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  #1  
Old 12-23-2016, 06:04 PM
Doubleneck Doubleneck is offline
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Default To play a banjo you have to be a mechanic

Got out my Deering 6 string open back Boston and really enjoyed playing it again. But I know why so many 6 string banjos sit in the closet. The Deering is well made but a banjo is a moving musical instrument. You have to tighten the head, the neck angle gets adjusted with the rods in back. After all this is done it's as playable as my guitars but if you don't know what to do it would be back to the closet. Setups work for guitars but banjos just seem to have more of a life of their own. In my case are two wrenches! Totally worth the effort, but it's a part the the instrument.
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2005 McKnight SS Dred
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2012 Deering B6 Openback Banjo
2012 Emerald Acoustic Doubleneck
2012 Rainsong JM1000 Black Ice
2009 Wechter Pathmaker 9600 LTD
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  #2  
Old 12-23-2016, 06:29 PM
H165 H165 is offline
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Quote:
To play a banjo you have to be a mechanic
This makes sense, because you have to be a pretty good machinist to make one.
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Old 12-27-2016, 10:03 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H165 View Post
This makes sense, because you have to be a pretty good machinist to make one.
There's a whole range of folks who make banjos; from whittled tack heads to high end electrics. I've been building for quite a few years and it's not a particularly difficult thing to make a simple banjo. I did maintain a website providing building information for many years and you can still find quite a bit of free banjo construction information on the web archived version here:
http://web.archive.org/web/201603282...pageBanjo.html
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Old 12-28-2016, 11:32 AM
Doubleneck Doubleneck is offline
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Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
There's a whole range of folks who make banjos; from whittled tack heads to high end electrics. I've been building for quite a few years and it's not a particularly difficult thing to make a simple banjo. I did maintain a website providing building information for many years and you can still find quite a bit of free banjo construction information on the web archived version here:
http://web.archive.org/web/201603282...pageBanjo.html
Interesting as I read your excellent site, your caution on the adjustment of neck angle with connecting rods. I did tighten the rod to change the neck angle slightly to bring down the action on the strings. I guess I could buy a shorter bridge or sand down the bridge? Deering says adjust the rods and doesn't seem as concerned? I guess I feel the tighting was not excessive but never really thought of it affecting the rim or tone.
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Steve
2005 McKnight SS Dred
2001 Michael Keller Koa Baby
2014 Godin Inuk
2012 Deering B6 Openback Banjo
2012 Emerald Acoustic Doubleneck
2012 Rainsong JM1000 Black Ice
2009 Wechter Pathmaker 9600 LTD
1982 Yairi D-87 Doubleneck
1987 Ovation Collectors
1993 Ovation Collectors
1967 J-45 Gibson
1974 20th Annivers. Les Paul Custom
1978 Carvin Doubleneck
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Old 12-28-2016, 01:42 PM
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Dan Carey Dan Carey is offline
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It also helps if you're a weight lifter...those puppies can get HEAVY!
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A couple of guitars
A Merida DG16 Classical Guitar
A couple of banjos
A Yueqin
A Mountain Dulcimer that I built
A Hammered Dulcimer that I'm currently building
And a fiddle that I built!

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:44 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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It also helps if you're a weight lifter...those puppies can get HEAVY!
Mostly if you're a grasser. Most of my open backs have hovered around 5 pounds.
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:53 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doubleneck View Post
Interesting as I read your excellent site, your caution on the adjustment of neck angle with connecting rods. I did tighten the rod to change the neck angle slightly to bring down the action on the strings. I guess I could buy a shorter bridge or sand down the bridge? Deering says adjust the rods and doesn't seem as concerned? I guess I feel the tighting was not excessive but never really thought of it affecting the rim or tone.
Most definitely does, but small amounts of lower rod adjustment are usually OK, but there are many types of rim construction. Warping the rim to effect action is easiest on a lightly constructed laminated rim.

I don't agree with everything that any manufacturer puts out there. Deering makes great instruments but the information is offered as it pertains to their products. Blanket statements about how banjos are meant to be set up aren't always the best information, but as long as exactly how much torsion is being exerted on the rim is taken into consideration then coordinator rod adjustment can be acceptable. The problem is that everyone's individual value judgement isn't the same.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:47 PM
Doubleneck Doubleneck is offline
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Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
Most definitely does, but small amounts of lower rod adjustment are usually OK, but there are many types of rim construction. Warping the rim to effect action is easiest on a lightly constructed laminated rim.

