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Oct 29, 2020 - 3:11:10 PM
518 posts since 6/2/2011

What are the tonal differences between a brass tone ring and one made of bronze? Also, is there a weight difference? I had a Fender FB 58 that I believed had a brass tone ring that was really heavy.

Oct 29, 2020 - 3:25:34 PM



21937 posts since 7/6/2005

You'd have to know what you really have. It was a big marketing thing back in the 70's to describe a tone ring as being made of "bell bronze." Brass and bronze are made of copper with other metals, such as zinc or tin added in various proportions. I don't know if there is a tonal difference or not and I'm sure there are those who will have their preferences and their reasons why.

Oct 29, 2020 - 3:42:20 PM

518 posts since 6/2/2011

The Gold Tone OB 150 says it has a Brass tone ring and the OB 250 + has a JLS Bell Bronze. I was wondering the difference.

Oct 29, 2020 - 4:03:57 PM
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13459 posts since 10/30/2008
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All marketing lingo. Vega went whole hog into "bell brass for tone" in their catalogs in the 1960s. Plain brass doesn't have much tone. Try looking up all the "flavors" of brass and bronze in a metallurgy reference!

No banjo maker ever gave out the formula of their "brass/bronze" for advertising purposes.

Go by the sound.

Oct 29, 2020 - 4:51:26 PM

41 posts since 8/31/2015

I've seen 80/20 Bronze (80% copper, 20% zinc) guitar strings described as "Bell Brass"

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:06:18 PM
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13459 posts since 10/30/2008
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Look in a metallurgist's or chemical engineer's handbook for a list of the MANY types of brass/bronze! There's everything from a baby fart to a clap of thunder...

Oct 29, 2020 - 9:04:25 PM

200 posts since 11/16/2011

Originally posted by The Old Timer

....Try looking up all the "flavors" of brass and bronze in a metallurgy reference!.....

I'd suggest referring to the ASTM, American Standards for Testing and Materials, standard for non-ferrous materials specifically B30,  Standard for Copper Alloys in Ingot Form.  ASTM standards updates are typically published every three years.  85-5-5-5, red brass or ounce metal, is a common post war tone ring composition. is also a good reference for copper alloys.  

Sound is affected by composition but there are other factors such as foundry processes and practices, and, machining of the final form.

Oct 30, 2020 - 5:45:07 AM

518 posts since 6/2/2011

Thank you, Paul. I know Arthur Hetfield has used many of your tongue rings in his banjos. But all that is a little too much in detail for me to understand.

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