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Apr 10, 2022 - 12:28:45 PM
3 posts since 4/10/2022

I picked up an open-back banjo head at a sale years ago and would like to get a neck and any other hardware to complete the build. I'd love some advice about what to consider and where to look for the various parts. Best case scenario, I'd like to find a scooped, partially fretless neck. Thanks for your ideas and feedback!


Apr 10, 2022 - 2:21:56 PM
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4409 posts since 5/29/2011
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Do you want to do the work yourself? Or are you wanting a neck made for your pot?
You might want to look through the classified ads on here under banjo parts. Sometimes you can luck up and find something on eBay that works. If you want to have a neck made, Zachary Hoyt and Mark Hickler are two banjo makers who come to mind that both do excellent work. They are both members here.

Apr 10, 2022 - 2:46:01 PM

3 posts since 4/10/2022

Thanks for the reply! As a new member here, my next stop will be the marketplace section to see what I can find. I'm not looking for a perfect outcome... just something that is good enough and comfortable enough for casual playing at an intermediate level. I'm generally pretty handy, but have only dabbled in instrument care a few times, and don't really know where to start with this project, or how I should be thinking about what to do on my own vs. have someone with more knowledge do. If I could find something "off the rack" that was good enough and a low-risk investment, I'd be comfortable assembling parts on my own.

I was once told that the head is a non-standard size (about 10.5 inches inside diameter). I don't know if that's an accurate statement, or if it is something that I need to consider when picking out a neck and dowel stick.

Apr 10, 2022 - 3:43 PM
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4409 posts since 5/29/2011
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To measure the head, put the tape measure across the rim inside the tension hoop. Or you could measure the bottom of the rim, outside to outside. Take measurements in several places because some old rims get out of round over time. The diameter of the rim will determine the length of the dowel stick. A stick that is too long can be cut off but one that is too short can be a real problem.

If you have a non-standard size rim and you need a head contact Bob Smakula. He is a member here and a really good guy to deal with. He has a lot of heads of different sizes and might even be able to steer you in the right direction on a neck.

Apr 10, 2022 - 3:51:12 PM

3 posts since 4/10/2022

Thanks, Mark! Really appreciate you sharing your expertise.


Apr 10, 2022 - 5:16:29 PM
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4233 posts since 2/20/2016

Other possibilities:

I believe that Larry Hill [Helix] can also make you a neck. Zach Hoyt is preparing to move to a new home and set up a new shop, so it may take him a little while to deliver a neck.

Both Gold Tone and Saga sell necks with a fretted fingerboard installed.
You would have to figure out how to mount and secure the neck and fit the heel, or find someone with experience to do that part of the job.

Or, if you're really brave, you could find some good hard maple and buy a pre-slotted fingerboard, and start carving away everything that doesn't look like a banjo neck. Hint: If you make a 3 piece laminated neck with a good hardwood center section, you can probably get away without having to rout it and install a truss rod.
Or if you're really clever, you can find a way to recess the center section to provide your truss rod channel.

Apr 11, 2022 - 3:44:32 AM
Players Union Member



15609 posts since 8/30/2006

Andy, welcome to the hangout.
Thanks Bob for the kind words.
I'm suspicious of 10.5" heads
The Saga necks are playable, absolute entry level.
I have used many GOLD TONE kit necks, and 2005 frets on my new OB250 are still working nicely.

I just looked at Gold Tone's website, as they offer blems and seconds. Call them, they are nice people.
I built an Osage Orange rim with a GOLD TONE blem OT800 longneck recently. We couldn't find the blem, so cool, huh.

I have one blem neck, Cherry 3-piece with Ebony stripe made in Kentucky, no fingerboard, single acting truss rod. 

(  ))==='= :: }

Edited by - Helix on 04/11/2022 03:54:38

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