I've tried about every ring that has ever been cast. I had all but given up searching for a certain sound when I heard about a Blaylock Tone Ring.
One call to a fellow I had never met convinced me this ring was worth a try. I was sent a ring to try in a banjo I knew I had the right Wood Rim, Resonator, & Neck. Within 45 minutes, I knew I had found the ring that completed my search of how a banjo should sound.
Somewhere there is a Studio recording of this ring. It has fooled many people thinking it was a original Flathead Ring. You did it right Bill, you can have anything on the banjor you want...MINUS THE TONE RING...Sorry, it stays with me.
This is Jimmy Campbell. I ordered a tone ring in February. My banjo is done and sounds Awesome.
I put it on a Tony Pass birch, thinskirt rim and it is incredible. Thank you so much for the great ring and keep up the good work.
It's the best banjo I've ever played and best of all........... It's mine.
I am a banjo player from South Carolina. I had a "brand" name banjo that I had installed a "Top brand tone ring" in. I really thought it sounded great, had that old prewar type tone to it. I played it all over the Southeast, with many people telling me how good it sounded.
In September of 2003, I bought a "Granada" made by Frank Neat, with a "top brand" tone ring in it. I liked the feel of the neck, how it played, but the sound did not compare to the banjo I was playing, so I decided it would be my second banjo.
One day while fooling around on the internet, I noticed that the "Chief" had changed to a "Blaylock" tone ring. I began searching around, and found that Frank Neat had these ringd. I send the banjo to Frank, and he installed a Blaylock tone ring in even less time then he promised. I drove up to pick it up, because I could not wait to get my hands on it. I brought it home, and the sound was vastly improved from where it had been with the previous ring. I continued to play both banjos, but I tended to play the "blaylock" more.
One day, I got both out, and played each side by side. The one with the Blaylock had more bass response, more even tone across the strings, and it had that "old yeller sound" I had been looking for. I ended up selling the first banjo, now I play the one with the Blaylock solely. Many times I had been playing, and have been asked if it is a "prewar" banjo.
I tell them no but it has an edge...it has a Blaylock in it. I was in Arkansas playing outside, in a jam with another banjo picker. I over heard one in the audience say, "that banjo on the left has the sound I like". I just smiled and kept on picking.
My name is George Seymour and I think its high time I sent you a note thanking you for your efforts on producing one of the best sounding banjos on the planet!
I am quite serious! I believe that although one component of the banjo is not solely responsible for the characteristics of it's sound, each part in conjunction must be able to contribute the best attributes or none will fully succeed. The attributes you have built into your tone ring are nothing short of outstanding. I play semi professionally on the weekends and my #6 sounds better than any banjo I've ever had, and I've had a fair amount of high end banjos.
The Chief thread has been quite extensive as you may have noticed and with all the banjos that are being delivered you must be very busy! So anyways just wanted to say THANK-YOU!! Well done! It nice to know I've come to the end of my search for "THE SOUND" between you, Frank and Sonny us working guys can afford to have an instrument that will stand up to any prewar. So much so that I've got another Chief coming, a maple, with the Flying Eagle inlay, Sonny says it is the first maple to be configured like this! Keep up the fine work!
PS: do you number your rings for authenticity/tracking purposes. If so I'd love to know the serial numbers of my banjos rings. Also you can log on to my web site and I've got a few tracks of the #6 there
The Blaylock tone-ring I put in my TB-1 sounds great. Your tone-ring gives a clear note all the way up the neck, and a big fat round sound that I like about a banjo. It is first class in every way. You have come up with a pre-war sound for sure! I plan to get another one from you in the future for one of my other banjos. I can't say enough about the sound i'm getting from your tone ring...I'll send you some pickin at the barn using this Banjo, just listen to the way that banjo cuts through.
I'm enjoying that banjo. I stayed up late last night playing along with some Jim Mills stuff working on my backup. You know, it's kind of funny how some days you think that your playing isn't improving any then on other days you can tell a noticeable improvement in your picking. Well last night seemed to be one of those nights where I felt better about the way I sounded and I know that it is because of that new ring.
My banjo has more percussion to the vamps than it ever has before. I love to play backup banjo. I'm not very well rounded at it, but i'm trying to work on that. the backwards backup rolls up the neck ring out and sustain like I want them to. Then when I work my way back down towards the nut it has that punch deep growl that I have been looking for. I wished you could have been there when we put my banjo back together. Brett and I rode up to north Georgia to a vintage music store and had it set up. We were sitting around talking to some other fellows in the store and also trying out some banjos they had including a pre-war banjo. I forget what it was. It was a rb-something or another. When bobby got mine all put together and strung up he started tuning and pickin' on it. Everybody in the store stopped talking and laid the pre-war banjo aside in a dead silence.
Then of course I had to pass it around to everyone and let them try it out. That was right after it was put together. I was expecting it to sound mushy without any punch. Brett's jaw dropped a little bit as he turned and listened and I was so happy all I could do was just stand there grinnin' like a mule eating briars. It sounds even better now. I need some new frets though, mine are pretty worn up to the 10th fret. I can't seem to put it down long enough to get it re-fretted though. I'll call you soon and let you hear it again.
