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May 16, 2019 - 1:56:39 PM
113 posts since 5/16/2016

My English zither banjo has a terrible bow in the neck. I have tried a couple of ways to rebend the neck with no results. Is there anyone I might be able to send the neck to get it reset for a fairly low price. By the way, how much do neck resets normally cost.


 

May 16, 2019 - 2:04:29 PM
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52145 posts since 12/14/2005

My guess is that if it's truly bowed, resetting the neck will get the strings lower at the end of the neck, but still too high in the middle, and fretting them in the middle will cause them to hit the very last fret.

Better to ask about an effective way of un-ending the neck.

I could be wrong.

When you press on the first and last frets, how much space is there above the middle frets?


May 16, 2019 - 2:21:55 PM
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1853 posts since 4/7/2010

It may need a combination of a neck straightening and a neck reset.

In my shop we have several heated neck presses. Basically the same thing as Mike's press, but the heat makes the straightening permanent most of the time. When I want a slow cook, I use the same level and clamps to straighten a neck, but put the clamped neck in a solar kiln. Our Toyota Sienna mini van works well for that job, but I personally think an AMC Pacer is an ideal portable solar kiln.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com


May 16, 2019 - 2:24:37 PM

csacwp

USA

2298 posts since 1/15/2014
Online Now

What height bridge are you using? It should have a 1/2" or slightly lower bridge.

Has it been string with heavy wire? ZB's were made with a mixed steel/gut/silk stringing in mind, and the steel strings we're supposed to be very light ( .008" first and fifth).

May 16, 2019 - 2:42:02 PM

113 posts since 5/16/2016

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

What height bridge are you using? It should have a 1/2" or slightly lower bridge.

Has it been string with heavy wire? ZB's were made with a mixed steel/gut/silk stringing in mind, and the steel strings we're supposed to be very light ( .008" first and fifth).


The bridge the is on it is an old Grover bridge, it is actually smaller the 1/2". It has not been strung with heavy wire I'm my time, but it would not surprise me if it did, possibly why the original tailpiece is missing. I had it strung with the Clifford Essex zither banjo strings. 3 light gauge wire strings and 2 nylon strings.

May 16, 2019 - 3:11:51 PM

csacwp

USA

2298 posts since 1/15/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Brice Alms
quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

What height bridge are you using? It should have a 1/2" or slightly lower bridge.

Has it been string with heavy wire? ZB's were made with a mixed steel/gut/silk stringing in mind, and the steel strings we're supposed to be very light ( .008" first and fifth).


The bridge the is on it is an old Grover bridge, it is actually smaller the 1/2". It has not been strung with heavy wire I'm my time, but it would not surprise me if it did, possibly why the original tailpiece is missing. I had it strung with the Clifford Essex zither banjo strings. 3 light gauge wire strings and 2 nylon strings.


You definitely need to straighten the neck then! I always check... A lot of folks will fit a modern bridge and don't realize the originals were lower. 

May 16, 2019 - 5:44:29 PM
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banjonz

New Zealand

10736 posts since 6/29/2003

I have worked on a lot of these Zither banjos over the years. Some of them were like that. They were originally designed for gut strings but most of them have been strung with steel. This, over time, compresses the neck and pulls the action up. I have rarely seen a Zither banjo with a badly bowed neck. The advice about rebending the neck is only good if there is a bad bow. Otherwise, the way to lower the action is to shim the neck at the top. This is a trial and error process. The way I do it is to remove the strings and remove the metal 'frame that the head is in via the screws that attach it to the pot. There are two wood screws that anchor the neck at front of the pot. Loosen these and fit a small shim ( I use wood veneer but you can use aluminum sheet or a cut up credit card). Tighten the screws, fit the head back in but don't screw it in yet, then restring up to tension. If the action is still too high, repeat the process. It is a time consuming job but it is the easiest approach I have found. Sometimes I get it close and end up having to sand down the feet of the bridge. Its all about getting the instrument playable and comfortable to play. Hope it helps

May 16, 2019 - 10:57:58 PM

Rob MacKillop

Scotland

3058 posts since 9/2/2008

Sorry to correct you, Wayne, but they were not designed for gut strings - only the third string was gut. The rest were very light steel, a 0.07 .08 for the first. The fourth was wound. So, mostly light-gauge steel.

May 17, 2019 - 12:27:07 AM

2117 posts since 4/29/2012

I've seen zithers with very high actions due to the screw in insert that goes between the heel and the metal ring supporting the head being missing. Is that the case here ?

May 17, 2019 - 4:46:18 AM

559 posts since 2/19/2012

I'm curious about how much forward bow there is vs. a problem with neck angle. If you hold a string down on the first (can use a capo) and last frets, what sort of clearance do you have between between the string and the center frets?

May 17, 2019 - 5:15:18 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14369 posts since 3/27/2004
Online Now

Checking neck relief (...or "bow" when it's extreme...)

Normal and desired relief is shown, but many folks live with more.  When the measurement hits .040" or so is often the line where corrective action is in order.

Edited by - rudy on 05/17/2019 05:18:46

May 17, 2019 - 5:27:23 AM

csacwp

USA

2298 posts since 1/15/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Sorry to correct you, Wayne, but they were not designed for gut strings - only the third string was gut. The rest were very light steel, a 0.07 .08 for the first. The fourth was wound. So, mostly light-gauge steel.


The 4th was wound silk, not wound steel.

May 17, 2019 - 5:29:21 AM

csacwp

USA

2298 posts since 1/15/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by rudy

Checking neck relief (...or "bow" when it's extreme...)

Normal and desired relief is shown, but many folks live with more.  When the measurement hits .040" or so is often the line where corrective action is in order.


