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Feb 28, 2020 - 1:08:48 PM
78 posts since 9/3/2013

Just trolling for ideas here.

I have a 2018 Enoch Tradesman banjo with a 12 inch pot. I love the neck, but the pot is thin-walled and very light. When I first bought it, the lightness of the banjo was a major selling point for me.

But now that I've had it for awhile, I'm seeing some drawbacks. One, the neck is continually dropping as I play, because it's so much heavier than the pot. (I have another banjo with a 12" pot, and this is not an issue. That pot is noticeably heavier.)

It's adding stress to my shoulder/arm muscles to keep lifting the neck while playing -- or worse, gripping the neck to hold it in place, rather than keeping my left hand free. I even changed straps to one with plenty of friction at the shoulder, so it's not a strap issue.

Finally, it is extremely sensitive to what I call the "wah wah bar" effect -- bending of notes with even the slightest pressure on the neck. I know ANY banjo will wah-wah if you yank on it hard enough, but this one is SO sensitive, I actually have to change my playing style. Again, not a problem with my other banjo with a 12 inch pot.

I'm betting this all has to do with how thin the walls of the pot are.

So before I start shopping around for a new pot, I thought I'd throw it out to the banjoverse and see what all y'all think. Thanks!

Feb 28, 2020 - 2:23:10 PM

683 posts since 2/19/2012

I've thought about that on an 11". It gets messy. I would want to add to the outside diameter to make it an even 11", but then the dowel stick will be too short. I guess you could have a custom 11-7/8" rim made that has a thicker wall. It would probably be better to sell or trade for a different banjo. That's still a very popular banjo after all.

Regarding the wah wah effect, is the wedge tight that snugs the neck up to the pot?

Feb 28, 2020 - 2:42:22 PM

485 posts since 3/9/2013

The dowel won’t be too short if the pot is thicker. You might even have to trim the dowel depending on thickness of the pot. Then recutthe slot for the wedge that secures the dowel to the pot. I think tradesman have wedges?

Feb 28, 2020 - 3:11:38 PM

683 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by banjobrewer

The dowel won’t be too short if the pot is thicker. You might even have to trim the dowel depending on thickness of the pot. Then recutthe slot for the wedge that secures the dowel to the pot. I think tradesman have wedges?


Your right.  I thought about just wrapping the rim with veneer on mine, which would have displaced the end of the dowel away from the ID.  Hmmmm.  I could line the ID as well.  I happen to have some 11" Keller drum stock here and one of Rickert's Dobson rings.  I see another fun project out there for me.

Feb 28, 2020 - 6:17:41 PM
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764 posts since 12/19/2010

An alternative suggestion to changing the rim: A Dobson tone ring from Bill Rickard can be fitted without any modification to the rim. I did this a few years back, so I'm assuming this is still the case. If the interests you, I would check with Bill Rickard to be sure.  John Balch posted about this a few years back with sound files of before and after: https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/263778

It does changes the tone, and will add ballast.  Whether or not it improves the tone is a matter of taste.  The tone with the Dobson ring is definitely less tubby.  I liked it, but eventually sold my Dobson ring because I acquired an 11" Enoch Dobson.  

Feb 28, 2020 - 6:31:07 PM

3784 posts since 10/13/2005

I have an older Tradesman. I think it has a carbon rod neck which is lighter and have no neck-heavy problem. Not sure why Kevin switched to metal in the neck. Anyone know? banjered

Feb 28, 2020 - 7:10:19 PM

683 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by banjered

I have an older Tradesman. I think it has a carbon rod neck which is lighter and have no neck-heavy problem. Not sure why Kevin switched to metal in the neck. Anyone know? banjered


I've heard suggestions that he bowed to peer pressure.  Everyone knows that real banjos have truss rods.  (Tongue firmly in check here.  I would have been quite happy with the carbon rod.)

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:39:50 PM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by stanzukowski

Just trolling for ideas here.

I have a 2018 Enoch Tradesman banjo with a 12 inch pot. I love the neck, but the pot is thin-walled and very light. When I first bought it, the lightness of the banjo was a major selling point for me.

But now that I've had it for awhile, I'm seeing some drawbacks. One, the neck is continually dropping as I play, because it's so much heavier than the pot. (I have another banjo with a 12" pot, and this is not an issue. That pot is noticeably heavier.)

It's adding stress to my shoulder/arm muscles to keep lifting the neck while playing -- or worse, gripping the neck to hold it in place, rather than keeping my left hand free. I even changed straps to one with plenty of friction at the shoulder, so it's not a strap issue.

Finally, it is extremely sensitive to what I call the "wah wah bar" effect -- bending of notes with even the slightest pressure on the neck. I know ANY banjo will wah-wah if you yank on it hard enough, but this one is SO sensitive, I actually have to change my playing style. Again, not a problem with my other banjo with a 12 inch pot.

I'm betting this all has to do with how thin the walls of the pot are.

So before I start shopping around for a new pot, I thought I'd throw it out to the banjoverse and see what all y'all think. Thanks!


Some of my friends who play light rimmed clawhammer banjos like to tuck them under the right forearm.  That helps with the balance issue a bunch.

