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Tone rings - why not neck lag bolt notches instead of holes?

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Feb 17, 2020 - 1:43:44 PM

Bribak

USA

489 posts since 8/18/2010

Hello all. I wonder why tone rings aren't built with a lag bolt NOTCH rather than a hole...so the ring could be just slid into place over the bolt and the neck wouldn't have to be removed to install a ring? My new (soon to be acquired) 1925 TB3 will have a neck that's been mated to the pot for 95 years. I will be keeping it a tenor. It's a shame the neck and rim would have to be separated to try a drop-in conversion ring - maybe at some point down the road. This is all new to me so I'm probably missing something obvious.

Feb 17, 2020 - 2:04 PM

2144 posts since 4/5/2006

Several reasons. First of all, necks & tone rings are not parts that need to be removed for regular service. It's less time consuming, therefore cheaper, to drill a hole than it is to mill a slot. Part of what makes a Mastertone sound the way it does is the marrying of the metal & wodd parts over time & pressure. If there were a slot in the tone ring, the neck would have less surface to clamp (mate) against, which would result in eneven deformation on the heel of the neck.

Feb 17, 2020 - 2:05:54 PM

10518 posts since 6/2/2008

On many banjos, the heel of the neck bears on the tone ring skirt. So the notch you envision would have to be as wide as the neck.

Feb 17, 2020 - 2:07:24 PM

12709 posts since 6/29/2005

It's all about where you want the rim rods to come through the rim—with the typical Mastertone design, the top one hits the skirt of the tone ring.  Move it down 3/8" and you are home free.

Feb 17, 2020 - 2:36:09 PM

Jbo1

USA

886 posts since 5/19/2007

Ken LeVan , possibly an "oopsie" on Gibson's part many years ago?

Feb 17, 2020 - 3:02:18 PM
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beegee

USA

21530 posts since 7/6/2005

many Japanese Masterclones came with notch instead of a hole

Feb 17, 2020 - 3:36:17 PM
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2893 posts since 5/29/2011
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I have several flat head tone rings with notches instead of holes. One even has a notch on both sides.

Feb 17, 2020 - 4:14:32 PM

Bribak

USA

489 posts since 8/18/2010

Interesting. Do you think it’s possible to lose anything (tone- wise) when you separate two pieces of wood that have been joined together for almost 100 years, and then re-join them?

Feb 17, 2020 - 4:36 PM
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1174 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Bribak

Interesting. Do you think it’s possible to lose anything (tone- wise) when you separate two pieces of wood that have been joined together for almost 100 years, and then re-join them?


I suspect not. The rim/neck joint is a bolt-on, and has been subject over those 100 years - at minimum - to temperature variations, vibration and maintenance. Necks are commonly removed for refretting jobs. Most Mastertone-style banjos experience neck loosening over time just because of the cumulative effects of use. Also, the chances are that neck has been parted from the pot at least a few times over the banjo's life, so you're not breaking an eternal bond.

Remember that for a good part of those hundred years that banjo had skin heads, which changed tension with changes in humidity and needed relatively frequent replacement. A heel that's cut accurately will make full contact with the rim with the correct amount of pressure from the coordinator rods, lag bolt nuts, or whatever method of attachment is used. Removing the neck and replacing it may require a few hours or days for everything to re-seat, but not years or decades.

A good friend who is also a prominent player (I'll let him identify himself if he wants, he's a BHO member) believes that loosening and retightening the neck every six months or so leads to a noticeable improvement in tone when the bond is re-created. I've experimented with that on one of my banjos, and I can't say that he's wrong.

Feb 17, 2020 - 5:50:31 PM
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12655 posts since 10/30/2008

Many a Gibson tone ring "hole" has been wallered out into a double hole, an ellipse, and even a notch, when the 5 string conversion neck arrived and the lag bolts didn't line up right.

