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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Changing the tone ring 1999 rb250

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pappy c - Posted - 05/29/2020:  19:37:37

Anyone had experience with changing the ring in a late 90s rb250? Should be a great improvement to the sound! Any advice would be helpful.

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/29/2020:  21:35:13

What's wrong with the probable Kulesh tone ring in your banjo?

BobbyE - Posted - 05/30/2020:  06:07:30

I'm with Old Hickory and his comments here. Without knowing all the specifics on this banjo, I can only suggest that you make certain that the banjo is properly set up before changing the tone ring. Gibson banjos from this date era have the reputation of being some of the best quality and best sounding banjos out there. Just make sure a ring change is going to improve the tone, rather than just make it different.


Edited by - BobbyE on 05/30/2020 06:08:11

pappy c - Posted - 05/30/2020:  06:08:14

Maybe nothing Ken. I have had and still have several other banjos. I find that the 250s are usually a good bit different than others. Looking to see if can have a richer sound. When I compare it to my other mahogany or maple banjos, it sounds a bit thin and hollow. Don’t know why. Neck wood,rim, reso, hardware all same, only thing I can think is maybe tonering. Maybe tonering fit.

esullivan - Posted - 05/30/2020:  08:12:52

Pappy c,

Don’t buy anything yet. The banjo you have is the best selling Mastertone of its time. The 250 made up close to 50% of production. Why is that? Well is was the least expensive. Still a Mastertone though. Shared all metal parts and wood parts of banjos that sold for over twice as much. Your banjo is a great banjo, something is just not agreeing with it. As posted earlier I would suspect tone ring fit to be an issue. The banjos in this time period did suffer from using fairly newly bent rims so rim movement could be an issue. Take her apart and just double check all of the fits. I do not believe we are to the spending money phase yet. Also how old is the head and strings?


pappy c - Posted - 05/30/2020:  11:00:37

Eric, thanks for the advice. I have it apart and the tone ring was exceptionally tight. i did get it off without doing any damage. I suspected it might have something to do with it. It is a Kulesh ring #4823. The rim looks good. It is just curious to me why it was not sounding more like a RB3 from that era than a 70s RB100. I know a bit but not so much about what changes what. I know basically what a head change or strings or maybe tailpiece does "sometimes". Be I do not see any obvious reason for the rather thin, hollow tone I am getting. I am sanding a bit to get more of a slip fit. Gonna change head to a new "no Label" remo. Has a 5/8 Snuffy bridge so that should be just fine. Coordinator rods were clapped down pretty tight also. Do you think the rim fit could solve the problem. I do have a Crowe ring coming from Jim Britton. I wanted it anyway just thought it might be cool in the banjo. Now I do want to try your suggestions and see how it improves. But I probably will try the Crowe in it at some point. It is not my main player so I can tinker a bit. Thanks

J.Albert - Posted - 05/30/2020:  12:00:49

Old Hickory is right regarding the factory Kulesh ring.

You can spend a lot of money, for not that much improvement in "the sound".

Try "changing the fit" from tight to slip-fit before you change the ring.

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/30/2020:  13:02:12


Originally posted by pappy c

I do have a Crowe ring coming from Jim Britton.

$200 Sullivan ring with a "Gibson" stamp.

esullivan - Posted - 05/30/2020:  13:04:46

Pappy c,

Glad to help. I make a living making banjos and selling parts for banjos but my first thought is to always check out what you currently use. I know it winds up costing me some sales but banjos usually just don’t go bad. Something somewhere changed and more than likely it just needs some attention and a lot of that can be done by the owner. I really believe a good slip fit between the rim and ring will solve the problem. You have a professional quality banjo that at one time sounded great or it would have never been purchased in the first place. In my shop I try to not do a bunch of wholesale changes at one time so it is easier to find out what change made a difference. Fix the ring/rim clearance and see what you got. When you get the Crowe ring it should just drop right in. Please report back when you have the banjo back together.


pappy c - Posted - 05/30/2020:  15:43:24

Got it back together and it did improve a great deal. The ring is probably not quite a easy slip fit but comes on and off fairly easy( it won’t fall off on its own). That went a long way. Probably could use just a bit more but that was all I was comfortable doing. Thanks Eric and all for the advice. Much better now. I will let everyone know in the future what the Crowe ring does to it.

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