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Apr 18, 2019 - 1:57:28 PM
193 posts since 2/8/2019

I have some questions and figure somebody else might too. Here is my story: Never ever touched my banjos as far as set up until now. I only was willing because the RK was not very expensive and I figured I could only mess it up so bad. So, I was standing in line last weekend to pay for the wife's bass amp and noticed the drum dials there in the cabinet at checkout and decided to buy one.
After I got home I decided to play around with head tension...which lead to action adjustment. I eventually want to take my RK completely apart and put it back together and get it set up like it should be. That may sound strange but that is how I learn. I had a few questions right off the bat and thought I would make this thread. I hope others will join in with their questions too. As for the current condition of the RK, its sounding just find and playing just fine I just wanted to know how it would sound and different head tensions. It was at 94, I went all the way to 87 and worked my way back up and am now at 92. I do not know what note that translates to.

Now, I have to get back to my farm chores so I will ask my question and get back here later this evening. A big thank you to any who share their set up knowledge!

Question : What do the two coordinator rods adjust? I used the bottom one to adjust action at the 12th fret, but was worried about that. Nothing cracked or broke and everything is fine but honestly I just moved it about a half a round. When I went down to 87 I obtained a string buzz on the G string which got me to messing with this.

Cotton1

Apr 18, 2019 - 2:14:55 PM
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beegee

USA

21181 posts since 7/6/2005

You should only use the bottom co-rod to make slight adjustments yo the action. The top co-rod(nearest the head) should be tight to the neck side and just snug on the tailpiece end. The bottom rod should likewise be tight to the neck end and adjusted so the end of the rod is flush with the outside nut surface. Then I snug-up the inside nut. The action depends on what height bridge you use and head tension. I have a drum dial, but only use it if someone really wants to put a number to head tension. Once I have a bridge that I want to use(I use 11/16") and have the head as tight as I want it, I set the action(after making sure the truss rod is correctly tensioned) using shims, if necessary, to 7/64" above the 12th fret.

Apr 18, 2019 - 4:00 PM

Cotton1

USA

193 posts since 2/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by beegee

You should only use the bottom co-rod to make slight adjustments yo the action. The top co-rod(nearest the head) should be tight to the neck side and just snug on the tailpiece end. The bottom rod should likewise be tight to the neck end and adjusted so the end of the rod is flush with the outside nut surface. Then I snug-up the inside nut. The action depends on what height bridge you use and head tension. I have a drum dial, but only use it if someone really wants to put a number to head tension. Once I have a bridge that I want to use(I use 11/16") and have the head as tight as I want it, I set the action(after making sure the truss rod is correctly tensioned) using shims, if necessary, to 7/64" above the 12th fret.


Thank You! Most if not all of the bridges I have bought are 5/8, but I think the one that was on the RK when I bought it is a 11/16. It's on it still..is a Sullivan roasted Maple I think. 

My next question: is there a amount of time I should allow after a head tension adjustment to let it settle in before moving forward?

Cotton1

Apr 18, 2019 - 4:14:48 PM
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10412 posts since 2/12/2011
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You could check head tension by shortening a ruler to about 9 inches so you can place it on the head, parallel to the strings and up on its edge about an inch from the strings. Now see if you can slip a quarter under the ruler right by the bridge. If you can then you are correct on tightness. If there is space between the coin and the ruler then tighten it up.

Apr 18, 2019 - 5:33:19 PM

Cotton1

USA

193 posts since 2/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by kmwaters

You could check head tension by shortening a ruler to about 9 inches so you can place it on the head, parallel to the strings and up on its edge about an inch from the strings. Now see if you can slip a quarter under the ruler right by the bridge. If you can then you are correct on tightness. If there is space between the coin and the ruler then tighten it up.


Noted. Thank You! I will check my RK like this when I get the chance.

Apr 18, 2019 - 6:20:45 PM
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9675 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Cotton1

... I just wanted to know how it would sound and different head tensions. It was at 94, I went all the way to 87 and worked my way back up and am now at 92. I do not know what note that translates to.


If you're using a DrumDIal, notes don't matter.

The point of using a Drum Dial is to get an objective and repeatable reference for the head tension that produces a sound you like.  Head tap notes are hard for many people to hear with consistency or at all. So DrumDial and coin-and-stick provide measures that are not subject to variances in perception.

But since you ask, I've read that 92 on DrumDial is equal to A. I think I've seen it equated to other notes, too.  Which is exactly the point. Tap notes are elusive. DrumDials are readable.  Their reliability depends on setting an accurate zero. I use the glass bed of my scanner/copier and check it every time I use it.

