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Jun 12, 2021 - 10:21:23 PM
26 posts since 12/19/2019
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I play banjo a little bit and would like to build a 13" pot openback banjo. It seems 13" rims and hardware such as tension hoops, flush hoops etc. are not much available.

I am planning to build a walnut neck and rim banjo. But I am open to using any kind of 13" rim such as a keller drum shell.

Not planning to use any tone ring. And synthetic heads would be first preference then skin head. Are there 13" synthetic head available for banjo? Can remo drum heads be used for the banjo?

Where can I get a 13" notched or a grooved tension hoop?

Thanks for any tips/advice/direction.

Jun 13, 2021 - 3:16:23 AM
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10966 posts since 4/23/2004

When you spec anything outside the norm, you either have to be either inventive or rich.

13" banjos exist, but they are not very common. Drum heads can be used but they tend to be thick.

If you want to play, going with 12" is an order of magnitude easier. If you enjoy the process, "the hunt"...carry on.

Reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey". "You got to be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For a long time I was Smart...I recommend pleasant."

Jun 13, 2021 - 3:30:53 AM
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585 posts since 3/9/2013

Try Zachary Hoyt here on the hangout. He also has a nice website. I would bet he would make you a rim and tension hoop.

Jun 13, 2021 - 5:48:32 AM
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160 posts since 12/7/2007

I second banjobrewer’s recommendation of Zach Hoyt. I too think he can help you. (He’s very capable and, in my experience, he’s also great to work with.) Not sure about the availability of a head that size. But if it exists, I think Bob Smakula will have it.

Jun 13, 2021 - 7:01:55 AM
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2654 posts since 4/7/2010
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I do stock 13" Remo plastic banjo heads. I have Renaissance and Fiberskyn in stock.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Jun 13, 2021 - 7:11:49 AM
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13698 posts since 6/29/2005

This has come up before—13" is an odd and unusual size compared to, say 12", You'd pretty much have to want a block rim unless you can find someone who has the forms to laminate 13" ones. or maybe Kellerman, as you say.

Lots of people make tension hoops, so that would not be a big deal, but you would have to have it made.

I was in North Carolina a couple of years ago and a player there had a 13" banjo that was made by a builder in Tennessee who makes that size as one of their models, and I think it had a laminated rim—wish I remembered who it was and had paid more attention to it—I may just be whistlin' Dixie. That's a lead, anyway. I could find out but it would take a few days to track it down because it would be three steps removed from the person I would ask.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 06/13/2021 07:13:00

Jun 13, 2021 - 11:01:11 AM

26 posts since 12/19/2019
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quote:
Originally posted by trapdoor2

When you spec anything outside the norm, you either have to be either inventive or rich.

13" banjos exist, but they are not very common. Drum heads can be used but they tend to be thick.

If you want to play, going with 12" is an order of magnitude easier. If you enjoy the process, "the hunt"...carry on.

Reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey". "You got to be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For a long time I was Smart...I recommend pleasant."


 

I have 3 12" banjos and several other banjo kinds. I heard a 13" ODE banjo and totally loved the sound. I want to build one for fun. A natural instinct was to attempt the 13". "the hunt" is what I have done all my life. I collect antique comics from childhood. Hunt is still on.

Didn't quite get the smart vs pleasant comparison. What does pleasant entail? Why can't one be both smart and pleasant?

Jun 13, 2021 - 11:04:47 AM

26 posts since 12/19/2019
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quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

I do stock 13" Remo plastic banjo heads. I have Renaissance and Fiberskyn in stock.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Awesome. I will connect with you to see what else 13" you got. excited.

Jun 13, 2021 - 11:10:49 AM

26 posts since 12/19/2019
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Thank you folks! Great input so far and lot of good pointers.

@banjobrewer and @srrobertsiii I contacted Zachary before posting this message. He can build me a block rim and a tension hoop with holes. I wanted to see if there were other options such as laminated rim, thinner shell, notched tension hoops, synthetic heads etc. and all the surprising/great info that can come up when we post a question to a broader audience. :)


Jun 13, 2021 - 11:29:17 AM

2654 posts since 4/7/2010
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quote:
Originally posted by naushadj
quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

I do stock 13" Remo plastic banjo heads. I have Renaissance and Fiberskyn in stock.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Awesome. I will connect with you to see what else 13" you got. excited.


I only have Renaissance and FIberskyn High crown 13" heads in stock. Custom orders are posible, but if you order less than 10 the cost will be close to $100 each, rather than the $55 of the ones I stock and buy in a reasonable quantity.

Jun 13, 2021 - 11:33:13 AM
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10966 posts since 4/23/2004

quote:
Originally posted by naushadj
quote:
Originally posted by trapdoor2


Reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey". "You got to be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For a long time I was Smart...I recommend pleasant."



Didn't quite get the smart vs pleasant comparison. What does pleasant entail? Why can't one be both smart and pleasant?


