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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Tail piece & 5th string tuner for a 1890s banjo


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/357371

britcarfan - Posted - 09/29/2019:  19:20:31


I acquired a Lyon & Healey 5 strings that dates from about 1890s. It doesn’t have a tailpiece I planned on getting a no knot but thought I’d ask the group here about alternatives. I will be using nylon strings.

I will probably need to replace the 5th string tuner on this banjo and would like to know what is a good replacement that won’t look out of place on this age banjo.

When I acquired this banjo I took it apart to do some cleaning. Noticed this extra hole. I’m guessing this was someone’s attempt to change the angle of the neck to improve action.



 

britcarfan - Posted - 09/29/2019:  19:24:49


I was also looking at the pisgah tailpiece Elderly sells. Any opinions.

csacwp - Posted - 09/29/2019:  19:29:58


I would get an Elite or a No Knot. Avoid reproductions... They are NOT made authentically and are terrible with nylon or gut (the slots are often too narrow and have burrs on the insides leading to broken strings. The original No Knots and Elites were of course made with thin gut strings in mind and are a breeze to string up (no tying of knots required!).

britcarfan - Posted - 09/29/2019:  19:46:23


How can I make sure I’m getting an original no knot?

csacwp - Posted - 09/29/2019:  20:12:37


quote:

Originally posted by britcarfan

How can I make sure I’m getting an original no knot?






Buy an antique one from a reputable dealer.



As for the 5th string tuner, go with a regular friction peg. I'd reach out to Bob Smakula or John Bernunzio- either of them might have a suitable vintage one.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 09/29/2019:  20:26:50


quote:

Originally posted by britcarfan

I acquired a Lyon & Healey 5 strings that dates from about 1890s. It doesn’t have a tailpiece I planned on getting a no knot but thought I’d ask the group here about alternatives. I will be using nylon strings.



I will probably need to replace the 5th string tuner on this banjo and would like to know what is a good replacement that won’t look out of place on this age banjo.



When I acquired this banjo I took it apart to do some cleaning. Noticed this extra hole. I’m guessing this was someone’s attempt to change the angle of the neck to improve action.






Lyon & Healy banjos were typically fitted with the "Durkee" tailpiece. They can be hard to find in decent condition...but if when you can find one, they work nicely. I tend to go with No-Knots and I don't mind the modern repros, they just take a few minutes work to sort out. As John says, the notches are usually too narrow for wider modern nylon/nylgut and they usually need to be deburred.



I do love vintage Elite tailpieces...but again, hard to find in good condition. Frankly, if you want a fine, vintage looking tailpiece that just works, get one from Joel Hooks...and while your at it, get a bridge or two from him.



That extra hole is very common, I have a couple of Stewarts similarly afflicted. Shame.

britcarfan - Posted - 09/29/2019:  21:18:27


Trapdoor2 is the extra hole there for the reason I stated? Also I went to Joel hooks website. It shows an icon for tail piece but won't open to give a list or pricing.

csacwp - Posted - 09/29/2019:  22:03:22


quote:

Originally posted by britcarfan

Trapdoor2 is the extra hole there for the reason I stated? Also I went to Joel hooks website. It shows an icon for tail piece but won't open to give a list or pricing.






The extra hole was likely drilled in a shoddy attempt to reset the neck angle for lower action and steel strings.

Bigfoot21075 - Posted - 09/30/2019:  03:47:20


I THINK I have the same era/brand banjo. Does your have the burned in logo on the back? Mine was converted to steel string at some point and I am returning it to Nylgut. I got the cheap Stewmac no knot and sort of regret it, it works fine but looks out of place with its shiny new finish. I am going to go for the Elderly version.





 

britcarfan - Posted - 09/30/2019:  08:30:27


Bigfoot mine has no brand name on it anywhere. The headstock shape is the same as mine though. Mine has double the number of brackets & shoes as yours. Anyone have any answers about the position markers on the neck. There are shallow indentations in the neck & the diamonds look to have been added by someone over the years.

britcarfan - Posted - 09/30/2019:  08:34:35


Pics didn’t load.




britcarfan - Posted - 09/30/2019:  08:36:39


Bigfoot which tailpiece are you looking to buy at elderly?

Bigfoot21075 - Posted - 09/30/2019:  08:48:33


This one in antiqued brass. elderly.com/products/pisgah-ha...-phawk-ab

britcarfan - Posted - 09/30/2019:  08:53:59


That’s is the one I was looking at. The no knot would probably be easier to use though since you’ll need to tie a knot in your string. That is if you use nylon strings. If you decide to get rid of your no knot let me know. I might be interested.

Texican65 - Posted - 09/30/2019:  09:59:34


Joel Hooks! He is your tailpiece source!

He hand carves them to match existing originals from his collection. There were metal tailpieces back then, but lots of wooden, ivory, or bone ones too.

Here's a picture of the wooden one I got from Joel, it's on an 1890's banjo I have, and it works great! And also a picture of Vess Ossman from the early 1890's with a similar wooden tailpiece. Good luck....lots to choose from.

Dow




Joel Hooks - Posted - 09/30/2019:  10:20:41


I'm sorry that the tailpieces I make are "out of stock."  Thimbles and bridges have taken most of my shop time and I have not really been motivated to sit at the scroll saw and cut them out.



Mark Ralston makes some great tailpieces, I like his nylon copies of 19th century walrus ivory-- but those are too early for your banjo.



For your </> 1900 L&H banjo you might want one of the various metal tailpieces offered around that time.  



I am guilty as the rest on calling the modern "no knots" "no good."  The earlier Korean versions were not so bad but need a lot of cleanup work with 1000 grit sand paper.  These usually have the patent date stamped into them.



Some of the Chinese versions have squeezed the posts so close together that even the super thin nylon strings I use wont fit between them.  Most that I tend to see offered now have forgone the "no knot" feature that Fred Bacon invented and now they are just "knot tailpieces."



I wish Bernunzio would sell the ones they put on the Eastman banjos-- they are the best (and closest) reproductions I have seen.



The current offerings from Smakula look nice and serviceable.



 

Bigfoot21075 - Posted - 09/30/2019:  10:34:19


Ahh too bad, I was looking at them on your website.... May want to put sold out on that BTW. Don't suppose you would be willing to part with the template for that would ya? :D

rudy - Posted - 09/30/2019:  10:34:33


Bill Rickard markets an excellent No Knot (nickel or raw brass)



Rickard 5 string No Knot



...or up the game a bit with his Deco tailpiece:



Rickard Deco Tailpiece

trapdoor2 - Posted - 09/30/2019:  12:48:01


quote:

Originally posted by britcarfan

Trapdoor2 is the extra hole there for the reason I stated? Also I went to Joel hooks website. It shows an icon for tail piece but won't open to give a list or pricing.






Sorry, I should have mentioned that. Yes, very common "fix" for clawhammer players. Changes the neck angle to allow for a 5/8" bridge (as opposed to the period correct 1/2" bridge).



Now that i'm retired (technically Friday but my last day at work is today), Once I get my new workshop up and running, I probably will be making a run of wooden tailpieces (mostly for my own collection). That is probably a full year down the road though. The workshop is currently just an old concrete slab at the end of the driveway. That has to be broken up and a new one poured...and then a workshop/garage built.

britcarfan - Posted - 09/30/2019:  17:48:18


Trapdoor I’m glad you mentioned the fact they used 1/2” bridge. I’ve got several bridges but I don’t think any are 1/2”. I hadn’t thought about making a wood tailpiece.

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