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Nov 29, 2022 - 10:25:09 AM
492 posts since 7/20/2007

It may be hard to believe but you can increase the volume and tailor your banjo's "timbre "by taping various things to the side of your banjo's (or any stringed instrument's) peg head, provided that you use "Scotch Brand High Gloss Transparent Tape". (Look for a small red plaid decorated clear plastic dispenser) . This tape is widely available in small spool dispensers containing 450 inches of tape in 1/2 inch widths, and can be found in most hardware stores and large super markets. The reason for using this tape is thar it conducts "surface acoustic waves" (known as SAWS for brevity) extremely well. Don't buy Scotch "Magic Tape" in green plaid containers because it won't work.

For example, you can tape a standard rectangular paper (card stock) business card to the side of the peg head with a single short (1-inch) strip of tape at one end of the business card and increase the volume of your banjo, Then increase the volume even more by adding a second strip of tape at the other end of the business card. Volume is noticeably louder if you use two strips of tape on opposite ends of the business card. (SAWS can travel in both directions on a single strip of tape, but travel is apparently more efficient if they travel in one direction on two strips of tape.

The reason for this increase in volume is simple. Your banjo, (and any stringed acoustic musical instrument) produces two things: (1) sound, which re air pressure variations (waves), and (2) "Surface Acoustic Waves" (SAWS) which are analogous to the sound and behave very much like ripples one sees on a lake when a fish jumps. (The waves on the instrument's strings are also SAWS but are confined to two dimensions,) On surfaces SAWS become three dimensional waves which, like ripples on a lake, reflect from edges and add (or subtract) algebraically when they encounter waves having similar frequencies, including themselves.

The SAWS produced by the body of your banjo travel to all surfaces of the banjo including up the neck to the peg head. When the business card is taped to the side of the peg head (which is neck wood) SAWS on the peg head flow onto the business card and are reflected from the card's edges onto themselves which amplifies them by the same principle of Physics (called the "Principle of Constructive Interference") that amplifies waves on a lake when they meet coming from different directions after having been reflected from some object onto themselves.

Another nice thing about amplifying sound using SAWS is that SAWS pick up a sound characteristic of the material which they flow over. (Which is why brass horns sound "brassy" and clarinets sound :wooden".)

Now the fun begins. Cut a small, thin metal rectangle from a clean soup can and tape it to the business card and you will brighten the sound of your banjo. Thin rectangles of brass and thin rectangles of musical woods can also be added to change the sound "timbre" of your banjo to some sound character that you like. You can tape these to the business card or directly to neck wood above the nut.

Why this works is because the newly amplified SAWS enter open note strings at the nut and fingered note strings at the fingered frets (or fingered fingerboard locations on violins and violas.)

Your banjo can sound more beautiful as well as louder because you are amplifying and improving SAWS which the body of your instrument has not yet amplified. When is does your "device" will amplify that too, automatically, in a continuously amplifying and sound quality improving process. (Amplifying high frequency harmonics in musical sound is generally understood to improve sound quality. ("Harmonics" are integer multiples of a musical note's base frequency.)

I hope that you have fun wirh this. But please be aware that trying to improve musical sound can be a habit can take over a large part of your life! (As ir has mine.)

Frank Geiger (yellowdog)


Nov 29, 2022 - 10:41:33 AM
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404 posts since 11/10/2022

Nice article Frank.

I just did the business card using "invisible" tape from the Dollar General. It made a very noticeable difference, especially in the upper registers. Quite frankly almost jaw dropping.

I was thinking of upgrading my banjo but Im going to eat some soup and think about it!

Nov 29, 2022 - 11:34:08 AM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26720 posts since 6/25/2005

April 1st is just over 5months away. You should have waited.