Feb 17, 2020 - 6:05:21 PM

1185 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Bribak

Interesting. Do you think it’s possible to lose anything (tone- wise) when you separate two pieces of wood that have been joined together for almost 100 years, and then re-join them?


I do think it would be a shame to remove the neck after so long. Why? Because it has been that way forever. Will it refit in the exact same position that it has always been? Who knows. 

Could you consider removing the lag bolt from neck while leaving the neck attached? This could be very challenging and may require cutting upper co-ordinator rod and replacing it. That may be a sacrifice of loosing an original part. That should allow you to remove the tonering which you can slot so it could be dropped back on. I always slot the holes on my banjos.

Edited by - 5strings3picks1banjo on 02/17/2020 18:10:31

Feb 17, 2020 - 6:10:46 PM

Bribak

USA

489 posts since 8/18/2010

quote:
Originally posted by waystation
quote:
Originally posted by Bribak

Interesting. Do you think it’s possible to lose anything (tone- wise) when you separate two pieces of wood that have been joined together for almost 100 years, and then re-join them?


I suspect not. The rim/neck joint is a bolt-on, and has been subject over those 100 years - at minimum - to temperature variations, vibration and maintenance. Necks are commonly removed for refretting jobs. Most Mastertone-style banjos experience neck loosening over time just because of the cumulative effects of use. Also, the chances are that neck has been parted from the pot at least a few times over the banjo's life, so you're not breaking an eternal bond.

Remember that for a good part of those hundred years that banjo had skin heads, which changed tension with changes in humidity and needed relatively frequent replacement. A heel that's cut accurately will make full contact with the rim with the correct amount of pressure from the coordinator rods, lag bolt nuts, or whatever method of attachment is used. Removing the neck and replacing it may require a few hours or days for everything to re-seat, but not years or decades.

A good friend who is also a prominent player (I'll let him identify himself if he wants, he's a BHO member) believes that loosening and retightening the neck every six months or so leads to a noticeable improvement in tone when the bond is re-created. I've experimented with that on one of my banjos, and I can't say that he's wrong.


Everything you mentioned makes sense and that's comforting.  If it comes to it, I will feel a little less apprehensive about separating the neck from the rim temporarily.  I am hoping I love the tone as it is and feel no need to experiment with a conversion ring.  But I usually always find myself asking "what if.....".

Feb 17, 2020 - 7:18:35 PM

Bribak

USA

489 posts since 8/18/2010

quote:
Originally posted by 5strings3picks1banjo
quote:
Originally posted by Bribak

Interesting. Do you think it’s possible to lose anything (tone- wise) when you separate two pieces of wood that have been joined together for almost 100 years, and then re-join them?


I do think it would be a shame to remove the neck after so long. Why? Because it has been that way forever. Will it refit in the exact same position that it has always been? Who knows. 

Could you consider removing the lag bolt from neck while leaving the neck attached? This could be very challenging and may require cutting upper co-ordinator rod and replacing it. That may be a sacrifice of loosing an original part. That should allow you to remove the tonering which you can slot so it could be dropped back on. I always slot the holes on my banjos.


This would be way beyond my skill level and nothing I'd consider with my skills.  Before I would consider anything like that I'd have to take it to an experienced  Luthier.  Seems more perilous than just removing the neck temporarily.

Feb 17, 2020 - 7:51:43 PM

1185 posts since 2/2/2008


This would be way beyond my skill level and nothing I'd consider with my skills.  Before I would consider anything like that I'd have to take it to an experienced  Luthier.  Seems more perilous than just removing the neck temporarily.


I understand. Yes maybe a luthier would be a better idea. If the top rod is removable which in most builds is not with the neck snug to the pot, it is a simple process of locking 2 nuts on the lag bolt and unscrewing the lag bolt. Very simple. If you feel you don't have the skills, yes do not touch it. I think it is so cool that it sounds like an original untouched banjo. Good luck. You may find a note or a date in there. I put my name and mark so if it is stolen I can prove it's mine.

