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Feb 19, 2020 - 5:55:43 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

The player is often overlooked when the bigger shops put out a large batch of CNC necks.

I saw this at a concert recently. A banjo player wanted to sign for the deaf during his song, so he pushed the banjo down away from him and around to his side so his hands could be free. The strap should be enough to hold the banjo.

What happened about 3 times was that the strap was not being held by the heel of the neck. It slipped away from the artist and turned completely upside down away from him out of his grasp. It was very non-pro, and really shocked the audience and looked like the banjo might hit the floor.

I've seen this with various instrument cases where the handle isn't right and holds the case at an angle either towards the body or away, but not hanging straight down. All this needs is someone to think about it and correct the jig on the assembly line.

I have two photos of heels that I produce with a "toe" on them, or a little flange like edge to keep the banjo strap where it belongs.

Since I play my own banjos on stage, I can make changes that suit me and I can pass them along to the customer.

Frankly, I've seen enough spec. banjo hype to satisfy the 'one size fits all' problem.

When somebody produces 1,000 necks with a CNC cut heel, It would behoove them to see how it will be used by a human and how better to serve the whole banjo community.

I use a cradle strap. It tilts the banjo towards my body like it should. When a performer is distracting his own audience with equipment flying around, let's say it can be a less than desireable situation.

Clipping a strap to hooks is a risky way of balancing your performance platform.
Here's the photos.




Edited by - Helix on 02/19/2020 05:57:43

Feb 19, 2020 - 8:14:44 AM

474 posts since 9/21/2018

For the sake of conversation I'd like to play devil's advocate here.

I grasp the concept of what you're getting at, but how often is it a problem for most pickers? are there enough pickers that find this an issue for a company doing CNC necks to add either an extra tool change, or axis change to their process to get at that lip? A "traditional" neck and heel shape is a fairly simple fut for a 3 axis machine.

Feb 19, 2020 - 10:41:13 AM
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DRH

USA

305 posts since 5/29/2018

A ball end profiling cutter will create that geometry without a fixture change. Commercial routers have tool changers, most of which will change tools in under 10 seconds.

You can still make good production time without a tool changer. Just build the table fixture to hold ten blanks at a time. Do the first operation to all ten necks, change the tool, and run the second operation. That's two tool changes for every ten parts.

Mastercam has had the ability to re-order operations for more than 20 years. I suppose most CADCAM software has this now.

The bigger question is whether or not the demand exists. Anyone producing necks in quantity is going to be hesitant to add another item to the existing product line.

Personally, I would much rather have this profile than the standard masterclone shape, and for the reasons Larry gave. The heel on my RK85 pushes the strap away from the banjo which makes it hard to play while standing.

Larry: I'm discussing with another member the possibility of producing toolpaths for a masterclone neck. At this point it's at the bottom of things I have to do this year. I will let you know (if and) when the project gets going.

Feb 19, 2020 - 6:55:39 PM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

Thank you friends, Moose, I'm not concerned about tool changes, but changes in thinking to make the robots do better.

Doug, very interested in where you are going with that. If people can make an ergonomic armrest, then other needs can be applied to most any spec. situation.
Take note the Stellings don't use a standard bluegrass heel, he uses a flat cut heel like an openback. When I saw the '76 Bellflower that played Smokey and The Bandit, the rim is more like a tube and plate rim with a self-centering flange,

Example; matchbook covers used to have the flint patch on the front of the cover so everything could and did catch fire. It took a simple change of 1/4" to the location of the patch to put it in a safer position on the back of the cover. "Close cover before playing banjo."

Feb 20, 2020 - 7:52:48 AM
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71277 posts since 5/9/2007

I use a piece of 550 nylon twine (good for over 200 hundred pounds) in and out of the bottom hooks,threaded between the heel and the rim and the armrest side of the tailpiece.
The center of gravity is locked in and the banjo can't flip over.

