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May 21, 2022 - 9:32:19 PM
283 posts since 12/6/2021

Over the years I have noticed that most banjos have resonator (thumb) screws that have ridges on the edge and are smooth, either flat or round on the top. Some of them, but not many, have a Philips screwdriver slot on the top. I have found that the Philips type of screws are much easier and faster to install and remove. I suppose that this is so because it is easy to over tighten the screws using a screwdriver than using your finger and thumb and the screws should not be over tightened. But, I actually prefer the Philips type. Which type do most players and luthiers prefer?

May 22, 2022 - 4:43:29 AM
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304 posts since 3/2/2013

The philips type are seen more on the cheaper entry level banjos. I prefer the thumb screws because i'm a traditionalist myself, and it is worth mentioning these also are easy to overtighten as well. Not only does this put unecessary stress on the brackets but i've found when the resonator screws are just barely tight the tone/timbre of my banjos open up. Not to a huge earthshaking degree but it does have a significant impact.

Edited by - 81goldstar on 05/22/2022 04:45:20

May 22, 2022 - 5:36:37 AM
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14604 posts since 6/29/2005

The Phillips, or perhaps a hex socket makes much more sense to me (and my own non-Gibson banjo design uses a hex socket), but if you are making a Gibson copy, the smooth top knurled thumb screw is definitely "authentic".

It's hard for me to imagine how you would overtighten the Gibson style ones, and it's not outside the realm of possibility to make a special socket tool with a urethane lining that wouldn't scratch the plating, to more easily remove them.

May 22, 2022 - 5:51:41 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15612 posts since 8/30/2006

The Gold Tone kit is the best thought out.
The Phillips heads definitely make things easier.
Instead of just threading into the side of the resonator,
Gold Tone is the only one using brass barrels inside to mount with. No drilling into the rim.
The older ones have a two way mounting system so there is a high and low setting done by flipping the brackets.
I have all the different kits.
I prefer not having to drill little holes in the rim to mount hardware.
For vintage work, I suggest and prefer magnets, they are cleaner and less intrusive. No knurled knobs.

May 22, 2022 - 7:52:13 AM
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15 posts since 2/25/2018

Just a note about magnets.
My banjo teacher has a pacemaker. A strong magnet Can be problematic.

May 22, 2022 - 8:12:49 AM

13319 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I prefer not having to drill little holes in the rim to mount hardware.


Two ways around that:

T-brackets that are held to the underside of the flange by nuts on two tension hooks.

The Deering method in which the thumbscrews go through small holes in the flange that align with the threaded holes in the resonator wall lugs. The thumbscrews press directly on the flange which then presses directly on the resonator ledge.  No brackets required.

May 22, 2022 - 9:15:57 AM
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32 posts since 8/13/2021

Phillips head (screw head types), were not patented until around early 1930's, so if a "purists" were replacing these screws or doing a period correct build, probably not a good choice. Any screw choice would depend on your build, replacement needs, or just a personal preference.

May 22, 2022 - 10:29:31 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

283 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by 81goldstar

The philips type are seen more on the cheaper entry level banjos. I prefer the thumb screws because i'm a traditionalist myself, and it is worth mentioning these also are easy to overtighten as well. Not only does this put unecessary stress on the brackets but i've found when the resonator screws are just barely tight the tone/timbre of my banjos open up. Not to a huge earthshaking degree but it does have a significant impact.


I get ya about the "cheaper entry level banjos," but do you know if there are any more expensive quality professional type banjos that come with Phillip head resonator screws?

Robert

May 22, 2022 - 10:57:17 AM
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304 posts since 3/2/2013

quote:
Originally posted by TN Time
quote:
Originally posted by 81goldstar

The philips type are seen more on the cheaper entry level banjos. I prefer the thumb screws because i'm a traditionalist myself, and it is worth mentioning these also are easy to overtighten as well. Not only does this put unecessary stress on the brackets but i've found when the resonator screws are just barely tight the tone/timbre of my banjos open up. Not to a huge earthshaking degree but it does have a significant impact.


I get ya about the "cheaper entry level banjos," but do you know if there are any more expensive quality professional type banjos that come with Phillip head resonator screws?

Robert


I don't other than maybe custom builds. 

May 22, 2022 - 1:22:31 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

283 posts since 12/6/2021

But then, in the big scheme of things, who is going to notice the resonator screws anyway?

Robert

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May 22, 2022 - 4:47:03 PM

14767 posts since 10/30/2008

1925-26 Gibson Mastertones used hex head screws for resonator attachment. Used the same wrench as the tension hook nuts. Pain in the ass to use.

The WORST were the smooth spherical knobs on the early Fender Artists. Impossible to get a grip on to tighten (or loosen).

May 22, 2022 - 5:26:17 PM
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304 posts since 3/2/2013

quote:
Originally posted by TN Time

But then, in the big scheme of things, who is going to notice the resonator screws anyway?

Robert


And I guess if I was constantly taking the res off and on I would be all about the philips screws but really how many times a week does a person do this if theyre not luthiers? 

