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Aug 13, 2020 - 7:59:55 AM
39 posts since 12/31/2014

Any advice out there for repairing a grooved vintage tension hoop....the type where hooks sit in the side groove rather than on top of the hoop?

One or two hook sites are worn sufficiently to create the problem of hooks twisting out of the slot whilst tension. Counter-twisting the hook with pliers only partially helps and with difficulty.

Ideally it would be great to rebuild the metal, which has a nice aged hold plating, but the amount of metal is so small I'm not sure if this is possible. A complete vintage replacement 10 15/16" would be great if there are out there, but any advice would be welcome.

Aug 13, 2020 - 8:48:08 AM

242 posts since 3/6/2008

Most grooved hoops that I’ve seen didn’t have a notch where the neck is located. Can you just rotate the hoop & have the hooks in a different spot on the hoop ?

Aug 13, 2020 - 9:16:13 AM

39 posts since 12/31/2014

No so lucky I’m afraid! Mine does have a notch for the neck so rotating it is a non-starter....also the action / height remaining from top of hoop to strings would be insuffient.... appreciate the suggestion though. 

Edited by - Flatat on 08/13/2020 09:19:13

Aug 13, 2020 - 10:25:48 AM

1579 posts since 10/12/2011

Originally posted by Flatat


One or two hook sites are worn sufficiently to create the problem of hooks twisting out of the slot whilst tension. Counter-twisting the hook with pliers only partially helps and with difficulty.

I use a salad fork to hold my hooks.   The flat hooks slide right between the tines and holds the hook in place as I tighten the nut.  It doesn't let the hook twist and with the extended handle its easy to hold.  I've never had they hook get damaged and you can still use the original hooks.  I found that on those hooks the tip of the hook was slightly bent up to not hold as good as some of the others.   I could always get new hooks but using 90 year old hardware gives it some nostalgia.  

Hope this helps a little and will get you by till you fit the tension hoop.

Aug 13, 2020 - 11:00:53 AM

39 posts since 12/31/2014

@Buckholler.......Many thanks for that good tip.....I'll give that a try!

Aug 13, 2020 - 11:04:27 AM

2441 posts since 3/30/2008

A replacement vintage hoop would probably be best.
These are nice hoops & somewhat thick. (so thick that one could possibly dremel out another groove at the worn points deep enough to catch a hook. This would then lower the hook relative to other hooks. It would also stick out more at the bottom. This repair may look odd & unsightly, but if you could live w/ it, the original hardware could be retained)
(This might be put in the category of a "redneck repair")

Aug 13, 2020 - 11:52:28 AM

39 posts since 12/31/2014 luck finding a suitable replacement so far....your advice appreciated though!

Aug 13, 2020 - 4:15:03 PM

7780 posts since 1/7/2005

I've seen that tension hoop before and wished I could find one myself. It's an elegant and practical design. The old Van Eps style as used by Romero is similar but not the same. What make is your banjo?

You might want to post your picture on the "collector's" forum. Someone there can probably tell you the name of the maker. Finding one will be the hard part.


Aug 13, 2020 - 5:44:43 PM

7617 posts since 8/28/2013

I've seen that type of hoop on Epiphone banjos from the twenties. It's and elegant design. I believe there were a couple other makes that used that type, too, but trying to find one will be like looking for hamster tusks.

I suggest you try buckholler's "salad fork method for tightening the hooks. The real problem is that with all the previous attempts, damage may have been increased to where the hooks simply won't stay no matter what.

I would, however, first check the hooks themselves. It's possible that one or two have had their ends damaged so that they don't hang on like they should.

One other thought: most tension hoop damage I've seen is because the metal has become distorted. If the groove is bulged outward at the hook areas, it might be possible to carefully hammer it back into shape.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 08/13/2020 17:47:55

Aug 14, 2020 - 2:20:06 AM

39 posts since 12/31/2014

Thanks Dan & George..........yes, it is an Epiphone in great order. There is just one hook site suffering from the problem I described but the hook is on tight enough now. The problem only becomes evident when I'm changing heads.....having gone through them all now I won't be doing that again soon anyway! I was really just exploring the experience of this forum to see if anyone could suggest rebuilding the metal section to prevent the problem occuring in the future. I agree, a vintage replacement 10 15/16" hoop might be hard to find but it is always worth a try I guess!
Thanks for your help and advice nonetheless....much appreciated.

Aug 14, 2020 - 5:01:32 AM



852 posts since 11/8/2014

You might try looking at the nuts and hooks themselves to see how they tighten up at the end. I’ve run into several hooks with nuts that have an inordinate amount of torque needed because of thread issues on either the hook or inside the nut, that doesn’t really show up until the last part of the thread. I recut the threads on the nut and hook, and they worked better.

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