Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

1027
Banjo Lovers Online


Springs for 24-25 Gibson Mastertone Ball Bearing Banjos?

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!
May 18, 2022 - 8:58:15 AM
likes this

timacn

USA

605 posts since 7/30/2004

Anybody know of a good source for replacement springs for a Gibson Mastertone with a ballbearing tone ring? I have heard they are difficult to find, but not impossible. Not sure of this, but I imagine that surely Gibson used readily available springs in their design, so wouldn't there be identical and/or similar springs available out there somewhere?

May 18, 2022 - 9:00:16 AM

timacn

USA

605 posts since 7/30/2004

I made a mistake! I think the first Gibson ball bearing banjo was made in 1925, not 1924. I think they made them for a couple years after that and then changed to archtop tone rings. Sorry for the error.

May 18, 2022 - 9:57:17 AM

4408 posts since 5/29/2011

I don't know if this company has the right size springs or not but it's a place to start. Springs are found in the hardware section.

http://fastenal.com

Edited by - Culloden on 05/18/2022 09:58:24

May 18, 2022 - 9:57:58 AM
like this

2866 posts since 4/5/2006

The springs in ball bearing banjos are Die springs. Very heavy spring rate. Goggle Century Spring & ask for a catalog. Find the heaviest spring having the correct length, O.D, & wire diameter.

Disassemble the pot in the bath tub, with the drain & the curtain closed. Don't mix up the spacers in the bottom of the spring pockets! Due to limitations of woodworking machinery of the day, the depth of each spring pocket (hole) was inconsistent. Thus necessitating a custom thickness spacer for each spring pocket.

There were a lot of parts & labor hours that went into producing the "ball bearing" banjo. Actually ,there are no ball bearings in the design, only the steel balls for bearings, which are held to very tight tolerances, Die springs, not so much. Everything considered, it is little wonder they were only produced for a short time.

Edited by - monstertone on 05/18/2022 10:01:09

May 18, 2022 - 10:36:14 AM
like this
Players Union Member

Foote

USA

577 posts since 3/25/2009

I have a 27 bb and I love it. For many years I couldn't get a decent tone. Thanks to threads I read here, I learned the bb set up. Jd is right about the spacers. I found that my balls were at different heights above the rim. Using a hole punch, you can punch out spacers from a business card and use these to bring the balls up to a little above the rim. Then using a drum dial, I set the head pressure uniformly around the head The result was amazing. From a dead sound to a full, sweet one. You'll be glad you went bb and not converted it to a different ring.

May 18, 2022 - 11:16:28 AM
like this

1852 posts since 5/19/2018

I have owned a few BB’s over the years. 25’s and 26’s, and 3’s and 4’s. All great instruments.

I have also been fool enough to take a few apart.

What ever you do, when you disassemble, do it on the floor and on a full spread out white sheet. Make sure you have a few dozen small baggies, cups or jar caps to hold the springs washers and balls. Number them. DO NOT turn the rim over once you remove the head and tone ring. If you do, your easy job has tuned into a few day job. Get some tweezers, take out the ball, the spring and how many washers are in the hole and put it in one numbered holder, then on to the next. As mentioned, each hole is a different depth. Some have one washer, some two, and maybe even one with three. You will find small pieces of Manila envelope sometimes.

A pain to set up, but once you do...amazing instruments.

The guy who originally had the job assembling BB banjo must have went insane doing the work. Probably the number one reason Gibson went with a one piece tone ring after the BB models.

May 18, 2022 - 1:12:37 PM
like this

RB3

USA

1304 posts since 4/12/2004

Grainger and McMaster-Carr are two additional industrial suppliers that would have a good selection of compression springs.

May 19, 2022 - 2:24:22 PM

2866 posts since 4/5/2006

My Brother (RIP) played & collected tenor banjos. One day he brought out a couple banjos I had not seen. One was a Ludwig (interesting pot/tone ring design), the other was a Gibson BB. Although Scott didn't care much for it's sound, his main gripe about the BB was the shorter than standard scale length, which messed up his (left hand) playing. I later discovered it was an early '25 Royal PT, having what's called the shotgun skirt. Scott warned me about changing the head on those banjos.

I tried to buy that BB several  times. Finally, Scott agreed to loan it to me, on a more or less, permanent basis. I had a 5 string neck built & played it for several years. Never had a complaint for lack of volume. What those banjos lack in volume, they make up for in rarity, especially having that shotgun skirt! wink

The BB eventually found its way home, inspiring Scott to try Scruggs style picking. I left the banjo & a set of picks with him, & no longer had to pack a banjo from L.A. to Indy & back.    


May 19, 2022 - 9:07:23 PM

4046 posts since 5/1/2003

I saw a set of springs in the classifieds just this morning.

May 20, 2022 - 7:51:03 PM

timacn

USA

605 posts since 7/30/2004

Must have sold. Can't find them.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!
May 29, 2022 - 7:24:25 PM

2866 posts since 4/5/2006

FWIW: The intended use for those springs used in ball bearing banjos is on what is called the stripper plate on a die set. The stripper plate, as the name implies, strips either the part or the scrap, off the punches. Some of the punch presses have more than enough power to compress a gang of the heaviest springs as much as 1/3 their length. 

The springs used on the ball bearing banjos are relatively small in comparison to the largest, and on the banjo, they are only compressed maybe .030 to .060" but, there are a lot of them.  :-)  

Jun 2, 2022 - 6:50:07 PM

12202 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by timacn

I made a mistake! I think the first Gibson ball bearing banjo was made in 1925, not 1924. I think they made them for a couple years after that and then changed to archtop tone rings. Sorry for the error.


The 1923–24 Style 4 and 5 banjos had springs under the bearings. The Style 3 did not. These pre-dated the Mastertone in 1925.

Jun 2, 2022 - 9:44:52 PM

timacn

USA

605 posts since 7/30/2004

So the ball bearings on Gibson banjos predated the Gibson Mastertone in 1925? I did not know that. Wasn't it one of Loar's ideas?

Jun 3, 2022 - 3:36:23 AM
Players Union Member

Foote

USA

577 posts since 3/25/2009

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by timacn

I made a mistake! I think the first Gibson ball bearing banjo was made in 1925, not 1924. I think they made them for a couple years after that and then changed to archtop tone rings. Sorry for the error.


The 1923–24 Style 4 and 5 banjos had springs under the bearings. The Style 3 did not. These pre-dated the Mastertone in 1925.


Hi Mike.  I have a '26 bb 8527-95 style 3 and it has springs.  I have the original tenor neck with the leaves and bows   Great banjo.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.234375