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Apr 22, 2024 - 4:22:37 AM
354 posts since 2/22/2019

In general is it easier to set up a mahogany banjo to sound like maple or a maple to sound like mahogany.

I've heard maples that I love, others not so much.  Same with hog.

Also, mahogany banjos appear to be the latest trend, why?

Edited by - HighLonesomeF5 on 04/22/2024 04:35:00

Apr 22, 2024 - 6:02:44 AM
like this

15228 posts since 6/2/2008

I think any banjo with a neck of any wood can be set up so that in a blindfolded test you wouldn't be able to tell what wood it was made of.

Apr 22, 2024 - 8:00:19 AM

5439 posts since 11/20/2004

I have had more success making a mahogany neck bright than making a maple produce the sweetness of mahogany.

Apr 22, 2024 - 9:04:34 AM
like this

1673 posts since 1/9/2012

On the same pot with the same set-up, identically CNC'd necks of maple, white oak, walnut, and mahogany sounded sufficiently different that even non-banjo players could tell them apart, with comments consistent with banjo lore (https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/neck-wood/neck-wood.pdf).

My impression is that there are far more ways and dimensions to tinker and alter the sound than there are features of the sound that normal human beings use to distinguish what they're hearing.

(I say "normal human beings" because, through my banjo work, I've had the opportunity to interact with some world-class players.  There's at least one whose abilities to discriminate and identify exceed anyhting I imagined possible.)


 

Apr 28, 2024 - 11:10:41 AM

kaydee

UK

103 posts since 2/27/2014

would have to say I agree with this,and I preface this by saying “it’s down to your ears” but I just cannot tell the difference between different tone woods,maybe a little with acoustic guitars but banjos,not a chance .
I rebuilt my banjo with different strings ,a new renaisance head,a hand made deer antler bridge and it sounded night and day different to the original top frosted,maple bridge version.
In my humble opinion it takes a much better pair of ears than mine to tell the tone woods apart,again not talking for others,just me.Change the easy bits first ,you might get a relly nice surprise.

Apr 28, 2024 - 11:12:03 AM

kaydee

UK

103 posts since 2/27/2014

quote:
Originally posted by kaydee

would have to say I agree with this,and I preface this by saying “it’s down to your ears” but I just cannot tell the difference between different tone woods,maybe a little with acoustic guitars but banjos,not a chance .
I rebuilt my banjo with different strings ,a new renaisance head,a hand made deer antler bridge and it sounded night and day different to the original top frosted,maple bridge version.
In my humble opinion it takes a much better pair of ears than mine to tell the tone woods apart,again not talking for others,just me.Change the easy bits first ,you might get a really nice surprise.


Apr 28, 2024 - 4:31:25 PM

5497 posts since 12/10/2003

I Agree with the poster above. If you're playing it by itself, it might be hard to figure out what it is. But if you did A recording of a banjo with a mahogany neck on it and then turned around and put a Maple neck on it and tried to set it up and make the same tone come out of the banjo, You're going to get a similar tone, but it's still going to have attributes that you will be able to hear.

May 4, 2024 - 8:34:15 PM

38 posts since 9/1/2020

I made three identical banjos of Maple, Walnut, and Cherry.
Each had matching species of neck and rim.
I used Remo heads and identical hardware configurations to make all things other than wood species consistently equal.
The tone quality of each was clearly unique.

May 4, 2024 - 9:01:54 PM

1673 posts since 1/9/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Berry Banjos

I made three identical banjos of Maple, Walnut, and Cherry.
Each had matching species of neck and rim.
I used Remo heads and identical hardware configurations to make all things other than wood species consistently equal.
The tone quality of each was clearly unique.


It would be a treat to hear them.

Can you swap them around, i.e., same neck on the different rims?  I have a sense of what necks do, but rims confuse me.   For example, I stuck 14 lbs of super-strong magnets on a steel rim and couldn't hear or measure a difference.  (It just occurred to me that maybe the original steel rim was already so stiff that making it stiffer was irrelevant.  If so, then the most enlightening would be variations among thin and/or flexible rims, e.g., your cherry vs. maple with the same maple neck.


Edited by - davidppp on 05/04/2024 21:06:19

May 4, 2024 - 9:46:28 PM

38 posts since 9/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by davidppp
quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Berry Banjos

I made three identical banjos of Maple, Walnut, and Cherry.
Each had matching species of neck and rim.
I used Remo heads and identical hardware configurations to make all things other than wood species consistently equal.
The tone quality of each was clearly unique.


It would be a treat to hear them.

Can you swap them around, i.e., same neck on the different rims?  I have a sense of what necks do, but rims confuse me.   For example, I stuck 14 lbs of super-strong magnets on a steel rim and couldn't hear or measure a difference.  (It just occurred to me that maybe the original steel rim was already so stiff that making it stiffer was irrelevant.  If so, then the most enlightening would be variations among thin and/or flexible rims, e.g., your cherry vs. maple with the same maple neck.


David, 

They could have been switched around (they're sold now), but at the time I was more into the idea of really nailing down the difference between wood species. 

I once put a cherry neck on a walnut rim, and I still have one with a walnut neck on a maple rim. Each of those banjos have unique design characteristics though, so I'm really not sure which elements I'm hearing at play in creating their respective sounds. 

Normally, I try to match neck and rim because it's best to transfer resonant vibration between similar material (exactly the same is even better). 

Banjos are funny because the pot has a natural amplification which can project plenty loud even if the overall resonant properties are almost nonexistent. 

IMO, the real 'flavour' of tone quality is most perceivable in the sustain, or long decay portion of the note. 

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