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Oct 28, 2020 - 6:30:24 PM
59 posts since 8/27/2018

So I have this early model tone ring. Supposedly one of the earlier no-hole tone rings. But I am hearing a lot they no hole rings are a little more edgy or brash than the 20hole flathead rings.
I don’t know the manufacturer on this one, but just wondering g if anyone has ever drilled the holes into a no hole to make it a 20 hole ring? Does it change the sound much?
Thanks for the thoughts

Oct 28, 2020 - 7:18:05 PM
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beegee

USA

21943 posts since 7/6/2005

There is more to a tone ring than holes or lack of holes: Profile, material and method of manufacture.

The "hole" debate is not new. Why did they drill holes? Why did they drill 19 holes or 20 holes?

There are plenty of people who have drilled holes in no-hole tone rings, both flathead and arch top. One thing about it: you can't undrill a hole once it's been drilled. One of my favorite tone rings is the Stew-was no-hole flathead.

Oct 29, 2020 - 5:07:25 AM
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hbick2

USA

276 posts since 6/26/2004

Of all the Bluegrass banjos I have ever played, Crowe's no-hole "Banger" is my favorite. That thing would drive nails into concrete. There are a lot of things you can do to a banjo to change its sound. Try all of them before you drill any holes. As Beegee says, you can't undrill them.

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:03:26 AM
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1405 posts since 10/5/2006

As told to me by Mike Longworth many years ago:

In the mid-fifties, Paul Champion acquired an original 5-string RB-3 (9473-5). The flathead tonering had no holes. Paul and Mike were good friends and in 1958 Paul visited Mike at Seward Air Force Base in Tennessee where Mike was stationed. Neither of them had ever seen a tonering with no holes and they agreed that the holes should be there. So at the base hobby shop, they selected the sharpest drill bit in the box (a tiny bit larger), and proceeded to drill the holes by hand.
Upon reassembly of the banjo they both realized that there was no real change in the tone or responsiveness of the instrument, at least not enough to justify the drilling and they both regretted having altered it for years afterward.

While it is definitely true that the original no-hole flatheads have a certain hardness and punch to their timbre, in my opinion the ability of the performer’s hands will have an infinitely greater effect than any holes or lack thereof in a tonering.

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:13:25 AM
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clfieds

USA

59 posts since 8/27/2018

Thanks guys ! Sound advice all the way around! Working on a 1930 conversion project and have mixed emotions on the ring I have. It was fit on the pot assembly when I purchased it. It’s a great fit, have just got my self caught up in all the talk about the 20 hole rings etc. the ring I have has no markings but I was told it is one of the early no hole tone rings so, who knows I’ll just have to see how she sounds when it’s all back together!
Thanks again

Oct 29, 2020 - 12:12:24 PM

631 posts since 11/21/2018

Bob, I have a '70s no hole Stew Mac ring and love it. Do you know if their current versions are still either made by the same manufacturer or sound as good/better these days?

Oct 29, 2020 - 12:25:07 PM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by clfieds

Thanks guys ! Sound advice all the way around! Working on a 1930 conversion project and have mixed emotions on the ring I have. It was fit on the pot assembly when I purchased it. It’s a great fit, have just got my self caught up in all the talk about the 20 hole rings etc. the ring I have has no markings but I was told it is one of the early no hole tone rings so, who knows I’ll just have to see how she sounds when it’s all back together!
Thanks again


Dont worry about the ring. Tone is the result of the sum of all parts. No hole, 4 hole, 20 hole, 40 hole, brass hoop, wooden ring etc etc etc can all sound great

Oct 29, 2020 - 12:31:35 PM

Brett

USA

2397 posts since 11/29/2005

I have drilled a no hole flat head Steve Ryan ring. I set up banjo many times both ways and never heard any difference and never was satisfied with that particular banjo. Finally sold it.

Oct 29, 2020 - 1:10:39 PM

2704 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

The myth or truth is started on opinion. Kluesh rings had 4 holes. As mentioned, 60’s and 70’s tone rings had 19. A fact is that rings with holes weigh less than rings with no holes. Rings with 4, 19, and 20 holes are rings with escalating reduction in weight.

Weight in bridges are important. Saving one’s back a 20 hole would be easier to carry. But, whoever owns a specific ring type always states it’s sounds like a banjo.

One important item is Earl’s Granada had holes. 20 to be exact.

The removed material is not negligible and not massive. I haven’t heard anything said about a banjo with holes or without stopping being a banjo.

Oct 29, 2020 - 3:33:09 PM

2316 posts since 10/17/2013

quote:
Originally posted by hbick2

Of all the Bluegrass banjos I have ever played, Crowe's no-hole "Banger" is my favorite. That thing would drive nails into concrete. There are a lot of things you can do to a banjo to change its sound. Try all of them before you drill any holes. As Beegee says, you can't undrill them.


Best description I’ve read, of the POWER that (prewar) no-hole tone rings possess.

Oct 29, 2020 - 4:01:49 PM
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124 posts since 3/12/2008

The tone rings in all of my banjos have one big hole in the middle and they sound real good to me!smiley

Edited by - jerseydevil on 10/29/2020 16:05:00

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:07:34 PM
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Owen

Canada

6932 posts since 6/5/2011
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Chris... If you look from t'other side you'll see a second hole.  cheeky

Nov 1, 2020 - 4:40:52 AM

2316 posts since 10/17/2013

I drilled 20 holes in a Yates V33 no-hole once. It made the ring sound worse.

