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Jan 25, 2020 - 1:24:36 PM
8 posts since 12/27/2019

Rickard offers a "Silver Bell" tone ring in their hardware/accessories collection.

Has anyone here used one and can comment? Any pointers to sound samples, recordings?

In particular I would like to know how it compares to their "Dobson" tone ring.

Thanks!

Wayne

Jan 25, 2020 - 2:00:30 PM
likes this

csacwp

USA

2553 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Silver_Falls

Rickard offers a "Silver Bell" tone ring in their hardware/accessories collection.

Has anyone here used one and can comment? Any pointers to sound samples, recordings?

In particular I would like to know how it compares to their "Dobson" tone ring.

Thanks!

Wayne


A (B&D) Silver Bell ring is similar in many aspects to a Tubaphone ring. It will be equally loud and cutting with a slightly more focused tone. Instead of the Tubaphone's airy tone the Silver Bell will be sweeter yet a little thinner. Both are incredibly bright. 

Jan 25, 2020 - 4:14:44 PM

12590 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by Silver_Falls

Rickard offers a "Silver Bell" tone ring in their hardware/accessories collection.

Has anyone here used one and can comment? Any pointers to sound samples, recordings?

In particular I would like to know how it compares to their "Dobson" tone ring.

Thanks!

Wayne


A (B&D) Silver Bell ring is similar in many aspects to a Tubaphone ring. It will be equally loud and cutting with a slightly more focused tone. Instead of the Tubaphone's airy tone the Silver Bell will be sweeter yet a little thinner. Both are incredibly bright. 

 


What's your feeling about the practice of putting a hoop made from bent copper tubing inside the Silver Bell?  I understand that many people do that.  I'm not sure what it's supposed to do.

Jan 25, 2020 - 4:32:08 PM

csacwp

USA

2553 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by Silver_Falls

Rickard offers a "Silver Bell" tone ring in their hardware/accessories collection.

Has anyone here used one and can comment? Any pointers to sound samples, recordings?

In particular I would like to know how it compares to their "Dobson" tone ring.

Thanks!

Wayne


A (B&D) Silver Bell ring is similar in many aspects to a Tubaphone ring. It will be equally loud and cutting with a slightly more focused tone. Instead of the Tubaphone's airy tone the Silver Bell will be sweeter yet a little thinner. Both are incredibly bright. 

 


What's your feeling about the practice of putting a hoop made from bent copper tubing inside the Silver Bell?  I understand that many people do that.  I'm not sure what it's supposed to do.


All the originals have it. I'm not exactly sure what it is supposed to do either . . . I was once told that it helped the tone ring maintain it's shape when under load from a tight head. I don't know if this is true or not. I've never read the original patent but that may be a good place to start.

Jan 25, 2020 - 4:42:24 PM

8 posts since 12/27/2019

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
 

What's your feeling about the practice of putting a hoop made from bent copper tubing inside the Silver Bell?  I understand that many people do that.  I'm not sure what it's supposed to do.


All the originals have it. I'm not exactly sure what it is supposed to do either . . . I was once told that it helped the tone ring maintain it's shape when under load from a tight head. I don't know if this is true or not. I've never read the original patent but that may be a good place to start.


The Rickard Silver Bell tone ring assembly does include a 1/4" round brass mounting ring, if that is what you mean:

https://rickardbanjos.com/product/silver-bell-tone-ring-assembly/

Jan 25, 2020 - 5:04:10 PM

csacwp

USA

2553 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Silver_Falls
quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
 

What's your feeling about the practice of putting a hoop made from bent copper tubing inside the Silver Bell?  I understand that many people do that.  I'm not sure what it's supposed to do.


All the originals have it. I'm not exactly sure what it is supposed to do either . . . I was once told that it helped the tone ring maintain it's shape when under load from a tight head. I don't know if this is true or not. I've never read the original patent but that may be a good place to start.


