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Oct 13, 2017 - 4:13:14 AM
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Joined Apr 13, 2017

Is there any way to cut a heel so it'll fit a one piece or two piece flange?

Oct 13, 2017 - 5:18:17 AM
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Ken LeVan Players Union Member

USA

10247 posts
Joined Jun 29, 2005

You could do that by means of a set of adaptors made of  some material like brass or aluminum,both of which conduct sound waves faster than wood. These would fit on a "neutral",even flat heel cut and adapt the banjo to whatever pot configuration you wanted.  They could even come in a series of different angles.  It would create a more precise fit than just cutting a heel configuration in a wooden heel as is universally done.   Harmony did a similar thing back in the 50s-60s, but it never caught on.

I doubt it would ever catch on now, even though it is a sound (pun intended) idea because it goes against a number of firmly entrenched ideas.  It would be like the "zero fret"- misunderstood, and easily dismissed as inferior.

Oct 13, 2017 - 5:41:28 AM
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Tom Nechville makes a device he calls a "flux capacitor" which could be used to accomplish this, and the device also allows for angle adjustment.

I bought one from him to experiment with, they aren't cheap. The device mounts on the rim and has a curved surface where the neck attaches. The heel is cut on a bandsaw to fit this curve, and a brass tube is installed inside the heel at a 15 degree angle to accept the anchor piece. There is also a bolt installed from the heel cap that locks the rig in place.

This thing does what it is designed for. The neck angle can be adjusted, or the neck can be removed and replaced with another neck set up for this mount.

In my case I did not find these features to be worth the trouble and expense because once I set the banjo up to my liking I never felt a need to adjust heel angle. It does make it easy to remove the neck, but I already build "take down" travel banjos with bolt on necks that are just as easy to remove, and didn't cost $150 in hardware.

I do not mean to be critical of the device, it is very well designed and crafted. It may be of more interest to players who switch between different styles, and since I only down pick I don't have a need to adjust angle.

Oct 13, 2017 - 7:04:39 AM
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The phrase; "a solution in search of a problem" comes to mind.
Usually, once we get a neck fit and a banjo set up, it stays that way for a long time.

Oct 13, 2017 - 7:26:47 AM
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rudy Players Union Member

USA

11505 posts
Joined Mar 27, 2004

quote:
Originally posted by OldPappy

Tom Nechville makes a device he calls a "flux capacitor" which could be used to accomplish this, and the device also allows for angle adjustment.

I bought one from him to experiment with, they aren't cheap. The device mounts on the rim and has a curved surface where the neck attaches. The heel is cut on a bandsaw to fit this curve, and a brass tube is installed inside the heel at a 15 degree angle to accept the anchor piece. There is also a bolt installed from the heel cap that locks the rig in place.

This thing does what it is designed for. The neck angle can be adjusted, or the neck can be removed and replaced with another neck set up for this mount.

In my case I did not find these features to be worth the trouble and expense because once I set the banjo up to my liking I never felt a need to adjust heel angle. It does make it easy to remove the neck, but I already build "take down" travel banjos with bolt on necks that are just as easy to remove, and didn't cost $150 in hardware.

I do not mean to be critical of the device, it is very well designed and crafted. It may be of more interest to players who switch between different styles, and since I only down pick I don't have a need to adjust angle.


Tom's neck adjuster was pre-dated by several decades by the heel adjustment for the KayKraft guitar, early's 30's.

The adjustable neck was a feature developed for the KayKraft guitar during the time when Joseph Zorzi worked as production manager at Stromberg-Viosinet, which would later become Kay Musical Instruments.  The neck was attached by a single bolt with a locking wing nut on the inside of the guitar.  The entire system wasn't a radically new idea, and it's most likely no coincidence that the design work for the new KayKraft line followed Zorzi in 1926 from Lyon and Healy where he had been fired for attempts to organize a union.

Lyon and Healy had already produced a banjo with the same single point neck attachment and angular adjustment features in the Lyon and Healy Star banjo, patent extending back to the late 1800's.

Oct 13, 2017 - 11:18:49 AM

4002 posts
Joined Aug 28, 2013

I think everyone here except maybe Ken LeVan has missed the point of the O.P.'s question. He's not asking about changing neck angles or using different rim configurations, he is asking about adapting neck heels to accommodate both one-piece and two-piece flanges. I can envision spacers, as Ken suggests. There would need to be two different types, one with a surface to fit a one- piece flange, and a different one for the two-piece, but with a flat surface on the opposite side to fit a simple straight cut neck heel. 

