So I was having a look at my old Dallas -- with its old, dry head, and its excessively high action -- and decided that something needed to be done.


Thing is, this banjo looks like it might be a bit troublesome. As I mentioned earlier, I had fixed a major crack in the dowel stick, but the dowel stick is poorly set (the heel doesn't make contact with the pot) which means I will probably have to remove the dowel stick, scrap it, and make a new one... so I'll need some advice as to how that can be done with my rudimentary tools and skills. I only have some basic woodworking tools and a large chunk of mahogany I bought for this purpose.


Secondly, I'll need to reset the head... but there are several problems here. First of all, the old head seems to be "stuck" to the pot. I don't know why, but it might be because it's dried up on it. I might have to use a knife or something to get it off. And the next problem is that the pot is huge... about 12 1/2". The biggest natural vellums I found on the market are 15", which cost a fortune and don't give me the extra three inches which are suggested in most vellum-mounting tutorials. Has anybody dealt with this problem before?


And finally, I'll have to polish the hoop, which is badly tarnished, and I might have to take the 'jo to a luthier to have some new pegs made for it, and maybe dress the frets, which protrude from the sides of the fingerboard somewhat.


Any advice as to what to do in this situation would be appreciated... is it too much expense/hassle?

Views: 86

Comment by Jody Stecher on June 6, 2011 at 22:18
Look for goat skin vellums. They often cost less than calf skin. Use violin pegs. You can usually find some for free. Or have a look on ebay. Sometimes the Taiwanese merchants have just what you need.  A luthier can fit them well but wouldn't have to make new ones.
Comment by Mike Moss on June 6, 2011 at 23:43

Thanks Jody... I finally managed to remove the old head (it was a mighty struggle) and I found out why it was so hard to remove... apparently, the last owner had the brilliant idea to glue the head to the flesh hoop, which made the head nigh-impossible to remove.


I've been looking at goat skin vellums... the price is great, but the biggest I've found until now was 14". I'll keep looking and see what I can find.


As for the neck, I've got the feeling this might be the problem:


The best steaming material I've got is a cooking pot, so I'll try holding the neck over the pot for an extended period of time, see if that works.

Comment by Jody Stecher on June 6, 2011 at 23:52
JE Dallas made good sounding banjos but they are not good to eat, steamed *or* fried.  Abbott and Windsor made delicious banjo necks.
Comment by Mike Moss on June 7, 2011 at 0:30
Aww, there goes my banjo-based dinner! Oh well, I guess Bacon & Day banjos are fair game, at least for breakfast...
Comment by Mike Moss on June 7, 2011 at 13:07
Well so far so good... I managed to steam off the dowel stick, and I've polished the hoop to a mirror finish. I'll get down to polishing the hooks and nuts and see what I can do to correct the action...
Comment by Ray Jones on June 7, 2011 at 23:15
Don't forget a bowl of the old Brown Windsor Soup
Comment by Jody Stecher on June 8, 2011 at 9:08
You can cook it in the old Stew (art)  Pot.  I'm writing this from Fairbanks, Alaska by the way. Fair dinkum.
Comment by Ray Jones on June 8, 2011 at 9:50
While you are up in Alaska, get stuck into the Crab Clawhammer, and the Classic Fish Fingerstyle banjo....Deeeeelishous.
Comment by Mike Moss on June 8, 2011 at 9:56
If you're in Alaska, don't forget to stock up on Cole, unless you've got Fairbanks Electric heating, that is.
Comment by Jody Stecher on June 8, 2011 at 18:05
It's summer so it's not very Cole in Fairbanks. This far inland one is more likely to meet Santa Claws than Crab Claws. But I'm going to the hotel restaurant at lunch "just for the halibut". Is punning a bad Abbott?  For a non-banjoist reading this post the meaning couldn't be Vega.

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