The Rickard Silver Bell tone ring assembly does include a 1/4" round brass mounting ring, if that is what you mean:

https://rickardbanjos.com/product/silver-bell-tone-ring-assembly/

 


Yes, that's what we are talking about. On the originals that ring would be pushed up as far as it would go into the tone ring. 

Jan 26, 2020 - 6:08:25 AM

12590 posts since 6/29/2005

I dug up a patent drawing for one of these.  It looks as if the 1/4" hoop is solid, not a tube as some people do nowadays.

It's not clear to me what part #16 is—it appears that there is a rim extension that goes up in to the inside of the tone ring and supports the hoop—is #16 a hole drilled through that rim extension?  It lines up with the hole in the tone ring.

Jan 26, 2020 - 8:20:14 AM

5236 posts since 12/20/2005

I think it is a hole. Has to be.
That is a very interesting draft.
I don't quite understand all of it though.
Thanks for posting this Ken.

Jan 26, 2020 - 11:18:41 AM

8 posts since 12/27/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

I think it is a hole. Has to be.
That is a very interesting draft.
I don't quite understand all of it though.
Thanks for posting this Ken.


Yes I believe you're right that 16/17 is a hole through both the outer face of the tonering and the shell, aligned with another hole above 5 on the inside of the tonering.  Because the inside lip of the tonering looks like it fits snugly into a small rabbet on the inside of the rim at 5, it creates a resonance chamber in that clear triangular space under the ring.  The holes then act like sound holes to permit the resonance to escape the chamber.  That would explain the similarities in sound to a tubaphone.

Altogether the system is quite a bit more complex than I imagined.  Especially how it is integrated into the rim with rabbets on both the outside and inside of the rim.  I'm also not sure the Rickard ring follows this design exactly.  For example, I do not see any holes in the photos of the Rickard ring.

Jan 26, 2020 - 11:38:37 AM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2377 posts since 3/10/2008

Didn't they quit putting the holes through the rim and tone ring at some point? I think the modern copies have no holes.

Jan 26, 2020 - 2:24:01 PM

6689 posts since 8/28/2013

There were at least three iterations of the Silver Bell tone ring. The original had holes in the ring inside and outside, the second had just one set of holes, and the third, no holes. I would suspect that there were other changes from the original patent.

I haven't taken any of these apart, and the one that I m,ay be able to inspect in the fuituer is on a heavily modified B&D pot, and probably wouldn't be a reliable reference. But I would guess that the Ricard design might be more "Silver Bell in spirit" than a exact replica, or that if it is an exact copy, it may be from one of the later versions.

I also wonder if that rod way up at the top was a means to help form the ring, rather than being stuffed up there afterward.

Jan 26, 2020 - 2:36:27 PM

2761 posts since 2/18/2009

I fitted several Silver Bell rings to internal resonator pots when I was doing piece work for someone, and I also made a couple of banjos with that ring for the same customer. I remember that they were pretty loud, but those banjos also had internal resonators and a lot more brackets than I usually use, so I didn't have a comparison between otherwise similar banjos with different tone rings. Also it's getting on for two years since I made the last one, and my recollections of the sound are not very distinct anymore.

I don't recall if there were holes or not, but I know they had metal hoops inside the spun ring, and they were not attached, the ends of the hoop were not joined as I recall and you could stuff the hoop up into the space at the top of the spun ring but it also could be removed pretty easily.  The way I was told to install them the inner leaf of the spun ring did not contact the rim, there was an air gap between the top of the rim and the inside of the ring.  I don't know if this was the usual way, it was more like how a Dobson is installed, not like how it is shown in the patent drawing.
Zach

Edited by - Zachary Hoyt on 01/26/2020 14:39:06

Jan 26, 2020 - 3:16:23 PM

12590 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
 

Altogether the system is quite a bit more complex than I imagined.  Especially how it is integrated into the rim with rabbets on both the outside and inside of the rim.  I'm also not sure the Rickard ring follows this design exactly.  For example, I do not see any holes in the photos of the Rickard ring.

