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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Scoop addition, safe to buy?


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/380810

generaljmh - Posted - 01/25/2022:  20:07:14


Hey guys, fairly new to the banjo world, I love the simplicity of the open back banjos and am looking at a used Deering Vega No 2 and a luthier has added a scoop to the neck. I play three finger so not even going to use the scoop area, but my questions are:

Could adding that scoop screw up the banjo?

Anything to specifically look at when checking it out?

Pic attached.

Thanks for any help!

woodchips - Posted - 01/25/2022:  22:43:19


The scoop won’t hurt the banjo but it will limit up the neck playing. There are some chords that are played where they removed the fretboard. I would not like it because of that. I am a three finger player as well.

TX2AK - Posted - 01/25/2022:  22:55:16


You may already know this, but Vega is a company name in use off and on for over 100 years, currently owned by Deering; which in itself, to me, is super-cool. Vega made some of the most iconic banjos of the “golden era,” and it’s really neat that an American company continues to make some amazing banjos in the same vein, style (though modernized), and name as the old ones.

I have 3 banjos - a 1926 Gibson ball bearing, which is my all ‘rounder with which I play mostly 3 finger, but a little claw hammer, and it gets the most time these days; an early 1920s “Fairbanks Banjo by the Vega Company” Special No. 2 - a simple steel tone hoop 5 string with a Vega 30s neck; and an open back banjo I painstakingly made myself.

Of the 3, only the latter has a scoop. In fact, the impetus for building that banjo was much because I wanted to play with a scoop and couldn’t see modifying a vintage instrument to mess around; and in those days, I was into making everything myself. I’m no expert, and it has no truss rod. I did build a 5 piece neck, walnut/maple/bubinga/maple/walnut with an ebony fretboard; and it holds tuning very well, as well as the others I own, only occasionally needing a retune. The scoop certainly won’t hurt you there, especially with Deering’s high quality necks. For claw hammer style, I really like the scoop, and the old Fairbanks Vega lives almost exclusively in its case for that reason. The downside is that with up the neck work, even in the key of G, I loose some positions. That’s the only downside, as I see it. When I go camping, for example, my campfire banjo is the one I built with the scoop; and I find myself having to reset my brain to eliminate far up the neck positions. If you only play 3 finger and spend much time up the neck, you will likely find it more restrictive than you want. If you do some plunky claw hammer and like the tone over the scoop, the trade off is absolutely worth it. I’ve also played several Reiters, a Romero, and others with scoops, and they were all the same - no ill effects, aside from the lost frets. Without handling the specific banjo, I would wager that if you are confident in the luthier’s work, that loss of fretting positions high on the neck will be the only downside; maybe resale value, not being stock; but I think you’ll find a lot of folks in the open back market who would see a scoop as a positive.

TX2AK - Posted - 01/25/2022:  23:00:06


A caveat to my answer, in direct response to anything to look out for is that the luthier’s work would need to be adequate. If they removed too much material from the fretboard, that could be a real problem; but I assume you would have seen that in pictures and would be able to spot that right away.

Stu D Baker-Hawk - Posted - 01/25/2022:  23:14:49


quote:

Originally posted by generaljmh

Hey guys, fairly new to the banjo world, I love the simplicity of the open back banjos and am looking at a used Deering Vega No 2 and a luthier has added a scoop to the neck. I play three finger so not even going to use the scoop area, but my questions are:



Could adding that scoop screw up the banjo?



Anything to specifically look at when checking it out?



Pic attached.



Thanks for any help!






I took the liberty of attaching your pic of the scooped out neck, which, to my eye, looks just fine.



TX2AK - Posted - 01/25/2022:  23:48:58


Yep, looks great. That work is great, and I’m with Stu, it shouldn’t affect anything other than the lost up neck positions Woodchips and I mentioned. I do notice it, and it affects my playing, but not necessarily in a bad way. It just means I can’t roll a handful of patterns I would play if available.

Helix - Posted - 01/26/2022:  04:31:34


I play claw and 3-finger both.
I use picks Without a scoop.
I play out over the 19th fret chime when using claw
the audience picks up that 100 yr. old sound.
Your scoop looks great, well executed.

Take a look down the neck from the peghead to the body of the banjo and look for a twisted neck.

generaljmh - Posted - 01/26/2022:  04:40:13


Thanks so much Zach, Dean, and Chip. Great info, much appreciated.

Joe

Ken LeVan - Posted - 01/26/2022:  05:10:05


The main thing a scoop will do is to raise the strings higher above the head, and require a lower angle of the neck in order to get the proper string action on the fretted part of the fingerboard.



Clawhammer players are fine with the higher strings, some finger-pickers don't like it because they plant their finger on the head and when they move up towards the neck the strings may seem too high. You have to adjust your playing.



Based oin the photo of your banjo, they put a high-crown head on it and the tension hoop is pulled down with string space is sitting lower than the surface of the head, which will lower the string height above the head, which would be fine for finger-picking.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 01/26/2022 05:10:48

mrphysics55 - Posted - 01/26/2022:  06:13:22


Looks swell!

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