Blue note strap clips on and off in seconds.
All my banjos have the looped 550 twine (cradle) installed and I only use 1 strap which fits in the accessory box of whatever banjo I'm using.

I like how the twine doesn't bear on the tonering in any way and nothing touches the finish on the heel..




 

Edited by - steve davis on 02/20/2020 07:58:59

Feb 20, 2020 - 8:31:40 AM
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DRH

USA

305 posts since 5/29/2018

Steve; That's a simple solution to what was a complex problem. I'm going to try it.

Larry; I have a CNC mill left over from my working days. I need to justify keeping it. Making banjo parts seems like a good way to do this. I don't want to get into production, just make a few things, possibly enough parts to build my own banjo.

Feb 20, 2020 - 8:36:30 AM

71277 posts since 5/9/2007

A simple "overhand bight" makes a secure loop.

Melt the ends with a lighter.

Edited by - steve davis on 02/20/2020 08:37:49

Feb 20, 2020 - 8:41:16 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

Fantastic. People like small quantity cool parts

I will try to contact the artist to suggest a change

Nothing like equipment snags
Steve : working simple is hard, great solution

Feb 20, 2020 - 9:49:27 AM

Owen

Canada

5178 posts since 6/5/2011

Here's my KISS solution.  Some don't like the quick-release buckles, but I do... it makes putting it in the case easier, and I can  switch banjos and straps.   Some might be able to hear a difference with/without the strap thru the flange holes, but I can't.  Depending on the holes used, the banjo can be made to hang with the neck at the desired angle... "look Ma, no hands!"


 

Edited by - Owen on 02/20/2020 09:57:27

Feb 20, 2020 - 10:20:28 AM

474 posts since 9/21/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

Thank you friends, Moose, I'm not concerned about tool changes, but changes in thinking to make the robots do better.

Doug, very interested in where you are going with that. If people can make an ergonomic armrest, then other needs can be applied to most any spec. situation.
Take note the Stellings don't use a standard bluegrass heel, he uses a flat cut heel like an openback. When I saw the '76 Bellflower that played Smokey and The Bandit, the rim is more like a tube and plate rim with a self-centering flange,

Example; matchbook covers used to have the flint patch on the front of the cover so everything could and did catch fire. It took a simple change of 1/4" to the location of the patch to put it in a safer position on the back of the cover. "Close cover before playing banjo."


How does that look in a resonator cut-out? Will it leave a substantial gap or is it barely noticeable? 

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:37:33 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

I forgot to mention that Banjo and heel in question are on an open back

I make my heels so this can’t happen on my open backs

No one signs for the deaf?


 

Edited by - Helix on 02/20/2020 11:38:08

Feb 20, 2020 - 11:48 AM

173 posts since 8/25/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

 

"Example; matchbook covers used to have the flint patch on the front of the cover so everything could and did catch fire. It took a simple change of 1/4" to the location of the patch to put it in a safer position on the back of the cover. "Close cover before playing banjo."


It's a little bit of thread drift, but this reminded me of the classmate 1st semester in college, who was in the habit of NOT closing the cover and protecting the matches b placing his index finger over it.  One morning he appeared in class with a large bandage over that finger.  BTW, He did not return for spring semester -I guess his family decided college was too dangerous.  smiley

Feb 20, 2020 - 3:32:33 PM
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Mooooo

USA

7614 posts since 8/20/2016

I like this idea, It looks good and seems to work as well. I have thought of putting one of those guitar style strap buttons right in the heel and cutting a hole in my strap to secure it, but I found that if I weave my strap through one or two of the hooks above the tailpiece. It tends to keep my banjo pointing upwards, which is also good since my belly is trying to make it tip downwards in front. I did this so I can see the markers on the fretboard....so the benefit is two-fold.

Edited by - Mooooo on 02/20/2020 15:46:54

Feb 21, 2020 - 7:07:37 AM
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3809 posts since 5/12/2010

I don't use a strap myself, and for the infrequent times I have played on a stage I just sit in a chair, which is also a lot easier on my knees.

