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Dec 7, 2017 - 8:20:11 AM
119 posts since 11/16/2006

If a guy decided to build a great archtop Gibson style banjo, (i can't afford the style 5 that is for sale in the classified- bummer) should i go one piece flange or two? I've had both and didn't really like my 27 style 3- two piece flange, but then again Ralph's style 5 was 2 piece.... Any thoughts?

Dec 7, 2017 - 11:32:09 AM
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1898 posts since 9/25/2006

I actually prefer a tpf on an archtop.

Dec 7, 2017 - 11:32:11 AM

176 posts since 4/1/2003

Thanks for reminding Me.. I'm getting my rb-5 out with the arch top ring and the tube and plate walnut banjo.. Thanks Bill

Dec 7, 2017 - 11:52:33 AM
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RioStat Players Union Member


4329 posts since 10/12/2009
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I'm a traditionalist.....Gibson made a whole lot more archtops with 2pf than with 1pf's.

All my archtops, except two have tube and plate (2pf) flanges.

Of the other two, one is a 1pf, one is a shoe bracket and flange plate banjo.

I  personally just like the looks and durability of the 2pf.

Dec 7, 2017 - 1:27:55 PM

66211 posts since 5/9/2007

I really liked the archtop/2 pc. fl. mahogany 1976 Gold Star.I wish I could have kept that one.
It had a nice,thick tone.It's all in the tone you like when it comes to different combinations.

Dec 7, 2017 - 1:55:17 PM

10558 posts since 10/30/2008

There's more rim wood in a TPF Gibson than in a OPF. It's not just the flange itself. I'm not convinced the flange itself has ANYTHING to do with the banjo's sound.

I'll bet an older brass vs. a newer zamac pre-war tension hoop has more effect on banjo sound than the choice of flange itself.

I have 2 pre-war 40 hole archtops; one maple, one walnut. They are both TPF. Both sound very different. Neck wood, and set up, set up, set up. IMHO.

Dec 7, 2017 - 1:59 PM

2117 posts since 9/18/2003

I’m not convinced it makes a whole lot of difference.  The tone comes from the materials used and the set up.

Ive got two with opf and three with tube and plate.  I love em all.  I’m with Scott on this, I like the looks of the tube and plate on an archtop.  It’s just traditional and I like tradition.

Dec 7, 2017 - 3:59:10 PM

119 posts since 11/16/2006

Thanks for the great answers.... would you say 2 piece is ringier (more sustain) and drier sounding---and one piece is louder and livlier

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:54:51 PM
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RioStat Players Union Member


4329 posts since 10/12/2009
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My 2pf's are louder and "ringier"'s all in the set-up, though.

My 1pf archtop sounds real good,'s all in the set-up, though.

Dec 7, 2017 - 8:42:31 PM

10558 posts since 10/30/2008

tariconroy I would not say that, in general.

Dec 8, 2017 - 3:41 AM
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8712 posts since 1/22/2003

People say that the two-piece flange archtop is more in line with the tradition, but Gibson also made a lot of bow-tie archtop banjos that were one-piece flange...

Clarence Ashley

My favorite archtop is Dock Boggs' RB-3, it's a two-piece flange 40-hole archtop:

Reed Martin and Dock Boggs

Edited by - Emiel on 12/08/2017 03:48:41

Dec 8, 2017 - 4:10:21 PM

Ken LeVan Players Union Member


10460 posts since 6/29/2005
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I always think of archtops as being best with two-piece flanges, and flatheads with one-piece ones, but I have no scientific reason for saying that - it's tradition.  Because a TPF rim is thicker than a OPF one below the flange, and a flathead tone ring weighs more than an archtop, the metal-to-wood ratio is greater in a OPF flathead than in a TPF archtop.

I once saw a Youtube of a very rare and unusual PW archtop that had a one piece flange, and it sounded very good. There is a logic that would say that the thinner rim on a OPF would make an archtop sound better. It's something worth experimenting with.

Dec 9, 2017 - 12:31:19 AM

3877 posts since 9/6/2006

I've always associated a deeper, more resonant tone with TPF pots. As has been mentioned, that may be due to the thicker rim. But it could also be how heavy the tone ring is, or how it is seated on the rim...

I've seen and heard banjos that break every rule though. In my experience, setup is far more important than the type of flange. This includes the type and tension of the head, the type of bridge, the type of strings, the type of tailpiece and its tension settings, custom tweaks, the type of picks used, even how many fingers a player plants... These can all make a more noticeable difference in tone and volume than the type of flange.

The one thing that many people agree on is that a typical prewar Gibson TPF is a better design and typically uses better materials, and so will probably last longer than a typical prewar Gibson OPF in normal use. But among collectable original Gibson Masterones for example, the original OPF banjos are of course more valuable.

If I were building either an archtop or a flathead banjo for myself today, I'd either use a TPF, or if I could find one, a cast bronze OPF like used to be available from S/M.

-- Don

Edited by - dhergert on 12/09/2017 00:43:44

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