 


That's also true of other vintage designs—one example that comes to mind is the idea that the WL and Tubaphone pots require a bracket band to be what they are, and the tubaphone tone ring requires an offset at the top of the rim.  Thinking that you can just adopt part of a design (usually the tonering), and have it work the way it's supposed to work is wishful thinking.

The people who designed these things back in the day were smarter and more "big picture" than they are often given credit for, which is why the latter day "pick and choose" method of adapting historic parts piecemeal has its limitations.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 01/26/2020 15:18:18

Feb 10, 2020 - 2:24:50 PM

easy

USA

213 posts since 1/23/2009

Heya Ken, I've got a Gold Tone White Ladie (or Laydie, or however you prefer). It has no bracket band, but I've always liked the tone (probably because its sound, to my ear, is very focused and less like most of the "old-time" banjos I've heard). I'm looking to part with it to a friend of mine, but I've never even thought of incorporating a bracket-band into that banjo ... what do you think it'd do for it?

Feb 10, 2020 - 3:05:26 PM

6689 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
 

Altogether the system is quite a bit more complex than I imagined.  Especially how it is integrated into the rim with rabbets on both the outside and inside of the rim.  I'm also not sure the Rickard ring follows this design exactly.  For example, I do not see any holes in the photos of the Rickard ring.

 


That's also true of other vintage designs—one example that comes to mind is the idea that the WL and Tubaphone pots require a bracket band to be what they are, and the tubaphone tone ring requires an offset at the top of the rim.  Thinking that you can just adopt part of a design (usually the tonering), and have it work the way it's supposed to work is wishful thinking.

The people who designed these things back in the day were smarter and more "big picture" than they are often given credit for, which is why the latter day "pick and choose" method of adapting historic parts piecemeal has its limitations.


More people should read this comment. 

Feb 14, 2020 - 7:47:35 AM
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stanger

USA

7261 posts since 9/29/2004

I wouldn't say the Silver Bell is a brighter banjo than a Tubaphone at all.

If anything, they can be bassier and louder; it all depends on the setup, and the Bacons allowed for a lot of setup versatility. By design, the Silver Bell was supposed to be the Super Tubaphone.

I played a Silver Bell as my main banjo for about 10 years; they work just fine as a bluegrass banjo with their resonator on, and as a great old-time banjo with the resonator off.  (or on; I played old-time on it both ways. It only takes a couple of minutes to remove the resonator.)

Tonally, all Silver Bells are more similar to Vegas than to any other banjos, but that's natural, as David Day designed both the Tubaphone and Silver Bell. He was working for Vega at the time, and thought the Silver Bell was the superior design.
The Nelson brothers, Vega's owners, weren't interested in the Sliver Bell though as the Tubaphone was selling extremely well.

But when Fred Bacon, who was buying banjos wholesale from Vega tried a Silver Bell, he liked them so much he stole Day away from the Nelsons and began making banjos for the first time. Fred played a 5-string,  but by then, the tenor banjo was where the banjo market was.

Day could lead a factory as well as he could design a banjo, and he made the Bacons a famous professional banjo line.

And Fred Bacon appreciated Day's work so much that he included Day's initial in his company's best banjos. Only the Silver Bells were ever called the "B&D Silver Bell". B for Bacon, and D for Day. Day never owned a piece of the company; he was only a salaried employee.

David Day invented the Whyte Laydie, Tubaphone, and earlier, the Electric tone ring for Fairbanks. He began his career at age 17 at the Fairbanks factory in the late 1880s.

When Bacon suffered a factory flood, he sold out to Gretsch, and Day left the company. Gretsch continued to make the Silver Bell for another 40 years until Gretsch was purchased by the Baldwin Piano Co.  

Baldwin also bought the Ode banjo company around the same time, and decided they only needed one top-range banjo, so the Silver Bell finally ended production in the 1970s.