I think you'd need to see the movie. It is a great one and in context, my quote might make more sense. Had I known you already owned several, I probably wouldn't have replied at all.

However, I was really self-referring. I spent a lot of time and money on the hunt for my perfect banjo...antique, specialty, custom, etc. I too wanted a 13"...but when I got one, I discovered that it was not what I wanted. A few years later, I traded it off...only to discover I wanted it back about 5 yrs later...and ended up with something better anyway. I also built "my perfect BG banjo"...only to find I didn't like it much.

My point is (at least I think I had a point) is that looking back at my own experience, I could have been satisfied with 'normal' banjos. I was too smart for my own good and I would have been better served not chasing that 'perfect' banjo. OTOH, had I not gone thru all that...well, it is a chicken-egg thing.

I hope yours turns out perfect!

Jun 13, 2021 - 11:39:58 AM

5649 posts since 12/20/2005
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Zach Hoyt. Definitely.

You also have the option to mount a goat or calfskin head.
If you decide to have Zach put this together for you, and decide on a skin head, I'd be sure to mention it.
Zach can make the tension hoop a hair wider than normal. Makes it easier to install a skin head.

Jun 13, 2021 - 12:08:11 PM

26 posts since 12/19/2019
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quote:
Originally posted by trapdoor2
quote:
Originally posted by naushadj
quote:
Originally posted by trapdoor2


Reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey". "You got to be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For a long time I was Smart...I recommend pleasant."



Didn't quite get the smart vs pleasant comparison. What does pleasant entail? Why can't one be both smart and pleasant?


I think you'd need to see the movie. It is a great one and in context, my quote might make more sense. Had I known you already owned several, I probably wouldn't have replied at all.

However, I was really self-referring. I spent a lot of time and money on the hunt for my perfect banjo...antique, specialty, custom, etc. I too wanted a 13"...but when I got one, I discovered that it was not what I wanted. A few years later, I traded it off...only to discover I wanted it back about 5 yrs later...and ended up with something better anyway. I also built "my perfect BG banjo"...only to find I didn't like it much.

My point is (at least I think I had a point) is that looking back at my own experience, I could have been satisfied with 'normal' banjos. I was too smart for my own good and I would have been better served not chasing that 'perfect' banjo. OTOH, had I not gone thru all that...well, it is a chicken-egg thing.

I hope yours turns out perfect!


 

No worries. To be understood and to connect is primal desire. I was going to comment on your 'I could have been satisfied with 'normal' banjos' - that you realize that only on hindsight. But you already realize that as you said 'OTOH, had I not gone thru all that...'. You are right. What we didn't like in the past, we can learn to love when we have seen enough and enough context is built. But not just because of that. Our mind pushes away and pull back in all the time like ebb and flow (i.e. the moon's phases, low tide, high tide). Too much of a great thing suddenly feels distasteful. Keep it out of sight for some time and you will fall back in love with that thing soon enough.

Cheers!

Edited by - naushadj on 06/13/2021 12:08:50

Jun 13, 2021 - 1:21:29 PM

rmcdow

USA

938 posts since 11/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

This has come up before—13" is an odd and unusual size compared to, say 12", You'd pretty much have to want a block rim unless you can find someone who has the forms to laminate 13" ones. or maybe Kellerman, as you say.

Lots of people make tension hoops, so that would not be a big deal, but you would have to have it made.

I was in North Carolina a couple of years ago and a player there had a 13" banjo that was made by a builder in Tennessee who makes that size as one of their models, and I think it had a laminated rim—wish I remembered who it was and had paid more attention to it—I may just be whistlin' Dixie. That's a lead, anyway. I could find out but it would take a few days to track it down because it would be three steps removed from the person I would ask.


Nashville Banjo Co. makes a 13" banjo called the Governor.  

https://nashvillebanjos.com/

Jun 13, 2021 - 2:14:55 PM

13698 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

This has come up before—13" is an odd and unusual size compared to, say 12", You'd pretty much have to want a block rim unless you can find someone who has the forms to laminate 13" ones. or maybe Kellerman, as you say.

Lots of people make tension hoops, so that would not be a big deal, but you would have to have it made.

I was in North Carolina a couple of years ago and a player there had a 13" banjo that was made by a builder in Tennessee who makes that size as one of their models, and I think it had a laminated rim—wish I remembered who it was and had paid more attention to it—I may just be whistlin' Dixie. That's a lead, anyway. I could find out but it would take a few days to track it down because it would be three steps removed from the person I would ask.


Nashville Banjo Co. makes a 13" banjo called the Governor.  

https://nashvillebanjos.com/


Thanks Rives,

That looks like what I saw in Brevard, and made in Tennessee. My recollection is that there were a lot of us jamming, and another banjo player who was a very good bluegrass player who's primary banjo was a pre-war Granada, used this 13" one as a second instrument for certain tunes where she wanted a bassy percussive effect—it had a specific use.
 

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