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Jul 6, 2022 - 7:13:59 AM
1769 posts since 4/13/2017

I am about to build a top-tension style resonator from two pieces of curly hard maple. I don't have any veneer for the sidewall though, and I really don't want to buy a whole 10-foot piece for a one-off project. The main issue is how curly it is. The wood I'm using for the back varies between 10 and 14 curls per inch.

Does anyone here have a piece of curly maple veneer this curly long enough to go around a resonator and tall enough to cover the sidewall they would be willing to sell me?

Jul 6, 2022 - 8:45:16 AM

3072 posts since 4/7/2010
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Lemon Banjo and Supply

Hunter,

I have some 1/16" thick curly maple veneer that is 30" X 8". If you didn't mind using 2 pieces for the side wall, I think it will look good.

Let me know if my offer winds up being your best alternative.

Bob Smakula

Jul 6, 2022 - 10:24:10 AM

1769 posts since 4/13/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

Lemon Banjo and Supply

Hunter,

I have some 1/16" thick curly maple veneer that is 30" X 8". If you didn't mind using 2 pieces for the side wall, I think it will look good.

Let me know if my offer winds up being your best alternative.

Bob Smakula


I will be sure to let you know if this is my best option. I'm wondering if it would look best to do a scarf joint at the tailpiece end, or to fill it in with a piece of dark wood like walnut, or to put a piece of binding in there.

Jul 6, 2022 - 10:47:19 AM

3072 posts since 4/7/2010
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I thought about all of this options ams think all of them will be OK.

Bob Smakula

Jul 6, 2022 - 11:08:21 AM
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13600 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Lemon Banjo and Supply

I'm wondering if it would look best to do a scarf joint at the tailpiece end, or to fill it in with a piece of dark wood like walnut, or to put a piece of binding in there.


Best is in the eye of the beholder.  I think I've seen butt joint, contrasting wood (from pin stripe to quarter inch or more, to binding, to multi-piece treatments in wood, binding and purfling.  It can look great. Quite a few Asian imports have some kind of vertical plastic piece at the tail end. I've seen tail end treatments on guitars more than banjos, including my D-35.

I'm just one person, but I think the sidewall veneer being two pieces would only bother me on a restoration or conversion of a particular banjo on which that wasn't an original design. Otherwise, I wouldn't care. I suppose there are purists who don't want to see it anywhere.

Jul 6, 2022 - 12:58:37 PM

12355 posts since 10/27/2006

I'm with Ken on this one. I'd inlay a scrap from the headstock overlay or fretboard to contrast the butt splice. If the fretboard is bound, you could get creative with a dark/light/dark stripe or reverse it for maximum effect. 

Jul 6, 2022 - 1:32:47 PM
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14864 posts since 6/29/2005

The joint at the tailpiece end never looks bad if the 2 pieces are bookmatched and the joint is good—besides, your resonator back is going to be a 2-piece bookmatch, so the sides will be the same as the back.  Every guitar in the world has a joint at the end, sometimes the way it's done is very decorative.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/06/2022 13:33:08

Jul 6, 2022 - 1:41:39 PM

10020 posts since 8/28/2013

Do some simple math. A resonator is usually about 13 inches in diameter. Multiply that by Pi to get the diameter and you get approx. 41 inches. You'd need a really wide piece to fill that gap, and it will probably look rather ugly.

Sorry, Bob, but I think Hunter should look further, unless that strip is longer than you recall, or if it's wide enough to split evenly in two. Then, of course, a seam could be used at the tailpiece and another seam at the neck heel cut-out.

Jul 6, 2022 - 6:11:15 PM

1973 posts since 5/19/2018

Hunter.

Do a splice on the resonator. As mentioned, do it similar to some Martin guitars. Notably the D-35.

Paramount, back in the 1930’s had some pretty interesting resonator veneer designs. Always found them beautiful. Google search Paramount banjos and you will get an eyeful.

For reference, here are a few photos of what I think some of us are discussing.




