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Nov 14, 2022 - 8:45:45 AM
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5490 posts since 9/16/2004

2001 Gibson ESS mysteriously comes alive after twenty years...

Was it the forty odd seasons of temperature and humidity changes that caused the wood to relatively suddenly settle down?

Nov 14, 2022 - 8:54:52 AM
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KCJones

USA

1930 posts since 8/30/2012

Maybe Greg Rich was in your neighborhood and farted in your general direction. I heard that's the secret to a good sounding Gibson. :-P

Nov 14, 2022 - 9:25:37 AM

5490 posts since 9/16/2004

Magical Musical wood Farts.
Live & Learn

Nov 14, 2022 - 9:26:33 AM
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Players Union Member

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

12725 posts since 2/22/2007

I was given a Gibson SJ acoustic guitar in 1970 and it was rather dull and lifeless for a very long time but today rings like a bell with a beautiful tone. I have often wondered just what changed.

Nov 14, 2022 - 10:04:21 AM
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Alex Z

USA

5108 posts since 12/7/2006

"2001 Gibson ESS mysteriously comes alive after twenty years... "

What do you mean?  What changes are you hearing?

Nov 14, 2022 - 10:58:53 AM
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Players Union Member

TLG

USA

1726 posts since 10/11/2004

F M principal

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:17:56 AM
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192 posts since 8/31/2015

quote:
Originally posted by banjo bill-e

I was given a Gibson SJ acoustic guitar in 1970 and it was rather dull and lifeless for a very long time but today rings like a bell with a beautiful tone. I have often wondered just what changed.


50 years of vibrations can have a tremendous effect on the tone of a flat top guitar. Also, I don't want to sound insensitive, but people's ears change over time and that could definitely be another factor.

-TD

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:28:22 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

Have you recently played it in a different room or building than the last 20 years?

There's rooms, homes, buildings etc in which I can really hear my banjo project way differently than when I play it in the usual haunts.

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:30:14 AM
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klgera

USA

547 posts since 12/3/2004

Well you know, hearing changes after many years, my banjo sounds better now then it did 10 years ago, unless I have my hearing aides in, then it not as good.
Seriously.

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:39:41 AM

5490 posts since 9/16/2004

quote:
Originally posted by TLG

F M principal


Is FM Frequency Modulation or  Fart Magic?  Maybe Fart Metrics. 

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:50:01 AM

5490 posts since 9/16/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

"2001 Gibson ESS mysteriously comes alive after twenty years... "

What do you mean?  What changes are you hearing?


One physically noticeable thing is the neck vibrates stronger than before.  Simply put, it was flat sounding then over the last couple years it gradually began to sing.  Others have noticed the difference too.    

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:56:26 AM

banjonz

New Zealand

11675 posts since 6/29/2003

Many years ago I bought an Ibanez Artist 5 string. It was a well built and reasonably good sounding jo. I decided to strip it down and disassemble the pot and remove the neck. I reinstalled everything adjusting it from what i had learned over the years. It was amazing because it also suddenly 'came alive'.

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:59:53 AM
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10286 posts since 8/28/2013

Here's a guess

The tone ring may have been too tight at first, but after years of expansion/contraction the rim hasgotten a teensy-weensy bit smaller so the tone ring fits better.

When woods go through climate cycles, they most always eventually shrink slightly. Piano soundboards are a good example; they wouldn't crack without some slight shrinkage of the wood, and they never close up by themselves.

Nov 14, 2022 - 12:08:34 PM

5490 posts since 9/16/2004

quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog

Have you recently played it in a different room or building than the last 20 years?

There's rooms, homes, buildings etc in which I can really hear my banjo project way differently than when I play it in the usual haunts.


Thanks for your insight.

I've noticed sound differences room to room, building to building, standing waves and like too.  However, it's beyond that.   Nearly three years ago, I was going to take it cross country to have it looked at by experts.... then covid hit.  That following year, the ESS rarely came out of its case.  Then two years ago, it's flat spots began to diminish.  Season over season it improved for no known reason.  Now it rings crisper with more depth of tone than it ever did.  That includes up and down the neck, mostly up the neck, no matter where I play it.

The old towel in the resonator looks the same too.

Kidding 

Nov 14, 2022 - 1:24:32 PM
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176 posts since 7/24/2021

I have an 89 Gibson rb-3 that I wish would wake up before he wakes up some where else. This thing is like Rip Van winkle

Nov 14, 2022 - 1:33:35 PM
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Alex Z

USA

5108 posts since 12/7/2006

"Then two years ago, it's flat spots began to diminish.  Season over season it improved for no known reason.  Now it rings crisper with more depth of tone than it ever did.  That includes up and down the neck, mostly up the neck, no matter where I play it."