Edited by - 81goldstar on 05/22/2022 17:27:19

May 22, 2022 - 6:51:26 PM

502 posts since 1/24/2004

I have a 2014 Recording King RK36 that has small-diameter phillips-head resonator screws. They're a pain to undo with your fingers. I wouldn't want to have to carry a large screwdriver in my case and prefer to be able to remove the screws with my fingers. Every time I use them I think about replacing them, which also would mean replacing the wall lugs as they used a smaller size thread than Gibson-standard banjos. I see that newer RKs have gone to Gibson-style screws, so maybe I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

May 23, 2022 - 10:27:15 AM

beegee

USA

22964 posts since 7/6/2005

Easy enough to change to different type. One of my Fender Artist's has round, ball-like screws, which I do not like. They are quite attractive and look as if they were designed to be decorative as well as functional.. The later one has knurled screws.I do not like the phillips screws, no way, no how. They look cheap because they are. I have learned over the years to keep the knurled screws snug, but not tight enough to require any tools to loosen

May 23, 2022 - 11:26:05 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

283 posts since 12/6/2021

I'll have to differ with ya on that one Mr. BG. The Phillips screws don't look cheap to me at all. I don't see how they are "cheap," as they don't look or feel different from the smooth top type and they are way more practical. I wonder how many resonators have fallen off banjos because they had the "cheap" Phillips screws holding them on?

Robert

May 23, 2022 - 1:00:37 PM
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Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5796 posts since 10/12/2009

Phillips head resonator (thumb)screws are just an open invitation to neophytes to take a screwdriver and crank them down way, way too tight.

May 23, 2022 - 4:22:28 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

283 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

Phillips head resonator (thumb)screws are just an open invitation to neophytes to take a screwdriver and crank them down way, way too tight.

 


Agreed. That's what I suggested in my OP.

Robert

May 23, 2022 - 5:11:17 PM

Owen

Canada

11228 posts since 6/5/2011

I thought the reason (?) for not having some sort of slot/drive/???  in the head was so that ham-handed guys like me would have increased difficulty getting 'em started right/straight due lack of finger room.  wink

Having said that, for most applications, Phillips is arguably better than a straight slot, which is arguably better than nothing.    Robertson, torx, allen, etc., etc. pretty much all would be better than Phillips, IMNSHumbleO.

I'm not bad at puttering in general, but I'm w-a-y closer to neophyte than accomplished when it comes to things banjo. I've never had an urge to crank 'em down. Where did I go wrong?

May 24, 2022 - 5:24:54 AM
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14604 posts since 6/29/2005

If I made banjos where the resonator attaches via the top as the Gibson ones do, I would develop a flange bolt that had a small recessed hex head same size as the tension nuts, not unlike the drum bolts on top tension Gibsons, but hex. If designed properly, it would not look "cheap", and you would just use your tension nut wrench.

As it is, all my top tension banjos (which are not Gibson copies) have recessed hex tension bolts instead of drum bolts, and my resonators attach from the side with the same thing. I rejected knurled thumb screws early on because I hate the ones on my old Granada (which I keep because they are original).

May 25, 2022 - 6:33:38 AM

792 posts since 5/23/2007

To me, knurled thumbscrews = elegant. And as mentioned, don’t require tools.

May 25, 2022 - 7:06:36 AM
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14604 posts since 6/29/2005

To me the salient question is how many times do you have to take the resonator off at all, and why?  All the resonator banjos I make are top tension, so you can tighten the head without removing the resonator.

May 25, 2022 - 7:12:14 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1500 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

If I made banjos where the resonator attaches via the top as the Gibson ones do, I would develop a flange bolt that had a small recessed hex head same size as the tension nuts, not unlike the drum bolts on top tension Gibsons, but hex. If designed properly, it would not look "cheap", and you would just use your tension nut wrench.

As it is, all my top tension banjos (which are not Gibson copies) have recessed hex tension bolts instead of drum bolts, and my resonators attach from the side with the same thing. I rejected knurled thumb screws early on because I hate the ones on my old Granada (which I keep because they are original).

 


My '27 TB-1 is like that.  Four resonator screws, hex head, same size as the nuts.  I think it is an elegant solution.  Don't understand all the hate from the "must be the same as Earl's" crowd.

May 25, 2022 - 9:13:32 AM
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14604 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Eric A
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

If I made banjos where the resonator attaches via the top as the Gibson ones do, I would develop a flange bolt that had a small recessed hex head same size as the tension nuts, not unlike the drum bolts on top tension Gibsons, but hex. If designed properly, it would not look "cheap", and you would just use your tension nut wrench.

As it is, all my top tension banjos (which are not Gibson copies) have recessed hex tension bolts instead of drum bolts, and my resonators attach from the side with the same thing. I rejected knurled thumb screws early on because I hate the ones on my old Granada (which I keep because they are original).

 


My '27 TB-1 is like that.  Four resonator screws, hex head, same size as the nuts.  I think it is an elegant solution.  Don't understand all the hate from the "must be the same as Earl's" crowd.


I don't think it's hate—more like fear.  If you are a staunch traditionalist, any kind of change, even for the better is threatening. We're talking about an insignificant part here that can be replaced and the original ones put in a drawer and saved for posterity. 

How many PW Gibsons have conversion 5-string necks and latter-day copy flathead tone rings?  But replace the resonator thumb screws?—no way.

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