02-23-2013 01:23 PM - edited 02-23-2013 01:25 PM
Hey Slim, It's a nice banjo with real good tone and a rolled brass tone ring. They do a wonderful setup on the banjos they sell. It was just slightly out of tune when I received it but that's expected because it's a lot warmer here than in Knoxville. Action is fine. I got their Bluegrass Mahogany model. They have the same banjo made with maple that also gets great review. Their cheaper entry level doesn't impress me too much. I bot one a few years ago and sent it back and bought a Morgan Monroe Cascade which is a great sounding banjo but sold it because my ex wife kept complaining about the noise. Can't afford the MM anymore but this banjo I just got is ok. No bling on it at all, 24 brackets, remo head, planetary tuners, solid mahogany rim and resonator. Now all I have to do is learn to play it!!!
02-23-2013 02:12 PM
The MM Cascades were pretty nice, I played one in a shop for quite a while once.
I like you tastes in Bluegrass banjos, heres my RB3 standard next to my D28
The RB 3 has a mahogany neck and resonator, but as on all GIbsons, the rim is 3 ply maple. Are you sure your rim is mahogany? Not doubting you, just have never heard of a mahogany rim.
Is you tone ring a flathead type or just a rolled brass hoop? Just curious.
Ive about come to the conculsion set up is everything on a banjo, tone rings, wood, etc have little to do with it I decided. Reason being, I have a good friend and former bandmate, prob the best 5 stringer I know or have ever been around. Started as a teenager and he's mid 50's now. He has owned everything from an old Vega, to various Earl Scrugg's and Granadas, etc, the very best. Last time I picked with him, he sounded as good or better than ever and he was playing a cheap Asian no name banjo, with no tone ring at all. And he sounded as good or better than he ever has. He told me his back was killing him and he just couldn't play his heavy Grenada any more. So he bought this POS, took it apart, upgraded a few of the cheaper pot metal parts that were failing,dressed the frets, put on a new bone nut, threw away the cheap steel tone ring and recarved a nice clean bearing edge on the rim, put it back together, and viola! Pre - war Gibson tone. No shit. Deep. throaty, punchy, and loud!
He said "this one weighs about 6 lbs, it's all in the set up man".
Of course he didnt mention his awesome right hand, which prob is the biggest component in the equation.
02-23-2013 06:58 PM
02-24-2013 10:10 AM - edited 02-24-2013 10:18 AM
^Thats cool Al. Im sure the mahogny rim certainly gives a different character to the sound, Id love to hear it.
Give us a taste as soon as you feel ready, but dont think you gotta be Earl or Bela to post on here!
Some unsolicited observations I've discovered, when you get the tweaking bug.
1. Bridges: A big component to tone. A simple bridge change can make a huge diff, and Id encourage you to experiment. Tall is good for volume. Most inexpense banjos come with a generic 1/2 bridge. If yours is a 1/2", definately at least get a 5/8 if not equiped with one already. 3/4 is even better, but will require a more extreme adj., prb best left to an expert. A taller bridge requires some tweaking of the neck angle to get your action action back low, but its worth it. If you want a little more note definition, try an Emerson. Got that on my RB3 and its definatly snappier compared to the standard Grover than came stock. I also like Sosobee Cotton Mill bridges. Thats whats on my little Gold Tone CC100 and it def fattened up the tone and added some vol compared to the little generic 1/2 bridge that came stock. I dont theink the Emerson would sound as good on the Gold TOne, a little to bright for that little banjo I think. I think both of mine are 5/8". THe Gold Tone required very little tweaking from the stock 1/2", just a slight coordinator rod adj, no shimming of the neck or anything drastic like that. The Gibson came stock with a 5/8" Grover, which is an ok bridge, but certainly not the best. Spending $25-$30 on a better quality bridge will indeed make a diff. You banjo being tonally mellow, a bridge emphasizing a snappier tone may be in order. A Darker sounding bridge might muddy it up.
2. Head tension. Tight is better IMO. Just be careful and dont bend your tension hooks or split the head.
The head will get loose over time. Once you get it sounding its best, Give each lug a slight 1/8 turn every month or 2. If the sound changes drastically, like its choked off, back back down a 1/4 turn. Tighten the head like a drum, in a criss crossing pattern.
A tight head increases vol and note definition, too tight, you loose bass. Too loose, it sounds hollow, like you're in a well.
3. Tailpiece height. Also a big factor tonally. Too low (big break angle over the bridge) and its gonna sound choked, too little of a break angle and you loose sustain and note definition.
Since you banjo came well set up, make note of this stuff, even write down some measurement of stuff like tailpiece ht, and head tension if you happen to have a torque wrench or some way to measure the head tension.
Read up about set up at Banjo Hangout, and experiment. A lot of fun of the banjo is the tweaking. Just do small things one at a time, so you can undo it if you dont like the result. Too many tweaks at one time and you can end up with a mess and have to start over, perhaps taking it to an expert.
02-24-2013 09:15 PM
02-25-2013 11:04 AM
All the banjo talk has me inspired. Its time to drag the 5 str outta the closet and sharpen back up, maybe get a little better at it!
We need to start a banjo VOM/Show and Tell thread.
I'm gonna give myself a week then inflict something on you guys, and I'm layin down a challege to all the other banjoists and wanna be banjoist here to step up and contribute some noise!
5str, 6str, 4 str, dosnt matter, whatever you got, any style. Old Timey, Folk, Bluegrass, Blues, Polka, Dixieland, or just something you made up, dosn't matter. Good or bad, hot pickin, or 2 chord beginner strumming, dont matter. We're all friends here right?
Whos with me? If I put my crappy pickin out here in a thread will yall step up?
Anybody else with me?
02-25-2013 11:12 AM
Thanks for steppin up Gary. But you didnt gimme time to practice, lol.
Gimmie a day or 2 then Ill start a new thread devoted to this. Everybody can play a tune and show and tell a few details about their banjo(s).
03-09-2013 04:43 PM
Call out to all banjoists to invade the VOM tommorrow!
Any skill level, any style, and kinda banjo.
Ive got a couple of short vids of me butchering 2 tunes.
Wont be hard to show me up so lets bring it on!
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