Jul 7, 2022 - 5:25:01 AM

14864 posts since 6/29/2005

This is making me feel a little foolish, as I always make the outer "veneer" on resonator rims as 2 bookmatched pieces, and the thought never occurred to me to do a decorative wedge piece in there, even though I have always done that with guitars and banjo lutes.  I have always just butt-jointed resonator rim veneers, which works fine and looks good, but the wedge would be very cool, and it's such a small space on a resonator rim between the top and bottom bindings, you could make it from MOP, wood, or the same material as the binding.

duh

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Jul 7, 2022 - 1:25:24 PM

10020 posts since 8/28/2013

I still say "Do the math." first. You just can't wrap one 30 inch piece around a 41 inch diameter resonator. Two pieces=two seams.

Jul 7, 2022 - 2:19:49 PM

14864 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I still say "Do the math." first. You just can't wrap one 30 inch piece around a 41 inch diameter resonator. Two pieces=two seams.


You are right!  The second seam is under the cutout for the heel and usually only involves the binding, which probably accounts for the fact that many resonator makers use a long piece of veneer and have only one joint at that location.

Nonetheless, IMO, something like curly maple would look better as a bookmatched joint, especially in the case of this thread, where it would match the joint in the 2 halves of the resonator.

As an aside, this resonator is being made for a "top tension" banjo, which I'm going to guess is an old Gibson one or copy thereof. Many of the curly maple resonators made for the originals of that design were made from bookmatched body blanks intended for Les Paul Guitars.  They were turned from solid wood, were flat inside, and had a soft ogee profile on the back as opposed to the 36" or 42" radius spherical section of regular Gibson ones. Those were prone to warping and many have been replaced, so I wish Mr. Lemon good luck with it.

Jul 7, 2022 - 5:06:51 PM

10020 posts since 8/28/2013

I, too, wish him good luck and success.

My main concern was that he get a piece of maple large enough to complete his resonator, whether it be from a pice long enough or one wide enough to cut the two pieces he will need.

I knew the top tension resonators were not the same as the others, but did not know some of the details, such as the radii of the usual ones.

I must ask though, if the Les paul body blanks were used on the earliest top tensions. I have read that the first top-tension Mastertones were from the  late 1930's, and that the Les Paul guitars were invented in the early 1950's.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 07/07/2022 19:32:11

Jul 7, 2022 - 5:59:32 PM

14864 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I, too, wish him good luck and success.

My main concern was that he get a piece of maple large enough to complete his resonator, whether it be from a pice long enough or one wide enough to cut the two pieces he will need.

I knew the top tension resonators were not the same as the others, but did not know some of the details, such as the radii of the usual ones.

I must ask though, if the Les paul body blanks were used on the earliest top tensions. I have read that the first top-tension Mastertones were from the 1930's, and that the Les Paul guitars were invented in the early 1950's.


Here's an ad for one of those top tension banjos,and I don'tknow the date—probably pre-Les Paul—they advertise that it's carved from the solid like one of their "famous guitars"  This was probably an archtop jazz guitar they were referring to.  I know from Eric Sullivan that at some date they were using Les Paul blanks (which of course, are from one of their "famous guitars" also).

Not much detail here.

Jul 7, 2022 - 9:19:06 PM

rcc56

USA

4431 posts since 2/20/2016

Top tension banjo models 7, 12, and 18 were introduced in 1937 and last shipped in 1943 or '44.

The Les Paul model was introduced in 1952. They had a 3 piece carved maple cap on top of a mahogany body until 1958, when the cap was changed to 2 pieces to accomodate the introduction of sunburst finishes to the model.

Top tension banjos had been out of production for 8 years prior to the introduction of the Les Paul model.
The only things that style 18 banjos and the original Les Paul guitars had in common was that they both did utilize maple, and were both built by Gibson in Kalamazoo.

The only style 18 banjos that might have used maple from the same logs as any version of the Les Paul guitars would have been reissues of the style 18 model built starting in 1995.

Edited by - rcc56 on 07/07/2022 21:35:11

Jul 8, 2022 - 1:36:29 PM

14864 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

Top tension banjo models 7, 12, and 18 were introduced in 1937 and last shipped in 1943 or '44.

The Les Paul model was introduced in 1952. They had a 3 piece carved maple cap on top of a mahogany body until 1958, when the cap was changed to 2 pieces to accomodate the introduction of sunburst finishes to the model.

