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New Discovery You Can Make To Improve Your Banjo’s Volume and Sound Quality

Posted by yellowdog on Tuesday, March 15, 2022

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Hello fellow banjo players. 

I'm sorry that I have been absent from the Hangout for so long.  I hope that this blog entry makes up for my long absence and I think that it will.

Since I haven’t posted on the Hangout for a long time I need to introduce myself. I am a retired Army officer with a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering, retired solo tenor banjo entertainer (for 26 years) and now am an inventor/ maker of mechanical devices that use surface acoustic waves to improve the sound of stringed musical instruments.

Recently I made a wonderful discovery of a simple device that greatly improved the sound of my Gibson Mastertone tenor banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar and violin which cannot be patented and which I do not want to make and sell. I just want to tell people about it so they can make it themselves, which I will do here.

The discovery is that a small octagon of about 1-1/2 inches in diameter cut from thin 2-ply mahogany veneer (with scissors) and taped to the heel of the neck of a banjo with a 1-inch strip of 1/2-inch wide Gold Mylar® acrylic tape, will greatly improve the sound of the banjo and  probably any other acoustic stringed instrument. You can purchase the thin mahogany 2-ply veneer at any woodworkers store such as: "Rockler" and you can order the Mylar® tape from Amazon for $10.00 for a 50 yard roll.

It works because when musical instruments are played two things are produced - audible sound and inaudible surface acoustic waves (which are waves of energy like ripples on a lake) which you also can't hear. These ripples (of wood) on the banjo are analogous to the music.  The tape captures these waves of energy and deposits them on the octagon which reflects then from its eight edges toward the center. When these waves intersect similar waves they add algebraically and amplify, (by the Physics “Principle of Constructive Interference”) and they do this many times. This amplifies all frequencies including harmonics which are so necessary for beautiful sound.  The tape also transfers these greatly amplified waves, including harmonics so necessary for beautiful sound,  back to the banjo which converts them to improved audible sound.  This is why this very simple device improves sound quality.  Sound volume is improved because total audible sound energy is increased.  

As I said, I don't want to make and sell these (because I am 84 years old and have better things to do with my time).  You can make and sell them if you want to and I hope that somebody does.

One more thing. The octagon is easy to draw and cut out from paper as a pattern to trace on the mahogany veneer. Draw a circle (about 1-1/2 inches in diameter (for great low tones) and draw a pie with 45-degrees for each "slice". Then replace the curved edge of each "slice" (there are 8 of equal length) with a straight line and you’ll see the octagon.

When you finish trace the octagon on the mahogany veneer and cut it out with scissors, attach the tape and stick it to the heel of your banjo’s neck and play the banjo in the normal manner.  Expect to be amazed!

Frank Geiger (Yellowdog)
PS. I got the best sound when the tape and the lines (grains) of wood on the mahogany were in the same direction.


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