This banjo is currently for sale on Ebay. While I have no interest in buying it, I am curious about the "Bell-Tone Ring". Did this accessory actually work as a tone ring or was it just a gimmick?
Probably just a gimmick. Tone rings should be supported by the rim because the vibration of the strings has to transmit through the ring to the rim. To do otherwise negates the reason for having a ring. This one is supported by the perch pole. The tension of the head should cause the perch pole to warp over the years but this one seems reasonably straight. Still looks like a poor design to me, one that a reputable maker like Iucci would not use. The ring is probably an aftermarket gimmick but I could be wrong.
I restored something with a ring like that. It was patented in 1886. Scroll down to September 2016 at
Something has to hold the head firmly at its edge. And the rim holds up the tone ring. But, as best I understand, the vibrations of the rim are of relatively minor importance. Yes, some folks like old-style thin rims that eat up some of the sound, while others prefer stout ones that leave the head to make a brasher sound.
It's purpose might be to tighten a real skin head if it started sagging. Just a guess.
It reminds me slightly of a spider bridge in a dobro...
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