I do like this idea though, and may use something like it as others I build banjos for do use a strap.

I prefer a good cradle strap, but I have made strap attachment points by grinding the sides of ball bracket shoes, reaming the hole larger, and placing these into the rim. For this I used the small round trigger clips I used for attaching the reins to a bridle. I no longer make horse tack so ended up with a number of these clips left over from when I did. I never liked the idea of attaching a strap to the tension hooks as some do, and I don't trust "Chicago Screws" for this.

Feb 21, 2020 - 7:22:31 AM

3809 posts since 5/12/2010

Years ago Dwight Diller shaped a neck in my shop while he was down here for a visit.

He shaped the heel in a way that reminded me of the "Snhnabel" shape of the old shotguns. This shape flared out a little at the heel cap and would work well with keeping a cradle strap in place.

I used that neck to build a short scale banjo for Diller, which he later gave to Ralph Roberts because it was easier for him to play than a longer scale banjo.

That banjo is the one Ralph plays most of the time, and I know he had it at Clifftop the last couple of years. I wonder if anyone has noticed the unique shape of the heel.

Feb 21, 2020 - 8:06:48 AM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Mooooo

I like this idea, It looks good and seems to work as well. I have thought of putting one of those guitar style strap buttons right in the heel and cutting a hole in my strap to secure it, but I found that if I weave my strap through one or two of the hooks above the tailpiece. It tends to keep my banjo pointing upwards, which is also good since my belly is trying to make it tip downwards in front. I did this so I can see the markers on the fretboard....so the benefit is two-fold.


I use Dunlop Strap-locs on all my guitars and banjos.  I used the larger "Dual use" type as shown in the photo, but I've went to the smaller size socket to use as dedicated strap mounts.  In the photo the heel button is flush mounted higher up the Dobson style neck for better balance, but they can be mounted more towards the rim and work well for conventional neck heels that have a more guitar-like shape.  The strap, oddly enough, doesn't present any problem with playing up the neck even when mounted that far up on the neck.  The matching recessed button is flush mounted below the tailpiece in the rim side.

I like this system because you can use a favorite (and possibly expensive) strap on multiple instruments since it takes literally about 2 seconds to release the locks to remove the strap.  That's also nice if you want to use a strap and remove it easily for storage or if you prefer to sit down and not use a strap.

You can also sling your banjo over a shoulder and walk around with it since the strap is so solidly attached and will not pop off unless the release button is pressed.

Feb 22, 2020 - 4:13:43 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

OK, and this is the best you can do. That's a recycled photo of your solution. I've seen it before.

The CNC neck maker will not respond to your solution because they are not responding to the consumer at all.

The world isn't going neck thru and Dobson heel and drum shells, the expediency factor is obvious.

But for the consumer who is being sold grafted pegheads, built up heels and fewer features, there seems to be little concern.

I mean concern for change, like how they make necks.

Old Pappy's response is pure customer related, not how to do setup on CNC, but how to shape a heel better so the strap stays put , slants the banjo toward the body of the player, and doesn't use external hardware like a straplock.

Feb 22, 2020 - 4:47:32 AM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

OK, and this is the best you can do. That's a recycled photo of your solution. I've seen it before.

The CNC neck maker will not respond to your solution because they are not responding to the consumer at all.

The world isn't going neck thru and Dobson heel and drum shells, the expediency factor is obvious.

But for the consumer who is being sold grafted pegheads, built up heels and fewer features, there seems to be little concern.

I mean concern for change, like how they make necks.

Old Pappy's response is pure customer related, not how to do setup on CNC, but how to shape a heel better so the strap stays put , slants the banjo toward the body of the player, and doesn't use external hardware like a straplock.


I replied specifically to Mike.

I'm aware that you already have all the answers you need.