I don't agree with everything that any manufacturer puts out there. Deering makes great instruments but the information is offered as it pertains to their products. Blanket statements about how banjos are meant to be set up aren't always the best information, but as long as exactly how much torsion is being exerted on the rim is taken into consideration then coordinator rod adjustment can be acceptable. The problem is that everyone's individual value judgement isn't the same.
I am sure I am over thinking this but: you start with a banjo that has the perfect neck angle, over time that changes cause the strings are pulling the neck against the rim and bring it up. So aren't you by tightening the rod just bringing the rim back to where it was?
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2005 McKnight SS Dred
2001 Michael Keller Koa Baby
2014 Godin Inuk
2012 Deering B6 Openback Banjo
2012 Emerald Acoustic Doubleneck
2012 Rainsong JM1000 Black Ice
2009 Wechter Pathmaker 9600 LTD
1982 Yairi D-87 Doubleneck
1987 Ovation Collectors
1993 Ovation Collectors
1967 J-45 Gibson
1974 20th Annivers. Les Paul Custom
1978 Carvin Doubleneck
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:58 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Originally Posted by Doubleneck View Post
I am sure I am over thinking this but: you start with a banjo that has the perfect neck angle, over time that changes cause the strings are pulling the neck against the rim and bring it up. So aren't you by tightening the rod just bringing the rim back to where it was?
That's what is generally voiced, but it's not that easy. The top of the rim is actually drawn inward from string tension over a very long period of time, although not to the extent of the bottom of the heel moving outward. Adjusting the bottom coordinator rod to pull the rim inward then results in the classic "egg shaped rim". It's not a lot, but it doesn't take a lot to effect tone.

The other thing to consider is there are different ways that are used to join the neck to the rim. As an example, dowel stick attachments don't flex up much at all if they were constructed and assembled properly to begin with.

Another factor is banjos have relatively low string tension when compared to a guitar, so the forces don't operate in the same manner we associate with the guitar.
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:37 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Default To play a banjo you have to be a mechanic

Considering how well them good ol' boys have done in NASCAR and NHRA over the last 60 years, it's a shame they can't tune a banjo as well as they tune a race car,,,
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Old 04-17-2017, 06:30 PM
cyclistbrian cyclistbrian is offline
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Well I've been playing and gigging the banjo for years. One thing you have to understand is that the banjo is like a mule. It has a mind of its own and sometimes has its own ideas about how things are going to go. Things come loose or get outa wack because the weather changed. You get it dialed in just in time for the weather to change again. They are entirely too loud until you are on stage and competing with drums or a Telecaster.. Just try to mic it or amplify it. It'll fight and spite you like the angriest llama you've ever seen spit in a Sherpas eye. And those are the good times. Despite that I love the banjo.
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Old 04-19-2017, 02:11 PM
GreenRhino GreenRhino is offline
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I got into banjo about a year ago. After a lifetime of playing mostly Fender-style electric guitars, acoustic instruments in general seem like delicate flowers. Banjos in particular are completely absurd.

About a month ago, I went to see Noam Pikelny's solo show. He had several guitars onstage prior to the start, including a 50's blackguard Tele. Out of nowhere, the Tele tipped over, crashing against the stage. Noam's assistant ran over, picked up the Tele, strummed it a few times, checked the tuners, rolled the knobs back and forth, and put it back on the stand. Had that been his National resonator plectrum guitar or a banjo, I don't think it would've fared as well.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:09 PM
Jim Sliff Jim Sliff is offline
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I've played bluegrass (guitar, resonator and periodic mando & banjo) for 40 years and play banjo regularly outside of bands.

Once my Deering Crossfire and '24 Mastertone conversion were set up correctly adjustments have only been necessary twice per year - and not always that often - once when/if temperature and humidity significantly dropped in the winter, and again in spring when/if weather became much warmer and humidity rose. Doing only these adjustments is very typical for nearly every experienced player. It's an oft-discussed subject on banjo forums.

Some players adjust them more often, but it's nearly always when the instrument is subjected to extreme temperature changes - which is always a bad idea for any instrument. And adjustments are usually made if bridges or heads are changed.

The only experienced players that I can recall who have had to make regular adjustments are those who have never had their banjo properly set up and/or try to do it themselves by referring to a book or website. Banjo is an extremely difficult instrument to stabilize unless you're an experienced tech with banjo-specific training and/or years of experience.

It's as if a guitar setup involved having the braces carved and the sides adjusted at 22 points, both to put specific, even pressures on the top; the neck reset and relief adjusted, the bridge -tailpiece -saddle unit carved to size for both playing ease and tone/projection etc - and players who have not had a professional setup usually end up doing the equivalent of these operations several times a year - or getting frustrated and putting the instrument away..

At gigs where the weather is extremely hot I've head no problem if the banjo is gradually brought up to temp, but quick changes will throw off any instrument.

If a banjo is normally played at home and the humidity is maintained at 40-55% a well set up instrument should only need a couple of minor adjustments a year, if that.

I suggest taking it in to a banjo for a complete setup (NOT a general guitar tech who does banjos sometimes and definitely not a Big Box store like Guitar Center. Try to find an acoustic instrument shop that deals in high-end banjos, or try to track down an active local bluegrass player and ask for a referral. If the tech is good it should solve the problems, and almost all will also advise you on when and how to make minor adjustments if needed - and quickly. It's well worth the money and effort!
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  #14  
Old 05-09-2017, 08:13 PM
HHP HHP is offline
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The way many people feel about them, wouldn't hurt to have some experience in proctology.
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:49 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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This is how I read the OP's thread title... "To Play A Banjo You Must Be A Masochist"

Last edited by rockabilly69; 05-26-2017 at 12:49 AM.
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