The wonky neck to rim joint is NOT a common complaint of the Enoch Tradesman.  A thin rim is not the cause of whammy-bar necks, you should examine it closely to see what's causing the loose heel to rim contact area.

The Tradesman comes in a few different "flavors" but the garden variety has a head stretched over the rim with a formed edge and the rim is quite thin.  Those three features combine for what I refer to as the "head-tone ring-rim continuum", meaning in the Tradesman's case that the thin rim contributes significantly to the actual tone of the instrument.  A lot of players like the Tradesman precisely for that reason.  As long as you like what a more substantial rim does to the tone then there's nothing particularly wrong with that.  Just be aware of how it will impact the tone.

Feb 29, 2020 - 1:52:17 PM
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3784 posts since 10/13/2005

I actually took a hand saw and very carefully sawed off the top of the rim and put a Stew/Mac brass tone ring on it/skin head. Still a mellow sounding banjo which I like. Like all banjo tones, what is best lies in the ears of the be-hear-der. banjered

Feb 29, 2020 - 11:29:13 PM
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1050 posts since 2/4/2013

It's my impression that the Tradesman is well thought of banjo. Therefore wouldn't the best thing to do is sell it and buy something else.

Mar 1, 2020 - 3:51:43 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

Duh, thanks to the OP for letting me contribute.

Working simple is hard. Ask Rudy or Mike Halloran or Woody Guthrie alongside the High Lonesome.

Change is coming hard, get ready.

Mar 1, 2020 - 9:09:20 AM
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965 posts since 1/26/2012

Am I missing something here?

Mar 1, 2020 - 10:33 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

23966 posts since 8/3/2003

Helix: take your argument with Rudy OFF the Hangout. We don't need snarky comments from either you or Rudy. If there are more of this kind of post, time outs will be in order.

Mar 1, 2020 - 12:22:30 PM

2453 posts since 4/16/2003

Agree with Graham above.

If the Tradesman doesn't please you, look for something that does...

Mar 1, 2020 - 5:34:32 PM
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12723 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Helix: take your argument with Rudy OFF the Hangout. We don't need snarky comments from either you or Rudy. If there are more of this kind of post, time outs will be in order.


Thanks!

This seems like deja vu all over again.

Mar 1, 2020 - 8:13:49 PM
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9378 posts since 2/22/2007

Stan posted----" the neck is continually dropping as I play, because it's so much heavier than the pot.---"

My older model 12" Tradesman does not display that neck drop and is in fact well balanced and most comfortable to hold. I suspect that the difference lies in the newer incorporation of a truss rod and new fret board material, both of which added weight and change the balance. Mine, without truss rod, also has none of that neck wah wah, which I knew very well from my first Goodtime.

Mar 2, 2020 - 5:02:06 AM
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12723 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by jack_beuthin

An alternative suggestion to changing the rim: A Dobson tone ring from Bill Rickard can be fitted without any modification to the rim. I did this a few years back, so I'm assuming this is still the case. If the interests you, I would check with Bill Rickard to be sure.  John Balch posted about this a few years back with sound files of before and after: https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/263778

It does changes the tone, and will add ballast.  Whether or not it improves the tone is a matter of taste.  The tone with the Dobson ring is definitely less tubby.  I liked it, but eventually sold my Dobson ring because I acquired an 11" Enoch Dobson.  


The Dobson tone ring will act as a stiffening flange and help with the flexing.

Mar 2, 2020 - 6:20:34 AM

78 posts since 9/3/2013

I did check the wedge holding the neck in place, and it's solid, with no wiggle. But that's moot. After reading everyone's posts — except for a couple that made no sense vis-a-vis the topic :^\ — I think I'll put it up for sale and find a new banjo.

I own the fact that I bought the Tradesman on the basis of reviews, and never actually held or played one. That's the last time I do that. A banjo could be the best-made in the world and still not be quite right for your playing style. Lesson learned!

Thanks everyone!

Mar 3, 2020 - 3:13:28 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

I totally agree, Stan.
I wrote casenotes for a living before I built banjos
I’ll throttle back

What recourse do you have with the seller? No one to confer with? Call me, for conference, not a sales msg
Using a deeper warranty helps make me a better builder

Great custom choices here on good-mannered Banjo hangout confer with others as well off forum
Kicking dust is some people’s hobby, I play
Good luck

Mar 3, 2020 - 8:14:50 AM
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3809 posts since 5/12/2010

The Tradesman banjos I have looked at had simple but well made necks.

The laminated rim blanks from Balsam Banjo Works are very high quality and are resonably priced at $69.95 - $99.95. I think this would be a worthwhile upgrade to one of those banjos.

One of those necks on a decent rim could make a fine banjo.

Mar 3, 2020 - 9:13:56 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

I agree

Mar 3, 2020 - 10:02:44 AM
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78 posts since 9/3/2013

Breaking news! My wife, who plays fiddle and mando, told me that under no circumstances am I to sell the Enoch, because she likes it, and wants to learn to play clawhammer.

I pointed out that if she has now taken possession of the banjo, then I have no other recourse but to buy another banjo for me. (I'm not counting the two other banjos I own, of course.)

Problem solved :^)

Mar 3, 2020 - 10:35:40 AM

683 posts since 2/19/2012

Perfect! Especially with your wife playing mandolin and fiddle!

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