Feb 22, 2020 - 4:56:01 AM

2586 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Custom builders allow variance to happen. Changing an industry and tradition here on this site is similar to “spitting into the wind”. “Earl didn’t need this change.” Is the typical thought.

Just because a heel cut on a banjo favorable to a strap, doesn’t mean a banjo will get sold. Hence, tradition wins based on sales. A true test to see if this is a welcomed endeavor is current sales of banjos with strap relief or strap locks.

Thinking about the resale, one would hope good looks with sounds wonderful are the first eye catchers. Strap relief in the heel maybe the furthest thing from a buyer’s mind. I have seen banjos in the past with potential strap relief. They were not Made in the USA types. They also didn’t look good and didn’t sound wonderful. I usually saw these types in Flea Markets.

I use Lakota cradle straps. They work 90% of the time preventing uncontrollable rollover events. But, that is usually my fault. Radius of Gyration is still true today. No strap works 100% of the time in all possible positions. It takes a minimum of 3 points of contact to start stable play.

Feb 22, 2020 - 3:11:10 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

Strap relief?

I could contact the maker directly

I would make the consumer aware that options exist

It’s a simple fix. Right there on the assembly line. A simple change in the tool path

Feb 23, 2020 - 5:18:40 AM

2586 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

The pot attachment notch was told to me to be a thumb relief in addition to its other duties. Architectural relief term means recess an area.

Feb 23, 2020 - 2:23:54 PM

DRH

USA

305 posts since 5/29/2018

I often wonder how many people save up for that perfect banjo only to find out it isn't suitable for what they want to (or can) do with it. That is exactly why I bought a masterclone. I was disappointed, not with the banjo but with my false perception.

If I were in the business of making banjos I would probably just copy the masterclone - down to the finish, inlay, and boat anchor tone ring. I would build what people buy.

Open backs are a different breed altogether. The buyers in this market have a much broader concept of what a banjo is. Everything from pot size and wood selection all the way down to novel neck-to-pot joints and strap hooks are viewed as unique, not heresy.

I've seen several openbacks with the Helix style heel. Many were elaborately carved. Unfortunately, artistic carvings are a nightmare for CNC programmers. All but the best CNC carving looks like machine carving. The best CNC carving requires many hours of CAD work and can drastically increase machining time. If the machine bills at $100 an hour there won't be many customers willing to pay an extra $200-$300 for a mass produced carving.

Strap locks and pot/neck joints that make it easy to install a cradle are easy-to-add line items that don't noticably interrupt production flow.

Offering a neck with the Helix heel profile option might be a $20 upcharge. I don't think buyers would complain about that.

Feb 23, 2020 - 2:41:42 PM

1517 posts since 11/17/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Helix


It’s a simple fix. Right there on the assembly line. A simple change in the tool path


First-world problem.

Feb 24, 2020 - 1:19:08 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

Not familiar with that term

Feb 25, 2020 - 6:20:18 PM

5481 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

I use a piece of 550 nylon twine (good for over 200 hundred pounds) in and out of the bottom hooks,threaded between the heel and the rim and the armrest side of the tailpiece.
The center of gravity is locked in and the banjo can't flip over.

Blue note strap clips on and off in seconds.
All my banjos have the looped 550 twine (cradle) installed and I only use 1 strap which fits in the accessory box of whatever banjo I'm using.

I like how the twine doesn't bear on the tonering in any way and nothing touches the finish on the heel..


Steve,

I hate to puncture your balloon. wink But your life as a fisherman puts you at an unfair advantage over most of us. From the pictures of your banjo, it looks like you used some good fisherman knots to secure your strap and doing that is beyond most of our pay grades.

Ken

Feb 25, 2020 - 10:27:48 PM
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1517 posts since 11/17/2018

Steve told you what kind of knot it is -

A simple "overhand bight" makes a secure loop.

Video on how to do it -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fOKk1HPjbI

Easy.

Edited by - OldNavyGuy on 02/25/2020 22:32:40

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