A few years ago I bought a second hand Ozark 2105g, removed the resonator, fitted a no-knot tail piece, a CE bridge, a set of LaBella 17 strings and then never got around to playing it until a couple of days ago. I've got it out of the cupboard to take away on holiday for a week, rather than one of my nineteenth century ordinary or zither banjos. I am really quite taken with it and how comfortable it is to play, in spite of how much bigger it is compared to my other open back instruments This has prompted me to enquire as to whether anyone can tell me how this banjo, or any of the similar modern OT/BG/Frailing offerings from China, compare in respect of the dimensions only, to the sought after banjos by, for example CE or Weaver? 

Kind regards, Ian.

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As far as I know, and my experience is limited to a playing a handful of examples as well as reading the BMGs, the "standard" size CE settled on was 26.5" x 11".  There are rare examples outside of this as an exception.  The Professional model, introduced in 1922, is 26.2" x 12".

Weaver-- all over the place. He claimed to build to your size.  I presume that could be 25"+ on scale.  I am currently holding one that is 27.75" x 12."  I have a "smooth arm" with metal fingerboard and professional frets that is 28" x 12".

You will find that 99% of pac rim banjos are formed around "Gibson" dimensions of 26- 3/16" x 11".  This has long been the generic size for no reason other than lack of creativity or something about Earl. 

The main differences between the "modern banjo" and our era are fret size (these are much larger now) and back angle to the neck set (the classic era had no back angle, or a tiny amount).  These changes are in direct response to pick playing and wire strings.  So, basically, despite being regular 5 string banjos, these modern banjos are all actually plectrum banjos by our standards. 

Thanks Joel. I thought it was going to be something along those lines. This Ozark is 27.4" x 11".

As I have been, since starting to learn the banjo, I'm still focused on the period when Ellis was playing, but now mainly use my Wilmshurst zb. However, I have been considering getting a low to mid range CE banjo and chronologically, moving onto the twentieth century repertory.

The Ozark just made me curious as to how similar a CE would feel. I will have to attend the next rally and actually play one.

Sorry, the Professional is 26.5"-- typo on my end.

I am surprised that a Chinese banjo is that long!

 

The wood hoop is 2 1/2" x 7/8" , the nut is 1 1/8" and 1 5/8" at the 12th fret, both of which are the same dimensions as on my Wilmshurst zither banjo, as well as the frets being very much the same width and height. Definitely not 'jumbo' frets. I can only assume that this is the reason it feels so comfortable to play. Although I think it will take me some time to get used to not having my usual thin gut strings, I am really very happy with it.

I've been reading a number of threads about not having to play on period instruments and have now been able to put aside, at least for a while, my stance on historic performance. 

That is interesting that the frets are the same.  All examples of unmolested "classic era" banjos I own have frets that are considerably smaller and thinner than any modern banjo I have seen.

I would think that it does not really matter that much as far as playability.  To me, the neck angle is the defining feature. The no angle neck is the key to a properly set up banjo.

Most modern banjos require a very tall bridge, 3/4" to 1" to prevent buzzing with nylon strings.  To me 1/2" is ideal and 5/8" is the max height.

I have found that with banjos, the size of the frets doesn't matter too much as there usually is not much tension on the strings. For mandolins heavier frets make playing easier. The metal fret does most of the work. The one exception is when sliding a finger along the fingerboard. Low small frets are not formidable obstacles. But smooth well-dressed frets of heavier gauge are usually fine as well.

Joel Hooks said:

That is interesting that the frets are the same.  All examples of unmolested "classic era" banjos I own have frets that are considerably smaller and thinner than any modern banjo I have seen.

I would think that it does not really matter that much as far as playability.  To me, the neck angle is the defining feature. The no angle neck is the key to a properly set up banjo.

Most modern banjos require a very tall bridge, 3/4" to 1" to prevent buzzing with nylon strings.  To me 1/2" is ideal and 5/8" is the max height.

A straight edge across the hoop and along the neck, reveals a gap of a little over 3/8" from the fingerboard next to the nut. I have a stock CE bridge at a little under 5/8" . The string height at the 12th fret is 1/8". The tone produced is pleasing enough to me for the tunes I'm playing.

I've watched a few videos about changing the neck angle by adjusting the coordinator rod, but can't decide whether it is worth messing about with it. What advice can you offer?

No advice, I have no experience with the rods other than to know that adjusting them distorts the rim.

1/8" would be buzz city for me for the 3rd and 4th strings on anything over mf.  Bass solos would be out of the question as it would just be fret slap.

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