Apr 19, 2019 - 4:32:20 AM

Cotton1

USA

193 posts since 2/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Cotton1

... I just wanted to know how it would sound and different head tensions. It was at 94, I went all the way to 87 and worked my way back up and am now at 92. I do not know what note that translates to.


If you're using a DrumDIal, notes don't matter.

The point of using a Drum Dial is to get an objective and repeatable reference for the head tension that produces a sound you like.  Head tap notes are hard for many people to hear with consistency or at all. So DrumDial and coin-and-stick provide measures that are not subject to variances in perception.

But since you ask, I've read that 92 on DrumDial is equal to A. I think I've seen it equated to other notes, too.  Which is exactly the point. Tap notes are elusive. DrumDials are readable.  Their reliability depends on setting an accurate zero. I use the glass bed of my scanner/copier and check it every time I use it.

 


I thought I had read that 87-92 was a normal range. Does that sound right? Scanner top is a excellent idea!

Cotton1

Apr 19, 2019 - 11:22:28 AM

9675 posts since 6/2/2008

I think I've heard 89 to 92 being the typical DrumDial range. To my ear, 90 is borderline for my banjos. They sound bad below that. The narrow range of 91 and 92 are most pleasing for me. Some people may like 87. There are no rules.

A final note on notes. While most of us talk about G# to B-flat being the tap notes to shoot for, Roger Siminoff believes a different note is happening in there and suggests D# for flatheads, F for archtops.  See this BNL article.  I don't believe he's suggesting a tighter head than the rest of us like. I'm certain he's hearing a different note.

Apr 19, 2019 - 7:16:29 PM
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Cotton1

USA

193 posts since 2/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

I think I've heard 89 to 92 being the typical DrumDial range. To my ear, 90 is borderline for my banjos. They sound bad below that. The narrow range of 91 and 92 are most pleasing for me. Some people may like 87. There are no rules.

A final note on notes. While most of us talk about G# to B-flat being the tap notes to shoot for, Roger Siminoff believes a different note is happening in there and suggests D# for flatheads, F for archtops.  See this BNL article.  I don't believe he's suggesting a tighter head than the rest of us like. I'm certain he's hearing a different note.


I've tried to tap tune with my fingers, and pencils. I always felt like the more I tapped the notes were different to my ear and my mic tuner. Frustration to me is the tap tune, I am content to learn what I like with drum dial. 

I played today for a bit and think I will leave it at 92. My idea that it would "settle in" was encouraged today. That last change was 5 days ago though.. seems like a long time?

Cotton1

Apr 21, 2019 - 5:23:06 PM
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9675 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Cotton1

I played today for a bit and think I will leave it at 92. My idea that it would "settle in" was encouraged today. That last change was 5 days ago though.. seems like a long time?


It was mid-January when I reassembled my recently acquired 70s RB-250 after having it apart for all sorts of DIY maintenance and adjustment. I had set the head to my preferred 91.  I've played it since then but haven't made any other adjustments.

Today I had a chance to spend several hours playing it and experimenting with bridges. Nothing was sounding as good as I expected. So remembering this conversation, I checked the head. It was down to 90 in most spots and even 88 and 89 in three or four.  A few nuts were downright loose.

Tightened it back to 91 all around and it sounded great. Switched from an original Snuffy to a Desert Rose Z bridge that had been on my archtop for a while. This has reminded me to check a head often during the first month or two.

Anyway, heads apparently do need time to settle in and I should have been checking tightness more frequently.

Apr 21, 2019 - 5:38:59 PM

Cotton1

USA

193 posts since 2/8/2019

It seems more and more like 91-92 is where I am going to be happy. Glad you got everything back to happy Old Hickory !

Apr 25, 2019 - 11:36:28 AM

4029 posts since 1/21/2003

My Drum Dial came with a piece of glass to check the zero - YMMV...

Apr 29, 2019 - 6:03:05 AM

Cotton1

USA

193 posts since 2/8/2019

Just for clarity: I have heard about initial set up with a penny or nickel. I am wondering how to get a starting point. I hope to pick my Gibson up in the next week or so and want to swap the tone rings around in my RK. Just want to do this for curiosity, but also want to learn how to do a good set up/ maintain one.

How do you know how much tension to put on the connector rods etc when you initially put it back together? I was reading up on it some but am getting confused about setting the action as far as with the co-rods vs the truss rod or even the bridge. I was reading a thread here( cant remember if current or a older thread at the moment) and the idea was that the co-rods should be neutral to the rim and the heel cut or shimmed to get starting point on action.

Just things I am trying to go thru in my mind before the day comes to give it a go. Thanks to all who offer their knowledge here!

Cotton1

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