The tube mentioned in this discussion isn't a tube, and it's not brass. It's a solid steel rod that is never an exact fit to the tone ring when the head is off. The rod is warped just a little so it's under tension when a head is tightened over it.
It's there to give the sound some high-end clarity that has the same power as the lower frequencies. The design and the use of steel is intentional.
The tone ring will work without the rod, but it won't sound like a Silver Bell.

The Silver Bell was also more than only the tone ring; everything on the pot was designed to be a full system that worked as a piece. The name didn't come from the tone ring; the resonator flange was curved like the curvature of a bell's mouth. Hence the name.

Edited by - stanger on 02/14/2020 07:57:46

Feb 14, 2020 - 8:43:42 AM
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12590 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by easy

Heya Ken, I've got a Gold Tone White Ladie (or Laydie, or however you prefer). It has no bracket band, but I've always liked the tone (probably because its sound, to my ear, is very focused and less like most of the "old-time" banjos I've heard). I'm looking to part with it to a friend of mine, but I've never even thought of incorporating a bracket-band into that banjo ... what do you think it'd do for it?


Tha actual Whyte Laydies all had bracket bands—that was the great innovation David Day patented, and it created a sensation when it was introduced in 1901—the "Electric" tone ring + bracket band + blond ("whyte") maple finish = Whyte Laydie.  The Tubaphone followed soon after, and they all had bracket bands too.

What it would do is similar to what your heavy rods do, which is to add mass to the middle of the pot, plus other niceties like no holes through the rim.

Some people don't think the bracket band accomplishes anything, and these are often the same folks who think 16 hooks is enough—the two ideas seem to go together, and Fairbanks / Vega wasn't after a plunky sound.

Read Stanger's excellent post  about the TuBaPhone vs the Silver Bell, and he is a wealth of knowledge.  As for Bluegrass, the Vega Sonny Osborne had a Whyte Laydie tone ring, and a kind of bracket band.

BTW, I'm too busy to collect the pictures at this moment, but I am going to post something on your other thread about the heavy rods explaining how coordinator rods are supposed to work vis a vis pushing and pulling against the pot.  Sometime in recent history, Gibson got rid of the bottom large bolt on their coordinator rods.

Feb 16, 2020 - 9:37 PM

stanger

USA

7261 posts since 9/29/2004

A few more things about the Silver Bell:
The steel rod was deliberately slightly out of square so that it would compress under heads tension. The compression had 2 purposes; one was to keep the rod from vibrating on its own, which would have caused a buzz, and the second was supposed to keep the head tighter, at playing tension, if it went slack due to high humidity.
The humidity problem was a real thing to all the pros back then, but I'm not at all sure the rod worked for that purpose.

Another thing is the patent sketch.
The very first Silver Bells had holes in the tone ring that were grommeted, supposedly to minimize any damage a stress crack could do to the spun brass. But soon after production, the holes were eliminated.

This sketch also shows round holes with grommets in the curved resonator flange and the turned arc of the back's inside surface meeting the flange with quite a wide lip of wood.

The prevailing acoustic theory of the day did still prevail; holes were thought to 'let the sound out' or to 'allow free vibration', so I believe the elimination was a cost-cutting measure, as it was labor intensive to drill and grommet the holes.
And with Fred Bacon, a very experienced and knowledgeable professional player at the head of the company, Fred likely discovered the Silver Bell needed no holes in the tone ring to sound just fine and dandy.
At this time, the flange's round holes disappeared to be replaced by the more common ƒ hole shape. And that wide lip inside the back was turned down to a much narrower and more vertical surface.

That tells me the drawing was very early. There's probably a later drawing that came with a patent revision later on that covered all those items. Bacon was very protective of the ideas Day brought with him.

I also don't think I made enough importance to how well Bacon treated Day; while Day was never a partner, he really didn't need to be one for finance's sake, as Bacon always paid him extremely well. They had a very close personal relationship as well.
regards,
stanger

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