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New Banjo Tone Amp Discovery and Product

Posted by yellowdog on Wednesday, May 12, 2010

     Progress often comes from pain as I was reminded when a customer who tried my "Amp Buddy" tone amp for banjos, guitars and mandolins reported that neither he nor his friends could hear any difference.  Ouch!  That was the pain part.

     The progress part came when I started wondering why not, because I thought it sounded great.  I decided that it needed to be bigger and surely work better, and I also decided that a banjo was too different from a guitar and a mandolin for one product to work well in both.  Freed of that  constraint the new design approach became obvious:  Take the bottom off of Amp Buddy, make it much bigger and stick it to the inside surface of the banjo's wood rim.  - In the same manner as the "business card tone amp" that I posted on the forum but made to be much more efficient.

     It worked, and another discovery made it work much better.  I had the idea that the waves (sound surface waves) on the outside of the top surface were counteracting the motion caused  by the waves on the inside of the top surface, so I decided to put up a "road block" to the outside waves by eliminating a piece of tape that enabled them to flow from one piece of paper to another.  There was an immediate huge improvement in the sound.  It sounded much better than Amp Buddy  - much louder and a more beautiful sound in both of my banjos.

     The only thing left was to decide where to put the tone squares which control the tone or timbre of the tone amp.  They would be in a wired stack, but where?  Much to my surprise the stack didn't need to be attached with tape to the sound emitter, just near it, because the banjo's wood rim supplied the path for the waves to enter the emitter.

     Yesterday afternoon I mailed two of these new "Banjo Tone Amps" to two customers who had recently purchased Amp Buddy for their banjos and am hoping that they report how they like them on the forum.  And I just posted an ad for them under "Banjo Accessories".  They are cheap...er...I mean, inexpensive, just $15.  You can also see two photos of them here.

   (Added 5/22/2010):  Two additions were made to our Banjo Tone Amp this week:  Three high frequency (harmonics) amplifying "tone rectangles"  (3/8"x1") with a single center hole, of steel, brass and 2-ply maple/mahogany veneer, (one or more of which can be wired on top of the 1-inch squares to amplify and timbre enhance high frequencies; and a new and very efficient low frequency amplifier consisting of a 10-inch length of braided cord with two rubber bands attached.  The rubber bands stop high frequencies on the cord but amplify low frequencies and allow them to pass to the emitter.  There are photos here and in our ad.  

     In a few days I'll be announcing a new and greatly improved "Amp Buddy" for guitars and mandolins and a newly designed, "Fiddle Amp", that work much better using the same ideas.  I used the new Amp Buddy in my mandolin in a bluegrass jam last night and was delighted with its sound and volume, and will be taking my fiddle,  Irish banjo and mandolin with the new amp designs to an Irish pub session tonight.  

     - Too much happening all at once! - And I am supposed to be retired, not working at this hour of the morning, 5:00 AM.   But it's fun and I like to think that it is very worthwhile and will make a lot of folks happier with their instruments.



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