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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Slew of Questions about General Care/Maintenance for a Longneck


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/377724

thelamp144 - Posted - 09/12/2021:  17:01:53


Hello folks,



Excited to be back on the forums after quite a few years--my banjo spirit recently reinvigorated after meeting a great banjoist while camping.



After over a decade of playing on the same starter Washburn (standard) banjo, I picked up a Gold Tone mm-150 ln (longneck) banjo. Crazy how inspiring a well-made instrument can be! It's absolutely wonderful to my ears and hands, so I want to make sure I'm taking as much care of it as I possibly can. A bunch of questions have run through my mind during these first few weeks of ownership:



1. Will any slow changes in temperature affect it negatively? I leave it in the living room which we air condition during the day but leave un-air conditioned at night. The room gradually warms up, but never to the extremes of the outside (I'm thinking specifically summer in the Midwest). With this daily flux mess anything up? Or is mostly just extreme temperatures and extreme, quick changes that cause damage?



2. I purchased the banjo from a local music store, and whoever was playing it before actually tuned to standard banjo neck G tuning, not E. Not sure how long it was at this higher tension, but do you think this could have had any negative effect on the neck? Everything looks fine to me, but I was never sure of these technical aspects.



3. Regarding straps--I've seen the ones that hook around the brackets on the pot, and I'm wondering if the weight of the instrument might cause the bracket(s) to bend or pop off. Would a cradle strap that fits openbacks be a better idea? Also just wondering if a cradle strap is the best idea for a longneck, or if I should go for another solution (besides drilling a hole in the neck, of course wink).



4. I've used the same stand for over a decade, the kind with foam over the bottom "fork" with a top "fork" on which the neck rests. The pot rests on the bottom, somewhat on a couple of brackets, somewhat on the pot itself. Would that constant pressure on the brackets be of any concern?



5. Any other longneck oddities that folks think I should be aware of?



Maybe I'm just being overprotective, maybe it's trying to make up for years of setup ignorance, but any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much.

Helix - Posted - 09/13/2021:  01:53:18


Welcome back. I'll try to answer

1. Slow changes in temp. won't affect, but midwest Humidity is a problem, keep the banjo in its case as much as possible.

2. Be glad you caught the tighter strings, the Gold Tone necks are very good quality, easily adjustable if needed.

3. I use cradle straps for my longnecks because they stay where you put them. I play standing up.

4. The stand won't hurt your banjo, leaving it out on the stand to get knocked over or peed on is risky.

5. 5th string capo or spikes will help. I use them @ 7,8,9,10,12,14, that's all six, not required.

6. I use a bass gig bag because it has extra padding.

7. Gold Tone carries the hardshell longneck cases. I suggest using one.

8. Set up is pretty straightforward, you can do much of this yourself if you are curious and handy, if not there seems to be a music store that should be able if you need their help.

Set up is personal, but in general use this sequence:
a. tighten the head gently.
b. set your tailpiece tension about midway, not way down touching the head.
c. place the bridge, mark with a pencil.
d. adjust the truss rod if needed.
e. adjust the rim rods if needed.

I use light strings.

9. wipe the banjo down after playing, modern grunge is everywhere.

We were a bunch of ugly ducklings, but now we're a flock of swans, some people don't like longneck banjos, but who cares?

Here's a picture of a Maple Mountain with a quilted curly Maple rim.


The Old Timer - Posted - 09/13/2021:  06:37:49


Good answers from Helix.

In general banjos are pretty tough. Nowhere near as sensitive as violins or guitars. I STRONGLY agree that leaving it in a stand is an invitation to heartbreak. Keep it in a case instead.

Long necks don't have "oddities" that I'm aware of other than the low tuning (do you have a capo for playing in G and A?) and the need to be sure strings are LONG ENOUGH when you buy them!!! Some strings are not long enough.

If your brackets/tension hooks are strong enough to hold the head at the tension you want, and you check them occasionally for looseness/rattles, I doubt the pull from a strap hook will bend them or pop them off. If you get a strap held around the bracket by a Chicago screw, it's much more likely the Chicago screw will slowly back off and drop the banjo someday when it falls into two pieces. If you get such a strap, put LocTite on the Chicago screw threads to prevent it from loosening.

