Attaching the Neck to the Banjo Pot
By John Fisher
Make this your motto: Don't die until you are dead.
Here is the basic profile of the heel that I had to carve out to fit the pot. It was a bit tricky to make and I had to study it for a bit to make sure I got things right. It not only has different measurements to accommodate the different diameters of the wooden rim but it also has to accommodate the metal flange that sticks out. To make things even more complicated it also has to be slightly rounded to accommodate the diameter of the pot. Although above are some basic measurements, it was still a bit of trial and error to get things right.
If you put a straight edge on the fret board and hang part of it over the pot there should be about a 3-degree angle in relation to the head of the pot, and in about 7" to where the bridge will be, there should be about a 3/8" distance from the straight edge to the surface of the head.
Here is a simple cartoon that I drew to show you how to put the straight edge on the neck to get the angle right. This should be about a 3-degree angle. One more important thing: The neck should be 3/32" higher then the surface of the plastic head.
You have to get the heel shaped correctly before installing the lag bolts in the heel that attaches to the pot. I tested the fit and the neck angle first by temporarily screwing the neck on with normal screws. When I new that the fit was good, I then installed some 3/16" rods into the heel. I would have used lag bolts but I didnít have any at the moment. I simply drilled holes a little smaller into the heel where the lag bolts would go and then I threaded the holes with a 3/16" tap and then screwed the pieces of 3/16" rod into the heel until it was tight. I went about 1 Ĺ" into the heel with the threaded rods. The treaded rods were long enough to go through the wall of the wooden rim and stuck out about 3/8" on the inside of the rim. That is what will be screwed onto the coordinating rods also with washers.
What to do if you put the strings on and the angle is not correct
Although I gave some guidelines above for the correct neck angle placement, there are still some other factors that will affect the action or string height when everything is put together. See, I told you that this was a bit more complicated then setting up a guitar. The height of the bridge, the amount of tightness of the plastic head and the pull of the strings on the neck will all have an effect on the overall outcome of the string height. After everything is put together and if it is a bit out of whack, you can do one of 2 things. You can either take the neck off and continue to shape the heel (not a bad idea) or you can put metal shims between the heel and the wood rim in a way to get the correct angle.
In one of the cathedrals of England there is a beautiful window through which the sunlight streams. It displays the facts & personalities of the Old & New Testament & the glorious truths & doctrines of the Christian revelation. This window was fabricated by the artist out of broken bits of glass which another artist had discarded.