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Jun 22, 2024 - 12:19:21 PM
983 posts since 2/19/2012

This tailpiece came on an RB-170 I bought several years ago from Bernunzios. It didn't sit correctly on the rim because of those hook-like things, and not knowing whether it was some rare Gibson-esque component, I replaced it with a late model Presto. Were these protrusions always on Waverly tailpieces? I assume they're intended to hook over the rim, but they're not set wide enough and end up sitting on top, which pitches the whole thing forward. I'm about to file them off unless someone convinces me I shouldn't. I'm guessing this is a more recent knock-off that they put on the banjo to get it out the door.




Jun 22, 2024 - 12:37:32 PM

5827 posts since 5/29/2011

The two projections are supposed to hold the tailpiece in position on the tension hoop. The ones I had in the past all worked properly. Does the RB170 have the original tension hoop?

Jun 22, 2024 - 1:05:21 PM

15747 posts since 10/30/2008

I just measure the factory original gold plated Waverly on my 1967 Mastertone resonator banjo (RB 500) and it has those same hooks. I measure just a hair under 5 mm of space from the inside of the hook to the 90 degree corner.

I've owned an old RB 250 from the early 1960s and it had this same standard Waverly tailpiece.

I can't imagine why it doesn't fit your tension hoop properly.

It will do no harm to file off the tips of the hooks.

Jun 22, 2024 - 1:10:47 PM
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983 posts since 2/19/2012

Okay, I have to confess. This is embarrassing. I just tried it on the Gibson, which I haven't played for a long time, and the hooks are not the problem. Note to self: engage brain before keyboard. This thing has been laying in a drawer for years and I mis-remembered the problem.

It won't adjust properly to get any sort of reasonable height above the head, even with the screw removed, which is something internal. I need to remove the side screws, and see what's going on in there. Can you tell from the photos if this is from the 60's - 70's or later production?

Jun 22, 2024 - 2:16:37 PM

983 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

I just measure the factory original gold plated Waverly on my 1967 Mastertone resonator banjo (RB 500) and it has those same hooks. I measure just a hair under 5 mm of space from the inside of the hook to the 90 degree corner.

I've owned an old RB 250 from the early 1960s and it had this same standard Waverly tailpiece.

I can't imagine why it doesn't fit your tension hoop properly.

It will do no harm to file off the tips of the hooks.


MIne measures closer to 4 mm.  There was very little to no clearance between the part with the hooks and the body of the tailpiece, so I elongated the screw holes just a little with a needle file to get more clearance between the two parts.  The adjustable part works freely now.  Since it's been collecting dust, I decided to try fitting it to a Vega LIttle Wonder rim.  The hooks appear to  work okay there, but on both banjos the hooks pull the whole thing inward some at the top, which gets more downward angle than I want.  I think it's within range of tinkering now to get it to fit though.  I may remove a little material on the inward edge of the hooks.  I'm not too tempted to put it back on the RB-170 though.  I really like the Presta.    

Thank you both for your comments.  I should have spent a little more time in the workshop before posting.

Jun 22, 2024 - 3:05:46 PM
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15407 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Parker135

It won't adjust properly to get any sort of reasonable height above the head, even with the screw removed, which is something internal. I need to remove the side screws, and see what's going on in there. Can you tell from the photos if this is from the 60's - 70's or later production?


The two I had like this came on the Japanese Aria bowtie banjo I bought in May 1972 and the custom banjo made for me by John Janzegers in June 1973. These were standard equipment on most years of the bowtie RB-250 and other Gibsons from 50 and 60s. I believe the 1970s Fender Artist also used this. Pretty sure it's called a "New Waverly." Guess it was new at the time.

I have no way of telling age. I don't remember the construction/assembly details, and mine is long gone.

The number of rivets holding it togethe make me suspect American from the 60s.

What I remember about the tailpiece on my 1973 banjo is that I bent it or weakened it trying to set the front end of the top part really low to the head -- which is what we did back in the 70s. The original adjustment screw wasn't long enough. So I found a longer machine screw with the same thread and put a tiny acorn nut on the end of it -- because when I adjusted the head to a severe down angle, the point of the screw slipped off the internal metal of the lower leg of the tailpiece and went into the big opening -- bearing on nothing. The acorn nut solved that problem by being fat enough to not go into the empty space.

Eventually I replaced the "New Waverly" with a vintage style Waverly and then a clamshell. Neither was much better at delivering the low clearance over the head I wanted. Then I got a Liberty Bear Claw, which was great. No bending that thing. This century, I sold that and went with an original Price then a Kershner, which is what I use now. Also, I have matured from the setup philosophy of the 70s and no longer need or like my tailpieces cranked to 1/32 above the head, bridges thinned to almost nothing, and heads at B-flat or higher.

What is the "reasonable height" above the head that this tailpiece can't give you? It could be you need a longer adjustment screw as I did all those years ago.

Jun 22, 2024 - 3:39:30 PM

5827 posts since 5/29/2011

From the photos, it looks like an original Waverly that was used by Gibson, Fender, and many Japanese banjos from the 60's and 70's. The original Waverly had five little posts under the cover to loop the string ends onto. The later knockoff tailpieces first made by Saga had stamped hooks to fasten the strings on. They also had less clearance between the hooks and the cover which makes them almost impossible to string.

