Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

267
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

Page: 1  2   3   Next Page   Last Page (3) 

Nov 1, 2019 - 7:30:59 PM
5335 posts since 10/13/2007

what is the best sounding new rim being made today. I understand that tone is personal judgement, but just wanting opinions.
Thanks,
Ken

Nov 2, 2019 - 1:28:05 AM
like this

10237 posts since 6/2/2008

I imagine if this discussion goes on long enough nearly every current rim will be named.

The most useful responses will come from people who have done an actual A-B comparison in the same banjo so that the rim is the only change.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 11/02/2019 01:28:39

Nov 2, 2019 - 1:36:01 AM
like this

6659 posts since 2/14/2006

Ken, I have a Cox and a torrefied Yates, a/b ‘d with a Yates V33 ring, and also with a Huber HR30. In both comparisons the Yates rim came back so much dryer and clearer sounding. Maybe not the best rim, but the best I own.

Nov 2, 2019 - 3:51:19 AM
like this
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11996 posts since 8/30/2006

The Helix mariner. I am not the builder. Enjoy the ride and the popcorn. I have experience with side by side comparison and a before and after accumulation of sawdust and spit. Meaning ask the audience, then thru a PA, then ask your fingers and back 3 hours later

I think you are talking about a 3-ply laminated rim.

Knock note is not subjective, just selective. I now use a superball on the end of a bamboo skewer, perfect bumper sends a signal that allowed me to discover PINCH POINTS in the sound production issues. Then put a clamp in the middle of a plank and see what the knock note is then. It ain't no bull, it's real grass roots get the job done. Works with metal tone rings and rims, necks and different metals for hardware like brass, steel and alloys.

I won't even consider a Rosewood rim or other high end exotic like Ebony or Grenadilla until we stop bulldozing over to the 250 foot canopy trees when there is plenty of sustainability in the 125 foot canopy with Jatoba and Ipe beside just the Mahogany. Janet Davis's workers in the Crazy Mule Bluegrass Band are kinda partial to Cocobolo. If you are using exotic, then go out and plant something. The monks in California planted the Walnuts there 125 years ago.

My daily player is 150 yr. old barn beams of Chestnut. I salvage, I cut my own trunks and large limbs. Knock note comes into play right away and in my personal case and journey, is essential to developing the customer's specs. I don't build what I think they need.
I mainstream long neck banjos into bluegrass, I play in E differently, same planet.

If you are rooted in one thang, then the new kids will flow right around you, see ya later. Kids are good at this.

The best new rim? Got any Carob? Catalpa? Dogwood? Mulberry? Lemon, Orange or Grapefruit (lifesaver rims)? Henkel and Heinz Cherry furniture from Burlington? I stole it from the rain in an alley, took us all the way to Nollins.

Thank you for this opportunity.  I see that it is 4:00 am.  Time to make the banjos.  (  ):)==='== :: }  First thing, I use clawhammer to warm up my hands, not banjo, just a claw hammer, dude. 


Edited by - Helix on 11/02/2019 03:59:51

Nov 2, 2019 - 4:54:57 AM
like this

12343 posts since 6/29/2005

I agree completely with Old Hickory—how many people have actually done valid objective testing? can anyone listen to a banjo and tell what part of the sound is coming from the rim?

A much better question would be "what is the most expressive / loudest/ highest sustain / lowest sustain / snappiest / most mellow (pick one) banjo?", and back off into individual components from there. The rim doesn't contribute to the tone of a banjo nearly as much as it is generally given credit for, coming in 5th after the head, the bridge, the tone ring, and the neck, but the legend lives on and unfortunately, probably always will.

Nov 2, 2019 - 5:00:15 AM
likes this

2409 posts since 9/12/2016
Online Now

At one time Hickler did a lot of testing. Best to achieve what goal. I love my 3 very different sounding banjos,none are best to me.

Nov 2, 2019 - 5:55:39 AM
like this

12343 posts since 6/29/2005

A short story which will be quickly buried in this thread.

Back in 2013 Dick Guggenheim and I wanted to do a test of rim construction for both flathead and archtop Mastertones using actual pre-war banjos for the "banjo".

The idea was to make identical rims from identical wood (same red maple board) in (a) steam-bent 3-ply, (b) 3-tier block, (c) finger-jointed, and (D) pre-war originals.  Dick had a pre-war flathead, and I had a pre-war arch-top.