Oct 13, 2017 - 12:36:20 PM

Fathand

Canada

10516 posts
Joined Feb 7, 2008

I think Universal neck heels will be possible when there are universal rims to attach them to although I have used a "shim"  to attach a 2PF neck to a OPF Rim.

Oct 13, 2017 - 1:40:51 PM

rudy Players Union Member

USA

11505 posts
Joined Mar 27, 2004

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I think everyone here except maybe Ken LeVan has missed the point of the O.P.'s question. He's not asking about changing neck angles or using different rim configurations, he is asking about adapting neck heels to accommodate both one-piece and two-piece flanges. I can envision spacers, as Ken suggests. There would need to be two different types, one with a surface to fit a one- piece flange, and a different one for the two-piece, but with a flat surface on the opposite side to fit a simple straight cut neck heel. 


Ken mentioned that "they could even come in different angles", so the adjustable angle concept was mentioned as a way of producing a "universal" adapter of sorts to accomodate different heel cuts.

As far as "missing the point" I guess everyone could just offer a simple "No.".  I'm not sure what would be gained from that, though.

I've played around with heel spacers to change bridge position on the head, but as shown from the photo of the KayKraft adjuster, shims would end up being butt ugly.

Edited by - rudy on 10/13/2017 13:42:58

Oct 13, 2017 - 2:26:32 PM

4002 posts
Joined Aug 28, 2013

quote:
Originally posted by rudy
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I think everyone here except maybe Ken LeVan has missed the point of the O.P.'s question. He's not asking about changing neck angles or using different rim configurations, he is asking about adapting neck heels to accommodate both one-piece and two-piece flanges. I can envision spacers, as Ken suggests. There would need to be two different types, one with a surface to fit a one- piece flange, and a different one for the two-piece, but with a flat surface on the opposite side to fit a simple straight cut neck heel. 


Ken mentioned that "they could even come in different angles", so the adjustable angle concept was mentioned as a way of producing a "universal" adapter of sorts to accomodate different heel cuts.

As far as "missing the point" I guess everyone could just offer a simple "No.".  I'm not sure what would be gained from that, though.

I've played around with heel spacers to change bridge position on the head, but as shown from the photo of the KayKraft adjuster, shims would end up being butt ugly.

If people think it's impossible, maybe they should have simply replied "no." It's been done before and at least in that respect, the OP would have an answer of sorts.

But maybe Ken's idea and my own thoughts might at least give him some hope that although the heel cut in itself might not be adaptable to different flanges, there is a possible solution to his dilemma. That seems much better to me, and also seems better than suggesting adjustable neck angles that don't really address what the OP has asked.

As far as shims being butt ugly, I'd say that's a matter of opinion, and that some of us would put up with what may seem out of place (at least to some traditionalists) if it solved a neck angle issue. It's certainly no uglier than a credit card seeing the end grain of a wooden shim stuffed between the neck and rim.

My problem with the Kay adjuster has never been it's looks, it's the inherent weakness of having a pivoting neck supported only with a wood screw through a loose fitting hole in a single metal rod. Many Asian banjos use a similar mounting, but without the adjustment feature, and every one that I've encountered has had a bent wood screw, and one or two have had a rod broken at the hole for the screw.

Oct 13, 2017 - 2:44:02 PM

8257 posts
Joined Aug 17, 2003

quote:
Originally posted by bluegrassboy4life

Is there any way to cut a heel so it'll fit a one piece or two piece flange?


 

The simple answer is no. You can modify a one piece flange neck to fit a 2-piece flange by re-cutting the heel but not visa versa. Even that can sometimes be a problem if there is not enough fingerboard extending past the last fret.  The problem with a universal heel cut is that rim skirt diameters vary which affect the neck angle. Also, a cut out on the heel to accommodate both a one-piece and 2-piece flange would be ugly. The neck heel needs to be machined to fit  the correct flange and rim.

Oct 13, 2017 - 2:53:29 PM
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Joined Jan 7, 2005

I tend to agree with John's comment, and would wonder about the purpose of a 'fits all kind' heel cut. How often will one need to make such a change? It's somewhat akin to asking for a bolt-in engine that will fit both a Camaro and an Impala.
I would say "no" except with a little planning and hand work, it could probably be done. But the stability might be compromised and there are likely to be some ugly gaps. For a one-time flange changeout, it would certainly be possible, since any gaps could be filled.
DD

Oct 13, 2017 - 3:16:04 PM

778 posts
Joined Jan 26, 2012

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I think everyone here except maybe Ken LeVan has missed the point of the O.P.'s question. He's not asking about changing neck angles or using different rim configurations, he is asking about adapting neck heels to accommodate both one-piece and two-piece flanges. I can envision spacers, as Ken suggests. There would need to be two different types, one with a surface to fit a one- piece flange, and a different one for the two-piece, but with a flat surface on the opposite side to fit a simple straight cut neck heel. 


