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  #1  
Old 11-29-2017, 06:35 AM
amyFB amyFB is offline
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Default Banjolin and dowel sticks

I am wondering about the idea of trying to install a dowel stick myself , with the knowledge that the instrument isn’t worth investment of money.

I picked t up at a flea market a year or so ago because it looked interesting as wall art and possibly would be playable.

A new head helped somewhat.

I had advice from Bob Smakula fretted instrument shop in Wv and he predicted mission creep would occur and that it wasn’t worth t unless there was sentimental value. (There is not)

So before I relegate it to “wall art” I thought to debate with you all the idea of me attempting to create and install this dowel stick.

I only could find banjo tutorials on YouTube not one with a banjolin specifically
.

It might be properly called a mandolin banjo due to the 8 strings.

What say you ?
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:06 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Looks a lot better than the old 'inherited' banjolin I've got. Looks like there is already a brace inside the body, what would a dowel stick add?
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:44 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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This thread over on mandolincafe helped me adjust the dowel stick in my 30's Stahl banjolin.
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Old 11-29-2017, 08:12 AM
amyFB amyFB is offline
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Originally Posted by MikeBmusic View Post
Looks a lot better than the old 'inherited' banjolin I've got. Looks like there is already a brace inside the body, what would a dowel stick add?
my buddy that swapped out the head advised me that a dowel stick would help the neck straighten out above the 5th fret.
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Old 11-29-2017, 08:13 AM
Swamp Yankee Swamp Yankee is offline
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from the looks of it, some attempt was made in the past to fix it by making a steel brace, which has since been removed. I would try to remove the existing dowel and reinstall it, or a replacement dowel, trimming the heel as needed to get the proper neck angle. ... but I'd probably swap out the nut as well and run it as a uke. Them mando banjos are obnoxious enough when new
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:39 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amyFB View Post
my buddy that swapped out the head advised me that a dowel stick would help the neck straighten out above the 5th fret.
You know there's already a dowel stick in there - its the square black wooden dowel coming out of the base of the neck. The dowel stick cannot "straighten" a neck - it only sets the action. You have no truss rod on these old timers so there is no straightening the neck short of remove and plane the fretboard and/or neck (or just replace the neck).

My guess is what you really mean is the action is too high as you go up the neck. Modern banjos use coordinating rods which can adjust the action. To change the action on a dowel stick banjo you either re-plane the neck heel or shim the neck-to-pot contact point. I went for a shim when I did mine. In either case you have to pull the tailpiece and move the point where the dowel stick connects to the rim. This requires drilling a new hole in the rim, dowel stick or both (as in my Stahl's case).
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Old 11-29-2017, 10:08 AM
Swamp Yankee Swamp Yankee is offline
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Indeed, you can see a sizeable gap between the heel of the neck and the rim. The proper fix for this would be pulling the old dowel out and reinstalling at the correct angle - or replacing it... and trimming the heel as needed....but yeah, it might be a can of worms and even the best repair would yield an instrument that would likely be hard to love
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Old 11-29-2017, 11:22 AM
amyFB amyFB is offline
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Great information guys, I really appreciate the input.

I am calling it wall art and will go back to practicing guitar.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:12 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
from the looks of it, some attempt was made in the past to fix it by making a steel brace, which has since been removed...
Not necessarily - I've seen a number of pre-1930 banjos that came equipped from the factory with exactly the type of nickel-plated steel brace you suggest was retrofitted - my suggestion would be to talk to Smakula again and see if he has something compatible in his parts bin; regarding the dowel stick, a competent local carpenter should be able to make up/fit a period-accurate replacement for not a lot of money, in the event you decide to actually play it...
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Old 11-29-2017, 01:20 PM
amyFB amyFB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Not necessarily - I've seen a number of pre-1930 banjos that came equipped from the factory with exactly the type of nickel-plated steel brace you suggest was retrofitted - my suggestion would be to talk to Smakula again and see if he has something compatible in his parts bin; regarding the dowel stick, a competent local carpenter should be able to make up/fit a period-accurate replacement for not a lot of money, in the event you decide to actually play it...
I have had more than one person (2 of them luthiers) advise me against putting good money into this instrument.

If Smakula's shop was nearby, I might be tempted to pop in and pick thru his parts bin, or pick his brain a little more. But his email to me was pretty straightforward regarding the impracticality of expecting any truly satisfying results.

Appreciate the eyes on the picture and the thoughts on the condition, but I think it's just going to be a conversation piece of wall art, and if anyone wants to pick at it while visiting me, they're welcome to it.

thanks again guys!
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Old 11-29-2017, 03:39 PM
Swamp Yankee Swamp Yankee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Not necessarily - I've seen a number of pre-1930 banjos that came equipped from the factory with exactly the type of nickel-plated steel brace you suggest was retrofitted ..
Weymanns had brackets and some SS Stewarts...yeah, but none that I've seen were made with round stock like whatever it was that left the impression on that heel, and the rim wasn't notched to accomodate them, as this rim appears to have been....and rather crudely at that.

I seriously doubt this one came from the factory with whatever bracket used to be there. It definitely looks home made to me.
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Old 11-29-2017, 03:44 PM
Swamp Yankee Swamp Yankee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amyFB View Post
I think it's just going to be a conversation piece of wall art, and if anyone wants to pick at it while visiting me, they're welcome to it.

thanks again guys!
I think that's the best course of action ....like I said, even new, mando banjos have a few strikes going against them.
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