Being a period instrument this banjo would have had different relief than your chart shows when new. The action would also still have been fairly high, though not as high as an all gut regular banjo.

May 17, 2019 - 5:31:51 AM

Rob MacKillop

Scotland

3058 posts since 9/2/2008

Yes, wound silk is what I meant. Thanks, John.

May 17, 2019 - 6:59:42 AM

113 posts since 5/16/2016

quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD

I've seen zithers with very high actions due to the screw in insert that goes between the heel and the metal ring supporting the head being missing. Is that the case here ?


Is this what your talking about?


 

May 17, 2019 - 7:04:53 AM

2117 posts since 4/29/2012

Yes - That's what I mean. I've never seen an original owners manual for a ZB but assume these should be tight against the ring to stop the whole thing flexing. I have seen ZBs where this was missing and the banjo was unplayable.

May 17, 2019 - 7:25:39 AM

113 posts since 5/16/2016

Alright, so I found some possible problem spots that could be part of the issue. I does have a bow and pretty bad twist on the left side of the neck. I have had this banjo for over a year. It had a metal wedge between the neck and resonator, I had it playable but the action was still to high for me. I took the wedge out a try a couple of ways of rebending the neck with no results. I have taken it apart again and I noticed that there is a gap between the bottom of the heel and the rim. There is also what looks to be altered wood on the fretboard where it meets the rim. There are two screws connecting the rim and neck. Could wedges cause the thin resonator rim to go out of round?








May 17, 2019 - 7:50:47 AM

calfskin

England

16 posts since 5/30/2011

remove screws and reshape neck heel approx 2mm more angle needed but then check if ok replace screws

May 17, 2019 - 7:58:55 AM

calfskin

England

16 posts since 5/30/2011

that does not look like neck bend (too high ) imho it is the neck angle needs correcting i have done many a one ! see other post

May 17, 2019 - 11:33:04 AM

113 posts since 5/16/2016

quote:
Originally posted by banjonz

I have worked on a lot of these Zither banjos over the years. Some of them were like that. They were originally designed for gut strings but most of them have been strung with steel. This, over time, compresses the neck and pulls the action up. I have rarely seen a Zither banjo with a badly bowed neck. The advice about rebending the neck is only good if there is a bad bow. Otherwise, the way to lower the action is to shim the neck at the top. This is a trial and error process. The way I do it is to remove the strings and remove the metal 'frame that the head is in via the screws that attach it to the pot. There are two wood screws that anchor the neck at front of the pot. Loosen these and fit a small shim ( I use wood veneer but you can use aluminum sheet or a cut up credit card). Tighten the screws, fit the head back in but don't screw it in yet, then restring up to tension. If the action is still too high, repeat the process. It is a time consuming job but it is the easiest approach I have found. Sometimes I get it close and end up having to sand down the feet of the bridge. Its all about getting the instrument playable and comfortable to play. Hope it helps


I decided to go ahead and shim it again like you said. I actually used excess goat skin I had laying around which actually works quite well. I am only making this temporary until I can find good luthier that can straighten and fix the other issues at the heel. Thanks to all.


 

May 17, 2019 - 1:47:46 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

10736 posts since 6/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Sorry to correct you, Wayne, but they were not designed for gut strings - only the third string was gut. The rest were very light steel, a 0.07 .08 for the first. The fourth was wound. So, mostly light-gauge steel.


Ypou are right of course Rob. My mistake. Also, I have rarely seen a ZB with a 'dowel' stick. The ones I have worked on didn't have these.

May 17, 2019 - 1:59:40 PM
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136 posts since 3/7/2019

Kinda unrelated, but I have an opportunity to buy a zither banjo. It's supposedly a Barnes and Mullins 5 string string zither with 5th string tunneled thru neck. It's from early 1900s. Is there any value to these? what would be a good price?

May 17, 2019 - 1:59:57 PM

113 posts since 5/16/2016

quote:
Originally posted by banjonz

Ypou are right of course Rob. My mistake. Also, I have rarely seen a ZB with a 'dowel' stick. The ones I have worked on didn't have these.


I thought all zither banjos had dowels, guess you learn something every day. This zither banjo is a Barnes and Mullins No2 Perfect. I find it kind of strange that I found it at a local antique store here in southern Illinois. Do you know How common they here in the States? I don't know much on most English banjos.

May 17, 2019 - 2:04:55 PM

113 posts since 5/16/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Tyler Basho

Kinda unrelated, but I have an opportunity to buy a zither banjo. It's supposedly a Barnes and Mullins 5 string string zither with 5th string tunneled thru neck. It's from early 1900s. Is there any value to these? what would be a good price?


I would think $200-$250. I don't think they are to valuable, but I could be wrong.

Edited by - Brice Alms on 05/17/2019 14:08:04

May 17, 2019 - 3:34:54 PM
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csacwp

USA

2298 posts since 1/15/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Yes, wound silk is what I meant. Thanks, John.


I thought so- just wanted to make sure nobody else got confused.

I've really been enjoying your latest round of zither banjo uploads, by the way.

May 17, 2019 - 3:49:40 PM

136 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Brice Alms
quote:
Originally posted by Tyler Basho

Kinda unrelated, but I have an opportunity to buy a zither banjo. It's supposedly a Barnes and Mullins 5 string string zither with 5th string tunneled thru neck. It's from early 1900s. Is there any value to these? what would be a good price?


I would think $200-$250. I don't think they are to valuable, but I could be wrong.


That's about what I was thinking. I have only scene pictures of it but to me the age and wear on it almost looks too good. Like it was done by hand.

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