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Cleaning Dust from a Tubaphone Tone Ring?

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Jul 12, 2020 - 10:36:57 AM
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13 posts since 12/2/2019

While browsing used banjos, I was hit by the thought that there must be a lot of dust and dirt in and old tubaphone tone ring, is there a way to clean one? Maybe a can of air duster?

Jul 12, 2020 - 10:51:13 AM

1643 posts since 2/12/2009

I would be interested in knowing if anybody has tips on this, I have two Tubaphones , one is from the 20s and must be full of gunk ! would it sound any better I wonder ?

Jul 12, 2020 - 11:06:42 AM

3182 posts since 5/29/2011

The air duster sounds like a feasible idea. Compressed air usually comes with a plastic tube which fits in the nozzle. Put the other end through one of the holes in the ring and see what blows out.

Jul 12, 2020 - 11:51:33 AM
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5394 posts since 9/21/2007

That is prewar dust and cigarette ash, it is part of the magic.

Jul 12, 2020 - 12:03:22 PM
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7382 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

That is prewar dust and cigarette ash, it is part of the magic.


It would be too hard to determine which dust is prewar, and which got in there after 1945. I wouldn't try cleaning the ring unless you can somehow just get rid of the post war crap.

Jul 12, 2020 - 12:07:17 PM
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991 posts since 5/19/2018

I did it once with compressed air.

I thought the thing was packed with bugs dirt ect. Just a little lint came out.

Was not worth the effort to rig up a rubber nozzle, get the compressor set up. Pad out the banjo and blow 120 psi air in each little hole.

Made zero difference in sound, but I get to relate the story some three decades later.

Jul 12, 2020 - 12:08:05 PM
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13102 posts since 10/30/2008

Alvin, see! Not a wasted effort after all!

Jul 12, 2020 - 1:18:29 PM
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Fathand

Canada

11613 posts since 2/7/2008

Magic juju bean dust and tobacco tar for accurate pre war tone!!

Jul 12, 2020 - 2:42:34 PM
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7382 posts since 8/28/2013

Actually, blowing out a Tubaphone ring can damage the sound. Part of the tone of these banjos came from David Day's discovery of the Tuba worm, which he inserted (male and female) in every tone ring. The tuba worm has the peculiar property of being able to buzz a sympathetic overtone for any note it perceives. Male and female were inserted so that they would reproduce and keep the species going inside the ring.

Although the adult worms are sturdy enough to cling to the metal under extreme conditions such as jets of compressed air, their eggs can be blown out the holes, and after the adult worms perish, there will be no more future worms and the special tone produced by these banjos will die.

Jul 12, 2020 - 2:43 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23785 posts since 6/25/2005

I’d leave it. That pre-war dust has unique character

Jul 12, 2020 - 4:15:09 PM
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beegee

USA

21753 posts since 7/6/2005
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I will  be restoring a Vega tenor soon. I will blow out the dust and bottle it. I will sell it on ebay. I will be rich! Bwwwahahahaaa!

Edited by - beegee on 07/12/2020 16:16:02

Jul 13, 2020 - 4:24:05 AM
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13054 posts since 6/29/2005

I wouldn't be surprised if there were little curly shreds of metal in there from drilling the holes.

As an aside, I have made tubaphone - like tone rings with no holes, and the banjos don't sound any different, but I like the holes anyway.

Jul 13, 2020 - 6:57:56 AM

10789 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I wouldn't be surprised if there were little curly shreds of metal in there from drilling the holes.

As an aside, I have made tubaphone - like tone rings with no holes, and the banjos don't sound any different, but I like the holes anyway.


Yes, but the holes might reduce the weight by an ounce or so. Think of those with bad backs.

Jul 13, 2020 - 8:38:35 AM

5394 posts since 9/21/2007

I think the real difference between "prewar" and "postwar" banjos happened in the 1960s.

About 1965 Phillip Morris started adding ammonia to Marlboro cigarettes. In about 5 years most others had figured this out and followed.

There is a difference between tar and nicotine from before that. And I think that is where the magic comes in. It is all in the smoking residue that permeates every pore and crack of the banjo.

Jul 13, 2020 - 9:54:57 AM
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13054 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I wouldn't be surprised if there were little curly shreds of metal in there from drilling the holes.

As an aside, I have made tubaphone - like tone rings with no holes, and the banjos don't sound any different, but I like the holes anyway.


Yes, but the holes might reduce the weight by an ounce or so. Think of those with bad backs.


I once determined how much weight the holes eliminate.

using a 40 hole archtop tone ring, I made a brass rod equivalent to the hole, which weighed .675 grams—multiplied by 40 (the number of holes), it came out to 27 grams, which is a little less than 1 oz.

I would imagine the thickness of a TuBaPhone to be considerably less than a Mastertone archtop, and less holes.

Reminds me of a Beatles song.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/13/2020 09:55:23

Jul 13, 2020 - 11:10 AM

10789 posts since 10/27/2006

Ha!

Jul 13, 2020 - 11:29:46 AM

7382 posts since 8/28/2013

After many years, the dust and ash that gets in those holes probably adds back about .0001% of the 27 grams.

It's important to include all the facts when calculating these issues.

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