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Jun 16, 2019 - 5:20:25 PM
345 posts since 12/17/2009

Hey all!
I’ve had my eye on getting an archtop for a while to get that traditional Stanley/Dillard sound and I’m contemplating affordable options and ways to get the best bang for the buck.

My first thought was to get a low cost, but good quality banjo like a Recording King Rk-r36 and converting that to an archtop, but I heard somewhere that the rims on the RKs were too thin for an archtop ring.

Is it possible to make this work, or should I try something else? Thanks for the insight!

Jun 16, 2019 - 5:42:43 PM
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RioStat

USA

4866 posts since 10/12/2009

The RK 35/36 rims (or any flathead rims, for that matter) are not too thin, they are too short.

An archtop rim is about 1/4" or so taller than a rim cut for an archtop ring.

Buy a used RK 35 or 36, then get Eric Sullivan from First Quality Music / Sullivan Banjos turn one of his rims and fit it with one of his archtop tone rings. It'll be a good archtop.

Or just buy a used archtop banjo.

Here's an RK 25 I turned into an archtop.....awesome banjo.






Edited by - RioStat on 06/16/2019 17:55:33

Jun 16, 2019 - 7:08:37 PM
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11951 posts since 10/30/2008
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Suggest you find a late 1970s Gold Star Style 11, they were all 2 piece flange/arch top tone rings a la the old Mastertones. They sell at a pretty reasonable price.

Jun 17, 2019 - 12:15:17 AM
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Foote

USA

232 posts since 3/25/2009

I agree with the Old Timer, the Japanese made early Gold Stars are the best deal for the dollar, archtop or flathead. I would go up til 1985 if you can find one. My first good banjo was an 85 blonde archtop I bought new. Wish I still had it.

Jun 17, 2019 - 12:36:36 AM

420 posts since 10/23/2014

I second the FQ archtop ring, I have one and it's very nice, a sweet sound

Jun 17, 2019 - 1:09:53 AM
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2605 posts since 5/29/2011

Gold Tone makes an arch top, the OB250AT.

Jun 17, 2019 - 5:18:05 AM

40 posts since 3/10/2013

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

Suggest you find a late 1970s Gold Star Style 11, they were all 2 piece flange/arch top tone rings a la the old Mastertones. They sell at a pretty reasonable price.


I've had mine since new in 1978 and it still plays and sounds great!

Jun 18, 2019 - 1:42:18 PM

1971 posts since 4/5/2006

There are major differences between a Gibson arch top & flat head pot. Not only is the flat head tone ring an 1/8 inch taller than the arch top ring, but the one piece flange neccetates cutting an 1/8 deeper into the lower section of the pot. Not that you couldn't use a one piece flange on an arch top banjo, but the pot would have to be built to accomodate both the flange & the tone ring.

In the old days, it was not uncommon to see a flat head Gibson pot that had been cut below the top of the Gibson label & sporting a TPF. Sometimes due to Gibson making use of existing inventory, or someone had cut an arch top pot down to take a flat head tone ring. The after market is full of conversion tone rings to convert an arch top to a flat head, but not flat head to arch top.

I would suggest finding a banjo that was an arch top to start with. Some of the early bow tie Gibsons having the fly swatter peg head were arch tops, they also had radius fret boards. Also the early Gold Stars mentioned & possibly a few early Ode's.

Jun 18, 2019 - 2:08:04 PM

Emiel

Austria

9135 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by monstertone

There are major differences between a Gibson arch top & flat head pot. Not only is the flat head tone ring an 1/8 inch taller than the arch top ring, but the one piece flange neccetates cutting an 1/8 deeper into the lower section of the pot. Not that you couldn't use a one piece flange on an arch top banjo, but the pot would have to be built to accomodate both the flange & the tone ring.

 


Well, the truth is that there are Gibson archtop banjos with a one-piece flange and with a two-piece flange. Also flathead banjos came in both flange varieties.

Jun 18, 2019 - 2:35:42 PM

86 posts since 6/26/2006

Just jumpin in on a coffee break; I have a custom ordered Ome Juniper Archtop I am getting ready to sell. It is satin finish and in mint condition. It is a deep red with black tortoise binding. It is great sounding and a little heavier banjo for the tone ring. Like new case $2000 firm shipping USA. I'll be getting photos done tomorrow...

Jun 18, 2019 - 3:07:17 PM
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215 posts since 8/7/2007

David,

I have done this particular conversion quite a few times. You do have a few choices but only a few. Actually I just converted a flathead rim to accept an archtop ring just last week. Your choice really just comes down to how much you want to spend.

If you purchase a used rim, whether it is one or two piece flange then your only other cost will just be the ring and the labor to convert. The only variable is whether or not the used rim is of any count. Having turned both good and bad. Another cost could be if you buy a 2 piece rim and want to convert to a 1piece flange set up. On this point monstertone is correct that you will need to machine the rim to a smaller diameter to accept the flange. But that is easy.

Your other option is a new rim and ring and that is as straightforward as it gets. If you want to give me a call at the shop I can run through all of the details with you on the last job we did.

One other thing to point out is that Gibson archtop rings and flathead rings are absolutely the same overall height. Other than the obvious difference in cross section, when turning a rim the only difference is how much wood rim goes up into the ring. Approximately .405 inches in a long skirt flathead and approximately.655 inches in an archtop. We have converted hundreds of pre war archtop pots over to flathead and all we have to do is shorten the rim. Everything else stays the same.

Overall a fairly easy project, just a couple different paths you can take. Would be glad to help.

Eric

Jun 21, 2019 - 2:50:13 PM

345 posts since 12/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by esullivan

David,

I have done this particular conversion quite a few times. You do have a few choices but only a few. Actually I just converted a flathead rim to accept an archtop ring just last week. Your choice really just comes down to how much you want to spend.

If you purchase a used rim, whether it is one or two piece flange then your only other cost will just be the ring and the labor to convert. The only variable is whether or not the used rim is of any count. Having turned both good and bad. Another cost could be if you buy a 2 piece rim and want to convert to a 1piece flange set up. On this point monstertone is correct that you will need to machine the rim to a smaller diameter to accept the flange. But that is easy.

Your other option is a new rim and ring and that is as straightforward as it gets. If you want to give me a call at the shop I can run through all of the details with you on the last job we did.

One other thing to point out is that Gibson archtop rings and flathead rings are absolutely the same overall height. Other than the obvious difference in cross section, when turning a rim the only difference is how much wood rim goes up into the ring. Approximately .405 inches in a long skirt flathead and approximately.655 inches in an archtop. We have converted hundreds of pre war archtop pots over to flathead and all we have to do is shorten the rim. Everything else stays the same.

Overall a fairly easy project, just a couple different paths you can take. Would be glad to help.

Eric


Thanks all for the input and advice! I did entertain the idea of just buying an original archtop, but most of the ones on the market are going for a higher price and I just don't have a big budget for another banjo right now. As it happens I did run across an rk-r36 on eBay and managed to get it for pretty dang cheep! I'll have some fun with it as is, but eventually I probably will give the conversion a try, in which case I'll probably be getting in touch with you Eric about a new rim, ring and head.

Should be a fun little project!

Jun 22, 2019 - 5:17:20 AM

Brett

USA

1910 posts since 11/29/2005

Keep your eye peeled for Alvarez white eagle too, those were pretty decent arch tops that are reasonable in price.

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