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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Action height trouble on an old L&H


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/362727

Brice Alms - Posted - 04/02/2020:  18:57:40


I am trying to figure out why my 1890s Lyon And Healy banjo has such a high action. The neck is as straight as an arrow, the dowel is not bowed or lose, and the rim seems fine (it is a little out of round). I am using nylgut strings. I can't even use a 1/2 inch bridge. Does anybody have a suggestion.









 

jbalch - Posted - 04/02/2020:  19:21:42


It was probably originally designed for a very short bridge - and action higher than what you may be seeking.

csacwp - Posted - 04/02/2020:  20:19:33


Action should be ~5mm at the 12th fret with a 3/8" bridge.

raybob - Posted - 04/02/2020:  22:11:25


I have an L&H with what I think has the same issue. Mine needs the heel cut so it can be set up more like a modern banjo. The higher action up the neck is troublesome. I don’t know anyone around here that I’d trust to do the job, even though some regard it as routine. I wish I could send it to someone who would do this, but I’m at a loss.

Brice Alms - Posted - 04/02/2020:  22:19:53


Well. I thought the action was too high. I guess I was wrong. You were right on the money. The bridge is 3/8, and the action is 5 mm. I would still like to lower the action to at least be able to use a 1/2 inch bridge and have a slightly lower action at the 12th fret.

OldNavyGuy - Posted - 04/02/2020:  22:34:54


The neck angle needs to be changed, either with a shim, or re-cutting the neck angle.

Shimming is the simplest thing to try first.

Brice Alms - Posted - 04/02/2020:  23:03:35


quote:

Originally posted by OldNavyGuy

The neck angle needs to be changed, either with a shim, or re-cutting the neck angle.



Shimming is the simplest thing to try first.






this banjo had a shim when i got it. i dont use the shim idea because it puts strain on the dowel and the glue joints. Every antique banjo i have had, had a shim. one banjo i have had a large shim caused the dowel to get very warped. 

Brice Alms - Posted - 04/02/2020:  23:05:39


quote:

Originally posted by csacwp

Action should be ~5mm at the 12th fret with a 3/8" bridge.






Well. I thought the action was too high. I guess I was wrong. You were right on the money. The bridge is 3/8, and the action is 5 mm. I would still like to lower the action to at least be able to use a 1/2 inch bridge and have a slightly lower action at the 12th fret.

OldNavyGuy - Posted - 04/02/2020:  23:09:58


quote:

Originally posted by Brice Alms

quote:

Originally posted by OldNavyGuy

The neck angle needs to be changed, either with a shim, or re-cutting the neck angle.



Shimming is the simplest thing to try first.






this banjo had a shim when i got it. i dont use the shim idea because it puts strain on the dowel and the glue joints. Every antique banjo i have had, had a shim. one banjo i have had a large shim caused the dowel to get very warped. 






Not if the shims are done correctly...



I don't see a shim in the photos you posted.



Re-cutting the neck angle is about the only other option.


Edited by - OldNavyGuy on 04/02/2020 23:10:31

Brice Alms - Posted - 04/02/2020:  23:23:21


quote:

Originally posted by OldNavyGuy

quote:

Originally posted by Brice Alms

quote:

Originally posted by OldNavyGuy

The neck angle needs to be changed, either with a shim, or re-cutting the neck angle.



Shimming is the simplest thing to try first.






this banjo had a shim when i got it. i dont use the shim idea because it puts strain on the dowel and the glue joints. Every antique banjo i have had, had a shim. one banjo i have had a large shim caused the dowel to get very warped. 






Not if the shims are done correctly...



I don't see a shim in the photos you posted.



Re-cutting the neck angle is about the only other option.






thats because i have long since removed it and threw it away. here is the banjo the day i got it. its not easy to see in the photo. you can see a shim.



 

csacwp - Posted - 04/03/2020:  00:50:24


quote:

Originally posted by Brice Alms

quote:

Originally posted by csacwp

Action should be ~5mm at the 12th fret with a 3/8" bridge.






Well. I thought the action was too high. I guess I was wrong. You were right on the money. The bridge is 3/8, and the action is 5 mm. I would still like to lower the action to at least be able to use a 1/2 inch bridge and have a slightly lower action at the 12th fret.






Might I suggest using lighter, prriod-correct strings? I think you'll find them easier to fret with the high action.

OldPappy - Posted - 04/03/2020:  09:08:23


Most people who don't build banjos are not usually equipped with the tools, skill, and know how for doing a re-set properly, but that is the best way to change (lower) the action.

Indeed it can be done with a shim, but if done this way the angle of the dowel will change and something has to be done to allow for that to avoid putting stress on the dowel and more importantly the joint in the heel of the neck.

The suggestion to try lighter strings, whether "period correct" or not, is a very good idea, if you haven't tried that already.

A set of strings doesn't cost much, nor would it do any damage to the banjo which would still be in the original configuration it was designed for.

OldPappy - Posted - 04/03/2020:  09:18:14


I do not have enough time for the work involved in building the banjos people are waiting on from me, so I no longer do much repair work, but in days past I have done neck re-sets for people determined to lower the action on old banjos at little or no cost just to keep them from butchering something that shouldn't be butchered.

If I were to adjust the action on an old banjo I would re-cut the heel, and install a new dowel stick, or preferably the original if it could be removed without damage, and fit it to the existing mortise and tail bolt hole already in the rim.

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