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Thread: Slot head 5 string banjo neck

  1. #1
    Crusty's Avatar
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    Slot head 5 string banjo neck

    Here's a replacement neck that I made for a Recording King 5 string open back banjo. It's a slot head neck with a tunneled fifth string and an integral zero fret. I made it from a stick of tiger maple with a rosewood fretboard, bindings and peghead overlay. I used guitar tuners with worm gears so that they don't slip like planetary tuners and the banjo stays in tune but it still has the appearance of traditional tuners. The fifth string dives under the fretboard at the fifth fret and continues on to the peghead where its tuner is located through a stainless hypodermic tubing tunnel and this removes the fifth string tuner from the neck and this aspect coupled with a shorter scale length that puts the upper frets closer together and a wide nut width makes this banjo effortless to play. The neck is mounted to the rim using a barrel nut in the neck heel and a long piece of all thread through the rim inside a hollow spacer and the action can be easily adjusted but I generally set banjos up with the lowest action possible. The tuner knobs were made from some rosewood violin pegs that I cut off and transplanted onto the tuners. The "nut" on it is just a strings spacer and the fret immediately below it is the actual zero fret. The peghead inlay is a turquoise man in the crescent moon wearing Ray Charles sunglasses. There's a few things I'll do differently on my next one but all things considered I think it's a success. These are the best pics I have of it and I'd take more but the friend I've loaned the banjo to is holding onto it with a near death grip.

    What's the best pickup on a banjo? An F-150.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Slot head 5 string banjo neck-rk-slot-head-peg-head.jpg   Slot head 5 string banjo neck-rk-slot-head-neck-side.jpg   Slot head 5 string banjo neck-camerazoom-20161115164747099.jpg   Slot head 5 string banjo neck-rk-slot-head-neck.jpg  
    Last edited by Crusty; 06-08-2019 at 11:58 AM.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    Uhhhh. Again, in English please! Don't fret, like zero, no hurry; we don't want to be a pain in the neck heel. We wanna see an instant replay of the fifth string diving under the fretboard too. Forget the hypodermic, we all seen tunnels full of those.
    I could go Benny Hill on this all night!
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    Don't give up your day job.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crusty View Post
    Don't give up your day job.
    Have, no compelled to. I'd starve otherwise.

    I goof around a lot; but not when it comes to musicians, then I go all out!
    JK

    Steve Martin "The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a sad song on the banjo - it always comes out so cheerful"
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    ...we'll learn more by wandering than searching...

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    What does it mean when the banjo player is drooling out of both sides of his mouth?

    The stage is level.

    "We must have the banjo. It is vital mental medicine." Ernest Shackleton.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    I really like the neck design and the way you tucked the 5th through then carried it all the way to the end instead of how most have the 5th dropped down on the neck

    And one of my all time favorites
    Last edited by Frank S; 06-12-2019 at 12:01 AM.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
    When I have to paint I use http://kbs.justoldtrucks.com/

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    It's not even 0500 CDT. This'll get me through at least half of the day!
    Sincerely,
    Toolmaker51
    ...we'll learn more by wandering than searching...

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    Frank, pickers love this neck because it's effortless to play with no fifth string tuner in the way. I look at it and just see the things I did wrong.

    My next one will have a full length fifth string because there's some playing advantages to it as well as being easier to build. I'll keep the slot head design though because it allows me to use guitar tuners which stay in tune rather than banjo tuners that slip and let the banjo get out of tune.

    Banjo players spend half their time tuning and the other half playing out of tune is a well known comment.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    Not being an instrumentalist of any kind the only musical instrument I ever tried to learn to play was the slide trombone for a couple of years while in middle school. My dad could play some but his noise maker of choice as he called them, was a steel guitar.
    Anyway I understand that different designs of any instrument can change the tone quality as well as the method of playing, having one in tune is probably the single most important thing about them. Unless your name was Roy Clark then it really didn't matter since he could and did play just about anything with strings. in tune or drastically out of tune he could make some appeasing sound come out of them.
    Will having the 5th string going full length be one of those things that in reality turns the banjo into a completely different instrument like 8 strings on a guitar does?
    I bet is String Bean was still alive he could make it be a different instrument the way he liked to play way up on the neck as he did with the song run little rabbit.
    Last edited by Frank S; 06-12-2019 at 09:05 AM.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
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    I'm a String Bean fan because he played clawhammer style like I tried to learn. Grandpa Jones too. Wish I'd started learning 50 years earlier when my brain was more pliable.

    A full length fifth string can be a really useful innovation because with a standard five string to get up in the highest range of notes you've got to go way up the neck (towards the pot) on the 1st string (the one closest to the floor) and that's awkward when most of the playing is done towards the peghead end of the neck. With a full length fifth string the highest notes are readily available from a normal position closer to the peghead. Playing banjo well is all about economy of motion - too much hand movement takes too much time so it limits the tempo. Bill Monroe wasn't even going to keep a banjo in his band because clawhammer players couldn't play fast enough and then he met Earl Scruggs who played three finger style which was much faster and the rest is history.

    The world of open back banjo is all about tone rather than the sharp barking notes delivered by a Gibson made for three finger style (the benchmark standard) and you wouldn't believe all the things that have been tried over the years to achieve a better tone.

    Here's Walt Koken playing a tune clawhammer style. He's one of the best IMHO.
    Last edited by Crusty; 06-12-2019 at 11:29 AM.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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