Banjolele with holes in skin

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Tom Snape
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:51 pm

Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Tom Snape »

I've acquired this May-Bell Singerland banjolele. There are some repairs to be made, including replacing missing dowel stick clamp, resonator mounting bolt, and a missing fret. Most daunting to me is the presence of two punctures in the skin in the bridge area. The skin appears to be the original Singerland part, and has a nice tension. My current thinking is that I should patch or reinforce the holes, and then maybe rotate the head so that the patch is not directly under the bridge (which I will also have to come up with).

Looking for any advice on this repair. Is it risky to de-tension the head, move it, and re-tension it? What is a good patch method/materials, and should it be done with the head fully tensioned?

As for the missing fret; the original frets measure about 0.036" wide x about 0.035" high. The narrowest fret wire I've found online is 0.053". For one fret I could get by filing this down to size, but I'm wondering if anyone knows of something narrower.
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Chris Reed
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Chris Reed »

I'd patch those holes. Ideally with scraps of vellum, but if you can't get those then something like heavyweight art paper should work.

If you use hide glue, you could easily remove your patches if you later found better material.

I'd patch the underside without slackening the tension. Once glue is dry, loosen and rotate the head.

Cant help with a fretwire source, 0.53 is the smallest I've seen.

Steven Wheeler
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:52 am

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Steven Wheeler »

Jescar has a .040" wide x .039 tall in stainless.

Tom Snape
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:51 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Tom Snape »

Chris - Thanks for the advice. Good call on using hide glue, I think.

Steven - Thanks, I never would have found that.

Steve Woods
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 7:27 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Steve Woods »

Tom, I just bought a new calf skin for my banjo mandolin (previous topic) from StewMac. It is way bigger than I need. Would you like me to mail you a piece of scrap to use for patching those holes?

Tom Snape
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:51 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Tom Snape »

Steve, that would be great! Sending my address via PM

Steve Woods
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 7:27 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Steve Woods »

Got it.

Tom Snape
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:51 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Tom Snape »

Well, I goofed and damaged the original skin head beyond repair. I rotated the head so that the holes would be near the neck and thought it would be a good idea to dampen the skin a bit when I lightly re-secured the tension hoop. Only I went too far with the tension and a tear started on the tone ring which quickly went half way around the head.

I ordered a 14" calf skin head and put that on following various instructions found online and it went well. The pot now has a nice new head. I'm still waiting for some of the missing hardware parts to arrive before final assembly.

A few things I found on this instrument: There is tone ring make from 1/4" diameter steel sitting loose on top of the pot. It has some kind of rough plating on it, and it's not welded together at the ends. The flesh hoop is made from a similar material, only 1/8" diameter, and also not connected at the ends. I was afraid that the ability of the flesh hoop to stretch open would make the job difficult, but it didn't.

Thanks to Steve Woods for mailing me some pieces to patch the original holes.
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Tom Snape
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:51 pm

Re: Banjolele with holes in skin

Post by Tom Snape »

I received another banjolele to repair that had a small puncture in the head. This time I was able to use a piece of the head that Steve Woods sent me. I used hide glue, but didn't try to rotate the head this time as the damage is a bit away from the bridge. The first two pictures show the puncture from the top, and from underneath (with the repair patch next to it). The completed repair doesn't show up any more than other scars on the head. So far this looks like a decent way to make this kind of repair.

There is no name on this instrument, but it looks like others I've seen online identified as Stella, with the two metal bands around the outside of the rim. The last picture showed the completed May-Belle from the original post, with the new head, along side a Winner banjolele that I also restored to playable condition.
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