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Aug 16, 2021 - 4:26:14 PM
882 posts since 3/1/2005

Not in anger, of course, but do you ever hit your banjo?

Every once in a while my banjo will sound real sluggish right out of the case: kind of hollow and tubby. If I hit the tension hoop a few times with the pinky-side of my fist -- not hard, but not exactly weak either -- then it brightens right up. If the neck is north, then I "hit" the tension hoop right around northwest.

I got this idea from somebody online many years ago who said he believed some parts were getting stuck together (head and ring? neck and pot?) that should be snug but not stuck. He theorized that perhaps the case held the banjo in an unfriendly manner. Anyway, however it works, it does work pretty well. I also remember reading somewhere that some pickers gently tap against the heel of their necks to make their banjos open up more.

In any case, does anybody else do this? (If you try this, don't go crazy -- I'm talking about soft taps, not whaling on the banjo.)

Aug 16, 2021 - 4:41:22 PM
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kg4muc

USA

31 posts since 3/11/2006

I have come close to a ball-peen hammer and a thrashing with some of mine down through the years. Downright disgusting though when you know it can and has sounded much better than it is at the moment. I threw a hissy fit on mine after a show earlier back in the summer :) All of a sudden it was just dead as dead could be! Taxes the nerves LOL

Aug 16, 2021 - 4:48:30 PM
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882 posts since 3/1/2005

quote:
Originally posted by kg4muc

I have come close to a ball-peen hammer and a thrashing with some of mine down through the years. Downright disgusting though when you know it can and has sounded much better than it is at the moment. I threw a hissy fit on mine after a show earlier back in the summer :) All of a sudden it was just dead as dead could be! Taxes the nerves LOL


Oh, I know the feeling!

Aug 16, 2021 - 4:54:41 PM

kg4muc

USA

31 posts since 3/11/2006

I try to practice self-control ( oh sure I do ), but that day it was just a given that something had to give LOL.

Aug 16, 2021 - 4:59:55 PM

2714 posts since 3/30/2008

This may be a carry over from an earlier tradition. In the days of skin heads, drummers would always press hard on the skin head before tuning, to get out the slack & stuck looseness from a head that changes with the weather. It was done  w/  drums but also with  banjo heads.  

Edited by - tdennis on 08/16/2021 17:02:43

Aug 16, 2021 - 5:26:42 PM
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12295 posts since 6/2/2008

Presto tailpieces can definitely bind against the back side of the tension hoop and then stay in place even if the anchoring screw is not pulling down on them. So they need to knocked loose so it's the screw holding it.

Strings can bind in the nut and bridge slots. As part of changing strings, I tug them out of the bridge slots after I've tuned them to pitch one time. I'll do that again from time-to-time. Maybe months later.

But never hit my banjo in the way described. I'll have to think about that next time one of my banjos isn't sounding like it should.

Aug 16, 2021 - 5:50:41 PM
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14250 posts since 10/30/2008

Nope, not me.

Aug 16, 2021 - 8:01:47 PM
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2568 posts since 10/17/2013

Usually, a loud “Now start sounding GOOD!” shouted at the banjo head, is plenty warning for my banjo to stop goofing off and get down to business.

Aug 16, 2021 - 9:12:49 PM
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117 posts since 2/16/2008

I just give mine a few kisses and that does the trick......

Aug 16, 2021 - 9:16:09 PM

882 posts since 3/1/2005

LOL!

Aug 16, 2021 - 9:21:48 PM
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4183 posts since 10/18/2007
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Isn't spanking your banjo against the law in some states?

Aug 17, 2021 - 5:24:19 AM
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lapsteel

Canada

620 posts since 8/13/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Cornflake

Isn't spanking your banjo against the law in some states?


...only if it's in minor tuning

Aug 17, 2021 - 6:08:47 AM

4656 posts since 11/20/2004

I once read about someone tapping on the neck to "wake up" their banjo. I have picked mine up and it sounded a little dead. I admit to hitting the neck a few times with my left hand knuckles and I do think it helps. Give it a try, but tell it they are love taps, not punishment.

Aug 17, 2021 - 6:35:04 AM
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8998 posts since 8/28/2013
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You should never hit a banjo if it has a skin head. It might start crying, and the moisture will make the head go slack and the salt in those tears could corrode the tone ring.

Aug 17, 2021 - 7:05:02 AM

Owen

Canada

9587 posts since 6/5/2011

..... 'way back, it used to work* for some radios, TVs and the like.   Why not banjos?     cheeky 

* = otoh, where are those radios and TVs now??

Aug 17, 2021 - 7:27:53 AM
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237 posts since 8/25/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Owen

..... 'way back, it used to work* for some radios, TVs and the like.   Why not banjos?     cheeky 

* = otoh, where are those radios and TVs now??


I've got one of them up in the attic, waiting for the local drug store to restock the tube that's burned out.  cheeky

Aug 17, 2021 - 11:02:35 AM
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8998 posts since 8/28/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by Half Barbaric Twanger
quote:
Originally posted by Owen

..... 'way back, it used to work* for some radios, TVs and the like.   Why not banjos?     cheeky 

* = otoh, where are those radios and TVs now??


I've got one of them up in the attic, waiting for the local drug store to restock the tube that's burned out.  cheeky


That tube probably burned out because some idiot broke its filament when he started banging on the thing.

Aug 17, 2021 - 5:54:04 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14612 posts since 8/30/2006

I have a mentor, he is older

He showed me that. I don’t use it much

i do fit the heel @ 5" radius, then it forms to fit

a dry patch on the rim under a dry heel?

Edited by - Helix on 08/17/2021 17:58:28

Aug 18, 2021 - 10:08:05 PM
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561 posts since 2/5/2014

I’m gonna have to call BPS on y’all (Banjo Protective Services)

I suppose if the judge were to throw the case out, he’d have to toss the banjo out as well…

Aug 20, 2021 - 1:06:47 PM

882 posts since 3/1/2005

quote:
Originally posted by lightgauge

I once read about someone tapping on the neck to "wake up" their banjo. I have picked mine up and it sounded a little dead. I admit to hitting the neck a few times with my left hand knuckles and I do think it helps. Give it a try, but tell it they are love taps, not punishment.


I believe we read the same thing. I want to say it was a European picker who did it? In any case, I thought it was pretty silly until I tried it. Not magic and doesn't make you sound like Scruggs, but I'm glad I started doing it.

Funny thing is, I think I only ever feel the need to do it (which is rare) when the banjo has been in a cold place, either in the case or out.

Aug 20, 2021 - 7:11:06 PM

58286 posts since 12/14/2005

At a jam, somebody was singing "PARADISE", and when he got to "...we'd shoot with our pistols..", gave my banjo head a sharp SLAP! to sound like a pistol shot.
He was not PLEASANTLY surprised.

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