Jun 22, 2024 - 5:00:43 PM
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983 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Culloden

From the photos, it looks like an original Waverly that was used by Gibson, Fender, and many Japanese banjos from the 60's and 70's. The original Waverly had five little posts under the cover to loop the string ends onto. The later knockoff tailpieces first made by Saga had stamped hooks to fasten the strings on. They also had less clearance between the hooks and the cover which makes them almost impossible to string.


This one has the five posts, so it must be the correct one for the RB-170.   That's a really good tip. When I got it, they must not have had the right bracket for it or something; I don't remember now, but it was almost down touching the head when I received the banjo. and didn't seem to be adjustable enough to set it correctly.  I did get more adjustment out of it after taking it apart today and elongating the screw holes slightly.  Getting the proper bolt seems really important, otherwise it won't sit close to the rim because of the head needing someplace to go.  I made one today by grinding most of the head away on a long 8-32 screw.  

After getting it set up on the Little Wonder tenor, I switched over the old strings from the No-Knot that came on it.  That was somewhat of a pain.  I can't imagine them making it more difficult and thinking that we as good idea.  Cheaper, I guess.  

Jun 22, 2024 - 5:08:26 PM

983 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Parker135

It won't adjust properly to get any sort of reasonable height above the head, even with the screw removed, which is something internal. I need to remove the side screws, and see what's going on in there. Can you tell from the photos if this is from the 60's - 70's or later production?


The number of rivets holding it togethe make me suspect American from the 60s.

Eventually I replaced the "New Waverly" with a vintage style Waverly and then a clamshell. Neither was much better at delivering the low clearance over the head I wanted. Then I got a Liberty Bear Claw, which was great. No bending that thing. This century, I sold that and went with an original Price then a Kershner, which is what I use now. Also, I have matured from the setup philosophy of the 70s and no longer need or like my tailpieces cranked to 1/32 above the head, bridges thinned to almost nothing, and heads at B-flat or higher.

What is the "reasonable height" above the head that this tailpiece can't give you? It could be you need a longer adjustment screw as I did all those years ago.


Reasonable for me would have been having the tail piece not almost touching the head.  It sounds like that's what you were after back then!  I got the RB-170 for old time and didn't want so much downforce.  As I described to Mark Harper, it came that way from Bernunzio and I couldn't do much with it at the time. 

I've ordered a Kirshner for the LIttle Wonder, but wanted to try this out in the meantime since I had it.  I'll probably end up just saving it for the  Gibson since it seems like the correct original piece.  The Presta on there now is a lot easier to use though! 

Jun 22, 2024 - 5:40:45 PM
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RDP

USA

293 posts since 2/27/2009

Iv got an original one on my 1975 RB-100. I get well enough height out of mine.


 

Jun 22, 2024 - 6:59:33 PM

983 posts since 2/19/2012

Yeah, I probably bailed out too soon on mine. I would liked to have been able to compare with another properly set up 170 at the time. Mine also came with the arm rest, which sits too high. It was explained to me here on BHO that it was really intended for a different model banjo (probably one with a tone ring) but they installed them on the RB-170s because that's what they had. I guess my banjo is sort of a snapshot in time for what they were producing then. Great banjo either way.

Jun 23, 2024 - 9:35:21 AM

13161 posts since 10/27/2006

Is the body brass or steel?

Jun 23, 2024 - 9:51:37 AM

15407 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Parker135
Reasonable for me would have been having the tail piece not almost touching the head.  It sounds like that's what you were after back then! 

Just as a follow-up . . .

I was trying to remember how I dealt with my perceived shortcomings of a New Waverly tailpiece 50 years ago. I don't have one of those any more. I know that the one on which I added an acorn nut to the point of a replacement screw was in a batch of never-to-be-used-again parts I gave away a few years ago.

Looking at the photo of your tailpiece, I can't recall exactly how I decided a longer screw would increase the down angle and I don't see what problem was solved by adding the acorn nut to fatten up the end of the screw. So the description I offered before might actually make no sense. I remember for certain the change I made. I'm not really sure why the longer screw alone did not work.

I do remember that I bent one or broke it at the 90-degree bend and also bent the old Waverly I mentioned before. I think that also went in the give-away parts.

Jun 23, 2024 - 11:30:24 AM

983 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran

Is the body brass or steel?

It's brass.  I assumed it was steel but a magnet convinced me otherwise


Jun 23, 2024 - 11:33:17 AM
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983 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Parker135
Reasonable for me would have been having the tail piece not almost touching the head.  It sounds like that's what you were after back then! 

Just as a follow-up . . .

I was trying to remember how I dealt with my perceived shortcomings of a New Waverly tailpiece 50 years ago. I don't have one of those any more. I know that the one on which I added an acorn nut to the point of a replacement screw was in a batch of never-to-be-used-again parts I gave away a few years ago.

Looking at the photo of your tailpiece, I can't recall exactly how I decided a longer screw would increase the down angle and I don't see what problem was solved by adding the acorn nut to fatten up the end of the screw. So the description I offered before might actually make no sense. I remember for certain the change I made. I'm not really sure why the longer screw alone did not work.

I do remember that I bent one or broke it at the 90-degree bend and also bent the old Waverly I mentioned before. I think that also went in the give-away parts.


Well, I can sympathize with the memory being a little hazy!  I never had an issue getting it low enough.  The way it was set up when I received the banjo, it was almost down to the head and I couldn't correct it.  Now that I've spent some time with it and made an offset bolt for to fit it to my Little Wonder, it's sitting reasonably well and adjusts with no problem.

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