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Help w/ drying the sound of an Ome North Star?

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Sep 21, 2020 - 12:37:23 PM
30 posts since 1/15/2011

All,

I have an Ome North Star open-back that I somehow fell in love with at the store and quickly fell out of love with when I got it home. Let's just say that it is very hard to leave Music Emporium with an empty trunk.

It any case, it's a stunning banjo, but for my playing style, the sound is far too sustained and clean. I tend to prefer a super dry, poppy sound, and I figured at the time that I might be able to rein the sound in with modifications. So far, I've tried a few things on it: 1) a John Balch skin head; 2) nylgut strings; 3) a bridge w/ no ebony top made by Bart Veerman (all of which I recommend, by the way). I also stuff it or use sponges under the strings occasionally. But it still sustains for days, and I'm thinking I should look into different tone rings. Right now it has an OME brass tone ring (at least I think...). Any recommendations on an alternate that might help dry up the sound? Ideally it wouldn't lose any volume.

Thanks a bunch,

Robert

Sep 21, 2020 - 12:53:29 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23976 posts since 6/25/2005

I like my banjos to sound the same way. I use all-maple bridges in the style of Bacons from the 1920s, very thin and light weight. My string set is .0115 x2; .013; .015 and .024 bronze wound. The heavier strings tend to sustain less. I have ren heads and one Balch (on a Tubaphone). I also have an Ome Mira (“Vintage” tone ring) and three Essex Concert Grands (WL clones). The Ome does sustain more than the Essexes, but it’s not too great for my taste. All my heads are cranked down rock-hard. Dunno if any of that would help, but I certainly understand your dilemma.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 09/21/2020 12:55:38

Sep 21, 2020 - 1:37:49 PM

Emiel

Austria

9586 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by therearegoats

All,

I tend to prefer a super dry, poppy sound


Do try a Remo top-frosted head, preferably a thinly-frosted one if you can find one. Maybe also a Presto tailpiece.

Sep 21, 2020 - 2:32:16 PM
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3896 posts since 10/13/2005

Had a banjo like that once. Tried similar things and finally gave up. Try a heavy bridge like the Sampson bridges available at Elderly. Is it possible to replace the metal tone ring with a wooden one? Ask Ome. banjered

Sep 21, 2020 - 3:19:26 PM

DSmoke

USA

870 posts since 11/30/2015

Tighten the head, and put more pressure on the strings with the tailpiece.

Sep 25, 2020 - 10:06:20 AM

30 posts since 1/15/2011

Thanks everyone. A number of you have suggested tightening the head. But wouldn't that make the problem worse? A tight head should add clarity and take away plunkiness; I need it the other way around. I also currently have a skin head, so I think that replacing it with a Remo would also take it in the wrong direction, as would creating more pressure with the tailpiece. But PLEASE CORRECT ME if I'm wrong. I am a rookie in this department for sure.

Robert

Sep 25, 2020 - 11:08:51 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23976 posts since 6/25/2005

I think terms are confusing me here. To me “dry” is an alternative to “plunky,” and requires “clarity.” In my mind, anyway, “plunky” tends to be similar to “muddy,” and to my ear a banjo cannot be both “dry” and “plunky.” We likely are using our terms differently.

Sep 25, 2020 - 11:10:25 AM

25 posts since 5/2/2019

As an owner of an Ome, I've also attempted to reduce sustain, particularly in the 5th string. I have yet to find a method for this that doesn't also reduce the volume, and/or the deepness of the lower registers.

I've found that reducing the head tension is somewhat effective, but comes with tradeoffs. I currently use a piece of silicone rubber wedged between the dowel and the head at the neck side of the bridge. Placement will change the sound considerably.

That said, I mostly play this with Veerman Dark Star bridge (said to *add* sustain), and with the head tension fairly high. It's my go-to for clawhammer

Sep 25, 2020 - 5:17:14 PM

13211 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

I think terms are confusing me here. To me “dry” is an alternative to “plunky,” and requires “clarity.” In my mind, anyway, “plunky” tends to be similar to “muddy,” and to my ear a banjo cannot be both “dry” and “plunky.” We likely are using our terms differently.


Agreed.

Sep 25, 2020 - 5:41:43 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23976 posts since 6/25/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Becks

As an owner of an Ome, I've also attempted to reduce sustain, particularly in the 5th string. I have yet to find a method for this that doesn't also reduce the volume....
 


I use a little piece of foam adhesive tape from the drugstore under the 5th on the bridge.  It cuts the clang and sustain without appreciably reducing volume.

Sep 26, 2020 - 9:50:34 AM

25 posts since 5/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers
quote:
Originally posted by Becks

As an owner of an Ome, I've also attempted to reduce sustain, particularly in the 5th string. I have yet to find a method for this that doesn't also reduce the volume....
 


I use a little piece of foam adhesive tape from the drugstore under the 5th on the bridge.  It cuts the clang and sustain without appreciably reducing volume.


Nice tip! But just so I understand, this is between the string and the bridge? Or between the bridge and the head?

Sep 26, 2020 - 11:19:09 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23976 posts since 6/25/2005

String and bridge. It will wear out and eventually need to be changed.

Sep 26, 2020 - 11:39:39 AM

13211 posts since 6/29/2005

I have tried the adhesive tape method with some success. 

What I do now is to up the string gauge on the 5th string to 11ga. 

Also, If you like a low action, the 5th string might be too low above the 7th fret spike, you can get an annoying kind of thing, not exactly a buzz— don't know how to describe it.  For that reason, I elevate the 5th string where it sits on the 5th fret, so that it's closer to the height of the other strings

This eliminates the problem even with a lighter gauge 5th string.

Sep 26, 2020 - 3:00:54 PM

481 posts since 2/15/2015

What material is the rim composed of?

Sep 26, 2020 - 3:30:49 PM

481 posts since 2/15/2015

quote:
Originally posted by geoB

What material is the rim composed of?


I used to stuff t-shirts up in there, or roll a towel about an inch longer than the pot diameter and wedge it. 

Sep 27, 2020 - 4:43:04 AM

481 posts since 2/15/2015

I also use cymbal felts affixed to drums with gaf tape which cuts overtones. It might work. Or perhaps just a strip of gaf tape on the underside.

A little noodling around with differing suggestions is probably what is going to happen.

I have a resonator tenor that at times has had rolled up winter socks placed inside. In bass drums an EQ pillow and perhaps an EQ patch is used too.

Aesthetics aside, it can get ugly.

Natural skin heads? Cotton balls? There are a multitude of materials people try.

A beer gut covered with a flannel shirt and pressed in  close to the open back can also be employed...??

Edited by - geoB on 09/27/2020 04:46:05

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