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1 month with a Gold Tone OB-150 and advise requested.

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Sep 22, 2019 - 4:52:22 AM
562 posts since 10/10/2004

Getting back to picking after about 6 years off. I foolishly sold a Bishline banjo I had so needed to buy something new. Finally decided on a Gold Tone OB-150.
The out of the box setup was perfect and sounded great. About a week in I noticed a change. The head needed tightening. Some of the nuts were hand loose. That brought back the sound. Fast forward 3 more weeks and the same feeling. Tightened the head again. This time the nuts weren't as loose, but they did loosen a bit. This adjustment changed the intonation. Next step was to move the bridge. Seems like everything is where it needs to be and we're sounding good again.
Last issue is I'd like to lower the action. It's not bad and probably good by other's standards. It's 1/8th of an inch at the 12th fret.
My other banjo is a Mike Ramsey student model that I made at one of Mike's Banjo Building workshops. It has a lower action without any buzz. I'd like to get this Gold Tones action lower but wasn't sure if I wanted to touch the coordinator rods or sand the bridge.
Anyone with knowledge with this banjo, advise is appreciated

Sep 22, 2019 - 7:11:49 AM

1865 posts since 12/31/2005

The loose hooks sounds like a broken head. The hooks will not stay tight in a certain area if the head glue lets loose there around the band. Correct that first and make sure new head installed correctly. Then work on action issues. It may correct it. But you want to do one thing at a time so you don't compensate incorrectly in one area while trying to fix another.

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 09/22/2019 07:12:10

Sep 22, 2019 - 7:25:10 AM
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10119 posts since 6/2/2008

Repeated adjustment of a banjo that's only recently been assembled doesn't seem like a problem to me. Do you have some way of measuring that your tension is even all the way around the head? My guess is it wasn't, and that's why you've experienced a change in some nuts but not all. I'd expect the changes to eventually stop.

As to the action, a lot of people consider 1/8-inch at the 12th fret to be a standard low action. I tend to prefer 1/8-inch or 1/64 to 1/32 lower at the 22nd fret -- which would of course be even lower than 1/8 at the 12th. 

If your current action of 1/8th at 12 is arrived at with the co-rods at neutral,  it's my belief that you could use the lower rod to lower action up to 1/32 of an inch without putting damaging stress on the rim.  This may not be a majority view, but it's what I would do (and have done) with any of my banjos.

If you don't want to use the coordinator rod, then your only other choices for lowering the action are removal of wood from the lower lag area of the heel or from the part of the rim it contacts, or shimming at the upper lag. Some very thin veneer or a strip of aluminum flashing or hobby shop brass should be all it takes to effect the small change you want.

Good luck.

Sep 22, 2019 - 11:44:34 AM
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Players Union Member

banjoec

USA

562 posts since 10/10/2004

Thanks for the ideas. I'm pretty sure the head isn't broken. The amount that I want to change the action is so small I don't want to do anything too radical. I have adjusted a tension rod in the past and know that it only takes a tiny 1/4 turn to make a difference.
I am happy with this Gold Tone purchase.

Sep 22, 2019 - 12:29:31 PM

10119 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by banjoec

I have adjusted a tension rod in the past and know that it only takes a tiny 1/4 turn to make a difference.


This is a technicality, but there's no part of the banjo called a tension rod.  Inside the neck there's a truss rod, which helps the neck stay flat or in slight upbow (relief) against the tension of the strings.  You will not touch this rod in lowering action up the neck.

Inside the pot are one or two coordinator rods, depending on the design of your banjo. These help stabilize the connection of the neck to the rim, help to keep the rim round and provide a way to make slight adjustments in the neck angle relative to the pot so as to raise or lower action as measured at the 12th fret or higher.

Your OB150 will have 2 coordinator rods. The lower rod, beneath the flange, is secured at the tailpiece end with nuts both inside and outside the rim. To lower action, you will slightly loosen the inside nut then tighten the outside nut to snug everything up. 

You can also use the coordinator rods to fine-tune your banjo's tone and sustain. Watch Donnie Little demonstrate in this Warren Yates video on bridge placement. First he moves the bridge to compensate the intonation for string height then he slightly tightens the coordinator rod nuts both inside and outside the rim (so as not to change action).  You can also do this adjustment with just the single nut on the top rod, but that could affect action.

Good luck.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 09/22/2019 12:30:22

Sep 22, 2019 - 1:31:36 PM
Players Union Member

banjoec

USA

562 posts since 10/10/2004

Thanks Ken, my mistake. I meant coordinator rod.
The video you linked was informative.

Sep 22, 2019 - 2:28:40 PM
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Emiel

Austria

9214 posts since 1/22/2003

I would completely loosen the co-ordinator rods and tighten them again. Sometimes there is a tension that raised the action and that has to be gotten rid of.

Sep 22, 2019 - 4:45:08 PM
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banjoec

USA

562 posts since 10/10/2004

Thank you Emiel.

Sep 22, 2019 - 7:41:34 PM

3812 posts since 10/18/2007

The Yates video cited by Old Hickory is a really interesting.

Sep 23, 2019 - 9:02:17 AM

10119 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Cornflake

The Yates video cited by Old Hickory is a really interesting.


One of my two favorite videos to share on the Hangout. 

I think the video was first pointed out to me by my Hangout friend Dick Guggenheim, who never used coordinator rods in his banjos -- just nuts and fender washers at the neck. After seeing Donnie use the rods to adjust tone and sustain, he started putting rods in his banjos.

Sep 23, 2019 - 9:05:01 AM
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10119 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Emiel

I would completely loosen the co-ordinator rods and tighten them again. Sometimes there is a tension that raised the action and that has to be gotten rid of.


Great suggestion! I have found action to be different after reassembling a banjo.

Sep 24, 2019 - 6:21:58 PM
Players Union Member

Helix1

USA

447 posts since 4/17/2019

Remember to loosen both nuts at the back of the banjo, keep the rods tight against the front of the rim, then adjust your lower rod. The upper rod just keeps the neck on.

Then capo at the 1st fret, push down on the 1st string at the 22nd fret and see what the action is at the 7th fret ,, tap it, use a feeler gage, and get the .0000 that you want. 1/8" at the 12th is kinda high. Adjust the lower rod and re tighten the nuts.

Vibrations loosen things, buy some little lock washers at Ace hardware. The head is stretching,

I cross tighten using two nut drivers. It informs you of what is going on, like loose spots or tight spots. Then check the tension hoop for level. Good luck

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