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Banjo alterations....

Posted by Tim Sander on Friday, June 24, 2011

Bought the open back woody that Ian Montgomery had for sale.

I have it completely disassembled and undergoing a face lift in my shop. Replacing the plastic binding on the rim with a diamond pattern wood binding. Trimming down the neck's heel to fit the rim and adding a purpleheart heel cap. May add position marker dots to the side binding on the neck. Not sure about that yet. Fret dressing may also be in order. Should look a bit nicer and be at least as playable. Considering other mods, like a frailing scoop...  Will post pics when finished. At that point, my Stew Mac will go to the shop for some upgrades.  Want to remove the sliding capo and install RR spike(s), add position marker dots on the side of the fretboard for starters.

5 comments on “Banjo alterations....”

Tim Sander Says:
Monday, June 27, 2011 @7:38:59 AM

Decided to attempt the frailing scoop. Some good news and some not so good. Took out a bit more than I wanted and had to remove the last fret I wanted to save. Ooops. Well, I don't play that far up, so I won't miss it. It just won't look quite right. Also hit something like a nail in the fretboard. Experienced a bit of chipping out and had to fill with plastic wood. Used ebony aniline dye. Will finish and it should look ok. All in all, learned a bit of technique for future use. Will have a decent frailing scoop and it should look fine. Reshaped the heel with the new cap and it looks much better. Trying to get the shaped area stained to match the remainder of the neck. Discovered in the process that the heel was a separate piece glued on and that the original stain was an opaque stain to hide such things. Working on repairing the plastic binding where it had pulled away from the fretboard at the 5th peg curve. This neck wasn't high quality originally, but was quite playable. It makes a good project for experimenting with. Should come out pretty decent. Got the tone ring refit to the rim after adding the wood binding. Glued it all together and did some wood filler work. Need to finish sand, etc. and then finish it. Looks promising also.

Tim Sander Says:
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 @1:42:43 PM

The rim is looking pretty nice. Got the side dots put in the neck binding. Removed the old 5th string pip and filled it's hole with wood. Then drilled a new hole next to the fret for better intonation when capoing the 5th. Had some additional tearout of broken pieces of ebony around that hole. Glued in the nut and filled around it. Smoothed that out after it dried and stained it ebony. Not very noticeable at all. Improved the placement of the nut by at least 1/8". Still working on getting the frailing scoop smooth and black. Might have it back together in a week or so.

Tim Sander Says:
Monday, July 11, 2011 @9:10:26 AM

Got it finished and reassembled. Looks pretty good. Sound isn't tight yet. Has some overtones I'm not happy with, but I find that true every time I put a banjo together at first. Seems to take a while for everything to settle in and adjust.

Tim Sander Says:
Friday, July 29, 2011 @12:17:42 PM

Got the sound right eventually by gradually raising the tension on the head and readjusting the bridge for intonation. Turns out the bridge is at a pretty steep angle for proper intonation. Haven' figured out why yet. I'm running into a few problems with the fret ends needing to be better dressed. May wait to do that until I'm ready to try nylon strings on it. Meanwhile, I like the sound and playability otherwise. I'll get pictures posted as soon as I can get some time. Having to work for a living is just so limiting!

Tim Sander Says:
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 @9:17:25 AM

Earlier this summer I took this thing apart again and cut the rim down by trimming the top edge with my table saw. I cut it just enough so that when I put a rolled brass tone ring on it that it was the same depth as before. The tone ring is an inexpensive one I bought for possible banjo building back in the 70's. When I put it back together this time, it has a lot less overtone and a nicer sound and ring to it. I'm really happy with the improvement. I also reworked the frets. 2nd fret had come loose and I removed and reinstalled it with glue to hold it solidly. I did some truing on all the frets and cleaned up their ends for a nice smooth feel. This banjo now plays and sounds pretty nice. It really needed the tone ring. It's just enough without being too much. The neck's fret issues are now gone, so it plays well.

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