Tone Ring

Here you can see the block maple rim, the bocote scalloped ring with the brass band and the rolled brass ring sitting on top. The original Whyte-Laydie banjos had much the same arrangement, but the scalloped portion was all of brass and there was a spun-over portion locking the two together. This new variation, which I've dubbed The Wooden Lady, has a lovely tone and takes advantage of the resonance of dense tropical hardwoods (bocote is only one of the woods that works well in this application). My experience dictates not relying on the characteristics of any particular species of wood, but more on the "thunk" test (a bare knuckle rap of the wood suspended between thumb and forefinger). My testing found that the spun over rim not only contributed nothing to the tone, but detracted from it some. As you can see below, I've given the back of the rim a layer of bubinga. I really love the look of a traditional dowel stick, but I can't bring myself to ignore the huge advantages offered by a pair of coordinator rods, even though there's more work involved.

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