Nov 1, 2020 - 10:07:08 AM

Helix

USA

13095 posts since 8/30/2006

I read that the holes are called trumpets
I think they relieve pressure? Why? To get the plenum going?

I suggest paying attention to the inside surface of this casting Would benefit the ring just like porting and polishing an intake manifold

Ferrari’s V-12 intake uses a plenum

So no holes might be better. Has anyone ever plugged up holes and gotten better performance?

The tuners are the only moving parts
All others are performance based= tone, texture, volume, snap crackle and pop

Nov 1, 2020 - 1:12:12 PM

2 posts since 3/11/2020

quote:Originally posted by beegeeThere is more to a tone ring than holes or lack of holes: Profile, material and method of manufacture.

The "hole" debate is not new. Why did they drill holes? Why did they drill 19 holes or 20 holes?

There are plenty of people who have drilled holes in no-hole tone rings, both flathead and arch top. One thing about it: you can't undrill a hole once it's been drilled. One of my favorite tone rings is the Stew-was no-hole flathead. Beegee - I agree, I've read several stories from people drilling holes, and all of them said "don't do it" afterwards. My "experimental" banjo has a Sullivan no hole ring and it's the sweetest, but loud enough banjo I have.

Nov 1, 2020 - 3:04:22 PM

Helix

USA

13095 posts since 8/30/2006

Thats I like about the The metallurgy from USA. Powerful but sweet means quality foundry and formula

Nov 2, 2020 - 9:09:28 AM

1970 posts since 10/7/2008

I've always believed the holes were for ventilation for the inside of the tone ring. Skin heads cause humidity to vary greatly. Moisture would certainly creep inside the tone ring, even if fitted properly to the rim. Trapped moisture could do some damage to the unfinished top of the rim, like some swelling or mold. The rest of the rim is sealed with the finish. The tone ring might eventually develop some corrosion, but not enough to make a significant difference.

Holes, drilled to reduce the weight of the banjo, do not make a significant difference. Sound? Maybe, but it seems there is not much, if any, significant difference there either.

That's just my opinion. I guess no one knows for sure.

Nov 2, 2020 - 10:24:44 AM

Brett

USA

2397 posts since 11/29/2005

I drilled one ring and learned it did nothing and never did it again. But you cannot convince people until they do it. I was warned prior there was no way it’d help, but the guy hadn’t done it, he was speculating. I have to touch a hot stove eye to learn I guess that the stove WAS on as told.

Nov 5, 2020 - 8:00:12 AM

238 posts since 6/15/2006

Back in 76 I visited a banjo maker in the Rochester aria. He made banjos with holes, in the tonerings, and when asked what the holes did do, he answered "they sell the banjos", because at that time it was best, if the ring had holes. I think people imagine that inside a hollow tone ring there must be at whole lot of sound, so we must have some "sound holes" in the ring to let it out. It seems kind of reasonable, and looks cool. But ???
In banjos like Paramounts and Clifford Essex Paragons, the holes leads the sound pressure from inside the pot to come out elsewhere. It is smart thought, but does it work better than an ordinary resonator system ????? Steen

Nov 9, 2020 - 2:01:33 PM

DRH

USA

568 posts since 5/29/2018

My RK ring has 20 holes about 5mm diameter.

Based on the formulae from this site - -

strutt.arup.com/help/Mechanica...Atten.htm

the cutoff frequency of a 5mm tone ring hole, using ASHRAE 2007, should be about 40KHz. This is well beyond the upper range of human hearing. That is to say, plane wave frequencies below the cutoff do not pass through a 5mm hole.

The holes do not act as tuned ports as far as I can tell. Nor would they relieve sound pressure, which has a mean value of zero.

The use of pre-war drilling methods may have had some effect, as they didn't use metric drills back then;)

Nov 10, 2020 - 4:42:16 PM

2001 posts since 10/9/2004

And what about the tone rings that had holes and somebody took it upon themselves to drill them out to a larger diameter? I have heard that the RB-18 that John Hartford owned and was later bought by Steve Martin had this done sometime in it’s past. Richard Bailey of the SteelDrivers has a banjo formerly owned by Earl Scruggs that had the holes drilled out to a larger diameter it it’s history as well, if I heard correctly on that. I don’t know what it sounded like before that was done to it but Bailey’s banjo sounds pretty good to my ear. I don’t know if I ever heard Hartford’s 18 before or after that modification; anybody else recall?
Quagmire

Nov 12, 2020 - 6:10:10 PM

Fathand

Canada

11666 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brett

I have drilled a no hole flat head Steve Ryan ring. I set up banjo many times both ways and never heard any difference and never was satisfied with that particular banjo. Finally sold it.


One of the nicest sounding banjos I ever player/owned had a Steve Ryan no hole ring in it. I wish I never sold it but it recently crossed my bench again for a fret job about 38 years later so I got to play it again. It was better than I remembered.

Nov 13, 2020 - 4:13:03 AM

Brett

USA

2397 posts since 11/29/2005

Steve Ryan made fine rings. I hate i defaced his work but you know we always look for shortcuts to sounding better. Shortcuts are easier than years of practice.

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