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The Scoop

Posted by stigandr5 on Thursday, December 8, 2011

According to many banjo aficionados, the “scoop” in the neck of a banjo can be traced to the Round Peak style of clawhammer playing. For those unfamiliar with the term, a banjo “scoop” is an area of the fingerboard that has been removed to create more space below the strings. This allows the banjoist to play around the 17th-19th “fret” without whacking his thumb and fingers against a stiff piece of ebony. The reason for playing at this spot is the sweet harmonic. Kyle Creed really popularized this sound.

I was bored last night and, thanks to my friend, Jerry, I have a woodcarving set I’d been wanting to try out. The canjo’s all I have to work with, so I decided she could use a wee scoop. I slackened the strings and went to work with some teeny tiny rasps and some micro-chisels.

An eighth of an inch later, here’s what I came up with.


Can you hear any difference?

 



3 comments on “The Scoop”

7String Says:
Sunday, March 4, 2012 @1:36:46 PM

Canjo is up in my brain now. I'm going to need a Canjo. Thanks, dude.

moonshiner42 Says:
Monday, March 19, 2012 @7:53:45 PM

Hi. Looks Good! I'm wondering if the neck of yer canjo was higher than the body before you scooped it, or did you have to reset it into the can somehow? Maybe i'm seeing the pics wrong but it looks like it's level with the can now..
I've been wishing for a few weeks now that i had planned to scoop the neck on my gourd banjo and i can't really wrap my head around what it would mean to do that now.

stigandr5 Says:
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 @5:01:38 AM

Moonshiner,

This canjo started life with the same, un-scooped neck on a different can and with a different bridge. That bridge, combined with how the neck was set into the can, made for really high action up the neck. When I decided to switch out for a new can, I used the same bridge. So, in order to get lower action, I made the hole in the new can closer to the top lip, resulting in lower action and a fingerboard that was higher than the plane of the face of the can.

Fast forward a bit. I decided I wanted a new bridge. This bridge lowered my action even more. It didn't matter too much when I was playing over the face of the can, but it affected my ability to play over the 19th fret harmonic. I took a look at my canjo and decided that leveling the last ~2.5" of the fingerboard to the can face would create a nice scoop.

So, in short, it was mostly happy chance. Perhaps you could reset the neck with shims in the gourd? Other than that, I'd hate to suggest another gourd altogether, but maybe that's your ticket. Hope it works out for ya either way.

Nathan

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