Feb 18, 2020 - 5:31:01 AM
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3779 posts since 5/12/2010

The answer is a notch would work just as well as a hole.

It is interesting to me how simple questions can stimulate such ellaborate suggestions.

Feb 18, 2020 - 5:59:19 AM

3812 posts since 5/1/2003
Online Now

The ring we discussed previously is already notched.

Feb 18, 2020 - 8:41:16 AM
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6853 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Jbo1

Ken LeVan , possibly an "oopsie" on Gibson's part many years ago?


Probably not. There are structural reasons for placing the lag screws and coordinator rods where they are. Putting a hole in the tone ring would certainly be a better option than placing the lag in a weaker portion of the neck heel and so near to the other lag that there'd be too much tendency to split the wood.

Feb 18, 2020 - 8:50:10 AM

6853 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Bribak
quote:
Originally posted by waystation
quote:
Originally posted by Bribak

Interesting. Do you think it’s possible to lose anything (tone- wise) when you separate two pieces of wood that have been joined together for almost 100 years, and then re-join them?


I suspect not. The rim/neck joint is a bolt-on, and has been subject over those 100 years - at minimum - to temperature variations, vibration and maintenance. Necks are commonly removed for refretting jobs. Most Mastertone-style banjos experience neck loosening over time just because of the cumulative effects of use. Also, the chances are that neck has been parted from the pot at least a few times over the banjo's life, so you're not breaking an eternal bond.

Remember that for a good part of those hundred years that banjo had skin heads, which changed tension with changes in humidity and needed relatively frequent replacement. A heel that's cut accurately will make full contact with the rim with the correct amount of pressure from the coordinator rods, lag bolt nuts, or whatever method of attachment is used. Removing the neck and replacing it may require a few hours or days for everything to re-seat, but not years or decades.

A good friend who is also a prominent player (I'll let him identify himself if he wants, he's a BHO member) believes that loosening and retightening the neck every six months or so leads to a noticeable improvement in tone when the bond is re-created. I've experimented with that on one of my banjos, and I can't say that he's wrong.


Everything you mentioned makes sense and that's comforting.  If it comes to it, I will feel a little less apprehensive about separating the neck from the rim temporarily.  I am hoping I love the tone as it is and feel no need to experiment with a conversion ring.  But I usually always find myself asking "what if.....".


Hundreds of these necks have been separated from their rims due to all kinds of reasons. A very common one is the lag screw pulling out of the neck heel. Pulling the neck is not just the only way to repair this, but should also actually improve the connection, because ten lag has most likely been slipping gradually over time and the neck hasn't been firmly attached for some time.

I have an old Gibson with an exteded fretboard. The neck has been removed several times because that's the only way to replace a head on one of these, and it's been removed once due to a lag screw pull-out. It's just as good now as ever. I've removed necks from many other banjos, too, with no ill effects.

Don't worry about it.

Feb 18, 2020 - 10:00:52 AM

Bribak

USA

489 posts since 8/18/2010

 

Hundreds of these necks have been separated from their rims due to all kinds of reasons. A very common one is the lag screw pulling out of the neck heel. Pulling the neck is not just the only way to repair this, but should also actually improve the connection, because ten lag has most likely been slipping gradually over time and the neck hasn't been firmly attached for some time.

I have an old Gibson with an exteded fretboard. The neck has been removed several times because that's the only way to replace a head on one of these, and it's been removed once due to a lag screw pull-out. It's just as good now as ever. I've removed necks from many other banjos, too, with no ill effects.

Don't worry about it.


Thanks for the info.  Again...reassuring.

Many thanks to all for your comments and information.

Feb 18, 2020 - 7:04:06 PM
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beegee

USA

21530 posts since 7/6/2005

quote:
Originally posted by OldPappy

The answer is a notch would work just as well as a hole.

It is interesting to me how simple questions can stimulate such ellaborate suggestions.


And how much of the elaboration has little basis in fact....

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