Posted by nechville on Wednesday, July 2, 2008
What keeps me interested in banjos is the passion of great players who hear a sound and remember it. Those people who play hundreds of banjos and try to understand what makes one sound better than another. One such player is Gabe Hirschfeld who shares my passion for great sounding instruments. Gabe has only been playing for a couple years, but he has an amazing ear and already outplays nearly everyone I know. I am honored that he recently chose to purchase a Nechville Banjo and we are currently working together to arrive at the optimal setup and options for his style and technique. We share a taste for high bridges, Wide necks, Mahogany wood, Radiused fingerboards and penetrating warmth in banjo tone.
Inspired by a recent conversation with Gabe, I decided to build a Mahogany Galaxy Phantom that would represent my favorite options and set-up parameters. Since Nechville banjos can be easily set up for high bridges with low action, That's what I did.
The 3 gram bridge is 7/8" tall. It has wide spacing and it is perfectly compensated for the string gauges. I chose to put on a custom set of strings. I use .010's on the first and fifth and 12's on the 2nd, but this time I lightened up the 4th string to a .020, and the 3rd to a .013. I think the slightly lighter pull on the tailpiece due to lighter strings lends to the mellowness without detracting too much from volume.
The wide neck also has wide frets that I believe helps hold the string in place solidly and lends to purity of tone. The radiused ebony fingerboard is done with Galaxy Abalone and Pearl inlay, and a tunneled 5th string adds convenience, playability and and solidity of tone. I did the Snuffy Smith trick with a higher crown Remo head and the thicker frosting darkens the sound just slightly.
In combination with the head at medium tightness and the tall bridge, the notes roll off the instrument like giant pillow-y balls of sound. I removed the down pressure completely from the tailpiece and in fact raised the tailpiece up to the top of the bridge. My tailpiece lets the natural pull of the strings create the break angle for a nice open sound, but in this case I wanted less break angle than normal so I jacked the tailpiece up with the banjo's built in pickup jack mounting bracket. Whenever possible I try to kill 2 birds with one stone like this. The high bridge and steep neck setback provides just enough break angle over the bridge for the sound to open up and allow a nice blend of subtle harmonics.
The energy can be felt through the resonator as sound processes through the unimpeded acoustical chamber of the Helimount body. I can not imagine a better sound, but the Helimount gives more choices of tonal character than any other banjo I know of. As for comfort, The tunnel is terrific the compound radius is perfect for the left hand, and makes picking easier for my right hand. The armrest is beveled exotic wood and helps make your body merge with the instrument in comfort. I can play it for hours in total comfort and the low action is as smooth as silk.
I have made similar banjos for people like Alison Brown, Noam Pickelney, Bela Fleck, Leon Hunt, Jake Schepps, and Adam Larrabee, who happen to be my favorite players.
If you can imagine yourself expressively and effortlessly making music this instrument, well it's your lucky day. This banjo is my pick of the week, and it could be yours. Have total confidence in your purchase. I stand behind it with a 100% money back guarantee. This banjo is set up for a rich contemporary sound.
Alternate heads, tone ring options bridge heights and other components are interchangable making this Nechville an enduring high value investment for you and your legacy. Interested parties may call me personally to arrange shipment and payment.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008 @12:01:16 PM
Hi Tom. Well, I'm only a beginner, but was fascinating for me to ready your blog. I never realised there was so much that goes into making a banjo that sounds good. Really interesting reading. Thank you. Bryan.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008 @1:48:12 PM
Admittedly this is self promotion, but not without value. There is a lot of stuff in there that banjo people would want to know.
Old Man Says:
Thursday, July 3, 2008 @4:07:58 AM
Tom. I am getting old in body but young in trying to learn these things called banjos and have owned most of all. that is being made in the last few years. Gibson and stellings ,so far has been my favorite but aftwer your blog I think I am going to hunt me one down and give it a pick, Very good info and Thanks.
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