I think everyone has been right on point. Showing other types of shimming that have been done over the years, while not a direct solution to the OP's question, shows that there are possibilities for making necks that are adaptable. Just because it's not the exact solution doesn't mean that it can't inspire the solution.

Oct 13, 2017 - 3:26:54 PM

Ken LeVan Players Union Member

USA

10247 posts
Joined Jun 29, 2005

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Drabek

I tend to agree with John's comment, and would wonder about the purpose of a 'fits all kind' heel cut. How often will one need to make such a change? It's somewhat akin to asking for a bolt-in engine that will fit both a Camaro and an Impala.
I would say "no" except with a little planning and hand work, it could probably be done. But the stability might be compromised and there are likely to be some ugly gaps. For a one-time flange changeout, it would certainly be possible, since any gaps could be filled.
DD


I agree that there isn't much point to making a heel cut that works on all banjos.  It would be a "lowest common denominator" kind of thing with a big gap in the middle, which is what prompted me to say that you could make metal "shim / adaptors" for any kind of banjo- let's a say Stewmac sold them. Then an amateur builder wouldn't have to concern themselves with an elaborate jig & fixture setup and a complicated cut - just make the heel zero degrees, flat across, square to the centerline and slap one of these on - bang zoom.

What made me think about it is that about 35 years ago, I made such a thing for some banjos I was building at the time.  I made them from brass, and they worked just fine.

 

- I would do it again except for the reasons I cited earlier in the thread.  Nowadays, I'd probably make them from carbon fiber matrix-one side would be flat,the other a dead match to the pot configuration.  It would be a heck of a lot easier to change the angle on the heel by minute amounts - all you'd have to do would be to sand the flat side of the thingy a little.:

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 10/13/2017 15:28:16

Oct 13, 2017 - 4:12:59 PM

255 posts
Joined Apr 13, 2017

I just worked up this rough model in 3D Builder. The yellow is the adapters left the two piece, right one piece, the blue is the heel, and the green the fretboard. The grey is obviously the hangar bolts. Would this design work?


Oct 13, 2017 - 4:56:36 PM

8257 posts
Joined Aug 17, 2003

I dont get the point of it.

Oct 13, 2017 - 6:02:52 PM

rudy Players Union Member

USA

11505 posts
Joined Mar 27, 2004

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by rudy
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I think everyone here except maybe Ken LeVan has missed the point of the O.P.'s question. He's not asking about changing neck angles or using different rim configurations, he is asking about adapting neck heels to accommodate both one-piece and two-piece flanges. I can envision spacers, as Ken suggests. There would need to be two different types, one with a surface to fit a one- piece flange, and a different one for the two-piece, but with a flat surface on the opposite side to fit a simple straight cut neck heel. 


Ken mentioned that "they could even come in different angles", so the adjustable angle concept was mentioned as a way of producing a "universal" adapter of sorts to accomodate different heel cuts.

As far as "missing the point" I guess everyone could just offer a simple "No.".  I'm not sure what would be gained from that, though.

I've played around with heel spacers to change bridge position on the head, but as shown from the photo of the KayKraft adjuster, shims would end up being butt ugly.

If people think it's impossible, maybe they should have simply replied "no." It's been done before and at least in that respect, the OP would have an answer of sorts.

But maybe Ken's idea and my own thoughts might at least give him some hope that although the heel cut in itself might not be adaptable to different flanges, there is a possible solution to his dilemma. That seems much better to me, and also seems better than suggesting adjustable neck angles that don't really address what the OP has asked.

As far as shims being butt ugly, I'd say that's a matter of opinion, and that some of us would put up with what may seem out of place (at least to some traditionalists) if it solved a neck angle issue. It's certainly no uglier than a credit card seeing the end grain of a wooden shim stuffed between the neck and rim.

My problem with the Kay adjuster has never been it's looks, it's the inherent weakness of having a pivoting neck supported only with a wood screw through a loose fitting hole in a single metal rod. Many Asian banjos use a similar mounting, but without the adjustment feature, and every one that I've encountered has had a bent wood screw, and one or two have had a rod broken at the hole for the screw.


Nothing is "impossible".  Is it really worth the effort?  Is is going to end up being more Rube Goldberg than Green & Green?  Those are the questions one must ask if you're going to go down the "heel cut shim" road.

As already said, just do the job correctly to begin with instead of cobbling up some sort of after-the-fact "fix".  As far as the KayKraft adjuster, I don't know where a "hollow metal tube" is used.  The actual bolt is a substantially large diameter and is used with a wing nut.  I want to see the person that can bend one.