I made 6 rims, 2 of each type from the same board, so we each had one of each type  I measured them, weighed them and tapped them, all of which I documented.

The idea was to make sound files, switching the rim, so the rim was the only variable in the test.

While Dick and I were getting ready to do it, I ran the idea by physicist David Politzer who was here doing bridge tests and he said it was a waste of time because: (1) almost nobody would be able to hear any difference. (2) those who could would never agree on which one sounded better. (3) the actual playing of the banjo would be way more important than what the rim contributed to the complete banjo.

He suggested that the only way to do any kind of objective comparison would be to build each rim into a banjo, one at a time, using the same components, and drive or energize the entire banjo with a frequency generator kind of device, recording the results and graphing it to determine what each banjo was capable of (I am surely not describing this correctly, but the idea was to bypass the player and graph the absolute potential of the instrument to produce frequencies).

Anyway, this would be time consuming, tedious, each test would have to be repeated numerous times to get an average of the range of variance of each individual one, and it would not demonstrate anything in terms of the subjective "quality" of the sound.

So we never did it.  Dick and I eventually used the rims for other banjos.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 11/02/2019 05:59:35

Nov 2, 2019 - 6:02:17 AM
likes this

70412 posts since 5/9/2007

The best sounding rim I've heard sofar is an old rim.

Nov 2, 2019 - 6:41:42 AM
like this

1187 posts since 1/31/2011

Too many variables to say which rim is best. Variables within natural materials, manufacturing, construction type (lam vs block), ring, assembly, set up and player.

I'd take a really good professional set up with a decent rim over the best rim if you want good tone but thats me.

Nov 2, 2019 - 9:12:14 AM
like this

Emiel

Austria

9273 posts since 1/22/2003

Of course, setup, playing capabilities etc. are important, we all know that. But still one rim may sound better than another rim…

When Geoff Stelling tested the Tony Pass thin skirt birch block rim, he decided that all Stelling banjos should have that rim from then on.

Nov 2, 2019 - 9:34:10 AM
like this

Alex Z

USA

3672 posts since 12/7/2006

"But still one rim may sound better than another rim…"

I have experienced that.  And the Stelling example is a good illustration, because the "before" is not just one banjo, but rather hundreds or thousands of banjos all with the same rim and same tone ring and same just about everything else.  In that situation, you can identify a lot of commonalities in the "before" sound.  Then change only one thing -- the rim -- for the "after" comparison.

I had a Stelling with the old block rim back in the early 1980s.  Sold that at some point.  Since I'm not far from Elderly, I used to play just about every Stelling that came through the shop.  It wasn't until I heard one with the Tony Pass rim that I liked the sound enough to buy one to replace my then-current instrument.

Now -- and this is important -- I'm not claiming that the Tony Pass was "better" or "best" to anyone else but me (and, apparently, to Mr. Geoff), but I am saying that (a) the difference to me was easily heard and (b) the difference was not between two banjos, but rather a difference between scores of identical banjos "before" and three or four "after."

One on one, can't conclude much, as there is no accounting for the variability of a single instrument.  A hundred on four, a distinction has been made.

Nov 2, 2019 - 9:55:14 AM
like this

3811 posts since 9/21/2009

Sullivans Factory Floor rims sure sound great to me!

Nov 2, 2019 - 10:07:24 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11996 posts since 8/30/2006

If the rim doesn't make any difference, why then are we not making them out of papier mache' or rope? Oatmeal where raisins release the iron? The molecules line up like they are supposed to.
I don't want to make steel rims, or aluminum cookware. Tempered aluminum is used by this level of civilization. Then the plastic that's everywhere. (hardwood binding) wooden rims sail.

Torrifying is a real good idea when we can't get vibrated factory floor. The vibes needed don't match, Ideas can grow and be good for us, but old growth is hard to find these days.

We need the vibes to start at 432 hz, as the industrial revolution still isn't finished with the Boston Bluegrass scene. Hold on , the best rim is around the corner.

No plastic rims?, nope, no fibers connecting things. The original fibers in our wooden rims moved water higher than we can with no moving parts. Quarter sawing is just one way of bringing out the beauty of GOD.

Personally, bluegrass is wet. Old time is dry. No Sassafras? Cedar?

