Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Jun 8, 2023 - 6:32:31 PM
5 posts since 2/23/2020

Have owned this banjo since new. I love the old girl. Tone has always been a little weak. I remember reading something years ago about 70's japanese masterclones having a higher percetage of lead in the tone rings making them somewhat muddy. Another thing is the pot, it is I think 16 plys. My question is would replacing just the pot improve tone?(less wood and glue) or tone ring and pot assembly?

Jun 8, 2023 - 6:59:52 PM

5148 posts since 5/29/2011
Online Now

If you like the rest of the banjo then replacing the rim and tone ring would be a feasible idea. Cost-wise it wouldn't be a good move if you planned on selling it but that doesn't sound like the case here.
There are a number of people you can send it off to. Eric Sullivan, Clancy Mullins, Arthur Hatfield, Randall Wyatt, Ron Coleman, and an enterprising young man named Hunter Lemon, just to name a few. They are all members here so they can be reached through the Hangout. Just send a PM and ask. You would have to send your flange to get a rim turned to fit. 

Edited by - Culloden on 06/08/2023 19:03:00

Jun 8, 2023 - 7:01:27 PM

14495 posts since 6/2/2008

I believe either a 3-ply or block maple rim will improve the sound of your banjo even if you keep the original tone ring.

Send your current rim, tone ring and flange to whoever you choose to make the new rim. They'll measure the parts and make your new rim to fit.

Edited to add:  The tone ring and rim together make up the pot. Some people consider the flange, hardware and resonator the complete pot. The rim alone is not the pot and the tone ring is not separate from the pot. At least that's my understanding.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 06/08/2023 19:04:08

Jun 8, 2023 - 7:16:32 PM
like this

3198 posts since 3/30/2008

The Ibanez "Artist" is considered one of the top drawer Masterclones. It seems that many more simple adjustments of the set up & type of head could give you what you want, other than major surgery, changed out parts & the expense.

Jun 8, 2023 - 7:57:25 PM

5 posts since 2/23/2020

Yes I meant to say rim. First post jitters I guess. Thanks for all of the replies.

Jun 8, 2023 - 8:06:41 PM
likes this

3380 posts since 12/31/2005

Changing out rim and ring will have more effect than anything. Richie Dotson is another name to consider. But have someone who does this for a living complete the work. Fit and setup are huge. I had one of those Artists once. I wish I had kept it, but I needed the money and I bought it when I moved to a place I did not feel safe leaving my Stelling.

Jun 8, 2023 - 8:55:02 PM
likes this

Bart Veerman


5562 posts since 1/5/2005

Food for thought: some while ago I ended up with a Fender Leo masterclone, upgraded with a Sullivan rim & tone ring. The poor thing didn't at all sound & performed the way I remembered the awesome way the Leo I used to own many, many years ago (but sold in a weak moment) did. This Leo, souped up and all, sounded simply totally "constipated." It did, however, come with the original Leo rim & ring, swapped those back in and voila, killer flat top sound/performance all over again.

Them Artist banjos are amazing & hugely capable masterclones but their original bridges were very underwhelming so do replace that first and make sure the head tension is in the range of 90~92 on the Drum Dial. Once you're done I'm guessing you won't be in the mood to do your original mod anymore. But, hey, if not then by all means go with your original thought, the economy will be ever so grateful!

Jun 8, 2023 - 8:57:09 PM

14495 posts since 6/2/2008

To be clear -- and to agree with others -- replacing both the tone ring and rim will have more of an impact on the sound than replacing only the rim and keeping the ring.

It's possible replacing the tone ring alone could have more of an impact than replacing the rim alone.

But I think a 3-ply or block rim is going to be a better platform than a multi-ply.

Used pot assemblies for two-piece flange don't come up for resale as frequently as those for one-piece flange. You could conceivably buy a used rim and tone ring separately and have the fit adjusted if necessary. I think the tubes in two-piece flanges are more standard than one-piece flanges, so a used rim is more likely to work with your tube and the heel of your neck. Bolt locations could be different; I don't know.

Good luck.

Jun 9, 2023 - 6:18:01 AM
like this

2257 posts since 5/19/2018

The Ibanez Artist series of Masterclone banjos were basically at the time, top of the line. In many ways better than contemporary Gibson banjos. Had one at one point, sold it, and like others, wish I still had it.

A proper setup, with a good bridge, quality head and new strings is most likely all you need. Go that route first, before you start spending money and essentially start changing the banjo itself.

Jun 9, 2023 - 6:49:44 AM
likes this

76 posts since 11/3/2015

I have an Artist that I bought new in 1976 and I completely agree with Bart Veerman. It has the original pre-EPA head at 91# with an upgraded bridge and it'll go toe to toe with any $2K Mastertone out there.

Jun 9, 2023 - 6:53:34 AM

1896 posts since 2/28/2003

I upgraded my '77 Artist with a Tony Pass Woody Thin Skirt rim, so no tone ring. It is a great banjo! I also use a Sampson bridge, Price tailpiece, and a ZeroGlide nut. The bluegrass sound was wonderful with that setup, but since I got my Nechville Phantom for bluegrass, I converted the Artist to openback by removing the plate and installing a Fiberskyn head. I bought mine new in '78 when I was in college, and I will never sell it.

Jun 9, 2023 - 8:28:04 AM
likes this
Players Union Member



17157 posts since 8/30/2006

eric fuls It's a "good" example of a tube and plate type rig with a rolled brass tone ring. There will be some lead in the brass because it is necessary to get that formula. To replace the rim and tone ring with something much much heavier will disappoint you if you don't know what you might be getting into. More is not always better 3 hours later hanging over your shoulder.

The Fender Leo mentioned was and is also one of the very best examples of tube and plate design.
A bandmate of mine now sports a Cherry rim inside the standard Leo hardware and tone ring.

Please keep the Artist, remove the plate and reinstall the resonator with the same clips. Let the girl dance, you asked her, now let her express herself on the dancefloor, no pigtails, OK?
Keep the present head and tighten it to your specs. The tailpiece and bridge are good wheels and tires. Replace if you like. A Steve Davis Bridge don't hurt none
The rim will vintage better if you play the picks off yer fingers.

Cynics would call this banjo a patent dodger. Remember the fine Datsun 510's? I drove one @ 95 mph across Wyoming for 5 hours because they wanted you gone. Very stable in a station wagon form. Lots of people raced them on track. OK?

Here's an example of a Black Cherry rim with the tube only, no holes in an openback is a good thing. Fiberskyn is a gimmick in my experience.

Edited by - Helix on 06/09/2023 08:32:35

Jun 9, 2023 - 2:19:16 PM
likes this


New Zealand

11829 posts since 6/29/2003

I have owned two of theRB5 Artist Masterclones. The first one I played for a while then disassembled it (even removed the ring from the rim to check the slip fit. Reassembled it and boy what a difference. It came 'alive'. Each banjo has it's 'voice'. This is achieved I feel by binging the head up to tension slowly to find that sweet spot where it 'sings'.

Jun 12, 2023 - 10:15:05 PM
Players Union Member



17157 posts since 8/30/2006

I agree completely
Tighten in small increments

Jun 13, 2023 - 2:24:14 PM

78866 posts since 5/9/2007

I wouldn't hesitate to change out the rim to an RK or any other 3 ply.
I believe the Artist ring was quite good.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories