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Jul 11, 2019 - 5:45:36 PM

KatB

USA

69 posts since 9/3/2018

This is for my father-in-law's old kit banjo. Someone had put a new skin head on it but had installed the tail piece such that it gouged a hole in the head. I patched the top and bottom of the head. I was feeling pretty good about my patch job. But then the trouble began...

When I tried to reinstall the head I found a hook that was non-functional. Then I broke two. I took one home thinking I'd just order him up some new ones. Now I'm not at all sure what I need.

If you look at the picture of the hook, imagine that it had a very skinny piece of metal extending straight down from the bend, where it would fit inside the tension band. While I was tensioning--only an 1/8th turn at a time by that point, that very skinny part broke. You will see that it looks mangled. That's because I was reasoning that it should still hold without the little piece, if I could just tension it down enough. I did use pliers as a hail mary, to hold it from turning while I tensioned. I think maybe I was fighting the nut too much. Didn't want to thread nicely.

I don't find anything quite this shape online. Do you suppose with a new, smooth fitting hook/nut it will work? I can cut the 2.5 down as needed. Just not sure about the shape of the head of the hook. Thanks for any help.


Edited by - KatB on 07/11/2019 17:55:01

Jul 11, 2019 - 7:00:24 PM

1451 posts since 6/2/2010

Katrina,

If you want original parts you might try Smakula fretted instruments.

smakula.com/

If you want something close but brand new try Rickard Banjos.

rickardbanjos.com/

Jul 11, 2019 - 7:07:34 PM

986 posts since 6/20/2014

Jul 11, 2019 - 7:43:36 PM

lapsteel

Canada

356 posts since 8/13/2015

You might consider adding some hardwood wedges in front of the 2 pointed metal shield screwed on the bottom of the dowel stick. This will “snug up” the heel to the pot.

Jul 11, 2019 - 8:30:37 PM
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rudy

USA

14481 posts since 3/27/2004

Part of your difficulty is that whoever put the new head on left too much slack when it was originally installed.  The tension band is pulled too low, the hook should not extend out the bottom of the nuts, and you are very close if not out of thread. The tension band riding too low on the head bead is also why the tailpiece contacted the head; that normally can't happen because the top of the tension band should prevent the tailpiece from being brought down low enough that it digs into the head.

Depending on the hook thread that may be why you ended up with a broken hook instead of it easily tightening.

Most standard J hooks will most likely work fine, as they have a down-turned and angled end which grabs the top of the tension band.  I can't really tell what's going on as far as how they grab from looking at your photos, but that's generally how the hook works.  They should turn easily if there's nothing mechanically stopping them from tightening.

Another tip off that the head is installed incorrectly is that the bottom of the flesh hoop is bottomed out in the neck notch.  The flesh hoop should never contact the neck heel at that point.

Edited by - rudy on 07/11/2019 20:34:35

Jul 11, 2019 - 9:17:20 PM
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6108 posts since 8/28/2013

I agree with all of the answers here, but the most complete and accurate one is Rudy's post about the head being too slack when first installed. Until that is fixed, you will most likely have more issues with breaking hooks. A skin can many times be removed, re-wetted and refitted properly, but because this one has already been patched, you should just start over with a new skin.

Also, concerning the comment about adding the wooden wedges, don't just consider it, DO IT! They keep the neck tight to the rim and are very important in maintaining tuning stability and the structural integrity of the entire banjo.

Jul 12, 2019 - 12:37:52 AM
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jasper

USA

228 posts since 5/28/2005

Good Eye Rudy

Jul 12, 2019 - 4:30:12 AM

12144 posts since 6/29/2005

I agree with everything that's been said.

I'd add that the part of the head that goes under the tension hoop between the flesh hoop and where it wraps over the top of the rim is called the "crown", and when the head has the correct "crown height", the surface of the head should be just a hair lower than the top of the fingerboard.

As for the hook, some have a different bend than others—it depends on where the bend gets cut off after bending.  You'll have to look at pictures of the various ones— Elderly, Stewmac, Balsam, ODE, Rickard, etc., and see who has the longest point at the bend.  I think the Balsam and Rickard ones are meant to go with grooved tension hoops like yours.

Jul 12, 2019 - 4:45:49 AM

2593 posts since 2/18/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I agree with everything that's been said.

I'd add that the part of the head that goes under the tension hoop between the flesh hoop and where it wraps over the top of the rim is called the "crown", and when the head has the correct "crown height", the surface of the head should be just a hair lower than the top of the fingerboard.

I think you maybe mis-typed something here.  The crown height determines the height of the tension hoop relative to the rim, but the relationship between the top of the rim and the fretboard height is determined by the neck attachment to the rim, not by the head.  

To the OP: It's also possible that you'll have to buy new nuts to go with the new hooks if the old hooks and nuts are a different thread .

Zach

Jul 12, 2019 - 5:27:45 AM

4673 posts since 9/21/2007

The wedges for the wedge plate seem to be a real problem for people to understand-- and so simple to fix.

Some bits of a hardish wood. Ebony is original but maple would work. Some sandpaper and a little patience is all that is needed.

I see this a lot.  There was a Lange banjo listed for trade on facebook that instead of replacing the wedges it looks like they just moved the plate forward and drilled another hole.

It is funny how something that was so common for decades (Stewart started using it about 1880 and it was still used up to WW2 by some makers) is so unknown today.

FWIW, the OP banjo is a Lyon & Healy.

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 07/12/2019 05:28:03

Jul 12, 2019 - 5:34:41 AM

1881 posts since 4/7/2010

I recommend you take the banjo to a professional banjo restoration artisan for repair. It seems like there are plenty of quirks that need attention and someone that really knows banjos can spot them and offer options. Pictures don't allways convey loose or misaligned parts.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Jul 12, 2019 - 5:39:45 AM

12144 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I agree with everything that's been said.

I'd add that the part of the head that goes under the tension hoop between the flesh hoop and where it wraps over the top of the rim is called the "crown", and when the head has the correct "crown height", the surface of the head should be just a hair lower than the top of the fingerboard.

I think you maybe mis-typed something here.  The crown height determines the height of the tension hoop relative to the rim, but the relationship between the top of the rim and the fretboard height is determined by the neck attachment to the rim, not by the head.  

To the OP: It's also possible that you'll have to buy new nuts to go with the new hooks if the old hooks and nuts are a different thread .

Zach


You're right.

The crown height determines the height of the string space on the tension hoop relative to the head.  At any rate, it's too high and the tension hoop sits down too far.

The string space on the tension hoop ought to be roughly level with or slightly higher than the head, which should be a little lower than the surface of the finger

Jul 12, 2019 - 7:15:36 AM

6108 posts since 8/28/2013

Next time, please leave your pliers in the toolbox. You may have only used them as a "Hail Mary," but I think Mary would have frowned when she saw the damage those pliers inflicted on both that hook and her reputation.

Jul 12, 2019 - 1:53:09 PM

KatB

USA

69 posts since 9/3/2018

Thank you everyone (well not you George) for your excellent advice. I appreciate the wealth of information on this forum and how it is so freely shared, especially with the newbies.

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