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The elusive optimal sound in a banjo

Posted by haystack on Saturday, April 18, 2015

Since I started playing banjo in 1968 or 69, the sound that I sought in a banjo has been somewhat elusive.  I started on an old Silvertone that I got from a pawn shop in Fort Worth, Texas.  In 1970, I acquired a Ventura  in Florida, which I played for 17 years, doing all sorts of experimenting on it for a better sound, including putting the inside of an air filter out of a Vega station wagon, on the co-ordinator rods. (helped some) But still, the sound I wanted in a banjo eluded me.  Finally about 1990, I acquired my first Gibson, a 1925 model 3-ball-bearing, sn 8012-9, still it didn't have exactly what I was looking for, then a couple years later I acquired a 1922 Gibson model 5 with a 10-1/2 head which I had Jim Yarboro convert to a 5-string.  This one almost had it.  A few years later I acquired  a 1926 model 5, ball-bearing, sn 8252-10, which Jim also converted to a 5-string with an inverted ball-bearing tone ring, which had been and is my main banjo since.   A few years ago I got a Beltone Artist, which I converted to a 5-string - excellent banjo. Then, this past year I acquired a Supurb Wonder XX tenor, which was almost identical on set up as was the Beltone Artist, walnut pot and resonator,flange, and neck attachment.  I put a 1021 Tubaphone  tone ring on the pot,(the skirt was a little wider than the pot, so I added a piece of formicca off of an old yard table I had, to fill up the space) put on a 5-string neck that I had acquired either from Vietnam or Tiawann, and WALLAW!!. I found the sound I've been searching for.  Videos will be applied to my videos shortly, so you can hear what this banjo sounds like. Jim

2 comments on “The elusive optimal sound in a banjo”

Ks_5-picker Says:
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 @1:36:23 PM

I don't know If I'd notice optimum sound if it hit me in the head. I've had several banjos that I was satisfied with the tone. I'm sure they weren't all the same.I have an old Kel Kroydon with a HR30 Huber ring that is one of the best sounding banjos I've played,but I'm happy playing others as well.

crappiejohn Says:
Thursday, April 23, 2015 @9:10:48 AM

One thing for sure, you are persistent. AND I LIKE THAT!!
Great Story!!

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