Nov 29, 2022 - 11:35:34 AM
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246 posts since 6/5/2006

previously from yellowdog in 2011
Get an old paper business card, which are usually about 3-1/2" x 2", and cut it in half along its length. Then cut it from corner to corner along the diagonal to form a right triangle of 3-1/2 x 1". Next, attach the short base of this triangle to the inside top right of the wood rim (as seen by the player when the banjo is in the playing position) with a 1" strip of 3/4" wide Scotch Brand Gloss Finish Transparent Tape (or similar acrylic, not rubber-based, thin plastic tape) so that the point of the triangle is a small distance away from the wood rim. If the point touches the wood rim just curve the paper away from the wood rim a bit with the fingers.

Edited by - restreet on 11/29/2022 11:35:57

Nov 29, 2022 - 1:43:50 PM
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191 posts since 12/27/2019

The best improvement on my banjo came from taping the business card directly on top of the strings.

Nov 29, 2022 - 3:06:41 PM

492 posts since 7/20/2007

Thanks for trying it, NotABanjoYoda. The tape that you used probably worked because it used acrylic adhesive like the one I recommended. So many tapes use a rubber based adhesive which absorbs surface waves instead of moving them along.

Many Hangout members probably won't believe this idea works until they try it but the volume increase really is "jaw-deopping" and they should. Sound quality is also improved because harmonic frequencies, which are usually quite weak, are also amplified.

I hope members will pass this knowledge along to friends who play guitars and other acoustic instruments because it works on all hand-held acoustic instruments since it improves the waves on the strings and so is independent of the body of the instrument.

Nov 29, 2022 - 4:20:30 PM

492 posts since 7/20/2007

"Restreet". that old post of mine from 2011 which you quoted is one of probably hundreds of my attempts to make an internal small audible sound amplifier from surface acoustic waves. I gave up that approach to use an internal SAWS-powered loudspeaker in a sound chamber when I was "successful" in making my violin sound like a trombone! (The sound was worse than the thoight!)

So I removed the loudspeaker and its SAWS "preamplifier" from the sound chamber and aimed the loudspeaker's output of audible sound at one of the violin's sound opening so that the two audible sounds would mix outside of the instrument. It sounded better but still not good..

I took the loudspeaker off the violin but left the amplifier in place, wondering what my violin would sound like with only the SAWS amplifier in place. When I played the violin it sounded GREAT! After thinking about this I concluded that SAWS on the neck were being amplified and sent to the strings through the nut and to the strings at fingered fingerboard locations. In other words, I discovered the approach of this idea at least half by accident if not by Divine Intervention! I learned that there was absolutely no need to create audible sound from SAWS since the body of the instrument already does a great job of that. The secret of great sound using this approach is the continuous and automatic improvement of SAWS on the strings which exists as long as each note is played - and what could be cheaper!.

Nov 29, 2022 - 5:26:02 PM
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62 posts since 3/10/2009

show a picture of how to place the card on the peg head.

Nov 29, 2022 - 7:13:46 PM
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2707 posts since 10/17/2013

quote:
Originally posted by yellowdog

It may be hard to believe but you can increase the volume and tailor your banjo's "timbre," by taping various things to the side of your banjo's (or any stringed instrument's) peg head, provided that you use "Scotch Brand High Gloss Transparent Tape". (Look for a small red plaid decorated clear plastic dispenser) . This tape is widely available in small spool dispensers containing 450 inches of tape in 1/2 inch widths, and can be found in most hardware stores and large super markets. The reason for using this tape is that it conducts "surface acoustic waves" (known as SAWS for brevity) extremely well. Don't buy Scotch "Magic Tape" in green plaid containers because it won't work.

For example, you can tape a standard rectangular paper (card stock) business card to the side of the peg head with a single short (1-inch) strip of tape at one end of the business card and increase the volume of your banjo. Then increase the volume even more by adding a second strip of tape at the other end of the business card. Volume is noticeably louder if you use two strips of tape on opposite ends of the business card. (SAWS can travel in both directions on a single strip of tape, but travel is apparently more efficient if they travel in one direction on two strips of tape...


You can also make your banjo louder by picking harder.

 Where are the noteworthy banjo players of the Hangout, who will back up your claims of astonishing improvements in banjo volume levels?

