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Dec 1, 2020 - 1:17:47 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

So I've got a cheap Chinese banjo that was my first banjo, and I took the back off and use it for clawhammer now.
I recently got to play a few banjos that had the fretboard scooped, and I really liked the feel and tone of playing over the scoop.
So I was thinking about maybe doing a partial scoop, just to help my thumb get under the 5th string, but leaving the high frets in case I want to use them (I use them frequently) so maybe just scoop the last 3 or 4 frets but just under the 5th string.
Does anyone have any advice on how I might do that with just basic tools?

Thanks

Dec 1, 2020 - 6:49:09 AM
Players Union Member

jduke

USA

1098 posts since 1/15/2009

You might try a scoop like the alphabet scoops on some dictionaries placed right where your thumb strikes the 5th string. It should be easy to do with a curved wood rasp and a file to smooth the fret end.

Also, you might look at bridges that raise the 5th string just a bit higher than the others, making it easier to play over the neck of un-scooped banjos.

Dec 1, 2020 - 8:47:51 AM

1053 posts since 1/9/2012

I did the pictured modification of a Goodtime with a Dremel bit. As best I recall, my main tool was more rasp-like than grinder or cutter with a tip like a ball, about 3/16" diameter. For me, the narrow thumb part was all that seemed to be worth anything.

(I, too, like the 20th to 22nd frets for the top three strings -- and should have left them on that Goodtime.)


Dec 1, 2020 - 9:58:54 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by jduke

You might try a scoop like the alphabet scoops on some dictionaries placed right where your thumb strikes the 5th string. It should be easy to do with a curved wood rasp and a file to smooth the fret end.

Also, you might look at bridges that raise the 5th string just a bit higher than the others, making it easier to play over the neck of un-scooped banjos.


I'm not familiar with that kind of scoop. And what is a rasp? Is it like a file?

A different bridge isn't an option due to shipping to Africa not being available 

Dec 1, 2020 - 10:05:58 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

I did the pictured modification of a Goodtime with a Dremel bit. As best I recall, my main tool was more rasp-like than grinder or cutter with a tip like a ball, about 3/16" diameter. For me, the narrow thumb part was all that seemed to be worth anything.

(I, too, like the 20th to 22nd frets for the top three strings -- and should have left them on that Goodtime.)


Ok that panhandle extension for the thumb is exactly what I had in mind. Just that. I have no problem with my fingers hitting strings, just the thumb. 

How should I go about it? I don't have a dremel. Do I need to remove frets (or parts of frets?) Will a file work?

Dec 1, 2020 - 11:30:44 AM
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doryman

USA

902 posts since 11/26/2012

Look at the Nechville Atlas and how they do their scoop. It would easy to do as modification and it may be just what you are looking for.

Dec 1, 2020 - 11:44:20 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by doryman

Look at the Nechville Atlas and how they do their scoop. It would easy to do as modification and it may be just what you are looking for.


That is exactly what I was looking for, I had seen this before but forgot what banjo it was. 

Should I just use a file, or?

Dec 1, 2020 - 1:17:25 PM
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rcc56

USA

3280 posts since 2/20/2016

Yes, you could use a file, or some coarse sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood.

In answer to your earlier question, a rasp is like a file, but the cutting surface is much coarser. Some rasps have a toothed cutting surface. They are made to remove a lot of material quickly, and can cause chipping of the work surface, so you have to practice on a piece of scrap until you understand how it works.

If this is your first project, I would not use a rasp. You would have to get used to the tool first, or you would risk damaging the work.

Edited by - rcc56 on 12/01/2020 13:22:41

Dec 1, 2020 - 1:44:30 PM
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151 posts since 12/21/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Dragonslayer
quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

I did the pictured modification of a Goodtime with a Dremel bit. As best I recall, my main tool was more rasp-like than grinder or cutter with a tip like a ball, about 3/16" diameter. For me, the narrow thumb part was all that seemed to be worth anything.

(I, too, like the 20th to 22nd frets for the top three strings -- and should have left them on that Goodtime.)


Ok that panhandle extension for the thumb is exactly what I had in mind. Just that. I have no problem with my fingers hitting strings, just the thumb. 

How should I go about it? I don't have a dremel. Do I need to remove frets (or parts of frets?) Will a file work?


A basic half round Mill Bastard file I think would work. Barely rough enough to remove wood (you'll need a brush to clean it out), but smooth enough not to damage frets like a rasp. It will cut the frets cleanly like butter.

You could also just try sandpaper and a sanding block.

Finish off rough spots with graduating sandpaper 150>220>320 if availible.

Hope this helps! :^)

Edited by - Red Squirrel on 12/01/2020 13:45:51

Dec 1, 2020 - 9:20:23 PM
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rcc56

USA

3280 posts since 2/20/2016

And it is better to sand or file downwards towards the back of the neck than upwards towards the tops of the frets.
If you file downwards, there is less risk of loosening a fret. If you file upwards, you may tear a fret loose.
Filing or sanding lengthwise is also ok, but removes material much more slowly.

Dec 1, 2020 - 10:46:31 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4816 posts since 1/5/2005

A bridge with a raised 5th string sure would help but instead of scooping the neck: a bit of practice would be awhile lot easier and won't devalue your instrument...

Dec 2, 2020 - 4:49:43 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman

A bridge with a raised 5th string sure would help but instead of scooping the neck: a bit of practice would be awhile lot easier and won't devalue your instrument...


I usually play over the head. I like the tone of playing over the fretboard, but I don't like my thumb whacking the side of the fretboard. It's not a matter of practice, because the string is so low it's not possible to pluck without touching the frets and board. 

It is a secondary banjo, and its monetary value is about the same as a bridge and set of strings. I'm not worried about the value, but additional playability would be enormously useful. 

Thanks for the advice everyone, I think I'll give it some elbow grease with a file and see what gives. I'll keep y'all posted.......

Dec 2, 2020 - 6:39:53 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

Ok, earlier I tried posting an update and it said my account was blocked for spam. I'll try again.

Well, an hour later, I've just finished and I'm very happy with the results! I didn't remove much material, just enough to make a pleasant ramp for my thumb to slide up on its way to the string. I used a file, and then some fine grit sandpaper. I'll try to attach some pictures....
Ok, there's two more but it won't let me upload them for 15 minutes

Dec 2, 2020 - 6:40:42 AM
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Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

Pictures


Edited by - Dragonslayer on 12/02/2020 06:47:22

Dec 2, 2020 - 7:59:14 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13294 posts since 8/30/2006

Creative

Dec 3, 2020 - 11:57:08 AM
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doryman

USA

902 posts since 11/26/2012

That looks great Gunnar!

Dec 3, 2020 - 12:05:24 PM
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1904 posts since 2/12/2009

That is a most elegant solution ! well done.

Dec 3, 2020 - 1:27:42 PM
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151 posts since 12/21/2012

Congrats! Looks like it'll work great!

Dec 4, 2020 - 12:51:01 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

272 posts since 10/9/2019

Thanks y'all! I'm very happy with how it looks and how it feels

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