Top tension banjos had been out of production for 8 years prior to the introduction of the Les Paul model.
The only things that style 18 banjos and the original Les Paul guitars had in common was that they both did utilize maple, and were both built by Gibson in Kalamazoo.

The only style 18 banjos that might have used maple from the same logs as any version of the Les Paul guitars would have been reissues of the style 18 model built starting in 1995.


I got the info from Eric Sullivan.  I don't know which years he was talking about, but he was party to what was going on and I'm sure he didn't make it up.

Jul 8, 2022 - 1:39:58 PM

210 posts since 3/25/2016

G. Edward Porgie:  sorry to be picky, but a 41-inch-diameter resonator would have a circumference of nearly 11 FEET!  I'm not a veneer expert by any means, but that suggests a problem.  Your point IS valid, however, that a 30-inch piece likely would be too short for a 13-inch-diameter rim, depending on adjustments for the neck heel and any decorative tailpiece-end seam.

Jul 8, 2022 - 1:59:41 PM

10020 posts since 8/28/2013

I meant to say "circumference." We do, at times, all choose the wrong word. I don't mind the "picky," because I can be that way myself, and many times a simple boo-boo can lead to disasters. Thanks for pointing out that wrong word.

Jul 8, 2022 - 4:02:23 PM

rcc56

USA

4431 posts since 2/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

Top tension banjo models 7, 12, and 18 were introduced in 1937 and last shipped in 1943 or '44.

The Les Paul model was introduced in 1952. They had a 3 piece carved maple cap on top of a mahogany body until 1958, when the cap was changed to 2 pieces to accomodate the introduction of sunburst finishes to the model.

Top tension banjos had been out of production for 8 years prior to the introduction of the Les Paul model.
The only things that style 18 banjos and the original Les Paul guitars had in common was that they both did utilize maple, and were both built by Gibson in Kalamazoo.

The only style 18 banjos that might have used maple from the same logs as any version of the Les Paul guitars would have been reissues of the style 18 model built starting in 1995.


I got the info from Eric Sullivan.  I don't know which years he was talking about, but he was party to what was going on and I'm sure he didn't make it up.


He must have been talking about the modern era re-issue instruments.

You can argue if you want, or look it up.  Gibson discontinued the top tension line, along with all other banjos during WWII.  Les Pauls were introduced in 1952.   No top tension models were built between WWII and 1994, when models 7 and 12 were re-issued.  Model 18 followed in 1995.  This is common knowledge, easily available to anyone.   I'll say no more.

Edited by - rcc56 on 07/08/2022 16:21:38

Jul 8, 2022 - 5:36:29 PM

2424 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I still say "Do the math." first. You just can't wrap one 30 inch piece around a 41 inch diameter resonator. Two pieces=two seams.


You been the patent pending veneer stretcher! :)

Jul 8, 2022 - 5:58:41 PM

14864 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

Top tension banjo models 7, 12, and 18 were introduced in 1937 and last shipped in 1943 or '44.

The Les Paul model was introduced in 1952. They had a 3 piece carved maple cap on top of a mahogany body until 1958, when the cap was changed to 2 pieces to accomodate the introduction of sunburst finishes to the model.

Top tension banjos had been out of production for 8 years prior to the introduction of the Les Paul model.
The only things that style 18 banjos and the original Les Paul guitars had in common was that they both did utilize maple, and were both built by Gibson in Kalamazoo.

The only style 18 banjos that might have used maple from the same logs as any version of the Les Paul guitars would have been reissues of the style 18 model built starting in 1995.


I got the info from Eric Sullivan.  I don't know which years he was talking about, but he was party to what was going on and I'm sure he didn't make it up.


He must have been talking about the modern era re-issue instruments.

You can argue if you want, or look it up.  Gibson discontinued the top tension line, along with all other banjos during WWII.  Les Pauls were introduced in 1952.   No top tension models were built between WWII and 1994, when models 7 and 12 were re-issued.  Model 18 followed in 1995.  This is common knowledge, easily available to anyone.   I'll say no more.


No argument!  I know nothing more about it than what Eric said—not only that, I don't have any interest in what Gibson did and have no interest in ever making a resonator turned from solid wood again, having made a number of them, including  couple of flat inside ones.

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