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Dec 2, 2021 - 7:38:43 AM
43 posts since 1/11/2021

Hi everyone,

This question might sounds stupid but I have a Recording King R35 and after removing all the strings to change them, I realized that there is only 4 slots where the tailpiece is bend to 90°. There is of course 5 slots where the tailpiece goes over the head. Conclusion, one of those string doesn't go in a slot in that area. But what is the string that doesn't go in the slot? I have the feeling is the 3th string, but I'm not really sure... Thanks

Dec 2, 2021 - 7:54:45 AM

BobbyE

USA

3005 posts since 11/29/2007

I am not sure what tailpiece your banjo normally wears but if there is not a slot for the third string just let it go to wherever it wants to go under tension. You are right in that it should be the third string. Those who are familiar with the tailpiece your banjo wears can help as well.

Bobby

Edited by - BobbyE on 12/02/2021 07:58:57

Dec 2, 2021 - 8:02:19 AM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10043 posts since 1/22/2003

This is the original design of the Presto tailpiece, also the 5-string version. Only the Presto by Prucha has five slots…

Dec 2, 2021 - 8:14:03 AM

2133 posts since 2/4/2013

I'm confused - what are the slots at the bend?

Dec 2, 2021 - 8:15:04 AM

43 posts since 1/11/2021

Thanks guys, I'll just let it go somewhere in the middle ??

Dec 2, 2021 - 8:25:24 AM
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43 posts since 1/11/2021

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

I'm confused - what are the slots at the bend?


The slots are the little dents that keep the strings in place. And by bend I mean the transition from the banjo side to the top.

Dec 2, 2021 - 8:53:47 AM
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4089 posts since 5/29/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Benedictus
quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

I'm confused - what are the slots at the bend?


The slots are the little dents that keep the strings in place. And by bend I mean the transition from the banjo side to the top.


This is what he is referring to.


 

Dec 2, 2021 - 8:57:46 AM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10043 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Benedictus

Thanks guys, I'll just let it go somewhere in the middle ??


Yes, just like the strings arrange themselves naturally. Originally, a 4-string tailpiece; the five-string version with the extra oval hole was never adjusted to 5 strings in this respect (except by Prucha). The five tongues you see, are also there to be able to accommodate 4 ball-end strings (and also 5 loop-end strings).

On this picture one can see, if looking closely, the five tongues and 4 slots (or notches):

Dec 2, 2021 - 9:01:06 AM
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43 posts since 1/11/2021

Thanks for that very interesting response

Dec 2, 2021 - 9:14:19 AM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10043 posts since 1/22/2003

Maybe I should elaborate just a bit more on this. The original patent does say it's a tailpiece for both 4- and 5-string banjos, but it was clearly designed more with the 4-string banjo in mind…

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:34:47 AM
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1715 posts since 2/9/2007

That one is a 4-string tailpiece, as it lacks the hole in the middle (for the 3rd string on a 5-stringer)

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:49:32 AM
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Emiel

Austria

10043 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

That one is a 4-string tailpiece, as it lacks the hole in the middle (for the 3rd string on a 5-stringer)


I know, but that's irrelevant. The one with the hole also had traditionally only four notches…

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:54:44 AM
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jbalch

USA

8808 posts since 11/28/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Emiel

This is the original design of the Presto tailpiece, also the 5-string version. Only the Presto by Prucha has five slots…


Correct - and keep in mind that most original Grover Patent Presto tailpieces were sold for tenor or plectrum (4-string) banjos.  The less common 5-string version was simply a modified tenor banjo part.  It was made by adding a punched hole for the middle string.  

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:55:09 AM
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1715 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Emiel
quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

That one is a 4-string tailpiece, as it lacks the hole in the middle (for the 3rd string on a 5-stringer)


I know, but that's irrelevant. The one with the hole also had traditionally only four notches…


Oh yeah.  duh....

Dec 2, 2021 - 11:12:32 AM

14442 posts since 10/30/2008
Online Now

But! Does the added (5th) slot at the bend in the Prucha tailpiece change the pre-war tone????? Hmmmmm????

Dec 2, 2021 - 11:17:05 AM
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4089 posts since 5/29/2011

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

But! Does the added (5th) slot at the bend in the Prucha tailpiece change the pre-war tone????? Hmmmmm????


A dog or a rat MIGHT hear the difference.

Dec 2, 2021 - 11:40:19 AM
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6666 posts since 9/21/2007
Online Now

There seems to be some rumor and speculation about the Presto tailpiece. Here is some documentation to set it straight.

The Presto tailpiece was designed by A. D. Grover (a "classic era" fingerstyle banjoist and engineer) as a sort of catch all tailpiece. With three main types of banjo instruments, many parts suppliers were looking to design single parts that worked for plectrum, tenor and regular banjo. Parts that were cheap to produce with one set of tooling.