 
Most Hangout players don't know this, but you can make your banjo WAY louder by purchasing a Kavanjo(TM) banjo head from Deering, and then plugging it into an amp. Instant, stomach-shaking, gut-wrenching TWANG!

I'm calling it hogwash and wishful thinking, to expect a sudden volume increase by taping a piece of card stock to the peghead.

 If there were any proven benefits to this concept, then why do we not see pictures of well-known banjoists with cardstock taped to the pegheads of their banjos?

Post a "before and after" video of a banjo on which this "hack" has been administered, then we'll know for absolutely certain, whether it does precisely what you say.  

Edited by - okbluegrassbanjopicker on 11/29/2022 19:27:54

Nov 29, 2022 - 7:36:33 PM
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1774 posts since 2/21/2011

"Malarkey!  And that's all I got to say about that."

Nov 30, 2022 - 8:27:33 AM

492 posts since 7/20/2007

"Candkath" asked where to put the business cars on the peg head. I taped mine to the side of the peg head on the portion that is usually the same type of wood, (typically maple), as the neck to allow for the best connection for the SAWS to travel to and from the neck as well as to the end of the nut, even if there is a tight joint in the wood between the neck and peg head. Also there us usually plenty of room on the side of the peghead. You may have to shorten the card. which is OK, if the peg head has too many curves. Under the peghead is also neck wood so should work fine if there is room for a shortened card. If neck wood is less than the 1/2-inch wide tape it is better to have the tape sticking over the edge in the air than picking up distorted waves from a pearl-decorated ebony top of the peg head.

If you want to try this idea on a violin I got excellent results taping my equivalent SAWS amp, (which is uniquely designed to amplify harmonics), to the bottom of the scroll.

Nov 30, 2022 - 9:02:17 AM

404 posts since 11/10/2022

@yellowdog Amplify is the wrong terminology. You must provide power to amplify, this is signal processing 101. You are creating a passive resonator "speaker" which helps sound waves reach the air with something that vibrates more like a speaker than wood does.

With passive devices when it comes to waves, be it sound or em propagated, you can do the following to fool your ear into thinking you amplified the sound.

1) Focus the waves in a direction, called directional or antenna gain. So ppl standing in that direction will hear louder sounds at the cost of ppl in other directions hearing softer sounds. This is how amphitheaters work.

2) You can create a passive frequency filter which eliminates or dampens sounds at some frequencies so that unfiltered frequencies seem louder to the ear but really arent.

3) You can create a resonance chamber to "save" sound waves like a capacitor. The effect is a passive build up of wave energy but not necessarily louder because the wave phases are destructive at most frequencies.

4) You can create a "speaker" passive resonator, which translates sound waves into the air better. In rf, its called an antenna.

or a combination of them all

OR you can pluck the strings harder as an earlier poster suggested. lol You can prove or disprove your theory with a mic and acoustic oscope.

Edited by - NotABanjoYoda on 11/30/2022 09:03:06

Nov 30, 2022 - 9:23:02 AM

2628 posts since 2/4/2013

We've been here before. One or two said they would try them but their were no reports. Others asked for some comparison recordings but none came. And Frank has been going on about this stuff in various guises for years.

Nov 30, 2022 - 9:33 AM

404 posts since 11/10/2022

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

We've been here before. One or two said they would try them but their were no reports. Others asked for some comparison recordings but none came. And Frank has been going on about this stuff in various guises for years.


Doesnt make what he wants to do any less valid.  History has shown humans are only capable of doing the same stuff over and over (and prending its new) but occasionally make a real breakthrough.  Frank is just speaking to the wrong audience.  He needs to post in an audio engineer or Matlab sim forum forum.  Those people will test his devices for him without hostility.

