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May 12, 2021 - 10:18:32 AM
2537 posts since 12/31/2005

Two candidates in my closet.

First is a Kyle Smith Legend RB-75 copy with TN-20 ring. Love this banjo but it's not getting playing time right now.

Second candidate is a Turtle Hill Woody. Radiused fretboard. I like the light weight but never fell in love with the tone.

Both standard scale

Any idea which might accept heavier strings and sound better? Bad idea as to either?

May 12, 2021 - 10:32:24 AM
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Virgin Islands (U.S.)

56 posts since 5/11/2021

John Hartford tuned down to E and played with a woody (grenadillo) tone ring.

May 12, 2021 - 10:33:21 AM
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22371 posts since 7/6/2005

I believe i would choose the Turtle Hill woody.

May 12, 2021 - 11:00:03 AM
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Players Union Member

Eric A


1196 posts since 10/15/2019

You'll need to try both. Otherwise you'll always be wondering about the other one.

May 12, 2021 - 11:32:08 AM
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3457 posts since 9/12/2016
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as far as bad idea the actual drop in tuning would come into play. Yes stringing them both would be best but no one could say for sure what your ears will tell you'
my opinion but I ask no one to agreee

May 12, 2021 - 12:31:32 PM
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1668 posts since 4/13/2017

In my limited experience, my mahogany banjos sound better in low tuning than maple - both ones I have built myself, as well as ones others have built.

May 12, 2021 - 7:46:39 PM

35 posts since 8/20/2015

My main banjo is a standard 22 fret Deering Hartford, wood ring. It sounds great either way, but I keep it tuned standard most of the time. I've had banjos of both wood and flathead rings which sounded excellent and not so much tuned low. No harm in trying both.

If you listen to either "Mark Twang" or "Headin' Down into the Mystery Below", you'll hear a standard Mastertone style flathead banjo tuned low, which I believe is tuned to E.
"Down on the River", "Hartford Rice & Clements", and "Hartford & Hartford" are some good ones to hear the wood ring in low and standard, both E and D depending.

I'm not sure what exactly the Turtle Hill has for a wood ring, I'm convinced it makes a difference. I've not been a fan of some of the rings which are just sort of a taller rim with a flathead bevel to it. Again, I'd try both.

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