 4th string and rings out up the neck and keeps on giving no matter how hard you play it.
I found that at normal head tension it would peel paint as it is said, with little effort.

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/16/2019:  20:43:37

If the mic is set the same ,to me the 17 is louder

jason999 - Posted - 09/18/2019:  05:37:03

They sound very good and your picking is great. I'm surprised that everyone is saying they are different. I would think that almost no one could tell them apart, if they listened to these videos blind. In person may be a different story.

9470 Granada - Posted - 10/15/2019:  12:50:33

Thanks for the feedback everyone. The 2017 has sold but the 2019 is still settling in and getting even better.

tlong - Posted - 10/15/2019:  16:14:23

The 2017 has a presto tailpiece while the 2019 has a two hump I have noticed some tonal change when I switched them out

9470 Granada - Posted - 10/16/2019:  12:47:38


Originally posted by tlong

The 2017 has a presto tailpiece while the 2019 has a two hump I have noticed some tonal change when I switched them out

Hey Ted, I've swapped many the tailpiece and you are exactly right. I will say the tonal differences between these 2 banjos is more than the different tailpieces. As we know the videos give a good representation of the sound but no substitute for having it in your hands.

tlong - Posted - 10/16/2019:  13:23:07

Hey Jim I totally agree with that. I think wood has as much or more effect on tone than the ring given that they are of similar mass

heavy5 - Posted - 10/16/2019:  14:17:07

19 has a bit more sustain to my ears , but it is a close call .

If u want some more pizazz added to your banjo , try one pf Tim's "old maple" bridges which he doesn't advertise . If u don't like it , I can take the heat :0)

I think I have 6 of these bridges now .

Edited by - heavy5 on 10/16/2019 14:17:48

9470 Granada - Posted - 10/18/2019:  06:35:12


Originally posted by tlong

Hey Jim I totally agree with that. I think wood has as much or more effect on tone than the ring given that they are of similar mass

I agree... The overall "voice" of a banjo comes from the wood. The mahogany sound, curly maple sound, walnut sound are dependant on the neck. The veneer on the resonator is mainly cosmetic. Man can create metal but he can't create old wood (especially noticed in Prewar Gibsons). I believe the roasted wood definitely gives something special.

kevin0461 - Posted - 10/19/2019:  16:33:13

I’m the lucky recipient of that 2017 Vintage 35 Jim... awesome to say the least! Thank you!! You can’t beat any Sullivan banjo! My other is a quilted mahogany 2003 Bardstown model made and signed by Bill Sullivan... beautiful!!

9470 Granada - Posted - 10/29/2019:  06:13:54

I've listed this new 2019 Vintage 35 in the classifieds.

Thanks for looking!

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