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Thread: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

  1. #1

    Default Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a taropatch?

    My wife has fallen in love with playing the ukulele, her first string ukelele(if you don't count piano). She has a hand made tenor ukulele, which is a nice instrument but has certain limitations. My daughter is playing violin and ukulele and is getting two mandolins for Christmas, so the bug has hit the family. Mom is itching for another instrument and I wondered upon this very good condition Regal Mandolin Banjo. I was thinking of stringing with nylon and tuning in unison (two sets of ukulele strings). I would love some inputs, as the instrument and music game is completely new to me. I have found joy in restringing the vintage mandolins for my daughter and am looking forward to working on the banjo. Open to any and all suggestions, inputs, recommendations, encouragement, etc.

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    Last edited by SAfricaMandolin; Nov-13-2017 at 4:09am. Reason: spelling error

  2. #2

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Any thoughts on the mandolin banjo as well? I find it to be beautiful, although no idea how it will play. One option is to restring with steel strings as mandolin for my daughter, but that doesn't solve an instrument for my wife. Of course, I could always covert one of the other mandolins for her or convince her to play with mandolin tuning (she thinks there are more modern music available for the uke).

    Genre of music: any and everything fun. They are playing for enjoyment, so anything from Bruno Mars to Deliverance, to hard rock rifs... I say why not bring up the volume with a banjo.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Banjo-mandolin is a hybrid that was popular back in the 1920's, but not any more and none of them (except for Gibson, perhaps) have much of monetary value these days. Funny that banjo-ukuleles (another hybrid) are far more popular and expensive these days. Probably a better idea for your wife, since she already plays uke. Nothing preventing you, of course, from getting this Regal, stringing it the way you like and enjoying playing it.

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Thanks Vic, I am not really worried about monetary value. I am starting to build a collection of instruments which are beautiful and provide nice family time together. I am quite interested in making a taropatch banjo, but may regret the sound once it is done. Worst case, we have $100 invested in a bad sounding instrument which looks nice on our small instrument shelf behind the grand piano... alongside a japanese bowl back and japanese a-body mandolins, and several handmade ukuleles. My wife seems reluctant to learn mandolin, but is loving the amazing amount of online ukulele offerings (both songs and tutorials). I actually think my 11 year old daughter may prove to play professionally some day... so always nice to give her different sounds.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    I think you'll end up with a fun instrument. You have a number options to explore. You might want to try a single low wound G string instead of the higher G for re-entrant tuning. You could also do single strings on the 2 lower strings and double courses on the 2 higher strings. Or doubles on all strings...And once you've got it all strung up, you can get different tones with different bridges or with stuffing a rag between the dowel stick and the inside of the head. Keep us posted on what you come up with.
    Steve



    "They're approaching. That's very forward of them."

  7. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    You have a nice instrument there, and I don't see anything wrong with putting a couple sets of ukulele strings on it and trying it as a "taropatch banjo." Such instruments do exist, as you can see (and hear):




    I've only seen them with the relatively small head sizes typical of UK-made instruments, and yours is significantly larger, so you may find that the lower-tension nylon strings, even doubled, don't drive the larger head as well. My own (four-string) ukulele banjo, a Stewart Collegian, has a really tiny body, but not all uke banjos do.

    Good luck with it.
    Allen Hopkins
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Thanks, I am excited to see how it drives the LARGE head. Will add some information when i get it strung. I have ordered LivingWater Strings from Ken, going with a Custom Tenor 8 string set with high/low g and c. Should take a few weeks to get through customs here in ZA, then we will be off and strumming.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Probably use this for some testing with, as I am intrigued by the idea of octave nylon strings on the banjo. We are limited on what vintage instruments come available here in South Africa, but I am slowly building a fun collection. While musically challenged, I have discovered a passion for working on these older instruments and my wife and 11 year old daughter make the magic happen when I am finished.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Allen, Great taropacth you have there, it sounds great. I thought I would do some custom bridge work to help with the fluorocarbon strings driving the head. I really enjoy doing the woodwork, so I will play around with several different woods and leg designs to try to find a nice balance. I know people got away from nylon strings for a long time, but they seem to be getting more popular these days as the next generations are grabbing ukes and youTube.

