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adding tone ring to Goodtime open-back

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Jul 3, 2020 - 1:21:46 PM
115 posts since 2/16/2020

I'm tinkering with my old Goodtime open-back, and thinking a lot about tone rings. I found one old post by someone who added a rolled brass tone ring to the Goodtime resonator banjo for Scruggs style; it added volume and punch. But I am interested in an open-back and wondering what to expect. I was thinking about getting a brass macrame hoop (no more the 1/8" in diameter) and putting it between rim and head (I still need to take the head off to see what the profile looks like). I recognize that it will raise the action if I don't trim down the rim and I might be able to compensate for. I'm wondering if anyone has gone this route with a Goodtime open back. I know Deering made a Goodtime Special open back with a tone ring but couldn't find much about it, and it did not have a rolled brass ring. Robert

Jul 3, 2020 - 1:32:40 PM

13054 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rkdjones

I'm tinkering with my old Goodtime open-back, and thinking a lot about tone rings. I found one old post by someone who added a rolled brass tone ring to the Goodtime resonator banjo for Scruggs style; it added volume and punch. But I am interested in an open-back and wondering what to expect. I was thinking about getting a brass macrame hoop (no more the 1/8" in diameter) and putting it between rim and head (I still need to take the head off to see what the profile looks like). I recognize that it will raise the action if I don't trim down the rim and I might be able to compensate for. I'm wondering if anyone has gone this route with a Goodtime open back. I know Deering made a Goodtime Special open back with a tone ring but couldn't find much about it, and it did not have a rolled brass ring. Robert


Personally, I don't think that rolled brass tone rings are as therapeutic for something like a Goodtime as a Bacon or Dobson.  Why? because those spun tone rings are structural in nature, becoming stiffening flanges, which is not the case with 1/4" hoops or rolled brass tone rings.  Just my opinion FWIW.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/03/2020 13:33:09

Jul 3, 2020 - 1:58:30 PM
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jbalch

USA

8720 posts since 11/28/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by rkdjones

I'm tinkering with my old Goodtime open-back, and thinking a lot about tone rings. I found one old post by someone who added a rolled brass tone ring to the Goodtime resonator banjo for Scruggs style; it added volume and punch. But I am interested in an open-back and wondering what to expect. I was thinking about getting a brass macrame hoop (no more the 1/8" in diameter) and putting it between rim and head (I still need to take the head off to see what the profile looks like). I recognize that it will raise the action if I don't trim down the rim and I might be able to compensate for. I'm wondering if anyone has gone this route with a Goodtime open back. I know Deering made a Goodtime Special open back with a tone ring but couldn't find much about it, and it did not have a rolled brass ring. Robert


Personally, I don't think that rolled brass tone rings are as therapeutic for something like a Goodtime as a Bacon or Dobson.  Why? because those spun tone rings are structural in nature, becoming stiffening flanges, which is not the case with 1/4" hoops or rolled brass tone rings.  Just my opinion FWIW.


I agree.  I've added Dobson rings to Enoch tradesman banjos before.  It completely transforms that instrument.

Besides ... it is a well-kept secret how fantastic Dobson tone rings sound - played Scruggs style. 

I've done a little bit of recording with a simple, open-back, wood rim banjo set up with a Dobson ring.  I played it clawhammer and picked 3-finger style too. IMHO the banjo sounded GREAT both ways! Sample attached (both parts played on the same banjo a Wayne Sagmoen / Ashborn-style open-back with Rickard Dobson tone ring). 


Edited by - jbalch on 07/03/2020 14:03:21

Jul 3, 2020 - 2:27:49 PM

13054 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by jbalch
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by rkdjones

I'm tinkering with my old Goodtime open-back, and thinking a lot about tone rings. I found one old post by someone who added a rolled brass tone ring to the Goodtime resonator banjo for Scruggs style; it added volume and punch. But I am interested in an open-back and wondering what to expect. I was thinking about getting a brass macrame hoop (no more the 1/8" in diameter) and putting it between rim and head (I still need to take the head off to see what the profile looks like). I recognize that it will raise the action if I don't trim down the rim and I might be able to compensate for. I'm wondering if anyone has gone this route with a Goodtime open back. I know Deering made a Goodtime Special open back with a tone ring but couldn't find much about it, and it did not have a rolled brass ring. Robert


Personally, I don't think that rolled brass tone rings are as therapeutic for something like a Goodtime as a Bacon or Dobson.  Why? because those spun tone rings are structural in nature, becoming stiffening flanges, which is not the case with 1/4" hoops or rolled brass tone rings.  Just my opinion FWIW.


I agree.  I've added Dobson rings to Enoch tradesman banjos before.  It completely transforms that instrument.

Besides ... it is a well-kept secret how fantastic Dobson tone rings sound - played Scruggs style. 