Oh one other long neck "oddity" -- watch out for ceiling fans!!!

Have fun.

JimHenry - Posted - 09/13/2021:  09:08:49


If I'm not mistaken, Pete Seeger (and probably others) used a screw into the heel area of the neck for years to achieve a good balance. I would hesitate to drill a hole, too. But if Pete did it, it's not crazy. I'm sure I've seen pictures of his arrangement with the screw - maybe you can find some if you are curious via google. Also, people do it with guitars a lot.

Helix - Posted - 09/13/2021:  10:34:26


An eye bolt in the side of a perfectly good neck was a personal choice
Thus the cradle strap
Pete was an innovator, not an orchestral journeyman

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/13/2021:  14:15:45


Pete said he considered his banjo to be a "tool" (said so on the head), and also said he wasn't a collector—he was an iconoclast. The neck he put the eye bolt into was a lignum vitae one he made himself, if I am correct—he might have had more than one banjo with that detail.



The eye bolt wouldn't weaken the neck any more than (or even as much as) the hole for the 5th tuner, but Pete was making a statement as he often did, and lots of people don't like the idea of screwing an eye bolt into a banjo neck—I wouldn't do it, but it works— kind of like putting a guitar strap around the base of the peg head, which they did back in the day (and I prefer), as opposed to a strap button on the heel, which most people do nowadays.



Tuning it to G was not a good thing, and good for you for tuning it back to where it should be—no harm done, I'm sure the banjo has a modern truss rod, but they can twist.  The majority of longnecks have spent most of their lives with a capo on the third fret tuned to G, but not tuned to G open—makes you wonder why they did that.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/13/2021 14:17:43

Helix - Posted - 09/14/2021:  05:43:05


Aside: As I understand, Pete went to a pawn shop and bought a Vega tubaphone 4-string and converted it to the now innovated longneck. Mr. D'Angelico added the 3rd extra fret to the next neck.

Pete didn't anticipate the weight of the Lignum Vitae neck and made an 'adjustment' with an eyebolt
He had broken a banjo neck hopping a freight.

Peggy Seeger went and got a Tubaphone Deluxe. I don't know who made her neck.
I emailed Ms. Seeger a few years ago hoping she would visit our non-profit folk venue. She is doing fine, but won't visit again until we get our medical act together. Now Covid changed everything.

thelamp144 - Posted - 09/17/2021:  13:45:23


You've all been such an incredible help to me--thank you so much for all of your responses. Feeling the warmth already! All the best to you all.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/17/2021:  14:16:19


quote:

Originally posted by Helix

Aside: As I understand, Pete went to a pawn shop and bought a Vega tubaphone 4-string and converted it to the now innovated longneck. Mr. D'Angelico added the 3rd extra fret to the next neck.



Pete didn't anticipate the weight of the Lignum Vitae neck and made an 'adjustment' with an eyebolt

He had broken a banjo neck hopping a freight.



Peggy Seeger went and got a Tubaphone Deluxe. I don't know who made her neck.

I emailed Ms. Seeger a few years ago hoping she would visit our non-profit folk venue. She is doing fine, but won't visit again until we get our medical act together. Now Covid changed everything.





I'm pretty sure Vega made Peggy's neck with the block-and-dots and paddle peg head shape.  They made the same kind of neck for Bob Gibson.






 

Helix - Posted - 09/17/2021:  16:44:31


Good job, Ken

mikehalloran - Posted - 09/17/2021:  17:41:32


Vega made Peggy’s neck and used an old Deluxe pot. Bob Gibson and @MaineJohn on the BHO have similar necks. The regular version of that neck was used on Vega 5 strings and plectrums through 1960.

Pete’s first long neck was a Whyte Laydie that he had extended 2 frets to F by John D’Angelico. It was stolen and never recovered. There is a picture but I don’t have it on my iPad.

Pete’s best known Tubaphone was originally converted with a regular 5 string Orpheum neck (on at least one Weavers cover) that was later extended to E (seen on other covers). After this neck was broken at a party, Pete made the famous Lignum Vitae neck that it wore ever since. Jimmy D’Aquisto, D’Angelico’s apprentice, installed the ebony fretboard that Pete didn’t want and had to fret it twice because he got the scale wrong the first time.

