Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tone ring?

Hey, can someone please explain what a tone ring is, how it differs from the tension hoop, and also the flange? I know my banjo has a resonator, but I’m fairly sure it has no tone ring, and I’m not sure about the flange. So, banjo pot anatomy

This picture may give you a better understanding of what’s going on under the head.

From the top down in the picture, you have:

  • The tension hoop
  • The tone ring
  • The pot
  • The resonator flange
  • The resonator

It’s possible your banjo doesn’t have a tone ring, but if it has a resonator, it probably has one. The head is tightened across the tone ring. Changing out the tone ring can drastically change the tone of the banjo, depending on several factors, including the alloy, the thickness, the spacing / number of holes, whether or not it’s a flat ring or an “arch top” ring, and many others.

If you banjo doesn’t have a tone ring, I’d think that would mean it’s a lower end banjo, though I could be wrong. Then again, the tone ring isn’t visible unless you have a clear head, so could it be that you’ve never taken the resonator off to see what’s in there?

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A tone ring works like a bell. Rings out the sound. Some are made out of wood some metal. A tension hoop does as it’s name suggests it tensions the head or velum.

It is a low end banjo (250$ Chinese for africa which is less quality than american spec chinese) I had the resonator off to tension the head, and I didn’t see a metal peice like that. The pot appeared to taper (conically?) Like a cone to where the head ran across it. My banjo also doesn’t have a one peice flange, it has four individual ones, and the resonator is plastic (you get the idea on low end) thanks for telling me what’s what in the pot assembly

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Hi @K_G My Fender FB 58 is Chinese built it has a metal tone ring. It cost about $500 new. It’s modelled on the Mastertone design and sounds pretty good.

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Your fender is probably more than twice as good as my caraya (ever heard of them?) There are different levels of chinese quality (from what I’ve heard, Eastman is tops) and first world countries get better goods than the second world where I bought mine

When it comes to Banjo’s Scotland is a third world country. We have to head south of the border to Huddersfield to find high end banjos.

Yeah, but you can find decent tenor banjos right? I think the place my banjo was bought had a fender not sure what model. At least a drive to huddersfield is not more than three days if you drive slow, and it gets you some high end banjos (is that where you bought your stelling?) It’s four day drive if you drive hard (upward of 16 hour days) to get to south africa from where I live

Yes I got my Stelling from Eagle Music, Where in Africa are you and where did you buy your banjo?

I would have thought some of the major cities would have a music shop that could order banjos from abroad. I expect the same is true in Scotland.

I’m in northern Mozambique (in the northern most province, cabo delgado) near Tanzania. My parents bought my banjo as a Christmas gift (I paid half) in cape town south africa, a ten day drive away. In Johannesburg (the largest city in S.A.) there might be a store that could order a quality banjo, but I’m not sure. I have seen caraya, fender, and Ibanez banjos in S.A. but a salesman at the store mine was bought from (paul bothner music, a rocknroll type guitar store) told me he had a friend who had imported a lefty deering, but I think he did that himself.

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At the moment, access to quality banjos (or lack thereof) isn’t a problem as my current banjo is sufficient for my skill, and, whenever I get some money, lord willing I want to get a mandolin, a 4/4 fiddle, and a dobro

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