Scientific discovery and Revelation are two different things, like xylem and phloem where the same cells are doing different duty, and simultaneously. Humans don't do that yet. We got log stamps, though, since 1830's, became law in 1853, just saying Science wasn't there yet.

The best rim is inflatable at the gig.  A mixture of hydraulics and pneumatics with no moving parts.  Bamboo would be a nice, light, framework.

Lunch is over, I'm going back to work. enlightened


Edited by - Helix on 11/02/2019 10:15:48

Nov 2, 2019 - 10:25:08 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11996 posts since 8/30/2006

I only have one video that I can't upload. Take a look at my homepage and check out what water does when subjected to a frequency generator.

Nov 2, 2019 - 12:15:01 PM
like this

Fathand

Canada

11524 posts since 2/7/2008

Cox, Cooperman, Pass, Sullivan, Huber, Stew Mac and others have great rims on the market that can be made into excellent banjos that would do a great job for a professional player.

Once you have a great rim, the addition of a tone ring, other parts, design, craftsmanship, set up and a player are going to determine the sound that comes out of it.

Nov 2, 2019 - 12:57:58 PM
likes this

GStump

USA

294 posts since 9/12/2006

A purely subjective question for sure. IF the musician or listener could articulate exactly what they wanted to hear, one "might" be able to some small degree, say exactly which rim would be best, (to achieve "that" sound or tone.) all other things being equal. But again, this approach would be tedious, and very time consuming. I suppose that's one of the reasons why banjo players are always "searching." There are too many variables in "sound and tone" that are really things that just may come down to personal taste. And as we all know, "sound and tone" are things that mere words simply are difficult to use to describe it, that's the nature of it; which is why we need to use our EARS, to determine what we each like best. Just a sample - Fatness, warmth, volume, crispness, dryness, sustain, sweetness, harshness, snap crackle and pop... no pun intended. So, it's quite easy to see that each of these attributes all play different things in different ears. I suspect the most important thing, as so many professional musicians have stated over the years, is to find THE banjo that best suits you, THEN LEARN HOW to play the darn thing and QUIT fooling around with it, unless you truly are just tinkering around or by pure chance happen upon a combination of things and parts that may suit you a bit better. When doing setups and minor work on banjos, I have truly tried to get away from the terms "good," or "better." I find that the best definition is "different." That's not to say that some banjos don't sound truly tremendous, or others don't sound truly terrible.... because I suppose they do! Keep on searching.....

Nov 2, 2019 - 3:01:48 PM
like this

7444 posts since 1/7/2005

The time honored approach is simply to listen to a lot of music in your chosen venue--pick out the performer who's sound you like the best-- and use the same brand/model of banjo they use. Or as close as you can find/afford.
DD

Nov 2, 2019 - 6:11:41 PM
like this

12343 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Drabek

The time honored approach is simply to listen to a lot of music in your chosen venue--pick out the performer who's sound you like the best-- and use the same brand/model of banjo they use. Or as close as you can find/afford.
DD


I agree with you wholeheartedly!

Your sensible approach is quite a bit different than listening to a lot of music in your chosen venue--pick out the performer who's sound you like the best-- and use the same brand/model of rim their banjo has in whatever banjo you have.

Nov 3, 2019 - 12:12:24 PM
like this

113 posts since 8/25/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

"If the rim doesn't make any difference, why then are we not making them out of papier mache' or rope?  ..."

Back in 1862, the great, pioneering Spanish guitar maker named Antonio Torres made a guitar with the back and sides made from  papier-mâché and only the top was spruce.  He did it to demonstrate that it was the top of the guitar that was most important for the tone.  He is considered to have revolutionized guitar making with this insight.  The guitar was (reputedly) not quite as good as his all-wood instruments, but it was better than most of that period.  His guitars are still respected, and the  papier-mâché guitar is still in a museum in Barcelona.  A guitar-making friend of mine was allowed to examine it in the 1970s, but it was not playable at that time.  It has since been restored to playability. Torres is considered to have made the first recognizably modern classical guitars.  

So, while I don't doubt that the rim affects the tone, I believe that other banjo components (head, tone ring, etc.) have a much greater effect.  And, I suspect that wood is more durable than papier-mâché, despite the longevity of Torres's instrument.  

Bill

Nov 3, 2019 - 1:42:34 PM
like this

12343 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Half Barbaric Twanger
quote:
Originally posted by Helix

"If the rim doesn't make any difference, why then are we not making them out of papier mache' or rope?  ..."

