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Sep 23, 2020 - 9:32:23 AM
2175 posts since 2/7/2008

I’m disappointed with the lack of “growl” on my 4th.

I tried the .022 nickel string that came with the set and later swapped it with a .022 phosphor, better, but still not the “growl” I wanted. I tried a .023 phosphor, but not surprisingly not much changed. I tried stainless, bit that only sounded harsh.

Any suggestions? Should I try a different gauge? Maybe 80/20?

Sep 23, 2020 - 9:40:34 AM
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beegee

USA

21895 posts since 7/6/2005
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You may need to look at other factors such as head tension, bridge and tailpiece adjustment.

Sep 23, 2020 - 9:46:29 AM
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Eric A

USA

840 posts since 10/15/2019

Agreed, it has more to do with setup. I know you saw my thread on drum dial head tensions. Head might be a hair too tight.

Sep 23, 2020 - 10:21:17 AM
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Blackjaxe47

Canada

1559 posts since 6/20/2014

As mentioned set-up has a lot to do with what tone you get. I also tried the .023 Phosphor Bronze and liked what I was hearing. I have a Kershner Tailpiece that was parallel to the head but it was also resting on the tension hoop. I took a small 1/8" brass shim, full width of the tailpiece and placed it on the underside of of the tailpiece and kept it parallel to the head. Set the head tension at 90.5 on the drum dial. I could not believe the growl I now had from the 4th string. I think that the brass shim helped transfer the sound to the head, but it also depends on what your using for a bridge. I was using a Tim Purcell 2.2 gram.

Sep 23, 2020 - 10:46:41 AM

13352 posts since 10/30/2008

The GHS Crowe .020 wound stainless 4th (and the like from AMB cryo) has always provided all the "Growl" needed on my flat head Mastertones. Some banjos simply don't "growl" no matter what 4th string is on it. Better get into set up experiments.

Sep 23, 2020 - 10:56:18 AM
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RioStat

USA

5282 posts since 10/12/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Blackjaxe47

As mentioned set-up has a lot to do with what tone you get. I also tried the .023 Phosphor Bronze and liked what I was hearing. I have a Kershner Tailpiece that was parallel to the head but it was also resting on the tension hoop. I took a small 1/8" brass shim, full width of the tailpiece and placed it on the underside of of the tailpiece and kept it parallel to the head. Set the head tension at 90.5 on the drum dial. I could not believe the growl I now had from the 4th string. I think that the brass shim helped transfer the sound to the head, but it also depends on what your using for a bridge. I was using a Tim Purcell 2.2 gram.


Ken,  can you expound on this brass shim under the tailpiece, please? Exactly where is the shim? I'm having trouble visualizing this....but it sounds interesting and I'd like to try it on a couple of banjos i have, that basically sound great overall, just a little "weak" on the 4th

Sep 23, 2020 - 11:33:24 AM
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Blackjaxe47

Canada

1559 posts since 6/20/2014

Hello Scott....the Kershner tailpiece doesn't have a tab or hook protruding from the underside like a Clamshell or 2 Hump the body ( flat ) just rests on the tension hoop. Which for a raised head creates some problems. I will make a quick schematic to show you what I did.

Sep 23, 2020 - 11:41:10 AM
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Players Union Member

Blackjaxe47

Canada

1559 posts since 6/20/2014

Scott, take a look at the drawing. If you have any questions just ask....I will try my best to make sense of what I did. By the way it is still on the tailpiece, I silver soldered it to the underside.


 

Sep 23, 2020 - 1:16:58 PM
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13207 posts since 6/29/2005

Interesting subject!

I have found that phosphor bronze strings are about as "growly" as they come, and I typically use 22ga for the 4th string.

I don't think the problem is with the string.

The other interesting thing is the idea of the relationship of the tailpiece to the tension hoop. My banjos are very assertive and very responsive, but I actually put a piece of rubber under the tailpiece where it rests on the tension hoop, so it's vibrationally isolated from the tension hoop, and that takes nothing away from the growl—just eliminates some unwanted sympathetic frequencies and overtones ( I also cut the heel so that the end of the fingerboard does not touch the tension hoop, which makes me a "tension hoop isolationist" I guess- ha ha— sounds political which is verboten on the BHO).  What I am suggesting is that the problem is not likely with the tailpiece if all the other strings are OK.

Anyway, I think the failure of the string to "growl" is some constructional thing (pot depth or a too-flexible rim?), or maybe a head tension or bridge thing.  No way to tell without going through the "troubleshooting blues".  Every banjo is different.

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