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Jul 2, 2020 - 8:14:08 AM
56 posts since 12/6/2019

Hey all,
Recently came into a beautiful banjo made by Fred Miller. I mounted a skin head on it last night, but I'm having an issue with the tension hooks bottoming out. As in, there isn't enough thread to get the head to the right tension. It is even an issue with the plastic head that was on it before. The nuts are basically to the end of the threads just to get it passably tight. I'm wondering if A: the shoes aren't placed properly, as in they are a little too high, so in order to get the head to where it should be, I'm using up all the threads on the hooks
or
B: if the tension hooks just aren't long enough. Could some longer hooks solve the issue here?

I've mounted a fair number of hide heads before so I dont think it's an issue with my process, especially since the same issue is present with the plastic head. I mounted the head to have a low crown, about 3/8".

Maybe there is something else going on that I'm not seeing. I put the plastic head back on for now because I'd need a much taller bridge with the hide head due to the tensioning issue.

Jul 2, 2020 - 8:20:22 AM
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jbalch

USA

8720 posts since 11/28/2003

If the hooks are running out of threads - the head needs to be mounted with a lower-crown - so that the tension hoop will rise higher


Longer hooks will not solve the problem. But I guess you could re-thread the hooks  - to extend the threads higher up the shaft. 

Edited by - jbalch on 07/02/2020 08:26:48

Jul 2, 2020 - 8:31:29 AM

56 posts since 12/6/2019

Photo example


 

Jul 2, 2020 - 8:38:24 AM

56 posts since 12/6/2019

Thanks for the reply John! Where I'm confused is that if the tension hoop were riding much higher, the notch will the pretty high over the fretboard

Edited by - Strewthday47 on 07/02/2020 08:48:12

Jul 2, 2020 - 8:44:19 AM
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1398 posts since 4/13/2009

You might try some spacers from your local hardware. Available in various sizes.  Placed between the nut and lug you don't have to replace hooks.

Edited by - deestexas on 07/02/2020 08:46:28

Jul 2, 2020 - 8:55:37 AM

7414 posts since 8/28/2013

Deestexas beat me to the punch. A stack of small washers could also work.

Jul 2, 2020 - 5:03:35 PM

jbalch

USA

8720 posts since 11/28/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Strewthday47

Thanks for the reply John! Where I'm confused is that if the tension hoop were riding much higher, the notch will the pretty high over the fretboard


Is your fingerboard scooped? If is it, the neck notch can comfortably be higher than the fingerboard (at the scooped end). 

The top of the tension hoop cut-out needs only be even with or below the frets (not the end of a scooped board).  The hoop should be just low enough for the strings to clear without buzzing when you fret up the neck. 

The tension hoop itself can (and really should) rise above the top of the head. There are a few reasons for this - one is that most hardware (including tailpieces) is designed to function best that way.  Also it allows for future stretching which is inevitable. 

The photo below shows how I set up new heads here in my shop.   How does this compare to yours?


Edited by - jbalch on 07/02/2020 17:14:13

Jul 2, 2020 - 5:10:36 PM

jbalch

USA

8720 posts since 11/28/2003

That is not to say that there are absolutely no construction problems with your banjo. I suppose there really could be some issues - such as: (as you mention) possible incorrect placement of the bracket shoes.

I would just try to correct it with simple set-up changes if possible. Because those things are cheap (by comparison).

Jul 3, 2020 - 7:25:52 AM

56 posts since 12/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by jbalch

That is not to say that there are absolutely no construction problems with your banjo. I suppose there really could be some issues - such as: (as you mention) possible incorrect placement of the bracket shoes.

I would just try to correct it with simple set-up changes if possible. Because those things are cheap (by comparison).


The board isn't scooped. The hardware is some fancy vintage gatcomb or Fairbanks square nuts and hooks, matched to nice double pointed shoes. The rim is newer though and I am thinking they're just not the right geometry to fit together. I've got some old vega closed ball nuts/hooks and I tried a couple in the shoes. Seems to fit better, as there is still thread left above the shoes. The tension hoop is installed well above the head, just like in your picture, but because the neck is fully fretted the tension hoop is acting as a fret for about the last 3-4 frets of the fretboard. So the issue is that I can't get the tension hoop low enough to clear the final frets because there isn't enough thread on the hooks. Both the plastic head and hide head I mounted are low crowned. I'll see if I can get some photos to make better sense of the issue. 

Jul 3, 2020 - 7:32:36 AM

56 posts since 12/6/2019

Also thanks to deestexas and g Edward for the suggestion on spacers! I may try that.

John here are some photos. As an aside, the fancy square nuts fit the pot of my whyte laydie plectrum just fine, and the hooks/nuts from that pot fit the one I'm having trouble with so maybe I'll just switch them out. 

 

Photo one is showing the crown height of the hide head

Photo 2 shows where the tension hoop is interfering with the fretting at the end of the neck

Photo three shows the height of the tension hoop around the head




 

Edited by - Strewthday47 on 07/03/2020 07:38:08

Jul 3, 2020 - 7:45:39 AM
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jbalch

USA

8720 posts since 11/28/2003

Sounds to me like you are correct. In your photos - the tension hoop is clearly a little high. 

That issue came to mind for me because very often folks want the tension hoop to pull low - even with the head. I usually discourage that for the reasons I mentioned.

The spacer idea suggested by deestexas above might work well.

Also, either Balsam Banjoworks (Pisgah) or Bill Rickard Banjos might be able to supply some hooks that are threaded further up the shaft.

But it looks like you banjo might work best with flat hooks ... so maybe you could just use a die to extend the treads a little on a set of that type, .

Best wishes!

Edited by - jbalch on 07/03/2020 07:48:27

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