Back in 1862, the great, pioneering Spanish guitar maker named Antonio Torres made a guitar with the back and sides made from  papier-mâché and only the top was spruce.  He did it to demonstrate that it was the top of the guitar that was most important for the tone.  He is considered to have revolutionized guitar making with this insight.  The guitar was (reputedly) not quite as good as his all-wood instruments, but it was better than most of that period.  His guitars are still respected, and the  papier-mâché guitar is still in a museum in Barcelona.  A guitar-making friend of mine was allowed to examine it in the 1970s, but it was not playable at that time.  It has since been restored to playability. Torres is considered to have made the first recognizably modern classical guitars.  

So, while I don't doubt that the rim affects the tone, I believe that other banjo components (head, tone ring, etc.) have a much greater effect.  And, I suspect that wood is more durable than papier-mâché, despite the longevity of Torres's instrument.  

Bill


Torres was responsible for the modern standerd of guitar building and the first to realize where the sound came from. That Torres guitar is in the National Museum in Madrid, and is a famous example of why the top of a guitar is what makes the sound, not the back and sides. 

The same is true of banjos, the head being what makes the sound, and the rim is the support,  but papier-mâché wouldn't work for a banjo rim because a banjo rim has to support all the hardware and must be very very stiff and rigid so the sound production remains in the head and isn't sucked away by a vibrating rim.  This is why laminated rims made from stiff wood like maple / birch / beech work so well.  Something like carbon fiber composite would also work because of it's strength and stiffness.

Modern classical guitar makers, following in the footsteps of Torres, are now rethinking guitar construction and making guitars that have VERY VERY rigid laminated and braced sides and VERY thin vibrating tops with carbon fiber reinforcement.  I'm sure Torres would approve.

Nov 3, 2019 - 1:49:27 PM

7444 posts since 1/7/2005

I agree with your comment Bill. I'm very familiar with the Papier Mache Torres guitar. Maybe not exactly comparable to a banjo, but the top material/construction is a valid point. The top on a guitar and the head on a banjo are the sound makers and are comparable to the vocal chords on the human voice. Change their construction and the sound is dramatically altered. But having a total hip replacement will have little or no affect on your singing voice.
And it's funny, how folks spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on special boutique rims, tone rings and other parts for their banjos--and end up with minor changes in the tone quality. Yet they will often neglect spending relatively little on a new head or bridge of different design which can change the tone quality in large ways.
DD

Nov 3, 2019 - 2:02:14 PM
like this

6356 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Helix
"If the rim doesn't make any difference, why then are we not making them out of papier mache' or rope? ..."

Although rims haven't, as far as I know, been made of papier mache or rope, they have been made of Bakelite and one of the better banjo makers, Weymann, produced a model with a composite which was basically a form of particle board. Aluminum, steel, and brass have been used, thin and thick rims have been made, and Ken Levan has even made a banjo which has no rim at all. Many people actually like these various instruments, and some of that not only depends on playing technique, but the type of music (bluegrass, classic, clawhammer, strumming) that is chosen.

My experience is largely with pianos, and I can truthfully say that a piano's rim has very lttle to do with the sound produced. I've dealt with maple rims, laminated rims, spruce rims, poplar rims, rims made of multiple wood species, and even a few made with a kind of light weight cement. It's always been other factors that made up most of the sound.

There are also Youtube videos of a certain guitar maker who plays a guitar soundboard (no back or sides) which sounds exactly like a guitar. It's just not quite as loud.

It's my honest belief that what is most important is the quality of the construction, not the materials or the methods used (laminated or block). There are always going to be variations; even in the same type of wood and probably even in the same piece of wood, but the rim is mostly for support and its influence on tone and playability is pretty minimal. A person just needs to find a banjo that looks, plays, sounds, and has the durability that matches his or her preference, and I don't believe that worrying too much about one individual factor such as a rim is going to aid in that pursuit. 

