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Oct 18, 2021 - 7:41 AM
1528 posts since 8/30/2012

Looking for input on "traditional/classic" setup options for a Whyte Laydie No 2 banjo.

Current plan is to put on a calfskin head from JBalch, an uncapped 'mystery wood' bridge from Bart Veerman, and GHS PF140s (JD Crowe 'studio'). It has a Kershner/Waverly type tailpiece and I'll probably leave that on, although I could swap it for a no-knot I have laying around.

Questions:

Did WLs of the 1920s come with steel or nylon strings? I'm considering nylon strings (La Bella 17s), any input or experience with using nylon on a WL is appreciated.

Any recommendations for bridges are appreciated. More interested in specifications and species, as opposed to brand names. Veerman gives two options for weight on his uncapped 'mystery wood' bridge, heavier and lighter, not sure which would work better. I'm also thinking about a bridge from Joel Hooks, any words of experience matching one of his bridges with a WL are appreciated.

Oct 18, 2021 - 8:25:28 AM

790 posts since 12/19/2010

Steven, I have a 1903 WL #2 with a 10 3/4" rim. I have light-gauge steels strings on it, but I have tried nylguts too, and they sounded good. It sort of depends on what you want to go for. I play clawhammer as well as 2F and 3F on my WL, so it functions as my cross-over instrument.

I've messed around with a bunch of bridges (all 1/2 inch), and have settled on a generic Stew-Mac, maple/ebony-topped, compensated bridge.

A have a calfskin head from Stern tanning (John sells those) that I think is perfect for the instrument.

I've gone back and forth between the original no-knot tailpiece, and a Kershner. The later brightens to tone, whereas the no-knot gives a bit more low-end. Currently, I'm back to the no-knot.

There are plenty of combos that will work, all depending on what you like. My general approach has been to make one change at a time. I always start with the head, and then dial in the with bridge and tailpiece.

Have fun. The WL is a versatile instrument.

Oct 18, 2021 - 8:31 AM

2177 posts since 2/12/2009

I guess it depends what you intend to play on it, my main player is a late 20s early 30s WL, I use a 1/2" maple one piece bridge and I found Labellas to be too light for my playing so am currently using Clifford Essex light gauge which are around 20 or 21 gauge as opposed to the Labellas which are I believe 19 gauge, that slight difference really bought mine to life and felt much better under my fingers, I believe a heavier tailpiece also improved things all round, I use a Fielding on mine and love it although I have a Kershner on my Tubaphone which I also like very much, I dislike noknot tailpieces because I really like the extra downward pressure these lack, I sometimes use an old Kershner too when I fancy a change but, worry a bit about the method of stringing causing damage to nylon strings, I use mine mostly for classic style playing although it clawhammer/frails wonderfully too, very authentic sounding.

Oct 18, 2021 - 8:49:48 AM

lucass

USA

27 posts since 1/4/2020

My Bart Reiter regent (WL ring, 11") has a Balch skin head, Purcell locust bridge, hawk tailpiece and PF160’s on it. I tune it up to A or D, no capo.  Stuffed with a little lab skin/wool strip from the paint store.  It sounds killer.

Not necessarily what the OP is asking, but a little perspective. I think the locust bridge from Purcell is a big part of it’s tone, I recommend trying it out. I don't recommend tuning up a vintage WL with PF 160's though ;)

Edited by - lucass on 10/18/2021 08:51:50

Oct 18, 2021 - 10:58:04 AM

6571 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones



Questions:

Did WLs of the 1920s come with steel or nylon strings? I'm considering nylon strings (La Bella 17s), any input or experience with using nylon on a WL is appreciated.
 


Answer:  Regular 5 string banjos as cataloged by Vega, "Trimmings, Non slip Grover patent banjo pegs, Sure Grip tail-piece, true strings, selected Roger's head, waterproofed, fitted wit square brass wire to prevent slipping."

"True strings" was a name given to gut strings that had been rectified and varnished to be "true" or even in thickness the entire length. 

Oct 19, 2021 - 12:15:19 PM

11833 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Answer:  Regular 5 string banjos as cataloged by Vega, "Trimmings, Non slip Grover patent banjo pegs, Sure Grip tail-piece, true strings, selected Roger's head, waterproofed, fitted wit square brass wire to prevent slipping."

"True strings" was a name given to gut strings that had been rectified and varnished to be "true" or even in thickness the entire length. 

 


Though not really necessary—properly mounted heads don't slip, I have one of those square Vega flesh hoops for the Professional (10 15/16") sized pot. It could be cut down to fit the Regular sized pot if desired. PM me if interested.

Oct 19, 2021 - 12:56:03 PM

6571 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Answer:  Regular 5 string banjos as cataloged by Vega, "Trimmings, Non slip Grover patent banjo pegs, Sure Grip tail-piece, true strings, selected Roger's head, waterproofed, fitted wit square brass wire to prevent slipping."

"True strings" was a name given to gut strings that had been rectified and varnished to be "true" or even in thickness the entire length. 

 


Though not really necessary—properly mounted heads don't slip, I have one of those square Vega flesh hoops for the Professional (10 15/16") sized pot. It could be cut down to fit the Regular sized pot if desired. PM me if interested.


Yep, I can't say I've ever had a problem with a round flesh hoop.

Oct 20, 2021 - 5:45:23 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14805 posts since 8/30/2006

me neither


 

Oct 20, 2021 - 10:25:32 AM

hbick2

USA

466 posts since 6/26/2004
Online Now

A while back there was a discussion about tailpieces on Whyte Laydie and Tubaphone banjos. I looked back at some catalogues and here is what I found. Note: the Sure Grip tailpiece is what we now call the Cammed No Knot

1906 Fairbanks Catalogue

Whyte Laydie No. 2 No Knot

Whyte Laydie No. 7 No Knot

1912 Vega Catalogue

Whyte Laydie No. 2 No Knot

Whyte Laydie No. 7 Sure Grip

Tubaphone No. 3 Sure Grip

Tubaphone No. 9 Sure Grip

Tubaphone Deluxe Combination Sure Grip and Unique

1923 Vega Catalogue

Whyte Laydie No. 2 Sure Grip

Whyte Laydie No. 7 Sure Grip

Tubaphone No. 3 Sure Grip

Tubaphone No. 9 Kershner Unique

Tubaphone Deluxe Kershner Unique

 

I have two Fairbanks Whyte Laydies. One has a plastic head, steel strings and a No Knot Tailpiece. The other has a calfskin head, NylGut strings and a Sure Grip Tailpiece. I much prefer these tailpieces to the Kershners. I feel the Kershners stifle the sound somewhat. 
 

Oct 20, 2021 - 2:40:09 PM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9999 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by hbick2

I have two Fairbanks Whyte Laydies. One has a plastic head, steel strings and a No Knot Tailpiece. The other has a calfskin head, NylGut strings and a Sure Grip Tailpiece. I much prefer these tailpieces to the Kershners. I feel the Kershners stifle the sound somewhat. 
 


True, but the Presto is also a very good tailpiece; it does not stifle…

Edited by - Emiel on 10/20/2021 14:40:25

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