Reading the patent it is clear that Grover had the 5 string regular banjo in mind--- but not with wire strings. Since the regular banjo was still largely gut or silk strung at the time, the hooks were not for "ball end" but rather knots in the end of gut or silk strings.

patents.google.com/patent/US1566745A/

"In the present invention my improved tailpiece receives looped strings and knotted strings equally well, a condition which enables the tail piece to be used on either 4 or 5 string type of instruments, wherein the wire strings are looped and the gut-strings and silk strings are knotted."

All of the other features are spelled out in the patent.

Keep in mind that the idea was quick string change. With a set of gut strings, the third broke the least if ever. More often it would wear out before breaking. Threading it through a hole was not a big deal. It was the 1st, 5th, and 4th strings that would break most often and the Presto allowed for fast string changes while putting pressure on the bridge.

Here is the announcement from June 1923

mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1923-76-24/35/

Other tailpieces designed for gut strings used a similar arrangement--- hooking all but the third which gets threaded through the center.

A good example of this is Fred Van Eps' design. While he made 4 string banjos, he was quick to explain that he never played them. All that he did was for the 5 string.

A long time ago I sold an original presto 5 string for a friend. The slots were very slight and not positioned as they are on the replicas.

banjohangout.org/classified/61027

If I used this for for gut strings, a knot would be tied in the end of the string then the string would be hooked under the tab or hook. This would place the string at the side of the hook when traveling over the bend-- directly in the notch or slot. Since the third lasted the longest one would double up and have the second string share the same slot.

Though the patent drawing shows looped strings, Grover likely had it in mind that the gut strings would sit between each hook with the fifth on the outer left hook and not doubled up like I would use it.

So the 4 slots are correctly positioned... for 5 gut strings.

To set the record straight. There is no doubt in my mind that it was designed as a 5 string tailpiece. That is what Grover played.

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 12/02/2021 11:46:54

Dec 3, 2021 - 1:01:14 AM

11934 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

There seems to be some rumor and speculation about the Presto tailpiece. Here is some documentation to set it straight.

The Presto tailpiece was designed by A. D. Grover (a "classic era" fingerstyle banjoist and engineer) as a sort of catch all tailpiece. With three main types of banjo instruments, many parts suppliers were looking to design single parts that worked for plectrum, tenor and regular banjo. Parts that were cheap to produce with one set of tooling.

Reading the patent it is clear that Grover had the 5 string regular banjo in mind--- but not with wire strings. Since the regular banjo was still largely gut or silk strung at the time, the hooks were not for "ball end" but rather knots in the end of gut or silk strings.

patents.google.com/patent/US1566745A/

"In the present invention my improved tailpiece receives looped strings and knotted strings equally well, a condition which enables the tail piece to be used on either 4 or 5 string type of instruments, wherein the wire strings are looped and the gut-strings and silk strings are knotted."

All of the other features are spelled out in the patent.

Keep in mind that the idea was quick string change. With a set of gut strings, the third broke the least if ever. More often it would wear out before breaking. Threading it through a hole was not a big deal. It was the 1st, 5th, and 4th strings that would break most often and the Presto allowed for fast string changes while putting pressure on the bridge.

Here is the announcement from June 1923

mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1923-76-24/35/

Other tailpieces designed for gut strings used a similar arrangement--- hooking all but the third which gets threaded through the center.

A good example of this is Fred Van Eps' design. While he made 4 string banjos, he was quick to explain that he never played them. All that he did was for the 5 string.

A long time ago I sold an original presto 5 string for a friend. The slots were very slight and not positioned as they are on the replicas.

banjohangout.org/classified/61027

If I used this for for gut strings, a knot would be tied in the end of the string then the string would be hooked under the tab or hook. This would place the string at the side of the hook when traveling over the bend-- directly in the notch or slot. Since the third lasted the longest one would double up and have the second string share the same slot.

Though the patent drawing shows looped strings, Grover likely had it in mind that the gut strings would sit between each hook with the fifth on the outer left hook and not doubled up like I would use it.

So the 4 slots are correctly positioned... for 5 gut strings.

To set the record straight. There is no doubt in my mind that it was designed as a 5 string tailpiece. That is what Grover played.


I'm going to have to disagree with that. The first banjo to use it was the Vegaphone Professional, nearly all of which were tenors or plectrums. I know of only one confirmed original 5 string that belonged to the late Mike Holmes — it would surprise me if a few more were not made.

I agree that it clearly was designed to accept gut which explains why Gibson adopted it a couple years later. With the Presto, the Mastertones could finally accept the gut strings favored by so many top players. In the '30s, things changed, of course.

 

There was a true 5 string version made for steel strings. Whether Waverly made it for Grover (they were the actual manufacturers of many Grover products) or sold it under their own name is something I do not know—I have never seen one branded. I suspect that, with the patent expiring long before, Grover was no longer involved with this 'piece. Because it, like the Presto before it, broke rather easily under the .012" – .026"w strings common in the '60s, a lot of 1960s Vegas no longer have their original tailpieces.

Damn, I tried to upload pictures but that isn't working this evening. Well, this is one on a PS-5. It has the 5 grooves under the cover.

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