Nov 3, 2019 - 6:20 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11996 posts since 8/30/2006

I concur with most of your considered response

Maybe a rim of Holly with a tone surface rolled in Saphire dust like a margarita

I think the best has yet to test

Nov 4, 2019 - 4:34:35 AM

5196 posts since 12/20/2005

I'm not sure what to make of the assessment, the rim does not play a significant role in the sound of a banjo.
It has pretty well been accepted, by many, at least with the Gibson style of Bluegrass banjo, the classic sound of the pre-war Gibsons, is attributed to the rim of the banjo.
As far as I can tell, pre-war Gibson Flatheads, with the one piece flange, still remain the most desirable banjos for Bluegrass. I am skeptical the reason for this is simply nostalgia.
I've never seen a pre-war flathead, but I have read accounts by many over the years, a good pre-war flathead simply has a very specific sound.
Some of the greatest players, have stated the rim of those banjos, more than the tonering, is responsible for the tone.
I have to believe there is credibility of the highest order with their opinions.
And, that sound is perceptible in their recordings.

I'm not sure how to reconcile this topic.

I've heard Earl in person play a modern Gibson (mine). He sounded like Earl. By the way, as great as I knew he could play, he was about 1000 times better than I ever expected. I was completely shocked with what I saw that gentleman do.

I have one of those old Weymann's, with the composite wood rim. A tenor. I've got it set up so that I can play it. Surprisingly, it sounds pretty decent. I like the design of that model myself. I think it is a Model 50.

I'm not sure an equivalent comparison can be made made with guitars and banjos.

On this topic, I have not been able to come to a final conclusion.

I think I know what the OP is after. There are several great rims on the market, any of which could be part of a great Bluegrass banjo.

Nov 4, 2019 - 4:50:44 AM
like this

12343 posts since 6/29/2005

I think the important thing that always seems to get missed or misunderstood is that yes, the rim DOES play a part in the sound of the banjo, but NOT as a sounding board like the top of a guitar—it is the structure that supports the head, which is what makes the sound. 

A banjo rim does its job by supporting the head firmly so the head can vibrate. A flimsy rim that flexes and vibrates robs the head of being able to deliver what it can deliver.

YES, the rim inevitably supplies some tone color, but is NOT what produces the sound of the banjo. AAAARRRRGGGHHH

Nov 4, 2019 - 5:31:47 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11996 posts since 8/30/2006

Leslie R Thanks for the party of sanity response.

In the current hangout, if you mention something, then it's fair game to drift away to your favorite subject using their information. We see this weekly if not daily.

Here's an example: The best rim is made out of termite spit mixed with old growth factory floor sawdust, and then run through an elephant and collected by enthusiastic young disconnected investment bankers trying to get reconnected to life and nature by being purists using animal skins and more termite spit. Let's see who has one of those. Wait for it. There might be 40 photos ready and waiting to be recognized nationally if not globally. The need exceeds the greed. That's what careers do to people. What's the carbon footprint? Recycling? plastic packaging?

We have one of the most diverse groups anywhere. What happened to carbon fiber's Rick Turner? You know the Grateful Dead's bass inlaid with pearl skulls, tastefully of course. Carbon fiber is cloth with epoxy.

Ok, what about a linen rim with shellac. We know shellac has great musical qualities. French Polish adds human touch.
1950's crash helmets were made of laid up linen and shellac, they weren't safe, but the microplastics hadn't been invented yet. But linen and shellac are structural, both can be derived from natural products and are sustainable.

The best rim will touch some poor soul across the room and help relieve their unknown personal suffering. It's a secret, it helps everyone.

I've had local people here step into an outdoor jam with a Gibson and declare : "Now this here's a REAL banjo." Then of course when they hear something new, they run off with the magnetic resonator under the porch light.

Charlie Poole had dowelstick and skin head until he sold enough bootleg liquor to get his first mastertone. OK.

So the gauntlet is now a layup made of linen and shellac.

I note the only contact with the drum community here is drum shell banjo rims. I learned a lot by talking with real drum makers, cylinders of myth. Maple, not plastic coated stuff.

Is your banjo rim capable of producing overtones made by the 3rd and 4th strings to make the low G below your 4th string D? Pre wars can do it. Are you finding this with the 3-ply laminated rims? Something else? It's desirable. Sounds great and isn't importable.
I know you are thinking, it ain't the rim, that's the whole darn banjo. Really, go get a P***** M**** rim to do that and let us know.

This has been a great thread, almost got stomped on, but we should let others give their ideas, too. Time to make the banjos, I'm out.

Edited by - Helix on 11/04/2019 05:35:35

Page: 1  2   3   Next Page   Last Page (3) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.34375