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No coordinator rods needed for steel rim?

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Oct 23, 2019 - 10:58:15 AM
24 posts since 6/23/2015

I came across a listing for a Deering Boston open back that had had the coordinator rod taken out. According to the dealer:

With the two anchor points on the neck and a structurally sound rim, coordinator rods are not necessary for neck adjustments or holding the banjo together. With that in mind, this will be considerably more stable than wood-rimmed designs. A number of Deering Boston models were made without coordinator rods as they were structurally unnecessary, given that the pot was made from 3/16" steel.

So I guess my question is... really? 

Oct 23, 2019 - 11:30:26 AM

2709 posts since 5/29/2011

Some Vega banjos from the 60's had wood rims without coordinator rods so I would guess that the steel rim is OK without them. And Stewart MacDonald aluminum kit rims had no rods inside. Personally, I prefer the rim rods, or the square dowel, in the rim just for my piece of mind.

Oct 23, 2019 - 11:44:59 AM

10172 posts since 6/2/2008

Hangout member Dick Guggenheim (dickinnorwich) for years made wood-rimmed banjos without coordinator rods.

They're not necessary for neck stability. On the plus side, with no coordinator rods, adjusting action doesn't distort the rim.

However, Dick told me he started using coordinator rods after seeing Donnie Little use them to tweak a banjo's tone and sustain in this Warren Yates video: youtu.be/DWnmfCZo-4M?t=385

Oct 23, 2019 - 12:02:23 PM

610 posts since 3/12/2008

The two Bostons that I have owned did not have—or need—co-rods. One had the thicker rim, the other the (newer? older?) thinner rim. Both were absolutely stable.

Oct 23, 2019 - 12:24:10 PM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14557 posts since 3/27/2004

None necessary for the Boston rim, but if you're playing old time music where you gonna perch your stuffing?  wink

Oct 23, 2019 - 12:29:03 PM

24 posts since 6/23/2015

Excellent point!

Oct 26, 2019 - 5:01:47 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11931 posts since 8/30/2006

With the two anchor points on the neck and a structurally sound rim, coordinator rods are not necessary for neck adjustments or holding the banjo together. With that in mind, this will be considerably more stable than wood-rimmed designs.

Prove it. 

What is missing in my opinion is the continuity between the neck and the tailpiece with the strings and bridge on the other side.  So the transfer has to take place by going around the steel rim.  The steel molecules have some connection with each other, just not like a living structure.  Metallurgy is one thing, biology is another. 

Oct 26, 2019 - 7:56:53 PM

6245 posts since 8/28/2013

Several things come to mind for me:

Is a steel rim going to produce the optimal banjo sound? I've heard too many aluminum rimmed banjos that sound harsh with some nasty overtones, and I doubt that steel would be any better.

At least without a dowelstick, there are no worries about the neck-to-stick glue joint.

Fastenings can come loose, particularly from the neck heel, and having no coordinator rods won't stop that from happening. In fact, no co-rods might make loose parts more frequent because a co-rod might act a bit like a "lock nut."

There is no way to do small adjustments to the neck angle without co-rods.

I also have to wonder about stability over a long period of time. Take the back off a guitar and see what happens.

Oct 27, 2019 - 8:28:28 AM

3603 posts since 5/12/2010

I have built many "travel banjos" with bolt on necks and no type of rim rods. I usually build these with a thicker rim, but they all sound great.

I don't think coordinator rods will serve much purpose on a steel or aluminum rim anyway, and clearly they aren't needed in this case.

Oct 27, 2019 - 2:36:50 PM

1809 posts since 10/17/2013

The finest aluminum bottle caps (I’m not referring to ODEs with aluminum rims) don’t come close to the sound of a finely-tuned Deering Boston.

I’ve owned two Bostons, and let me tell you, they blasted my bottlecap out of the water. You can’t begin to “compare” the Boston to the bottlecap, because the Boston is no “beginner’s” banjo; it is a $2000+ instrument, and no bottlecap in my estimation could begin to approach such status. Bottlecaps are cranked out by the millions, overseas. Deering Bostons are personally crafted in the US. 

The absence of co-rods on the Boston, has a very negligible effect on the steel rim. I’ve never made a banjo that didn’t have co-rods, but I’ve always felt safer by including them.