That said, I would NEVER suggest that it's a good system.  It's cludgy, it's ugly, it's prone to looseness, it isn't accurately fitted after a few years of humidity cycles, and it just isn't necessary if the instrument is constructed correctly to begin with.  The same goes for the same setup as used by Harmony in later years.

As others have suggested, it's good to see some other ideas so a forum reader has some idea of what the options might be.

Oct 13, 2017 - 7:44:47 PM

12873 posts
Joined Aug 14, 2003

The neck fit is one/if not the most important thing in getting a good sounding banjo. It is not a one fits all thing.. I worked on repaired an old banjo with the adjustable neck deal, a piece in it very much like that pictured above on the guitar.. Before I could get any decent sound, I had to remove it and make a wooden shim to fit.. Made a very good knockaround banjo them..

Just don't think it is practical, as critical as the individual fitting is.. Maybe on mass produced low end instruments as an enticement?

Oct 13, 2017 - 8:06:15 PM
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rudy Players Union Member

USA

11505 posts
Joined Mar 27, 2004

quote:
Originally posted by Kenneth Logsdon

The neck fit is one/if not the most important thing in getting a good sounding banjo. It is not a one fits all thing.. I worked on repaired an old banjo with the adjustable neck deal, a piece in it very much like that pictured above on the guitar.. Before I could get any decent sound, I had to remove it and make a wooden shim to fit.. Made a very good knockaround banjo them..

Just don't think it is practical, as critical as the individual fitting is.. Maybe on mass produced low end instruments as an enticement?


That's an interesting observation, and one that I used to ascribe to; until I started making banjos that actually have no physical connection at the heel.  What I discovered was the heel connection (or lack thereof) made absolutely no difference to tone or volume.

Oct 13, 2017 - 8:29:01 PM

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Joined Aug 14, 2003

Yep.. It was an open back.. Not my area, was done more or less as a favor, he just wanted it decent and playable.. success
My playpen is Bluegrass Banjos and I would certainly defer to those of you that concentrate on those other different creatures.. Its another world soundwise..

Edited by - Kenneth Logsdon on 10/13/2017 20:35:55

Oct 13, 2017 - 9:35:24 PM
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Joined Mar 6, 2006

This will get me no love here,  but years ago Clarence Hall, who has tried more things with a Bg style banjo , set up and construction wise. than anyone I know of, did something that amazed me. If memory serves me had put together a Gibson parts banjo and wanted me to try it out. He was testing heel connection to the pot for sound differences. Somehow he managed to rig up the banjo so that the heel was actually "floating" only being held in place but the lags and co rods.
I can't remember what extra stuff he used to make it happen but there was no touching of the neck wood to the pot. I sat down and played it and was shocked at how great it sounded. I asked  how the neck was transmitting tone and he said that it must be through the lagbolts.
The way it was rigged, the neck convection was very stable. My conclusion from seeing this was that maybe the reason for the neck contributing sound was bout the stability of the joint itself and not just the contact alone. This isn't to say no one should. Are about neck fit but hearing that rig made an impression on me as to things we often hold written in stone in set up are actually written in wet clay....infused with some tar.

Edited by - Banjophobic on 10/13/2017 21:38:55

Oct 14, 2017 - 12:39:43 AM
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"the reason for the neck contributing sound was bout the stability of the joint itself and not just the contact alone."

Anyone who builds something NOT a banjo, guitar acoustic or electric, mandolin, fiddle, whatever, knows this is true

Scott

Oct 14, 2017 - 5:03:59 AM

Ken LeVan Players Union Member

USA

10247 posts
Joined Jun 29, 2005

Wyatt Fawley once set up a Mastertone so that the neck floated - in other words didn't touch the rim but was held on by the co-rods, and it sounded great.

I think the whole notion of the connection having vast and profiound meaning is probably bogus conventional wisdom and doesn't stand up to scrutiny as Banjophobic says.

I suggested to David Politzer that it would be interesting to test neck connection sound transmission with equipment in a scholarly way and see how much it means.  He said that it's the strings that transmit the sound from the bridge to the peghead and energize the neck.  Makes sense.

Oct 14, 2017 - 6:41:20 AM

Helix Players Union Member

USA

10407 posts
Joined Aug 30, 2006

Hey Hunter, no one has explained that the rims are different, Your graphics are perfect for what you want to do, below the flange, a 1-pc reduces diameter to 10-3/4" , that's why the bottom leg of your bluegrass neck is longer. Your graphic dosn't show that yet,but you'll get it.

