Friday, January 20, 2012

Basses, Banjos and Bluegrass...

Happy New Year all! 

Time is flying by, January is half over and we have yet to see any real snow but that is about to change. 

Lots has been going on between some home improvement projects, banjo project, shipping a bass and taking in an old German bass for repairs.  The New Year is off to a busy start…and that’s a good thing. 

We left off with Alan flying his American Standard bass back to Nashville. Next completed venture was the safe shipping and arrival of the divine Miss “M” Martha, the 1942 Kay S-9 which is now living in wine country in California. 

Miss Martha packed and ready for her journey to wine country

Our basses are making out pretty darn good…California, Hawaii, Tennessee all nice spots for vacation or retirement.  We need get about 12 weeks off to drive around the country and visit our bass family. 

The most recent completed project is the Stanleytone banjo.  Lonnie thoroughly enjoyed this project and was thrilled to have two Stanleytone banjos in the workshop for side by side comparison.  The finished banjo looked really great.  It cleaned up well, the new Five star head made it look fresh and clean while the new bridge and strings settled in nicely.  Lonnie took great care to let the head settle in over the course of several days.  It ended up at about a 92 on the drum scale which mirrors his head tension on his Stanleytone.

Lonnie likes to modify the Snuffy Bridge and ended up thinning it out to 1.91 grams.  On the gram scale it takes a small amount of the wood to be removed to make a difference.  He pushed the set up as far as he could go to get that sharp Ralph Stanley mountain sound.  The difference in tone between Stanleytone #9 and #25 are very slight.  Number 9 is a nickel plated with a no hole tone ring while #25 is gold plated, more fancy, a little heavier with embellishments and has a 40 hole tone ring. 

Both banjos were made by Frank Neat and both banjos are about a year a part in manufacture date.  Each banjo being the first of the first fifty Ralph had made for sale.  If you like that mountain sound you will like these banjos.  If you like a more low basses sounding banjo these will sound very twanging.  You either like the sound or you don’t.

Click on the photo for a complete picture slide show 

Here is a side by side listen.  Pick your favorite and post which one you like the most!

Banjo A:

Banjo B: