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Jun 6, 2024 - 9:54:48 AM



577 posts since 9/12/2006

Hello all in banjo world - question :) I think, unless mistaken, that Kelly Emerson had available at one time a "drop in converter ring" that sat right on top of the prewar Gibson archtop ring, and basically converted the banjo to a flathead type setup. I did a member search for Kelly here on the hangout and his "private messaging" has been disabled. (doesn't want to be bothered?) Also I saw where he had posted that his banjo bridges were no longer available. My question is - Besides Mitch Meadors up in Ohio I think, does anyone else offer a similar item - that is, a simple drop in converter ring? Thanks in advance for any replies!

Jun 6, 2024 - 11:53:42 AM

2316 posts since 4/18/2006

My dear buddy Joe Deetz made a hoop a while back that rests on top of an arch top ring to convert it to flathead. He had a studio king that he put it in and I remember it sounding pretty dang good and not making the banjo any heavier. I don't know if he made more than one of them or if he would make another but it might be worth reaching out to him.

Jun 6, 2024 - 12:05:37 PM

103 posts since 6/4/2003

I think you’re confusing Kelly Emerson with Bill Kelly who produced a round small diameter hoop that was machined with a notch on the inside edge. The hoop would drop onto the outer edge of an archtop ring to convert it to a flathead. I have one installed in a pre-war archtop with stellar results. I believe Bill Palmer has info on his webpage regarding this ring. It is my understanding that Mr. Kelly has passed on and the rings are no longer produced.

Edited by - stringnut on 06/06/2024 12:06:40

Jun 6, 2024 - 1:46:24 PM
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577 posts since 9/12/2006

Thanks Terry. I may very well be confusing him with Kelly Emerson. My bad. Well if the fellow has passed, I would be willing to bet a dollar he isn't making them anymore! The only other one I am aware of still making such an animal would be Mitch Meadors. If anyone knows different please chime in! Thanks

Jun 6, 2024 - 2:41:13 PM

103 posts since 6/4/2003

Gregg- You might try placing a want ad in the classified section if you're interested in finding one. They show up periodically, that's how I located the one I have. By my recollection, they typically have been listed around the $100-150 range. I currently have a Kelly ring in one TB-3 conversion and a Mitchel's tone-ring mate in an archtop 6. Both will hold their own vs. a standard conversion ring in giving your banjo a flathead sound.

Be aware they WILL raise the height of the head on the pot about 1/16" in order to clear the inner edge of the archtop ring. This may require a reduction in bridge height or changing a medium crown head for a high crown head in order to maintain string height and tension hoop clearance at the edge of the fingerboard. In extreme instances it may require resetting the lag bolts in the neck to maintain proper fingerboard height in relation to the banjo pot. My solution for a perfect fit was to install both rings prior to shipping out the banjos to have necks built. Insures a perfect fit and simple change from a 5/8" to 11/16' bridge if you return to the archtop setup. Not always an available option for most installations if your dealing with an existing conversion neck.

All three options (Kelly "hoop", Tone-ring mate, and standard conversion ring) are excellent alternatives to cutting the rim on a pre-war instrument. Hope you are able to locate one, I think you'll be happy with the results. Best of luck with your search.

Jun 6, 2024 - 5:47:25 PM



3874 posts since 10/29/2003

I tried a Kelly ring on one of my banjos
I felt it did not achieve the same sound as a full flathead ring.
My guess it is due to the weight.
I preferred the tone of a Sullivan low profile conversion ring.
Could have been my particular banjo.
Try one ,it may work better on your banjo,
If you can find one
Good luck

Edited by - O.D. on 06/06/2024 17:49:02

Jun 7, 2024 - 4:36:54 AM



577 posts since 9/12/2006

I want to thank all of you for the info. Yes, I have in fact tried all three options, The drop in converter hoop, made by Kelly or Mitch Meadors, and low profile flathead rings. I was trying to pin down available options for a friend. In addition, I think I have found one that he may very well use.

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