RIMS & RESONATORS
My rims are usually block construction, 3 or 4 layer, in Maple, Sapele Mahogany or Walnut, but I’ve made them in Oak and laminated Beech. They’re turned down to accept the tone ring and recesses for inlay/detailing are done at this point.
Inspired by the Vega Pie Crust of old, NRG resonators are made from solid wood and machined on a lathe rather than press formed with veneers. Contrasting woods can be added to enhance the look.
TURNING DOWN WALNUT BLOCK CONSTRUCTION ON THE LATHE
TURNING MAPLE BLOCK CONSTRUCTION TO ACCEPT BELL BRONZE ARCHTOP TONE RING
SPRAYING NITRO CELLULOSE LACQUER TO AN NRG PIE SECTION RESONATOR
MAHOGANY NRG PIE SECTION RESONATOR
MAHOGANY BLOCK RIM WITH DETAILING AND ROLLED ROUND BRASS TONE RING
WALNUT BLOCK WITH INLAY PATRERN, TURNED TO FIT AN ARCHTOP TONE RING
READY FOR SPRAYING/FINISHING
MAPLE BLOCK, TURNED TO ACCEPT A TUBAPHONE TONE RING
Tone rings are at the heart of a banjo's sound, they provide the `signature` sound that gives character, tone and volume. Whether the tone ring is steel, brass, bronze or wood, archtop, flathead or a simple rolled hoop, consideration needs to be given to the chosen tone ring. Players need to consider if they want a `plunky` sound, a tone and projection that cuts above a session (archtop), or an all round, clear, pure tone (flathead). The choice of woods used, strings, heads etc. do make a difference, but are subordinate to the tone ring. I turn down the rims to fit the actual chosen tone ring to get a precise and accurate fit.
NRGbanjos have now comissioned our own no hole archtop, bell bronze tone rings- cast and machined to Nick's specification in our local bronze foundry.
BELL BRONZE ARCHTOP
A fantastic tone ring in bronze. Clear, bright but not thin sounding. Great for cutting above a session.
BELL BRONZE FLATHEAD 20 HOLE
Heavy and powerful, especially in cast bell bronze. Clear, crisp sound, sounds good as an open back or with a resonator. My regular banjo (open back short scale) I use for sessions has this tone ring. Lots of volume and cut.
ROUND ROLLED BRASS TONE RING
Gives a lovely, crisp (but not thin) sound, especially when fitted with a recess on the rim, and internal chamfer. Clear and bright all the way up the fretboard. One of the best, inexpensive tone rings in my opinion. I've had some lovely comments in sessions using a banjo with this tone ring.
TUBAPHONE TONE RING
Gives a sweet, ringing signature. Good bass, mid and treble response. A good all round tone ring.
NRG BRONZE ARCHTOP TONE RING
Classic archtop sound, bright, plenty of `cut` clear and powerful.