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What on God's green Earth is this thing?

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Jan 20, 2020 - 9:21:09 AM
1015 posts since 4/13/2017

I ran across this (ebay.com/itm/ORIGONAL-1920s-GR...w55peJIxx) on ebay, and I cannot discover its purpose. Is it really for banjos, or did someone see the words "Grover" and "Tone Ring" and make a false assumption?

Jan 20, 2020 - 9:24:59 AM
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1311 posts since 4/13/2009

Changes a flat head to an archtop. Google is your friend.

Jan 20, 2020 - 9:44:17 AM

6689 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

Changes a flat head to an archtop. Google is your friend.


Well, sort of. These were mostly used to slightly increase head tension on damp days. They were one of many banjo contraptions that were 99% hype.

Jan 20, 2020 - 9:45:10 AM

csacwp

USA

2553 posts since 1/15/2014

Yes, they are sort of like the Billy Farmer patent tone rings that were popular at the same time. The Farmer rings sound excellent for classic banjo but these Grover rings aren't as good. They work though.

Edited by - csacwp on 01/20/2020 09:45:29

Jan 20, 2020 - 9:46:55 AM

csacwp

USA

2553 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

Changes a flat head to an archtop. Google is your friend.


Well, sort of. These were mostly used to slightly increase head tension on damp days. They were one of many banjo contraptions that were 99% hype.


I've only seen them advertised as tone rings in the period literature, not as a device to raise a sunken head. 

Jan 20, 2020 - 10:05:35 AM

6689 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

Changes a flat head to an archtop. Google is your friend.


Well, sort of. These were mostly used to slightly increase head tension on damp days. They were one of many banjo contraptions that were 99% hype.


I've only seen them advertised as tone rings in the period literature, not as a device to raise a sunken head. 


That is true. However, it's also true that the ones I've seen were no longer used to turn a flathead into an archtop, if indeed they ever were. The ones I've seen when viewed from the front of the banjo basically showed up as rust stains on still-flat heads. Back views showed many of these not even touching the head.

It's probably likely that these wre purchased as actual tone rings, but were backed off when people decided their tone was still unsatisfactory and they didn't like the odd protrusions on the head that the ends of that incomplete circle could cause.

Jan 20, 2020 - 10:12:42 AM

csacwp

USA

2553 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

Changes a flat head to an archtop. Google is your friend.


Well, sort of. These were mostly used to slightly increase head tension on damp days. They were one of many banjo contraptions that were 99% hype.


I've only seen them advertised as tone rings in the period literature, not as a device to raise a sunken head. 


That is true. However, it's also true that the ones I've seen were no longer used to turn a flathead into an archtop, if indeed they ever were. The ones I've seen when viewed from the front of the banjo basically showed up as rust stains on still-flat heads. Back views showed many of these not even touching the head.

It's probably likely that these wre purchased as actual tone rings, but were backed off when people decided their tone was still unsatisfactory and they didn't like the odd protrusions on the head that the ends of that incomplete circle could cause.


They're don't actually turn the banjo into a raised-head archtop. They just rest against the back of the head, acting sort of like a mute I suppose. The head shouldn't be raised up by them... That would have messed up the action height which was already high with a very low bridge per the setup of the day.

Jan 20, 2020 - 10:42:33 AM

10595 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

Changes a flat head to an archtop. Google is your friend.


Well, sort of. These were mostly used to slightly increase head tension on damp days. They were one of many banjo contraptions that were 99% hype.


I've only seen them advertised as tone rings in the period literature, not as a device to raise a sunken head. 


That is true. However, it's also true that the ones I've seen were no longer used to turn a flathead into an archtop, if indeed they ever were. The ones I've seen when viewed from the front of the banjo basically showed up as rust stains on still-flat heads. Back views showed many of these not even touching the head.

It's probably likely that these wre purchased as actual tone rings, but were backed off when people decided their tone was still unsatisfactory and they didn't like the odd protrusions on the head that the ends of that incomplete circle could cause.


They're don't actually turn the banjo into a raised-head archtop. They just rest against the back of the head, acting sort of like a mute I suppose. The head shouldn't be raised up by them... That would have messed up the action height which was already high with a very low bridge per the setup of the day.


Like heck they don't. I have one in a box and it will certainly raise the head if that's what you want. I don't know that the results are worth it, though.

I was given one after my left arm became crippled. If I ever play a plectrum again, I'll experiment on my NO 3 Tubaphone with its Rogers head.

Jan 20, 2020 - 11:05:11 AM
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4982 posts since 9/21/2007

They are a gimmick. Resistance to atmospheric conditions was a big selling point in the advertisements and “articles” (really editorial advertisements) about them.

They can’t be backed off to float as they rely on pressure against the head to hold them together. They just fall out of the thumb screws are loosened too much.

I have two of these as I “collect” nonsense banjo gimmicks. They mostly act as a mute.

Jan 20, 2020 - 11:35:06 AM

562 posts since 5/4/2014

Iucci had one as well.  A head tensioner he claims: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/86/41/17/adbc6ca28d72a7/US1233881.pdf

Jan 20, 2020 - 8:26:07 PM

1014 posts since 6/20/2014

I have had one on this old Lyon & Healy for years. It sharpens the tone a bit, keeping the banjo from sounding so clunky.

Charlie


 

Edited by - CEParagon124 on 01/20/2020 20:26:53

Jan 20, 2020 - 9:19:39 PM
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53444 posts since 12/14/2005

Now that we know what on God's green Earth it is, let us admit that the basic design was not limited to God's Green Earth.

That's the main structure from DEEP SPACE 9

Jan 21, 2020 - 7:03:07 PM

6689 posts since 8/28/2013

That Deep Space 9 thing looks more like an automobile thermostat than a banjo tone ring.

Jan 24, 2020 - 9:48:19 AM

441 posts since 3/8/2007

I have encountered a number of these over the years in open back ,square dowel stick banjos. As Mr. Noyes has indicated , it makes the tone keener. I imagine that this was a pretty handy device to have in pre-Mylar days when the humidity put your bridge down into the head ...a bit like having fine tuners on a fiddle tailpiece .Not necessarily a tone " improvement" but efficacious in having the tool ready to perform.....

Jan 24, 2020 - 1:20:40 PM

6689 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Mike Johnson

I have encountered a number of these over the years in open back ,square dowel stick banjos. As Mr. Noyes has indicated , it makes the tone keener. I imagine that this was a pretty handy device to have in pre-Mylar days when the humidity put your bridge down into the head ...a bit like having fine tuners on a fiddle tailpiece .Not necessarily a tone " improvement" but efficacious in having the tool ready to perform.....


Fine tuners on a fiddle tailpiece serve an entirely different purpose; they don't even claim to help the tone, they are used to make it easier to get the d***ed thing in tune. Those friction pegs can be a bear to turn in the tiny increments needed for tuning the "E" string.

Jan 24, 2020 - 3:15:07 PM

441 posts since 3/8/2007

I only mentioned the Wittner type tailpiece and/or fine tuners on a fiddle as merely an example of an acceptable trade off of tone for efficacy that some can endure. I can see how that reference to another family of instruments in this context might seem far-fetched . The point I was making is that the Grover device in discussion may have had some success as a useful expedient.

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