Here’s an odd question, but I hope someone can give me some insight. Clawhammer is the style I play.
I’ve owned four banjos, one of which is an Enoch 12” Tradesman. Compared to the others I’ve had (all 11”) it plays easier. (It also sounds better.) That is to say, on the other banjos, my index finger nail gets so sore after a couple of hours of playing that I can’t play much next day. Doesn’t happen with the Enoch.
So, the question is: why? Is there something about Kevin’s design that makes it easier on the finger, or is it the difference between 11” & 12” pots?
And before you ask, yes... I do have a little too much Thelonious Monk in my right hand. I do like to dig in on some tunes.
For my $3K answer to your question, on a 12" rim your arm, and subsequently your nail, ends up in a slightly different string attack. banjered
My thinking is it's a little of both. the 12" rim likely has your arm and hand in s slightly different position so you strike the strings differently. And everything I pick up an Enoch banjo I always say "Nice" I do not do that with every other banjo brand.
Could be the scale length and its effects on string tension.
Hand position... That could be a big part of it. I’m glad I asked, as I would not have thought of that. My arm is in a slightly, but definitely different, position on the smaller pot.
I’d thought of string tension, but don’t know much about it. I’ve assumed that, for example, a first string tuned to D on a 25.5” scale would be the same tension on any similar scale length, regardless of pot size; and that an E on a 23” (A scale) would be the same string tension as that 25.5” D. My knowledge on this is pretty limited, though.
Could be a combination of the distinct yet related factors of string tension and action height. For clawhammer my right hand doesn't like a "hitting a brick wall" feeling when coming down on the strings. It likes some springy "give" and "play." This is also what my ear likes--not super "ringy-pingy," but some shimmer from string movement, as opposed to that heavy thuddy sound currently in fashion among the plunksters.
At the same time, my clawhammer hand also does not like a "travel distance" below a 5/8" bridge. It likes 11/16, .656, and 5/8. It really hates 1/2". Because I don't like super-light strings and am insecure about messing with neck truss rods, getting that springy "give" that is both more comfortable for my clawhammer hand and more appealing to my ear, sometimes means using a lower bridge than I really like.
I have a couple of openbacks currently set up with 9/16" bridges precisely because their neck relief is such that with the string gauges I like I get an uncomfortable feel and sound with higher bridges. I love when makers ship new openbacks with an 11/16 bridge, because then there's room to go a hair lower or experiment with gauges without having to mess with the neck or go lower than 5/8 on the bridge height.
Edited by - ceemonster on 09/25/2020 16:23:43
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