This is another take on the hoop on stick design. Here’s the feature run down.
This option may be a little more compact and slightly lighter than a paddle style peghead. Slotted pegheads work well with simple shapes.
Slotted and Off-Set Fifth String
The fifth string tuner uses a slotted frame. It matches the peghead.
The off-set fifth string provides a little more space in between the fifth string and the fourth string. If you have a big clumsy index finger, like me, this extra space can come in handy.
Waverly Guitar Tuners with Ebony Knobs
The ebony knobs go well with the walnut neck. Waverly tuners are smooth operating machines that allow for fine tuning with little fuss.
Tusq Nut and Fifth String Pip
I really like the Tusq material. It’s not as stinky to work with as bone or antler. It works smoothly and has uniform consistency.
Walnut Neck and Stick
Light weight, thumpy, and medium density. Walnut often carves well. On occasion I have run into a piece that chips easily due to unfortunate grain run out.
Carbon Fiber Reinforcement for Neck and Stick
I’ve used cold rolled steel in this role for a decade or more. I may not do so again. Carbon fiber is light and stiff. I think having a light weight reinforcment for the neck can help with the neck / rim balance. In this case, both the neck and the stick are reinforced. I’m not sure there is much real value to reinforcing the stick since it is short and appears to share its load with the rim. Just trying it out.
Wide Katalox Fingerboard
Katalox is a central American hardwood. It’s really tough. It is capable of making a sharp splinter and can blunt your cutting blades just by being close to them. In spite of these characteristics it does make a nice fingerboard.
Single Curve – Tear Drop Neck Shape and Big Scoop
This refers to the carving below the fifth peg and up to the scoop. Sometimes called an ogee, I’m not sure if a single curve qualifies. This detail is included as a purely decorative touch. It has no playing function. I think the impact on sound is minimal, if any. The big scoop leaves lots of open space for playing up off the head.
2.5 Degree Neck Angle
Anything between 2 and 3 degrees is acceptable to me. In this case, the neck and stick are two separate pieces of wood. The angle is created by a thin wedge shaped piece of wood between the two. A glue joint holds the whole thing together. I may use screws to reinforce this joint in future iterations of this design.
24 Inch Scale Length
Shorter than standard, this scale length will accommodate shorter arms. A heavier gauge string can be used to add a little extra punch if desired.
5/8 Inch Bridge
A standard banjo bridge from Stew Mac. Maple with an ebony cap.
12 Inch, 10 ply Maple Drum Shell Rim
This rim has a 3 inch depth. The result is nice thumpy tones. The maple drum shell is a really easy way to make a banjo rim. While it’s not the end-all-be-all of banjo rims, it’s a nice option that is well suited to limited tool kits and limited work space. I first saw this solution in use on some of Mike Ramsey’s banjos. The 10 ply rim is right at .26 inches thick, just enough to be sturdy. A drawback is light weight. Rickard Banjos of Canada makes some nice rims as well.
24 Tension Hooks
Just enough to keep even tension on the head. Twenty might be alright too.
Grooved Tension Hoop
I like this option because you can afford to be less exact with the placement of shoes and hooks. Great for those with a limited tool kit or limited space.
Super resilient plastic. Brighter than fiber skin and much less pingy than a plain frosted head. A nice pairing for a deep rim. I also like the renaissance head for nylon strung banjos. It adds detail without harshness.
Rolled Brass Tone Ring
My favorite “go to” tone ring. Sits on top of the .26 inch thick rim very comfortably.
Steel Loop Tailpiece with Rubber Hoop Pad
I first started using these with gourd banjos and decided to try it with tension hoop banjos as well. With a gourd banjo the loop is cantilevered against another piece of steel that keeps the tailpiece off of the side of the gourd. With tension hoop banjos, the loop rests against the tension hoop. Individual string changes are tough. I like the no-knot tailpiece better for tension hoop banjos. But, will still use this solution on gourds.
The steel loop is just something to tie the strings onto. The loop slips over the end of the stick and the strings ride over the tension hoop. The tension of the strings holds the whole thing in place. The rubber pad provides safe passage over the edge of the grooved tension hoop. Without the pad, I think the strings would be prone to break against the tension hoop.