How neck woods affect the sound of the banjo.
The vibration of the neck of the banjo seems to have an effect on the sound of a banjo. It seems to work like this:
The softer the neck wood, the mellower the sound of the banjo, all things being equal. This also holds true for the fingerboard wood.
The three most common woods for banjo necks at this time are maple, walnut and mahogany. Each of these woods has its own range of hardnesses and densities; however, in general, maple is harder than walnut, and walnut is harder than mahogany. The two most common fingerboard woods are ebony and rosewood. Ebony is harder than rosewood.
How does this affect the sound of the banjo? Well, apparently, the softer the neck wood, the mellower the sound of the banjo, as I mentioned previously. So the range of sounds seems to work like this, on a scale of brilliance to mellowness:
Maple/ebony -- brilliant
A more brilliant neck may give you clearer treble notes, while one on the other end of the spectrum may give you clearer bass notes. However, there are other factors to consider, including tone rings, strings, bridges and setup.
What about manmade materials? Good question. Gold Tone is now offering a carbon graphite neck for $395.00. It gives amazing clarity all up and down the range of the neck. It is quite slim and fast, feels very comfortable, and sounds good. For more information click here.
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