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Nov 27, 2023 - 4:24:25 PM
9 posts since 2/28/2010

I recently posted about a 1968 RB-250 bowtie that was at a guitar show... Well, I bought it and was blown away with how loud it was - louder than my Stelling Sunflower! This banjo has a gap between the outer skirt of the tone ring and the wood rim that was about 0.1 inches - I put pics of that in the last post. So, given how good it sounds, I had to find out the tone ring maker and I'm stumped. No numbers or letters on it anywhere, so I've measured it in detail and uploaded some pics. The diameter of the inner ring is 9.503 inches and the diameter of the outer ring is 10.995 inches (give or take a few thou due to human error). Would appreciate any ideas on the maker. One thing that seemed strange to me is that several of the 20 drilled holes were never de-burred - they just chrome plated over the top of the burrs. I guess that saves labor, but seems like cutting corners if you're trying to make a quality product that looks nice all around...
Again, thanks for looking and providing any ideas on the maker.


Nov 27, 2023 - 8:41:17 PM

GStump

USA

552 posts since 9/12/2006

IF chrome plated, it could be a Faulkner ring (maybe!) ?

Nov 28, 2023 - 3:59:07 AM

9 posts since 2/28/2010

Hi Gregg,
I sent all the detailed pictures to Gruhn and Joe felt that the original Faulkner ring had been replaced - primarily due to the 0.1" gap between the outer ring skirt and the rim outer edge.
DT

Nov 28, 2023 - 4:38:54 AM

9 posts since 2/28/2010

I neglected to include the weight of the ring: 57.45 oz, or 3.59 lbs.


In doing some poking around, the dimensions and weight are very close to a Stew Mac Five-Star ring (including the short outer skirt): https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-hardware/all-hardware-and-parts-by-instrument/banjo-parts/banjo-tone-rings/five-star-flathead-banjo-tone-ring

DT

Nov 28, 2023 - 7:48:16 AM

2751 posts since 1/4/2009

i think thats a faulkner, frank neat can tell for sure but it looks nickel, the weight is right and it has the telltale mark from casting. I have 2 verified faulkners and they are very similar to this. I would contact frank neat, he worked for faulkner and can verify. I dont understand gruhns comments as way to id it as many gibsons ive had over the years came from the factory with poorly fit rings.

Nov 28, 2023 - 10:44:45 AM

4072 posts since 9/21/2009

If it's a Stew-Mac, it should have a star stamped on it.

Nov 28, 2023 - 10:48:35 AM

4072 posts since 9/21/2009

I'm wondering if it might have been a no hole ring and someone drilled holes in it. I can't see some of the bigger builders leaving those burrs after drilling the holes.

Nov 28, 2023 - 11:17:16 AM
like this

388 posts since 11/16/2011

quote:
Originally posted by kyleb

i think thats a faulkner, frank neat can tell for sure but it looks nickel, the weight is right and it has the telltale mark from casting. I have 2 verified faulkners and they are very similar to this. I would contact frank neat, he worked for faulkner and can verify. I dont understand gruhns comments as way to id it as many gibsons ive had over the years came from the factory with poorly fit rings.


Frank would certainly be the person to go to but he would have to have it in hand.  Last I heard he was charging to verify Faulkner rings.  What is the telltale mark from casting?  Do you mean the plating mark at one of the 20 holes?  That is not unique to Faulkner, in fact not uncommon with other rings.  The offset of the lag bolt hole is not unique to Faulkner either.  I assume you meant chrome, not nickel.

KTS Industries in Kalamazoo was also a source for Gibson rings at the time.    The gap with the skirt is troubling as Gibson would have a nice fit, without a gap, whether it is a Faulkner or a KTS ring.  Possibly a ring that wasn't with the banjo as it left Gibson.  Assuming there are no signs of someone shortening the skirt later.

Nov 28, 2023 - 11:28:31 AM

2751 posts since 1/4/2009

quote:
Originally posted by 550Spyder
quote:
Originally posted by kyleb

i think thats a faulkner, frank neat can tell for sure but it looks nickel, the weight is right and it has the telltale mark from casting. I have 2 verified faulkners and they are very similar to this. I would contact frank neat, he worked for faulkner and can verify. I dont understand gruhns comments as way to id it as many gibsons ive had over the years came from the factory with poorly fit rings.


Frank would certainly be the person to go to but he would have to have it in hand.  Last I heard he was charging to verify Faulkner rings.  What is the telltale mark from casting?  Do you mean the plating mark at one of the 20 holes?  That is not unique to Faulkner, in fact not uncommon with other rings.  The offset of the lag bolt hole is not unique to Faulkner either.  I assume you meant chrome, not nickel.

KTS Industries in Kalamazoo was also a source for Gibson rings at the time.    The gap with the skirt is troubling as Gibson would have a nice fit, without a gap, whether it is a Faulkner or a KTS ring.  Possibly a ring that wasn't with the banjo as it left Gibson.  Assuming there are no signs of someone shortening the skirt later.


yes chrome, sorry, and yes thats why you pay frank. 

Nov 30, 2023 - 10:40:08 AM

9 posts since 2/28/2010

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'll contact Frank since the banjo is apart right now.
Kyle,
I'm also curious about the telltale mark from casting - are you talking about the hole where it looks like the drilling overheated? Would you be willing to post some pics of your verified Faulkners?

I added 2 more pics - one showing the lag bolt hole placement and one showing some plating coming off on the inside.


Nov 30, 2023 - 1:35:01 PM

GStump

USA

552 posts since 9/12/2006

I have also heard over the years, that those original Gibson banjos back in the day (late 50's perhaps into the early 70's) that came factory equipped with Faulkner rings, were ALL either chrome or gold plated. Those rings apparently came in style 250's, 500's, and perhaps a very few 800's early on? I am not sure whether or not Mr Faulkner ever did make or supply anyone with a nickel plated ring, but I wouldn't doubt it if he did. BUT - apparently none of those ever made it into a standard Gibson banjo of the time period mentioned above.... ?

Dec 7, 2023 - 9:44:53 AM
likes this

378 posts since 2/14/2013

In regards to the drilling burrs on the 20 holes, that was actually very common to leave the burrs when plating. In fact the vast majority of the prewar flathead rings had these burrs. With modern rings, the tendency is to remove the burrs, however some modern makers leave them... maybe for the vintage look?

Dec 7, 2023 - 9:18:37 PM

388 posts since 11/16/2011

quote:
Originally posted by GStump

I have also heard over the years, that those original Gibson banjos back in the day (late 50's perhaps into the early 70's) that came factory equipped with Faulkner rings, were ALL either chrome or gold plated.


In my discussions with Frank, Jim Faulkner made rings in 1967, near Indianapolis, for a couple of years.  KTS Industries was also making rings for Gibson during that time.  Looking at the OP closeup of "burrs", I'm skeptical of the ring being a Faulkner or one by KTS with the caveat that pictures don't always reveal things that can be seen in-hand.

Dec 7, 2023 - 9:56:14 PM

388 posts since 11/16/2011

Authenticated Faulkner ring (chrome).  1968 RB800 is not a Faulkner.  Both have offset lag bolt holes.  The plating irregularity at one of the holes is likely due to where it was hung in the plating process causing a reaction to the plating.  Drilling one hole extra hot at the same location in many rings seems implausible.






Dec 7, 2023 - 10:28:34 PM

388 posts since 11/16/2011

My post above, too late to edit. Reaction in the plating may be a poor choice of words. Likely the different charges between the ring and plating inhibited plating where it was hung.

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