Edited by - bluegrassbanjopicker on 10/27/2019 14:39:03

Oct 27, 2019 - 9:41:24 PM

4744 posts since 5/14/2007

quote:
Originally posted by rudy

None necessary for the Boston rim, but if you're playing old time music where you gonna perch your stuffing?  wink


In my 60s-era Ode-like Gariepy, I use a big disk of foam rubber. I can control the tone and volume by how much of the disk has contact with the head. 

The neck on that banjo is held on with two hanger bolts topped with acorn nuts. The attachment has worked just fine for 50 + years.

Oct 28, 2019 - 5:11:54 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14557 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by John Gribble
quote:
Originally posted by rudy

None necessary for the Boston rim, but if you're playing old time music where you gonna perch your stuffing?  wink


In my 60s-era Ode-like Gariepy, I use a big disk of foam rubber. I can control the tone and volume by how much of the disk has contact with the head. 

The neck on that banjo is held on with two hanger bolts topped with acorn nuts. The attachment has worked just fine for 50 + years.


Hi John,

If you are cutting a disk that fills the entire inside of the rim you've given an entire new meaning to the term "banjo stuffing".  wink

Oct 28, 2019 - 6:09:18 AM

4744 posts since 5/14/2007

quote:Originally posted by rudyquote:Originally posted by John Gribblequote:Originally posted by rudyNone necessary for the Boston rim, but if you're playing old time music where you gonna perch your stuffing? In my 60s-era Ode-like Gariepy, I use a big disk of foam rubber. I can control the tone and volume by how much of the disk has contact with the head.

The neck on that banjo is held on with two hanger bolts topped with acorn nuts. The attachment has worked just fine for 50 + years.Hi John,

If you are cutting a disk that fills the entire inside of the rim you've given an entire new meaning to the term "banjo stuffing".

rudy, Like a Thanksgiving turkey!

Oct 28, 2019 - 9:47:07 AM

6245 posts since 8/28/2013

"rudy, Like a Thanksgiving turkey!"

I think it would be unwise to stuff a Thanksgiving turkey with a foam rubber disk.

Oct 28, 2019 - 10:37:09 AM
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DeanT

USA

36218 posts since 7/28/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Several things come to mind for me:

Is a steel rim going to produce the optimal banjo sound? I've heard too many aluminum rimmed banjos that sound harsh with some nasty overtones, and I doubt that steel would be any better.

At least without a dowelstick, there are no worries about the neck-to-stick glue joint.

Fastenings can come loose, particularly from the neck heel, and having no coordinator rods won't stop that from happening. In fact, no co-rods might make loose parts more frequent because a co-rod might act a bit like a "lock nut."

There is no way to do small adjustments to the neck angle without co-rods.

I also have to wonder about stability over a long period of time. Take the back off a guitar and see what happens.


I've had several cheapo bottle caps, and a Boston. Not even in the same universe. The Boston was a real banjo, and the loudest banjo I've ever owned. To this day, I'm kicking myself in the ass for selling it. But that was back when I suffered with the "only a Gibson will do" virus. I was an idiot. 

The pot was about as stable as a cast iron skillet. It never changed with temperature and humidity. It would probably survive an atomic blast, or comet strike. In a million years, it would probably be featured in an Ancient Aliens episode.

The neck never loosened, unless I wanted to adjust it. And it was adjusted by simply sliding the neck within the slotted mount holes, and putting it exactly where you wanted it, for the exact action you wanted. Compared to distorting a pot with co-rods, it was pure genius, a million times easier, more precise, and didn't mess up the sound, or strip out studs.

If I'm ever in the market again, for a super sonically loud, heavy, jamworthy, bullet proof banjo, I'll be hitting the classifieds looking for another Boston.     

Oct 28, 2019 - 1:35:05 PM
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6245 posts since 8/28/2013

Well, Dean, I am happy for you and your banjo. I will say, however, that tone quality is a matter of taste, and that I've hated the tone of every stringed instrument made of I've ever encountered. (Maybe it's just me.)

I am not saying that these Bostons are not good banjos, but I thought I'd state a few possible problems with banjos of this type. I'd be surprised if these thoughts would apply to all metal rimmed, bolted neck banjos, but I'm sure that they could be issues on one that was not made with the integrity of your Deering.

I've certainly encountered problems with many musical instruments such as banjos, guitars, and pianos that skipped a few strengthening devices (Banjos: single co-rods or too-small or poorly fitted dowelsticks, weak neck mounts, thin rims, no truss rods. Guitars: inadequate bracing and weak bridge plates, Pianos: no structural beams and only a metal plate) all of which have had issues both tonally and structurally, and didn't hold up well.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 10/28/2019 13:36:17

Oct 28, 2019 - 3:05:16 PM

DeanT

USA

36218 posts since 7/28/2005

What I liked about the Boston, is that it has blast power. Not a very pleasing tone, but sure a fun jam banjo. I don't think I would use it for recording, but I sure miss it when I jam with my drunk friends at a loud party.

Oct 28, 2019 - 3:18:54 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11931 posts since 8/30/2006

Hi Dean, How much do they weigh?

Oct 28, 2019 - 4:45:12 PM

DeanT

USA

36218 posts since 7/28/2005

I have no idea, that was back in the day, I still had a strong back! Just going from memory (I had the resonator version) it wasn't as heavy as a full blown Mastertone style banjo, but certainly not much lighter.

Larry, have you ever experimented with steel rimmed banjos? It might be quite fun, and certainly simple. Go to a scrap yard, get some 11" pipe, and slice it, drill it, and walla, a skinned screaming kettle drum! Or better yet... go 12" or more. And, while I got your attentionsmiley, just letting you know, the original Sunbeam is still going strong with my friend in Columbia Mo, in the Clay Creek Band.

Edited by - DeanT on 10/28/2019 16:57:26

Oct 28, 2019 - 7:07:08 PM
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6245 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DeanT

I have no idea, that was back in the day, I still had a strong back! Just going from memory (I had the resonator version) it wasn't as heavy as a full blown Mastertone style banjo, but certainly not much lighter.

Larry, have you ever experimented with steel rimmed banjos? It might be quite fun, and certainly simple. Go to a scrap yard, get some 11" pipe, and slice it, drill it, and walla, a skinned screaming kettle drum! Or better yet... go 12" or more. And, while I got your attentionsmiley, just letting you know, the original Sunbeam is still going strong with my friend in Columbia Mo, in the Clay Creek Band.


Why cut a pipe when you could just put a skin on an old rusty brake drum?

...which leads to another thought: do Bostons rust? 

Oct 28, 2019 - 8:20:21 PM
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10435 posts since 10/27/2006
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The last Boston I encountered was a long neck a few years ago. They are nowhere near as heavy as most. If I had my aluminum rimed ODE, I could give a comparison.

I have a big, loud voice and the Boston has a big, loud sound. Wouldn't bother me to play one ... if I could still play, that is.

Oct 29, 2019 - 7:54:37 AM

DeanT

USA

36218 posts since 7/28/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie 

...which leads to another thought: do Bostons rust? 


That's a good question. Mine never did. Probably not any more than the other metal parts on a banjo. 

Oct 29, 2019 - 8:01:24 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14557 posts since 3/27/2004

The current Deering Boston banjo is specified as having a Nickel plated 3/16" rolled steel rim.  No rusting concerns with that for a few years... wink

Oct 29, 2019 - 2:20:22 PM

6245 posts since 8/28/2013

...unless you dip it in something corrosive :-)

Oct 30, 2019 - 5:15:03 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11931 posts since 8/30/2006


What I liked about the Boston, is that it has blast power. Not a very pleasing tone, but sure a fun jam banjo.

DeanT Well said, Dean, I don't know how many people are carrying these around. I notice the Krugers are out there on the technological edge and they don't use a Boston. It sounds like they have a certain threshold, the Bostons, not the Krugers.  

I haven't made a steel rimmed banjo. I'm busy with one of the few architectural rims.  I had to come on the market showing I had nothing up my sleeve, like false claims and so on.  When the neck is mounted through solid wood it can be connected to two studs, no rods and slots would be enough to adjust.

I'm sure that a Boston could hold its own in an ensemble, on stage, or out in the open without a PA. Quality of sound or tone or choice would be another matter.  

Glad to hear the Sunbeam is still shining. 

 

  

Oct 30, 2019 - 6:20:57 PM
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30 posts since 2/7/2014

My first banjo was an Aida I bought back in 1978. I took it apart (I always have to take things apart), and discovered to my chagrin that the tone ring was made of zinc and mounted on a hollow plastic rim.

Imagine that setup without coordinator rods!

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