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Having trouble with heavy banjos?

Posted by 5strings3picks1banjo on Friday, March 17, 2017

For anybody wanting to switch over to a lighter banjo due to injury or pain after a session but cannot find a quality sounding banjo or just cannot afford a quality light banjo, I stumbled onto a combination that works very well. Not a new idea but maybe my wood choice is a first. Cheap cheap cheap modification under $300 Australian

I removed a neck and one piece flange from a standard heavy bluegrass banjo with standard 5/8th rim and metal tonering.

I then made a Fijian mahogany and Beech block rim. I machined the rim top end to mimic a bluegrass tonering size and shape.

I then machined the outer rim to fit the one piece flange. About a quarter of an inch under the tonering, machined the inner rim to 1/2 inch thick with the bottom 1/4 inch 5/8 th thick. Basically removing wood and metal tonering to lighten up the banjo.

I've been building quality but expensive banjos for years and also trying many ideas to make banjos affordable for people.

Generally if you don't spend money and use  the good bluegrass parts and wood you can never get a quality sound that will hold its own next to a quality banjo. 

I've made rims for people, fitted cheap tonerings, modified aluminum banjos, etc but they always are missing something in tone.

Those banjos have always greatly improved but never have a full rounded sound. Usually they increase in treble and volume only

and the sparkle fizzle out going up the neck past the 5th fret.

My new combo of woods and thinned out rim similar to the Tony Pass idea, has created a full tone with a punch and ring to the end of the fretboard. I have played and repaired many high end banjos to know what a quality banjo sounds like. I know it may be hard to believe but this thing can hold it's own next to my Huber built tonering. 

I'm enjoying this tone over the Huber at present. It's so hard to explain sound but its warm punchy and sounds vintage old with sparkle way up the fretboard.

I think the best feature is the cost which is under $300 Aust which will save you neck and shoulder pain and allow you to jam all weekend

till the end of time.

I look forward to sharing this banjo with  my Australian friends and let them make their comments. Please drop in and give it a test if your in Melbourne and leave comments. Text or message me

2 comments on “Having trouble with heavy banjos?”

Ks_5-picker Says:
Saturday, March 18, 2017 @6:03:55 PM

I'm going to have a block rim made of Osage orange.Also known as Hedge wood,it's dreadfully hard.We use it for fence posts and they never rot. I've had a Pass woody rim/ring combo in a parts banjo in the past. It sounded really good. I have an old gold star which is just too heavy to stand and hold for 2 or 3 hrs. My rim builder is a band mate,so I'll probably get a friends discount on it!

5strings3picks1banjo Says:
Sunday, March 19, 2017 @7:52:00 PM

Hi K5 picker. I've done many rim experiments. Maybe keep the tone ring normal specs and rely on the lower rim to produce depth and tone? What sound or tunes are you wanting or expecting? Are wanting to keep a resonator? I'm happy to share my results for different things.

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