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Dec 1, 2020 - 1:02:30 AM
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33 posts since 8/17/2020

Hi All

Firstly I must point out that my knowledge of Banjo's is still very limited, I bought my first banjo 3 months ago and I am still getting acquainted with it. It's a Wildwood Minstrel.

As a retirement gift to myself, I am going to commission a bespoke build with a UK builder.

Functional specification at the moment is 25.5" scale, 1 5/16" Nut, 11" Rim and I am contemplating a wooden tone ring, primarily to keep the weight down as I find the Minstrel a bit heavy. My main interest is Old Time Clawhammer.

Initially, I thought of selling on the Minstrel but having two banjo's with different Tonerings is appealing.

Any suggestions thoughts welcome, specifically on the wooden rim.



Dec 1, 2020 - 2:59:12 AM

Bill H


1483 posts since 11/7/2010

I just ordered a Nechville Moonshine open back with a wood tone ring. They are not a UK builder, but do have a dealer in UK. Eagle Music

Dec 1, 2020 - 6:18:08 AM
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1292 posts since 11/6/2008

I have two open back banjos (one tenor and one 5str) crafted by an exellent italian luthier (Silvio Ferretti he’s here in the hangout) both banjos have a Tony Pass woodie rim, the sound fantastic ti my ears and also they look great with the bolck construction...
Here you can listen

Dec 1, 2020 - 6:21:30 AM

33 posts since 8/17/2020

Sounds great, what pot size it that ?


Dec 1, 2020 - 7:58:43 AM



1292 posts since 11/6/2008

Regular 11

I think it would sound more deep with 12 inches.... but maybe next banjo!

Dec 1, 2020 - 10:07:29 AM

2 posts since 6/29/2009

I have the Wildwood Troubadour and the Deering John Hartford. I like the sound of both.
The Wildwood with the tubaphone tone ring has a great deep boom with plenty of clarity at the high end.
The Hartford is slightly less bright at the high end but superb lower end, I play it open back without the removeable resonator. I also really appreciate the lighter weight of the Hartford!
Both with 11" heads, I keep one tuned to G tuning the other to Double C.
Either one works well for clawhammer. "Which child is your favorite?" I love 'em both.

Dec 2, 2020 - 8:23:58 AM
Players Union Member



13294 posts since 8/30/2006

Segovia123. Stay on your chosen path
You don’t need a Pass nor Scorpion, nor Nechville

You have commissioned a builder
Which is ideal

I suggest some English Oak or chestnut
You have your own hardwood forest. Get some Holly if you can find January cut

A rim cap or wooden tone ring will not help an inferior or traditional type of rim

Notice the rush by many “banjomakers” to dump the bronze with marketing of the “tastes just like chicken”. What a sell

I suggest you look in the pawn shops for some older Whyte Laydie or tub a phone, buy and disassemble it and use the tone ring which has vintaged the metal

Use a helix type rim with a simple flatbar tone ring to start

i suggest using a tube and plate type rim which has the most wood of any rim

i build openback tube banjos

study your specific needs  write them down

great luck, you worked very hard for a great banjo, you deserve it 

Edited by - Helix on 12/02/2020 08:27:33

Dec 4, 2020 - 8:31:54 AM
Players Union Member



13294 posts since 8/30/2006

1-5/16” nut. Ok

Dec 5, 2020 - 8:58:18 AM

2505 posts since 6/19/2008

I second Larry's recommendation of a "Helix" rim which he has developed. I've built three banjos so far with such a rim, each better than the previous, and I believe them to be the best rims I've ever built, in terms of power and projection. Note that these are all open back, and yet can stay with large jams just fine. I don't know how the physics works, but it just does. I'm sure either Larry or I would be willing to communicate with your luthier on how to build these rims. Our processes are a bit different, but the results are fairly close to the same.

I have built mine with wood tone rings, jatoba on sissoo rosewood for the first, wenge on honey locust for the second, and wenge on cherry for the third. They all sound great.

Dec 6, 2020 - 3:41:25 PM

216 posts since 11/4/2009

I'm surprised that you find the minstrel banjo heavy. The batire of a minstrel banjo is its lightness. I make them (in the uk) they generally weigh around 1.5kg.

No tone ring, 1/4" single ply oak or ash pot, handmade hardware, great tone and plenty of volume.

Dec 8, 2020 - 3:44:15 PM

125 posts since 10/18/2020

if you have not commissioned someone yet I would look at Howson banjos he is in the UK

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