During the ‘60s – ‘70s, Pete played one of the two PS-5 banjos given him by Vega. It’s a long story but both were given away as part of fund raisers in the late ‘70s and Pete went back to the banjo with the home made neck.

He played and was photographed with other long necks over the years as well.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/17/2021:  17:56:01


quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

Vega made Peggy’s neck and used an old Deluxe pot. Bob Gibson and @MaineJohn on the BHO have similar necks. The regular version of that neck was used on Vega 5 strings and plectrums through 1960.



Pete’s first long neck was a Whyte Laydie that he had extended 2 frets to F by John D’Angelico. It was stolen and never recovered. There is a picture but I don’t have it on my iPad.



Pete’s best known Tubaphone was originally converted with a regular 5 string Orpheum neck (on at least one Weavers cover) that was later extended to E (seen on other covers). After this neck was broken at a party, Pete made the famous Lignum Vitae neck that it wore ever since. Jimmy D’Aquisto, D’Angelico’s apprentice, installed the ebony fretboard that Pete didn’t want and had to fret it twice because he got the scale wrong the first time.



During the ‘60s – ‘70s, Pete played one of the two PS-5 banjos given him by Vega. It’s a long story but both were given away as part of fund raisers in the late ‘70s and Pete went back to the banjo with the home made neck.



He played and was photographed with other long necks over the years as well.






And then there's this one, apparently made by Vega for John Stewart, who gave it to the Shaw Brothers—it's an Exel  type with the 5th peg at the 9th fret.  One of a kind as far as I know.



mikehalloran - Posted - 09/17/2021:  18:15:26


Wow. I’ve never seen that one before. Thanks for posting it.

Referring to the other thread, all Excels (or however Vega spelled this one) had hand carved necks. Stars replacing the dots is not unusual on these but this is the first I’ve seen that also had bars.

The 9th fret tuner position was requested by Alex Hassilev of the Limeliters so he could play in C and capo up to F (Shubb capos wouldn’t exist for another 14 years). Erik Darling had one made for him in the late ‘50s but that was a one-off custom. When Alex ordered his, they called it the Xcel and made it a catalog option for the PS-5.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/18/2021:  06:31:32


quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

Wow. I’ve never seen that one before. Thanks for posting it.



Referring to the other thread, all Excels (or however Vega spelled this one) had hand carved necks. Stars replacing the dots is not unusual on these but this is the first I’ve seen that also had bars.



The 9th fret tuner position was requested by Alex Hassilev of the Limeliters so he could play in C and capo up to F (Shubb capos wouldn’t exist for another 14 years). Erik Darling had one made for him in the late ‘50s but that was a one-off custom. When Alex ordered his, they called it the Xcel and made it a catalog option for the PS-5.






Alex's was blonde, and I always thought that was standard on the Xcel / Exel / Excel —too bad they were never clear on the spelling.



The 9th fret 5th string tuner is really nice, and a lot of people want to play in C using G positions, and that's handy capo-wise. I have made a couple of normal length banjos with the 5th string tuner at the 6th fret, and it works, but you have a tendency to get confused, so it's necessary to have a good inlay like a star where the tuner would normally go.



I made a semi-blonde (cherry) 28 hook Excel with a dowel stick for a performer years back and he called it "Alex". Note that there is a banner at the 14th (17th)  fret, which is the A octave, requested by the person I made it for.




Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/18/2021 06:34:58

BeeEnvironment - Posted - 09/18/2021:  17:11:09


This is the only photo I know of Pete playing a non-long neck banjo! Pretty interesting stuff!



 



Let me know if you cannot see a photo I posted of him above. As you can see, it is a banjo of the standard length!



Russ

mikehalloran - Posted - 09/19/2021:  12:56:31


quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

This is the only photo I know of Pete playing a non-long neck banjo! Pretty interesting stuff!



 



Let me know if you cannot see a photo I posted of him above. As you can see, it is a banjo of the standard length!



