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Dec 7, 2023 - 9:27:51 AM
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836 posts since 12/6/2021

Well, I finally bought a Gibson. I have always liked the plain unadorned look of the RB-100. When I finally decided I needed one I began my search and most of what showed up were just too darned expensive. I finally found one at one of the major chains on line at a fair price, so I bought it. It was in pretty rough shape and in desperate need of some TLC. The first thing I did was to clean it up. Then I put strings of it and replaced the bridge (the original bridge reminded me of an old sway back horse) and tuned it up. The strings were way too high off the fret board, but I wanted to hear how it sounded. I almost panicked. It sounded horrible.

I decided to put the banjo through a complete over haul and set up. It seemed pretty solid; no major defects or structural damage. The neck was straight (too straight I later found out). The rim looked good and seemed solid; the neck was securely attached. The head had a slight bit of wear but was fine and I tightened it up some. I did not want the banjo to look new and I wanted a little patina to show.

The first three frets were grooved and worn, so I replaced them. The tailpiece was rusted and worn so I replaced it with a new clamshell I happened to have. I installed Keith D-Tuners on the 2nd and 3rd strings, and put a Shubb sliding 5th string capo on the neck. After tweaking the tailpiece and adjusting the bridge, I loosened the truss rod nut slightly to create a little bit of a bow. Now it all seemed to come together. The strings are a nice 1/8 inch off the fret board at the 12th fret and it sounds great. It has a little higher pitched tone than some of my other banjos, but that's fine; I don't think we want all of our banjos to sound alike.. The old Gibson has its own personality as I believe all vintage banjos should. It is loud and cuts through the wall paper and I can't wait to take it to a jam.
Robert

Edited by - TN Time on 12/07/2023 10:34:20

Dec 7, 2023 - 9:39:25 AM
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Owen

Canada

14597 posts since 6/5/2011

Tongue-in-cheek, Mr. Time, but I figure "all in the set-up" must be banjo specific.  For some inexplicable reason, my banjo sounds 'w-a-y better when somebody else plays it than when I do... no change in set-up.   

However, it's good that things turned out well.... although maybe fleeting, those "almost panicked" moments do tend to get the adrenaline flowing.  wink

Dec 7, 2023 - 9:49:28 AM
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61698 posts since 12/14/2005

"I LOVE to hear a story with a Happy Ending!

--F. G. Mother, spiritual consultant-

(PS: I'd also like to hear a sound file of your dear old new Gibson.)

Dec 7, 2023 - 9:51:49 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

Hey Mike, I will post a sound file when I figure out how to do it.
Robert

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:05:44 AM

14828 posts since 6/2/2008
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quote:
Originally posted by TN Time

I loosened the truss rod nut slightly to create a little bit of a bow. Now it all seemed to come together. The strings are a nice 1/8 inch off the fret board at the 12th fret and it sounds great. It has a little higher pitched tone than some of my other banjos, but that's fine and I assume because of all the walnut it has about it. 


Walnut in an RB-100? Are you sure?

What year? I thought the 70s RB-100 with fiddle-cut headstock and laminated neck was mahogany. 50s-60s RB-100 I think has mahogany neck with plain maple sunburst resonator. I could be wrong.

Anyway, congrats on the setup success.

I think most of my banjos have one-way truss rods like your older Gibson and I believe loosening the nut not only lets the neck rise into proper relief but it also reduces the impact on sound of the truss rod constricting the neck. The sound seems to open up. That's what I hear, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:31:07 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by TN Time

I loosened the truss rod nut slightly to create a little bit of a bow. Now it all seemed to come together. The strings are a nice 1/8 inch off the fret board at the 12th fret and it sounds great. It has a little higher pitched tone than some of my other banjos, but that's fine and I assume because of all the walnut it has about it. 


Walnut in an RB-100? Are you sure?

What year? I thought the 70s RB-100 with fiddle-cut headstock and laminated neck was mahogany. 50s-60s RB-100 I think has mahogany neck with plain maple sunburst resonator. I could be wrong.

Anyway, congrats on the setup success.

I think most of my banjos have one-way truss rods like your older Gibson and I believe loosening the nut not only lets the neck rise into proper relief but it also reduces the impact on sound of the truss rod constricting the neck. The sound seems to open up. That's what I hear, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


Ken,

You are correct . It is mahogany and not walnut. It does look like walnut and I assumed it was due to the higher pitched sound it has compared to my other banjos. I stand corrected and thanks for the clarification. It is a 1976 model with the fiddle shaped head stock, but the resonator is not sunburst, but a solid dark stained color, and I will not guess what wood the resonator is made of. Once again, the resonator looks like walnut but probably is not. And that truss rod adjustment made all the difference in the playability.

Robert

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:57:51 AM
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14828 posts since 6/2/2008
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quote:
Originally posted by TN Time
It is a 1976 model with the fiddle shaped head stock, but the resonator is not sunburst, but a solid dark stained color, and I will not guess what wood the resonator is made of. Once again, the resonator looks like walnut but probably is not. And that truss rod adjustment made all the difference in the playability.

I think the resonator of the 70s RB-100 was also mahogany. And I believe these were stained a walnut or other dark color. Or, rather, they were toned a dark color in Gibson's practice of tinting the lacquer. Spraying color over sealed wood, instead of wiping stain into bare wood, produces much more even color.  You're looking through clear coats and color to the wood grain. Over time, it produces the well-known effect of color worn away to expose wood.

Enjoy!

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:59:44 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by TN Time

I loosened the truss rod nut slightly to create a little bit of a bow. Now it all seemed to come together. The strings are a nice 1/8 inch off the fret board at the 12th fret and it sounds great. It has a little higher pitched tone than some of my other banjos, but that's fine and I assume because of all the walnut it has about it. 


Walnut in an RB-100? Are you sure?

What year? I thought the 70s RB-100 with fiddle-cut headstock and laminated neck was mahogany. 50s-60s RB-100 I think has mahogany neck with plain maple sunburst resonator. I could be wrong.

Anyway, congrats on the setup success.

I think most of my banjos have one-way truss rods like your older Gibson and I believe loosening the nut not only lets the neck rise into proper relief but it also reduces the impact on sound of the truss rod constricting the neck. The sound seems to open up. That's what I hear, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


I edited my original post so that it is now more correct. As my good long time friend Barry often says, "I hate it when I am stupid."

Robert

Edited by - TN Time on 12/07/2023 11:02:18

Dec 7, 2023 - 11:20 AM
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14828 posts since 6/2/2008
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Not stupid. No one's born knowing this stuff. Keeping it straight is tough. And, as always, I could be wrong. I am frequently corrected and don't mind it when I am.

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