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Jul 4, 2022 - 2:11:57 PM
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14753 posts since 6/29/2005

I’m finishing up some interesting banjos, none of which are typical.

This one just got finished and documented today— the forth of July,  and I put “July 4 2022” on the sticker under the serial number to commemorate the day.


90% of the banjos I am making nowadays are top-tension, but this client wanted the traditional hook-and nut with notched tension hoop arrangement
He also wanted a coordinator rod under the rudy rod, which I usually only do on bluegrass banjos, but it's an option.

It’s a 12” banjo with a (short for me) 25.5” scale, and I strung it with my standard 10-12-14-22W-11 set.
Even with .090” at the 12th fret and double C tuning, it’s not buzzing, so I see no need for heavier strings.  here’s a shot of it front & back

The finish on the brass is the corncob tumbled finish I call the “Frankford Arsenal finish”, because the corncob tumbling media comes from that company and is used to polish brass shell casings.
pic tumbling  https://i.vgy.me/69cJmY.jpg
It makes a nice soft gold colored finish.

The client wanted this to have some similar details to his F5 mandolin, so I tried to oblige as well as I could.
He wanted a honey amber stain on the curly maple, and I used a combination of Solar-Lux “mustard” to get the amber, and browned it up a bit with Solar-Lux “Van Dyke brown”, it’s kind of the color of  buckwheat honey, or the amber maple syrup made around here—it’s a very tasty color.

The client’s mandolin has a lot of BWB stripes, so along with a BWB stripe around the rim just above the cap, I developed a new peghead treatment, using a peghead veneer with a BWB top layer,  made from dyed and bleached veneers, and cut a small chamfer along the top edge, revealing the layers in a way that looks like binding but has dimension.  Also, the fact that the peghead is cut parallel to the fingerboard (traditional for banjos) makes the chamfer lines have an ever-changing velocity thick-to thin, which is more exciting (to me) than a plain stripe around the edge.  I cut the notches in with a knife and file to accuentuate the crispness and do something that looks handmade (as it is).
pig peghead veneer  https://i.vgy.me/qEEy7D.jpg
I also made a mandolin-like vase inlay and a Gibsonesque version of my logo as part of the fun.

I repeated the tulip from the peghead inlay on the fingerboard down near the scoop.
Some notes about the scoop:

The string space is the ‘Glenn Carson arc”, which has no sharp edges to catch your fingernail—a detail I always do on openbacks and am now doing on bluegrass banjos as well —I think it works and looks better.  You can also see the EVO frets,which are the kind I use,  EVO Gold fretwire is a proprietary nickel-free hypoallergenic alloy that was developed in Germany to make eyeglass frames for individuals with nickel allergies.  made from copper and titanium, this gold appearing alloy is harder than nickel silver and softer than stainless steel. So this material is much less prone to wear and tear AND… it still sounds great. To my ears and hands, EVO frets offer the best of both worlds, and it’s used by many of the top guitar manufacturers and highly regarded repair shops.
The inside edge of the scoop is relieved a little to get rid of the sharp edge, and the scoop is level with the top of the head and string space on the tension hoop.

Here’s a “Mantega view” where you can see how the tension hoop works with no shoulders in the string space, also the truss rod cover is WB epoxy impregnated wood.

Jul 4, 2022 - 3:03:17 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5248 posts since 1/5/2005

Wow! yes

Jul 4, 2022 - 4:24:26 PM

9812 posts since 8/28/2013

Why the heck are you working on a national holiday? perhaps it would be better if you'd tossed a steak on the strings and lit the pot on fire.  devil

I( always wanted to use a piano in that manner. If I'd had a concert grand, I could have invited the entire neighborhood for a barbecue.

Jul 4, 2022 - 4:37:41 PM

11156 posts since 6/17/2003

Very nice banjo. I'd love to hear how it sounds sometime after the holiday. You deserve time off!

Jul 4, 2022 - 5:44:54 PM

14753 posts since 6/29/2005

I mostly did the photos and a few tweaks this morning.  I did have a nice cookout and will have another one Wednesday!

There were many many people up here in the mountains this weekend, and the weather was beautiful

I will try to make some sound files before I send this off. It sounds really great and I'm not used to this combination of a large pot and a short scale.

I had some problems posting this thread, missed a few pictures and didn't get to edit it.  If questions arise, I'll elaborate further.

Jul 4, 2022 - 5:57:34 PM

5509 posts since 5/9/2007

Beauty!