I'd go with the overtight tone ring previously, loosening up a bit as the wood "shrunk" over time.  Maybe not actual shrinking like a t-shirt in hot water, but but transforming in the same way that guitar tops of old guitars transform -- reducing the capacity to retain moisture, resins/lignite and that kind of stuff.  Doesn't take much -- a thousandth of an inch.

Too tight ring affects the high notes more, so loosening explains the improvement in the high notes that you are hearing.

Question:  Have you ever taken the banjo apart in the past?

Nov 14, 2022 - 2:40:29 PM
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leehar

USA

193 posts since 2/18/2018

Perhaps it has more to do with the guy picking the instrument? The more your playing improves the better tone you will be able to pull from the banjo. A guy like JD Crowe could make any banjo sound good. You learn to adjust your attack to the sound qualities of the particular banjo. Part of this is not even a conscious effort.
All that being said, I know my ‘96 ESS has improved over the years as well.

Nov 14, 2022 - 2:59:01 PM
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60017 posts since 12/14/2005

It's ALIVE!


Nov 14, 2022 - 3:17:57 PM
Players Union Member

TLG

USA

1726 posts since 10/11/2004

F M , (blank) Magic, fill in the "blank" with whatever you wish.
I will agree with different rooms as I just experenced that, drying out of the wood & being played for years , experenced that too, better playing ability (not experenced that---I'm not getting any better), all the above
Tommy

Nov 14, 2022 - 4:33:37 PM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

It must be that fabled pre-OIF tone ;)

Nov 14, 2022 - 4:34:19 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Frisco Fred
quote:
Originally posted by TLG

F M principal


Is FM Frequency Modulation or  Fart Magic?  Maybe Fart Metrics. 


Foggy Mountain! 

Nov 15, 2022 - 6:50:49 AM
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Players Union Member

TLG

USA

1726 posts since 10/11/2004

Foggy Mountain it is !

Nov 15, 2022 - 7:42:25 AM

5490 posts since 9/16/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

"Then two years ago, it's flat spots began to diminish.  Season over season it improved for no known reason.  Now it rings crisper with more depth of tone than it ever did.  That includes up and down the neck, mostly up the neck, no matter where I play it."

I'd go with the overtight tone ring previously, loosening up a bit as the wood "shrunk" over time.  Maybe not actual shrinking like a t-shirt in hot water, but but transforming in the same way that guitar tops of old guitars transform -- reducing the capacity to retain moisture, resins/lignite and that kind of stuff.  Doesn't take much -- a thousandth of an inch.

Too tight ring affects the high notes more, so loosening explains the improvement in the high notes that you are hearing.

Question:  Have you ever taken the banjo apart in the past?


First of all, I'm no banjo expert.  That's why I was going fly across the nation to bring this ESS to one who is.

This particular ESS is on it's third head.  It's Richard Kulesh ring is well seated on the inner ring and slips off without the need of any tools.  Maybe it should have been looser.  I'll conclude with, I know an accomplished musician who ordinarily plays a Granada.  He had a student with an ESS that had the same problem as mine.  He ended up changing the rim.  That fixed it. 

In my case, the ESS slowly fixed itself... I was hoping for some insight on what could have possibly physically occurred within the banjo itself.  That's the reason I brought up the subject here on the Banjo Hangout Forum.

Nov 15, 2022 - 8:40:14 AM

14458 posts since 6/30/2020
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Frisco Fred

2001 Gibson ESS mysteriously comes alive after twenty years...

Was it the forty odd seasons of temperature and humidity changes that caused the wood to relatively suddenly settle down?


FF,

Maybe there are outside forces at work. Have you recently moved next door to a nuclear power plant? Or perhaps an ELF transmitter?
Speaking of Elves; have you noticed anything strange or displaced around your house or in the vicinity of your banjo? Those Elves can be sneaky. 
Seriously though, it does sound like you and  your old Gibby are having a happy ending. 
Enjoy!
P-A-L

Nov 15, 2022 - 10:58:51 AM

237 posts since 3/25/2016

Played a Gibson J-50 for ten years and NEVER liked it very well--my Gurians, Santa Cruz and Froggy Bottom guitars started much better and remain WAY better. Maybe didn't keep that dang Gibson long enough?

Nov 15, 2022 - 11:37:29 AM

7362 posts since 9/21/2007

Earl Scruggs was able to convert metal into crystal, perhaps you have discovered alchemy like Earl did?

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