    Scott

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    You have a nice instrument there, and I don't see anything wrong with putting a couple sets of ukulele strings on it and trying it as a "taropatch banjo." Such instruments do exist, as you can see (and hear):




    I've only seen them with the relatively small head sizes typical of UK-made instruments, and yours is significantly larger, so you may find that the lower-tension nylon strings, even doubled, don't drive the larger head as well. My own (four-string) ukulele banjo, a Stewart Collegian, has a really tiny body, but not all uke banjos do.

    Good luck with it.

  11. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Quote Originally Posted by SAfricaMandolin View Post
    Allen, Great taropacth you have there, it sounds great...
    That's not me in the vid; I found it as an example of an eight-string mandolin banjo. I think it's a worthwhile experiment, making a "taropatch banjo," and I would suggest a fairly lightweight wood for your home-made bridge. You won't need really hard wood like ebony or maple for a saddle, as the nylon strings aren't going to cut into the top the way steel strings would

    When I first had my Stewart uke banjo strung up, I tried very light steel strings, but had intonation problems fretting more than three or four frets up. I went to nylon ukulele strings, and the intonation issues went away, at least enough so that the instrument's easily playable.

    I've seen string bands using ukulele banjos with steel strings, but nylon works better for me.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  12. #11

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Thanks again Allen,
    I will give both pine and basswood a try, I have some weathered wood here at the house (my scrap wood stash) that I will carve a few out of. I am spinning into instrument addiction and feel like these old instruments should be saved, rather than having thousands poorly manufactured in China... my environmental side aligning with my love of antiques!

    Scott

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    That's not me in the vid; I found it as an example of an eight-string mandolin banjo. I think it's a worthwhile experiment, making a "taropatch banjo," and I would suggest a fairly lightweight wood for your home-made bridge. You won't need really hard wood like ebony or maple for a saddle, as the nylon strings aren't going to cut into the top the way steel strings would

    When I first had my Stewart uke banjo strung up, I tried very light steel strings, but had intonation problems fretting more than three or four frets up. I went to nylon ukulele strings, and the intonation issues went away, at least enough so that the instrument's easily playable.

    I've seen string bands using ukulele banjos with steel strings, but nylon works better for me.

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  14. #12

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    You might be lucky, using fluorocarbon strings. I've only made one taropatch uke, and that has a neck 1 3/8 wide at the nut. Any smaller would be problematic for me, used to normal uke string spacings.

    But this neck looks a little wider than the 1" to 1 18" width sometime seen on banjo mandolins. Good luck with it!

    I'd expect it to drive the larger head perfectly well.

    Oh, and probably don't bother with octave strings. Assuming your scale length is 13 to 13.5 inches, nylon strings an octave down will intonate really badly. On concert scale (15 inch) a low G is just about usable, but a low C isn't on.

  15. #13

    Default Re: Regal Mandolin Banjo for making a haropatch?

    Hello Chris,
    I have ordered both GC and in octave, but also spare in high as well. The nut is 30mm or 1 1 1/5 inches (slightly narrower than the soprano uke), the scale length is at around 380mm where the bridge was set for steel strings so just at 15 inches. So if the octave tuning intonates, I will swap strings and try the unison tuning...

    With old steel strings, it sounds pretty good with a great amount of volume (some may say too much) with a solid bridge. I suspect the fluorocarbons will have no problem with a different bridge, the fun is all in the experimenting I suppose.

    Scott

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfChris View Post
    You might be lucky, using fluorocarbon strings. I've only made one taropatch uke, and that has a neck 1 3/8 wide at the nut. Any smaller would be problematic for me, used to normal uke string spacings.

    But this neck looks a little wider than the 1" to 1 18" width sometime seen on banjo mandolins. Good luck with it!

    I'd expect it to drive the larger head perfectly well.

    Oh, and probably don't bother with octave strings. Assuming your scale length is 13 to 13.5 inches, nylon strings an octave down will intonate really badly. On concert scale (15 inch) a low G is just about usable, but a low C isn't on.

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