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Nov 29, 2020 - 8:10:59 AM
108 posts since 1/7/2019

I have a question for you banjo setup wizards out there. I recently purchased a "new to me" banjo and while working on the setup decided that I needed to shim the neck to get the action where I wanted it. I cut a hardwood shim for the bottom of the heal and shaped it so it matched the contour of the heal. I then cut another shim to go between the neck and the tone ring, because assumed that I should support the neck there as well. In doing some reading on Bill Palmers site (banjowizard.com/fit.htm) and it says that the neck should not touch the tone ring, if possible. The final piece to this puzzle is the neck to tension hoop contact (of which there shouldn't be any from a previous question I asked on here).

Now, If I am understanding all of this correctly, the only contact between the neck and the rest of the banjo should be at the bottom of the heel. Is that correct? If it is not meant to contact anywhere else, why is the end of the neck contoured the way it is? Why not leave the piece out that goes in above the flange and cut the the fingerboard back a bit to make sure that these never contact.

With my shim in place (and no contact at the tone ring) there is significant contact at the fret board/tension hoop junction when tightening up the co-rods. To the point that it is trying to push the binding off slightly. It seems to me that the only way to combat this is to make the heel shim thicker and angled appropriately so that the neck is only being supported by the heel portion ot cut the fret board back. 

This also brings into question how tight you tighten up the coordinator rod closest to the head. Since there is no solid connection you are basically just putting the rim and neck into a tensile load situation with no hard stop.

I am just trying to understand how this is meant to go. If I have made it confusing please let me know and I will try to make up some drawings to illustrate.

Thanks in advance for any help
Jeff

Edited by - Gixxer340 on 11/29/2020 08:16:54

Nov 29, 2020 - 12:05:11 PM

8051 posts since 8/28/2013

First of all, are you trying to lower the action or to raise it?

Nov 29, 2020 - 12:34:11 PM

108 posts since 1/7/2019

I was trying to raise it. Shimmed the heal, middle no shim, rotates the fret board into the tension hoop.

Looks like I will need to move the whole neck away from the rim to change the angle without pushing the fret board into the tension ring

Heel shim is about .050 (or 1.5/32nds)


Jeff

Nov 29, 2020 - 2:44:13 PM

4559 posts since 11/20/2004

The Mastertone design is for the heel to seat at the tonering and rim beneath the top lag and the bottom of the heel at the lower lag. Those who worked there have posted that new banjos were setup with a small clearance between fingerboard and tension hoop.
Many times, installing a shim at the lower lag will tilt the neck enough to push the fingerboard into the hoop. You then decide between shims at both areas or trimming the end of the fingerboard. Sometimes even the area below the fingerboard will require sanding back, if the head bead is pinched. Clearance should also be maintained between heel and flange.

Nov 29, 2020 - 2:54:27 PM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5381 posts since 10/12/2009
Online Now

The upper part of the heel needs to be tight against the rim, even though that may include touching the tone ring. 

Bill Palmers site is informative and entertaining, however, his set-up ideas, like everyone else's (including mine), are a matter of personal preferences and opinions.

As far as co-rod tightness, pull the rods up snug and tight, (but not "torqued") against the inside of the rim, and don't overtighten the inside nuts (on the taipiece end of the rim).

The outer nut holding the tailpiece "L" bracket should just be tight and snug enough where it holds the bracket firmly against the rim.

This s method is referred to as keeping the co-rods "neutral".

Nov 29, 2020 - 4:21:26 PM

108 posts since 1/7/2019

Thanks for the input so far. I am very familiar with setting the co-rods to neutral, but thanks for the tip. I have other questions about this as well but I will leave them for another day.

This banjo is a tube and plate BTW.

Here is where I am at so far.

It seems to me that the neck must be supported at 2 points (and one of them should probably not be the fret board) so I set about to making the proper shims to support the neck at the heel and at the point below the head (i.e. on the tone ring). I am using wood shims, which is what I had only under the heel previously. I got it all back together and there is about .007 gap between the end of the fret board and the tension hoop. The action is perfect for me at about 1/8th at the 22nd fret. It actually came out perfect to what I was trying for.

The only problem is; I think it sounds worse than it did before. Less loud, less bright and less focused. The only thing I can think of is the pressure on the tone ring is choking it off somehow. I am getting ready to tear it back down and go back to the previous setup to see if the change is reproducible. It was a lot of work getting it to this "perfect" point from a shimming standpoint, but I just don't think it sounds as good this way. I guess I need to let the instrument tell me when the setup is "right".

I will report back with my findings.
Jeff

Nov 29, 2020 - 4:28:34 PM
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8051 posts since 8/28/2013

Instead of trying to use shims, why not just leave the neck as the factory set it, and just use a taller bridge?

Nov 29, 2020 - 4:41:30 PM
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4559 posts since 11/20/2004

A couple of comments. One is try loosening the top rod slightly at the neck to see if it helps. Second is to let it sit overnight after reassembly. I find they usually change after settling in a while. Shims and other joints need a little time to conform.Good luck!

Nov 29, 2020 - 5:03:13 PM

108 posts since 1/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Instead of trying to use shims, why not just leave the neck as the factory set it, and just use a taller bridge?


I am already at 11/16ths. I didn't want to go higher, since this is what I have. May be an option. 

 

Thanks

Jeff 

Nov 29, 2020 - 5:05:38 PM

108 posts since 1/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by lightgauge

A couple of comments. One is try loosening the top rod slightly at the neck to see if it helps. Second is to let it sit overnight after reassembly. I find they usually change after settling in a while. Shims and other joints need a little time to conform.Good luck!


I think I am going to do that. I actually adjusted the bridge down a little and some if the original sound started to come back. I am going to give it a day or two and see how I feel about it then. It also may be me. I have been messing around with this thing all day and I think I  just getting tired. 

 

Thanks for the advice

Jeff 

Nov 30, 2020 - 9:29:47 AM

248 posts since 6/15/2006

I do not think you are doing anything wrong. A shim at the bottom of the heel of the neck should be ok, and a shim on same under the position of the head and its collar (leaving room enough to tighten the skin a little more if necessary) should also be ok. A shim that presses the skirt of the tonering a little aganinst the rim should not harm the sound. I also think it is a bad idea to put shims between the fingerboard and the tension hoop, though it is often seen.
You have had the banjo split up, so if it sounds less bright or powerfull than before, try to tighten the skin up just a little bit. Best wishes. Steen

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