Nov 30, 2022 - 10:54:26 AM

492 posts since 7/20/2007

I don't understand why there is such resistance to understanding this post, or why some don't understand why I post my discoveries about sound on this forum. (It is because I feel obligated to share what I discover.) How it works is really easy to understand, so I'll try one more time:
Stringed musical instruments have two outputs: (1) Sound we can hear, and (2) Surface Acoustic Waves (called SAWS) which we cannot hear because they are ripples of energy on the surfaces of the instrument caused by the SAWS on the strings. Some of my earlier devices changed SAWS into audible sound. This latest device uses a totally new, different and better approach which is: To collect SAWS on the peg head, amplify them by having them intersect on a rectangle of card stock (the paper business card) and let them travel to the nut and to the frets where they continuously add these new and improved SAWS to the SAWS on the strings. The body of the instrument then converts the sum of these inaudible SAWS into audible sound in its usual manner. The sound of the instrument is louder because total audible sound energy from the instrument is increased The new sound is also more beautiful because SAWS harmonics have been amplified and converted to sound.

Nov 30, 2022 - 11:54:56 AM
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177 posts since 7/24/2021

Wait a minute. Are we being serious? I’m not trying to negative, I’m simply trying to wrap my head around this. Why don’t every banjo come from the factory this way. Lord knows we banjo players are constantly looking for improved sound rather, head, bridge, strings but this subject seem too deep for my shallow mind. Yellow dog you make a convincing case . I would almost try , but I kinda got lost at which tape to use . Lol

Nov 30, 2022 - 12:11:36 PM

3068 posts since 3/30/2008

Sounds like idiosyncratic, quack physics. Repeating the theory doesn't make it any more real.

Nov 30, 2022 - 12:29:22 PM

404 posts since 11/10/2022

"Simple Foggy Brain Breakdown"

I pluck a string which transfers my mechanical energy into string vibration.

String vibration creates acoustic waves

Some of the acoustic wave energy moves into the air and you can hear it

The rest of the acoustic wave energy does not hit the air so you cant hear it (absorbed into wood, metal etc)

@yellowdog is trying to figure out how to get some of that wasted acoustic energy into the air.

Good banjos are loud and would resonate more acoustic wave energy into the air than poor banjos

Poor banjos would have more energy absorbed and thus more wasted energy to convert into the air.

Poor quality banjos also have poor acoustic quality necks so who knows if any energy will make it to the tuners on some banjos

Point being, how well a scheme like this works...like all things....depends on the banjo.

From my own experiment using tape and card, My cheap RW Jameson it had an effect until I plucked the strings harder, then my ear heard no difference. On my RB 250 Gibson, I heard no difference no matter how I plucked.

But its VERY cheap to try it just for kicks.

Nov 30, 2022 - 2:20:09 PM
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Alex Z

USA

5118 posts since 12/7/2006

Nov 30, 2022 - 2:20:56 PM
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191 posts since 12/27/2019

Some folks just don't feel when their leg is being pulled.

P.T. Barnum would love this thread.

Nov 30, 2022 - 2:41:41 PM

404 posts since 11/10/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

Review in Banjo Newsletter, June 2017:

https://banjonews.com/2017-06/the_geiger_banjo_tone_amplifier.html


Thanks.  I read it.  Was there oscope pics?  I didnt see them.  My experience was exactly as the author stated.

Nov 30, 2022 - 3:45:26 PM

Alex Z

USA

5118 posts since 12/7/2006

No pics in the link. I can dig out my old BNL copies, see if I can scan and post. 

Nov 30, 2022 - 3:53:56 PM
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2092 posts since 5/19/2018

Specifically, what kind of business card?

Would I get better tone and volume if I use an old stock, Pre-EPA card?

Does the profession, or type of business on that card also affect tone or volume?

Asking, as I have an old business card from one of the “Founders” of bluegrass music, and was wondering if that would make my banjo sound more like his?

If I used my own business card, would it make me sound more like myself?

Nov 30, 2022 - 4:56:35 PM
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Alex Z

USA

5118 posts since 12/7/2006

OK, all you naysayers.  I'm going to dig out the June 2017 BNL and post the oscilloscope pictures.

But first, let's put something at stake here.  Who among the naysayers will promise to post an honest, humble apology that they were wrong if the oscilloscope pictures show that the devices make a difference in the sound?