Jul 4, 2022 - 6:02:03 PM

5509 posts since 5/9/2007

Pardon me, if I may ask.
Why the addition of the coordinator rod?

Edited by - mrphysics55 on 07/04/2022 18:02:28

Jul 4, 2022 - 6:17:56 PM

14753 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mrphysics55

Pardon me, if I may ask.
Why the addition of the coordinator rod?


I believe I posted a thread about this a while back, which is in the archive.

I'll post a few pictures of it tomorrow, and more info about it when I do a thread about one of the bluegrass banjos.

Jul 4, 2022 - 6:25:18 PM

5509 posts since 5/9/2007

I’ll search … Thanks

Jul 5, 2022 - 3:37:41 AM
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4668 posts since 9/7/2009

She's a beauty, Ken!

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Jul 5, 2022 - 3:57:08 AM

PaulRF

Australia

3350 posts since 2/1/2012

Looks fantastic and great photos as well. Will be looking forward to some sound files.

Paul

Jul 5, 2022 - 4:23:10 AM

martyjoe

Ireland

181 posts since 3/24/2020

Another Delish looking masterpiece. I’m guessing carbon fibre tone ring?

Jul 5, 2022 - 4:42:40 AM
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14753 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mrphysics55

I’ll search … Thanks


Here are some brief explanations if you can't find the archived thread which showed how to install them:

You have to have a threaded anchor in the heel for the rods to screw into unlike the lag screws used on most banjos.

The regular "rudy rod" is a hollow wood dowel that is put into compression by tightening a steel tension rod, which squeezes the rim and compresses the wood dowel.

This is all that's really necessary, but I always put another bolt below that stops the neck from rotating and makes it possible to make adjustments by shimming or shaving the heel

Later on, I developed a bottom push-pull rod not unlike the "coordinator rod" used on earlier Gibson Mastertones. This rod can be adjusted to any tension/compression, and can be "tuned" as some people do with double rods.

Since bluegrass players don't like anything that looks like a dowel stick, I now use a heavy walled aluminum tube instead of the wood dowel on bluegrass banjos.  The top tension rod is 1/4-20, the bottom nut part that screws into the anchor is 10-24—and the other end that the brass rod screws into is 1/4-20.

You can see that on the bottom picture on a top-tension one.

 

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/05/2022 04:46:42

Jul 5, 2022 - 7:20:08 PM
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8038 posts since 1/7/2005

Lovely banjo Ken. I really like the laminated peghead "binding." Little details like that make a big difference. The gold hardware segues beatifully into the caramel colored maple. The over all effect looks good enough to eat. One of your prettiest banjos IMHO. That big rim with a short scale should make for a rich tone.

Well done once again

DD

Jul 6, 2022 - 4:15:47 AM

14753 posts since 6/29/2005

Thanks, Dan.

The chamfer on the peg head with the filed-in angles is the way blacksmiths would finish the edges of hinges, latches, locks, etc. You can't do sharp in-cuts with CNC routers, and I'm always looking for ways to convey a hand-made aesthetic and do stuff that factories don't do.

From this point on, I will finish the edges of peg heads like this—it makes it appear thinner as well.

I would like to do a sound file of this before I send it off—this is either the second or third banjo I've made with this 12" pot-25.5" scale combination, and I'm getting used to it now.

Jul 8, 2022 - 7:16:36 AM

14753 posts since 6/29/2005

I am trying to post a sound file.  I have done this many times before.  I recorded it with Garage Band, saved it as an mp3. The site wouldn't accept it, told me to use an mp3

I then converted it to an mp3 on iTunes—the site still wouldn't accept it.  It's a bloody .mp3!

Help!  What am I doing wrong, and why is this so difficult?

Jul 8, 2022 - 9:34:53 AM
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14753 posts since 6/29/2005

Finally managed to upload a sound file—a mercifully short verse of Little Maggie.  No effects, just a plain recording with a Samson MeteorMic.

It's in double C tuning so you can hear the low C and a couple of hammer-ons which really work on this banjo.

You hear what the carbon fiber tone ring does.


Jul 8, 2022 - 10:47:41 AM

11156 posts since 6/17/2003

Great tone and note clarity! Thanks for posting.

Jul 8, 2022 - 1:45:44 PM

14753 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by gottasmilealot

Great tone and note clarity! Thanks for posting.


Thanks!  I should have posted it earlier but was having technical problems.

Just out of curiosity, where do you live in Montgomery County? I lived in that area for many years—Montgomery, Bucks, and Berks.

Jul 8, 2022 - 3:06:12 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

181 posts since 3/24/2020

Nice!

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