Isn't it cool, so many ideas, so many want to show what their personal solution is.

I just obtained an old longneck, a STAmm, and somebody messed with the heel so bad, I'm going to have to put a block in there like you are asking about. If you want to confer with me off forum, I might have some ideas.

The tube and plate rims have straight cut heel like an openback, that's why I took to rolling my own tubes and making open backs with no holes in the rim, a magnetic resonator is an add on. You have to cut a small channel in the heel to accomodate the tube, but it's easy and universal,

I've also used broken pot metal flanges to make a short-shouldered flange, works great, won't dig into your leg, but you have to use a standard bluegrass rim with wastes wood.

A bracket band rim wastes even more wood and brings that 10-3/4" dimension way up into the rim so the heel at times sits against the metal sleeve. It is fact, my opinion about how they sound and what they weigh is not written here.

You have a great idea that may only work for you, but your concept is sound, get it? Sound is the quest.

Lean forward, move ahead.  The photo shows 3 different ways to do this, including the famous tubaphone and bracket band Helix Midnight Zephyr #002 in the middle, look close, count hooks.  I used Gold Tone longnecks as you can see, I do rim changeouts, so I get to see a lot of different build concepts,then I get to adapt my own thinking.  


Edited by - Helix on 10/14/2017 06:47:50

Oct 14, 2017 - 6:47:04 AM

4002 posts
Joined Aug 28, 2013

To Rudy:

I said "single metal rod," not "hollow metal tube."

Perhaps there'd be less divisive commentary if people read things correctly.

That is my basic argument about this entire thread. I still do not see how a neck adjuster can possibly be an alternative to cutting a heel to fit different flanges (after all, flanges have all been cut away or do not even exist in any of the photos of these contraptions). To me, at least, an adjustable neck does not answer the OP's question at all, and that's the point of my initial response. 

Oct 14, 2017 - 6:52:37 AM

Helix Players Union Member

USA

10407 posts
Joined Aug 30, 2006

Thanks George, sometimes we do want to answer the guys questions, I don't mind drift, but the compulsion to shut out all other discussion is quite a trick.

I have now warmed up my hands by typing, now I'm off to play a little claw and 3-finger, then time to make the banjos.

Have a great Saturday, everybody, be prepared for earthquake, thunder and lightning, no necessarily in that order.

Banjo is a verb. ( ))==='== :: }

Oct 14, 2017 - 7:00:56 AM

rudy Players Union Member

USA

11505 posts
Joined Mar 27, 2004

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Wyatt Fawley once set up a Mastertone so that the neck floated - in other words didn't touch the rim but was held on by the co-rods, and it sounded great.

I think the whole notion of the connection having vast and profiound meaning is probably bogus conventional wisdom and doesn't stand up to scrutiny as Banjophobic says.

I suggested to David Politzer that it would be interesting to test neck connection sound transmission with equipment in a scholarly way and see how much it means.  He said that it's the strings that transmit the sound from the bridge to the peghead and energize the neck.  Makes sense.


First, before being accused of not addressing the OP's question, the importance of neck connection pertains to this discussion because if a shim or other interposing device (such as the Harmony "heel sled") is used, the fit of the connection becomes important.  Any shim or device that isn't solid enough is going to be a area where energy is dissipated by way of movement.  Even a slight amount of mis-match will end up as a net energy loss, effecting tone and/or volume.

It became apparent to me as I studied the science behind energy transfer as pertaining to banjo that the instrument has to be evaluated as an entire working system of inter-related components.  The neck connection aspect takes on varying degrees of importance based on the rest of the construction features.  The "bottom line" of the string energy factor lies in the total rigidity of the connection between the two opposing points of where the string is held.  Anyone who has played with "two tin cans with a string stretched between them" as a way of efficiently transmitting energy between two points will instantly be familiar with the concept.

Any energy loss along the opposite ends of the string path as a result of any form of movement between the two end points influences how much of the tangential energy of the string can be transferred to the head via the bridge.

That energy loss can be caused from a loose or poor fit at the heel when coupled to a rigid rim structure, or even the result of a thin and flexible rim in the case of an open back banjo.  In the case of a thin open back rim the loss of energy is actually converted to audible sound, so the formula becomes more complex in that case.

In my case I'm making necks that are basically extended all the way to the tailpiece mount so the rim's function in rigidity between the two string ends becomes a moot point.

All of the other factors that enter into the process are way beyond the intent of the OP's question, but you do have to understand at least the basic idea behind energy conservation, transfer, and when and where that energy is converted to audible sound waves in making a determination of exactly what kind of neck connection will work in each particular case.

Over and out...

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