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Nov 28, 2023 - 3:15:53 PM
4 posts since 11/28/2023

This thread is about the low-end odd-ball Electric Banjo you've all probably passed on. I'm ready to do a pickup swap but can't figure out how to run the wire from the pickup cavity to the control cavity, because the wire needs to go under the drum head.

Just loosen the 3 hex screws in the back of the body, and the drum head pops right out, right?

No. It doesn't. Loosening the 2 upper hex screws that connect to the head hooks does nothing. Loosening the 1 lower hex screw that attaches the tailpiece to the body does not release the drum either.

So, does that mean the drum is glued to the body and the tension hooks are purely cosmetic? Did they run the pickup wire under the head, before gluing the drum in place? Pretty disappointing.

Nov 28, 2023 - 3:56:18 PM



2859 posts since 8/30/2012

I've got the same banjo. It's got a full electronics swap. I've done a full teardown a few times, and do remember getting the head off was more difficult than it should have been. One thing to note is that it's essentially a solid body, the head is one of those "pre-tuned" heads that don't need to be stretched to maintain tension, and the J-hooks are mostly just for looks. It's basically just sitting on a shallow circular indentation in the solid wood body, there's no real tone chamber to speak of. The circular hole in the wood body is basically the same diameter of the head, it's kind of wedged in there, might just be stuck in your situation.

Let me get it out of the pile and see how I did it.

Nov 28, 2023 - 4:22:05 PM
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4 posts since 11/28/2023

Well thanks! That's good to hear that I'm not the first person to run into this.

On my EB-5, there is a tiny crack between the pickup cavity and the drum cavity. I wonder if they hammered it in too hard at the factory when it needed a little more routing / shaving.

Nov 29, 2023 - 2:38:29 AM

596 posts since 7/13/2008

Don't know if it's still true, but you used to be able to call Goldtone, and they'd get a tech or somebody to talk the problem through with you.

Nov 29, 2023 - 9:41:28 AM

4 posts since 11/28/2023

I tried their web live chat. The gentleman was friendly but seemed out of his depth.

Nov 30, 2023 - 4:59:19 PM

2339 posts since 2/9/2007

Can you pull the new wire through with the old one? I'd expect the original to be fastened somewhere unreachable, but would want to give it a little tug to check before getting further into disassembling things.

Nov 30, 2023 - 5:34:52 PM
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2859 posts since 8/30/2012

Dug into it. No glue or anything, just need to shake it out, maybe use a plastic butter knife to pick it out. The hooks don't provide tension they're mostly for looks and I suppose to hold it in there, but they're not actually pulling down on the head to tighten it up.

Basically the wire runs from the pickup cavity, through a small slot then under the head, then another small slot to the pot dial area. Pretty straightforward, like I said it's basically a solid body but it's got the self-tensioned head and banjo bridge/tailpiece probably to give the strings more banjo-style attack/decay.

Other nuance I had to deal with, I had a slight buzz from the pickup. Ended up running the ground to the tail piece, had to etch a bit of powder coat off the rim so the j hook and head rim conduct. Kind of weird, not sure what that's about but the fix worked so I'm not questioning it. Electronics confuse me I move piles of dirt around for a living. 

Edited by - KCJones on 11/30/2023 17:36:06

Dec 3, 2023 - 4:10:48 PM

4 posts since 11/28/2023

Thanks everyone and especially KCJones for the replies.

I can't imagine getting the drum out without badly damaging the wood body. There is not even any wiggle. Is this worth handing off to a luthier or is there something I can try?

My impression is a plastic butter knife will snap and a screwdriver will split the wood, but I'm up for trying anything!

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