Russ






That's the Almanac Singers and the banjo is Pete's Whyte Laydie before he had it lengthened 2 frets by Mr. D'Angellico. Here's it is after conversion. I don't know if he played it with The Almanacs. It was later stolen and has not been seen since. There are many in the Northeast on the lookout in case it is ever spotted.





 



Had you Googled The Weavers, you would have found a few pictures of the Tubaphone pot with the Orpheum neck. I have this one in color on an album cover but this will do. I've always been bothered by the fact that this is an arch top. I think that, despite what "everyone knows", this is the original Orpheum pot, too, and not the Tubaphone. From around 1949:





Same Orpheum neck with a 3-fret extension — definitely sitting on the Tubaphone pot:





Notice it has the eye bolt screwed into the neck pre-dating the notion that he did this because of the weight of the lignum vitae neck. From the 1955 Carniege Hall concert:





After the above neck was broken at a party, Pete carved the lignum vitae neck. This is that same banjo, again on a Weavers album cover. The release date is 1959 but I don't know when the picture was taken — had to be after 1955 in any case.





 



 


Edited by - mikehalloran on 09/19/2021 13:10:18

BeeEnvironment - Posted - 09/19/2021:  16:21:31


quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

This is the only photo I know of Pete playing a non-long neck banjo! Pretty interesting stuff!



 



Let me know if you cannot see a photo I posted of him above. As you can see, it is a banjo of the standard length!



Russ






That's the Almanac Singers and the banjo is Pete's Whyte Laydie before he had it lengthened 2 frets by Mr. D'Angellico. Here's it is after conversion. I don't know if he played it with The Almanacs. It was later stolen and has not been seen since. There are many in the Northeast on the lookout in case it is ever spotted.





 



Had you Googled The Weavers, you would have found a few pictures of the Tubaphone pot with the Orpheum neck. I have this one in color on an album cover but this will do. I've always been bothered by the fact that this is an arch top. I think that, despite what "everyone knows", this is the original Orpheum pot, too, and not the Tubaphone. From around 1949:





Same Orpheum neck with a 3-fret extension — definitely sitting on the Tubaphone pot:





Notice it has the eye bolt screwed into the neck pre-dating the notion that he did this because of the weight of the lignum vitae neck. From the 1955 Carniege Hall concert:





After the above neck was broken at a party, Pete carved the lignum vitae neck. This is that same banjo, again on a Weavers album cover. The release date is 1959 but I don't know when the picture was taken — had to be after 1955 in any case.





 



 






Wow! Good findings and research!!! I cannot see the 2nd photo your refer to, but I think I know what you might be referring to. 



Just out of curiosity, just because you seem to know a lot (quite a bit!) about Pete's performances: Do you know if there is any live footage of the Carnegie Hall concert in 1955?? I also was able to locate a performance of Pete playing "This Land Is Your Land", in this youtube video about his personal life from 1961 and the HUAC: youtube.com/watch?v=DPngPq6HaF8



I always love to find and watch Pete's old live concert footage videos, but they are quite hard to find, but some are out there!



Russ

mikehalloran - Posted - 09/19/2021:  17:12:26


quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

This is the only photo I know of Pete playing a non-long neck banjo! Pretty interesting stuff!



 



Let me know if you cannot see a photo I posted of him above. As you can see, it is a banjo of the standard length!



Russ






 



 






Wow! Good findings and research!!! I cannot see the 2nd photo your refer to, but I think I know what you might be referring to. 



Just out of curiosity, just because you seem to know a lot (quite a bit!) about Pete's performances: Do you know if there is any live footage of the Carnegie Hall concert in 1955?? I also was able to locate a performance of Pete playing "This Land Is Your Land", in this youtube video about his personal life from 1961 and the HUAC: youtube.com/watch?v=DPngPq6HaF8



I always love to find and watch Pete's old live concert footage videos, but they are quite hard to find, but some are out there!



Russ






I don't know of any film from the Carnegie Hall concerts but these might exist somewhere. The recordings were released on a few live albums, however.



I can see the extended Whyte Laydie on my Mac but not my iPad. Here it is from my collection.


Edited by - mikehalloran on 09/19/2021 17:16:34



 

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/20/2021:  05:38:42


quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

This is the only photo I know of Pete playing a non-long neck banjo! Pretty interesting stuff!



 



Let me know if you cannot see a photo I posted of him above. As you can see, it is a banjo of the standard length!



Russ






 



 






Wow! Good findings and research!!! I cannot see the 2nd photo your refer to, but I think I know what you might be referring to. 



Just out of curiosity, just because you seem to know a lot (quite a bit!) about Pete's performances: Do you know if there is any live footage of the Carnegie Hall concert in 1955?? I also was able to locate a performance of Pete playing "This Land Is Your Land", in this youtube video about his personal life from 1961 and the HUAC: youtube.com/watch?v=DPngPq6HaF8



I always love to find and watch Pete's old live concert footage videos, but they are quite hard to find, but some are out there!



Russ






I don't know of any film from the Carnegie Hall concerts but these might exist somewhere. The recordings were released on a few live albums, however.



I can see the extended Whyte Laydie on my Mac but not my iPad. Here it is from my collection.






Mike,



Thanks for posting all those pictures!  I was not aware of the fact that the Orpheum John D'Angelico lengthened was an archtop.



A friend of mine in Brooklyn who taught me to play bluegrass in the 60s, had a Paramount also lengthened 2 frets by D'Angelico.  He has since had it "re-shortened".  I am trying to get him to send me a picture of it in the 2+ longneck state.  I will post it if he sends me the pictures.



I always liked Pete's original idea of the 2+ length, and F is good enough for me.  If you make a 2+ with an Excel type 5th peg placement, it looks for all the world like a 3+ but is a bit easier to play.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/20/2021 05:39:34

mikehalloran - Posted - 09/21/2021:  08:48:05


Here is Erik Darling's custom longneck, one of two and the inspiration for Alex's first custom that Vega named the Xcel. Like most customs, it has a blonde neck indicating that it was hand carved (the duplicators left burn marks at the heel and headstock requiring a dark stain to cover that up—hence the 'burst finish on most maple necks). The peg is at the 9th fret.

 





Erik's 1955 Vega long neck modified by John D'Angelico predates the custom blonde.



BeeEnvironment - Posted - 09/22/2021:  17:03:02


quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

This is the only photo I know of Pete playing a non-long neck banjo! Pretty interesting stuff!



 



Let me know if you cannot see a photo I posted of him above. As you can see, it is a banjo of the standard length!



Russ






 



 






Wow! Good findings and research!!! I cannot see the 2nd photo your refer to, but I think I know what you might be referring to. 



Just out of curiosity, just because you seem to know a lot (quite a bit!) about Pete's performances: Do you know if there is any live footage of the Carnegie Hall concert in 1955?? I also was able to locate a performance of Pete playing "This Land Is Your Land", in this youtube video about his personal life from 1961 and the HUAC: youtube.com/watch?v=DPngPq6HaF8



I always love to find and watch Pete's old live concert footage videos, but they are quite hard to find, but some are out there!



Russ






I don't know of any film from the Carnegie Hall concerts but these might exist somewhere. The recordings were released on a few live albums, however.



I can see the extended Whyte Laydie on my Mac but not my iPad. Here it is from my collection.






Ah I see! Yeah, I have heard there are some nice recordings online of the music, which I am glad! 



Do you know if there is any about Pete's Testimony to the HUAC in 1955? As you probably can tell, I really enjoy looking for these old footages :) The only footage I know, a clip, was shown in Pete's 2007 documentary "The Power of Song" I added it to the banjohangout video library from youtube.



Here is the link: youtu.be/4ej7SzOEnRA?t=2228


Edited by - BeeEnvironment on 09/22/2021 17:04:57

Helix - Posted - 09/24/2021:  05:16:40


Thanks, Mike Halloran, Ken Levan and all other ugly duckling longnecketeers, players, enthusiasts and conseravators.
Now a flock of swans all grown up.
I've been playing on a bench down by the New River every morning this week. I mean longneck basic strum, frailing, clawgrass, bluehammer, a 3-finger paradise with dragonflies, Verios and Roadrunners.

that's why I'm here, I offer a couple of photos of my personal inspiration. Then I go build.
Happy sawdust, all.




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