I've done a little bit of recording with a simple, open-back, wood rim banjo set up with a Dobson ring.  I played it clawhammer and picked 3-finger style too. IMHO the banjo sounded GREAT both ways! Sample attached (both parts played on the same banjo a Wayne Sagmoen / Ashborn-style open-back with Rickard Dobson tone ring). 


Beautiful, John!

I'd love to play one with fingerpicks, I think it's  great design, one that can transcend thin rims.  On another thread, I was talking about Jany (pronounced "johnny) banjos used in Mummer string bands for 4-string banjos.  They are like Dobsons on steroids— I'd love to hear one of those as a 5-string.

Jul 3, 2020 - 4:04:23 PM

115 posts since 2/16/2020

Yes, I wondered whether a rolled tone ring would in any way improve the sound of an open-back Goodtime. My inclination is to just try a lot of easy experiments and see if I get lucky with a sound I love. Someone else mentioned on the forum that his banjo sounds great one day, and terrible the next; I have a similar experience. I've never had a good banjo and would buy one if I could try enough to gain confidence that I am getting it right. It is hard given the times we live in to find the banjo that speaks to me. It is like the search for the Holy Grail.
But I can mess around with what I have in the meantime. And keep playing and listening until we can be social again.

I do get the impression from my limited time with nice banjos that the Dobson tone ring has a nice sound; the audio file attached does sound sweet. I think some of the exotic wood tone rings might also have appeal.

Robert

Jul 3, 2020 - 4:27:51 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12721 posts since 8/30/2006

Dobson, not many if not none have tried this on a Goodtime, Here on the hangout I don’t remember any

But as jbalch says these are added to many others all the time

You’ll get more sustain in a drier sound and lighter weight

Jul 3, 2020 - 5:59:30 PM

975 posts since 1/9/2012

quote:
Originally posted by rkdjones

Yes, I wondered whether a rolled tone ring would in any way improve the sound of an open-back Goodtime. My inclination is to just try a lot of easy experiments and see if I get lucky with a sound I love. Someone else mentioned on the forum that his banjo sounds great one day, and terrible the next; I have a similar experience. I've never had a good banjo and would buy one if I could try enough to gain confidence that I am getting it right. It is hard given the times we live in to find the banjo that speaks to me. It is like the search for the Holy Grail.
But I can mess around with what I have in the meantime. And keep playing and listening until we can be social again.

I do get the impression from my limited time with nice banjos that the Dobson tone ring has a nice sound; the audio file attached does sound sweet. I think some of the exotic wood tone rings might also have appeal.

Robert


I didn't do a Dobson ring, but I did do a Bacon.  Look them up; they're quite similar.  My interest at the time was internal resonators, like the Bacon ff Professional.  But someone insisted that part of its sound must be its tone ring.  So I investigated that separately.  Go to http://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/ and scroll down to April 2016.  There you'll also find an old Goodtime with and without a 1/4" D brass ring and a newer Goodtime (they're very different) with and without the Bacon ring.  (Needless to say, I posted this on the BHO at the time.  In the end, I found that the internal resonator story and sound was much more interesting; see June 2016 and March 2017.)

More comments relevant to your questions:

Installing a Dobson or Bacon ring and getting a proper fit requires the ability to turn your rim on a lathe.  I tried and failed and then enlisted some pros, who could get it right.

Every design element impacts the sound.  If you have perfect hearing, that's very relevant.  However, it's often useful to ask what's the zeroth order effect.

The substantial horiziontal flanges on the Dobson and Bacon rings do two things that contribute to mellowness.  They stiffen the rim against large-scale radial deformation, which enhances the lows of the head.  And they decrease the radiation efficiency of the highs.

On the other hand, any metal tone ring will absorb less of the head very highs than bare wood.  So there can be somewhat competing phenomena going on at the same time, leaving people to choose what sounds best to them.

Regarding the 1/4" ring: I think you can barely get by regarding string action if you just plop it in.  Most Goodtime necks have some range over how high they sit.  Also, you can go to a lower bridge.  (I know that a 3/8" ring is too fat.  [I almost broke my arm making one on a hand-cranked rolling machine.])

I know from a serious builder that a model with 1/8" D curvature at the top of the rim was hugely successful in the amateur market.  But professional players seemed to insist that it be 1/4" D.  Some people have very good ears and are very particular.

Jul 3, 2020 - 9:22:05 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23785 posts since 6/25/2005

I once proposed to Janet Deering that they put a Whyte Laydie tone ring on a Goodtimes shell and market it as the Goodtime Laydie. She saw the humor in it, but it didn’t seemed to strike her fancy.

Jul 4, 2020 - 6:38:06 AM
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18 posts since 1/25/2020

I added a 1/4” StewMac round rod to my GT open back. I had to have the rim shaved down though because Deering manufacturers them with a mock ring around the outer edge.

Overall, the banjo sounds livelier with it.

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