Thanks for everything,
How are you?
I got my '33 Gibson banjo back together and last night strung up the neck and tuned it. It needs some time to settle in and I've got to tweak the head tension and decide on a bridge, but man, I'm telling you - that unplated Blaylock ring made an ordinary sounding instrument into something fantastic.
The notes are clear and powerful, the fourth string BOOMS! And it is so evenly balanced across the fingerboard. I couldn't be happier. What kind of magic do you put in that ring? Silvio was right. I'm glad I took his advice.
Just a note to let you know how much I am enjoying the tone rings you made and installed in my two banjos (Osborne Chief and 1935 TB-3 conversion.) Both banjos have that old prewar tone, and sound very similar to my original 1939 flathead 75. In fact, I play the banjos with your rings as much or more than my old 75. I appreciate the care you took in making these rings and the expert machine work in fitting them to the shells. I especially appreciate the conversion ring you made for my prewar 3, in that you did not alter the shell in any way. It is a pleasure dealing with you and sharing your love for the five string banjo.
Just wanted to say a few words to let those visiting your web site know that they can't go wrong installing one of your tone rings in their banjos. I have one of your rings in my TB3 conversion and another in my TB11 conversion, and I am totally pleased with the sound of both instruments. Your rings bring all of the sounds and tones out of a banjo that are pleasing; bass response, clarity, and that little zinging sound you get when you do a slide up the neck.
That up the neck sound to my ear is what is missing in many of the current production and aftermarket tone rings. I was sold when I played a "3" conversion like mine with one of your rings next to an original 1930's flat head "3". I would play one and then the other and was totally amazed that one sounded just as good as the other.
If someone had handed me the conversion and told me it was an original flat head, I would have responded after playing it, "yeah, that's the real deal, you can't mistake that tone." It was that good, and it made my banjos that good. Thanks for all of the many hours you have put into developing such a fine tone ring. This is not the kind of thing you get into to make a lot of money. It is a labor of love. Those of us who are playing banjos with your rings are grateful for your dedicated search to find that magical sound that many thought would never be recreated.
Hi Bill -
The custom cut tone ring you made for me was an almost perfect fit, I just had to shave a hair off the rim step to make sure the ring sat all the way down on top. I got the banjo put back together and today was picking on it some. My wife heard the same 1958 Gibson banjo with the McPeake ring in it when I got it a couple of weeks ago - she originally yelled from the other room "turn it off!" it was so brash and metallic. No matter what I did (thick bridge, heavier strings, looser head, even heavier gauge picks).
But with the Blaylock ring the same banjo is completely different. My wife walked by the room today and asked what banjo I was playing. I told her it was the same one only with the new Blaylock ring it. She couldn't believe how great it sounded. Neither can I. The banjo is clear and strong, yet the overall sound is not overwhelmed by the harsh metallic ringing some banjos have.
This banjo tone has great balance, and is all about the whole instrument working together. Once again, my hat is off to you and your fantastic tone ring!
I have two Chief banjos and a third on the way. My first is a pre-Blaylock maple Chief that I sent back to Sonny Osborne so he could have Frank switch out the Huber ring for one of yours. I didn't think the change would be that noticeable but it truly was.
You have a great product. I'm in the process of having Frank Neat make a neck for a '31 Mastertone MB3 that I'm buying from Gruhn Guitars. It currently has the 40 hole archtop ring. Do you make a conversion flathead ring that does not require the rim to be cut? If so, have you gotten the same positive feedback response from players that you have regarding your standard flathead ring? I'd consider using a conversion flathead ring if I didn't have to cut the rim.
Just a note to let you know how your banjo is doing. I'm 1/3 through the set up, and I believe you're going to like this conversion. I will say this is the best 2-piece flange pre-war conversion banjo I've ever heard. What kind of tone ring is this? The tone I'm hearing is sweet, yet very round and powerful. This is exciting to me! I'll have your banjo ready when you get to Nashville, so please call me when you are ready to pick it up. Have a great trip, and I'll talk to you soon.
High praise for your tonering. I'm out of town responding on my PDA. Of course, I told Charlie you made the ring.
Hi Mr Blaylock:
I just wanted to tell you how much I like the tone ring you made for me. It sounds great in my Kel Kroyden. You made the unplated no-hole ring with the "radius" cut on the inside. You should be seeing several orders in the next little while, if you haven't already. Everybody that's played this banjo wants one like it. As soon as I get a little more money I'd like to get a few more.
Best Regards to you and your family
Just wanted to again express my gratitude for the quality job you did fitting a ring to my old '37. You took an instrument that had been hacked on somewhere during it's history and helped to unlock the sound that has been trapped inside it for years. It is a pleasure to play, hear, and feel an instrument that truly comes alive when you put the picks to it.
To my ear, it has the "old sound" - a fat fourth, a clear note, and a little sizzle that makes you want to play "No Mother Or Dad" every time you take it out of the case. I am fortunate to have such a banjo, and I appreciate your time and expertise in getting it to such a level.