And I don't mean another juvenile joke masquerading as an apology, but a real change of heart, that you've learned something you didn't understand before.  smiley

Put something on the table if you think you are right, and then I'll get the results.

Dec 1, 2022 - 3:46:17 AM

3560 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

OK, all you naysayers.  I'm going to dig out the June 2017 BNL and post the oscilloscope pictures.

But first, let's put something at stake here.  Who among the naysayers will promise to post an honest, humble apology that they were wrong if the oscilloscope pictures show that the devices make a difference in the sound?

And I don't mean another juvenile joke masquerading as an apology, but a real change of heart, that you've learned something you didn't understand before.  smiley

Put something on the table if you think you are right, and then I'll get the results.


Skepticism is warranted. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It's the responsibility of the person making the claim to put something on the table; demonstrate it.

He doesn't really present anything to understand, he is just making extraordinary claims (words are cheap); backed neither by evidences or detailed science/physics/maths explanation, nor documentation. His attempt at "sciency" terminology and explanation is  pretty thin to lacking, and actually quite erroneous on many aspects on how sound waves work, and some myths. There are a lot of sound reasons that it shouldn't have effect as claimed. We could get into a discussion of why, many concepts are wrong.... but as pointed out in previous topic... before discussing possible science explanation, or lack science understanding; can start with something else.

Does it make a just noticeable difference in sound.... something we can hear?

As pointed out in previous topics, can first start with ability to demonstrate; typically with good blind A/B tests which are easy enough to set up. With good controls to diminish variables; including repetition. The goal is to narrow down  isolate, determine if this device/set up effect, if any.

A. If does produce just noticeable difference, then look by how much, and then to discuss understand what might explain results; ask lots of questions, suggest better tweaking, run other tests. Bear in mind always taking into account the variables that testing might introduce leading to false positives. 

B. If simply can't achieve sound files with a  just noticeable difference; then not much to learn or discuss.

At this point there is no evidence files to examine; nor documentation, maths. 

 

Feel free to ask questions or discuss how to set-up good A/B testing, as mentioned in previous topics, pretty easy for some basic ones. Can discuss degree of validity, what might overlook (there is often something), and how to perhaps improve robustness. 

 

Put something on the table if you think you are right, and then I'll get the results.

It's the responsibility of the person making the claim. That said, myself, or another "could" do the A/B tests to put on the table... I certainly have the equipment and access to great set up... however my gut feeling (based on some comment the OP made; and other similar experiences) likely it won't produce any JND (as predicted by physics), and I'll be accused of some wrong doing or just bunch of other excuses.  

Dec 1, 2022 - 4:50:28 AM

3560 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by yellowdog



Another nice thing about amplifying sound using SAWS is that SAWS pick up a sound characteristic of the material which they flow over. (Which is why brass horns sound "brassy" and clarinets sound :wooden".)
 


This, among many others.... is one of the easiest example of erroneous or conflation of  fundamental understanding of how sound waves work.

There are no SAWs involved. Let alone flow over materiel picking up characteristics (not a thing). In both the sound is about an oscillating column of air pressure and acoustical impedance, propagating compression waves we hear; not from the surrounding walls vibrating, neither transverse nor longitudinal.  Thus the materiel of wind instruments isn't what really determines those differences in sound. Comparing vastly different instruments, but a  primary difference has to do with cylinder vs conical, thus affecting nodes, impedance and the harmonics.

FWIW, actual science studies can look up, comparing clarinets of metal, wood, plastic/composite... as well compare to similar instrument (reed mouthpiece, size and shape); the alto sax to clarinet; why it sounds so different mostly due to conical vs cylinder.

 

edit: SAWs, surface acoustic waves; are a real thing... and have many applications, like in electronics. But AFAIK, not in what we would consider sound we hear, like from a banjo or clarinet. Indeed my understanding,what makes them useful for electronics is opposite of what would be useful for sound applications. 

Edited by - banjoak on 12/01/2022 04:56:17

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