Here is the rundown on some of the innovations that make a Weitzel Banjo one of the the most enjoyable banjos to play and own.
Easily adjust your string action without coordinator rods or a new bridge.
Shed weight & make your perfect setup a breeze.
Save valuable playing time with no disassembly.
Dramatically increase your range of keys to play in.
Adjustable Neck to Rim Connection
Standard banjos have always had a static neck connection with two bolts tightening the neck to the rim via the coordinator rods inside the pot. The coordinator rods served the main purpose of keeping the rim in round while under pressure, but also were often used for minor adjustments to the string action, which would then force the rim right out of round again. Those adjustments would also add stresses that have ruined many rims when they were over-done. The solution here was to engineer a rim that did not require coordinator rods to keep the rims shape, then to create special bolts that would allow the neck to be raised and lowered with the turn of a hex wrench. The result is a surprisingly simple system that is completely hidden in the heel. It can take the action from ridiculously low, all the way up past where you could play your banjo with a slide and not have the strings touch the frets. And you would never have to change the bridge height.Back to Top
The typical way for a banjo resonator to connect to the pot is with a metal flange which protrudes out from the pot and attaches with brackets to the resonator. The flange has three supposed functions. The first is to connect the pot to the resonator, which it does a decent job of, but it does not allow for easy adjustment of the space between the rim and resonator, which can be critical to a good setup. Second is visual appeal. This is wholly dependent on tastes, and while I don’t find a flange to look offensive, it certainly limits the possibilities for other looks. Thirdly, some say it adds to the “resonance” of the resonator or that it is actually responsible for much of the increased volume a resonator provides. That much is mostly untrue. While every aspect of an instrument does add to the character of its tone somewhat, the flange adds nothing to the volume, nor does it add “resonance”. If the idea of the resonator back is to reflect the sound of the banjo forward, then the flange, if anything, gets in the way of this by re-absorbing some of the sound or at least pushing it through a metallic filter. My connection completely changes the idea for connecting the resonator. I’ve developed a bracket that attaches the pot to the body without any flange to interfere with the sound. This allows the sound to be projected forward in a much cleaner way. The brackets also allow the aperture (distance between the Pot and Resonator) to be adjusted up or down without any disassembly. But, should you desire, removing the resonator is not an issue. I’ve used various designs to accomodate removal of the resonator, from magnets to special brackets, all of which work well and allow for playing open back without a flange or bracket in your way. Back to Top
Top tensioning head
Top-Tensioning is not a new idea. It was used in numerous banjo models in the early 20th century, but as those models were not played by any banjo superstars, there functionality never caught on with most of todays crowd. There is, however a small group of ardent supporters of the top-tensioning banjo head, and I am one. The resonator is very simple to remove, but it is an added, unnecessary step in order to adjust the head tension or even replace the head. The unique stretcher band design sheds the reliance on standard bottom tensioning shoes and hooks. Instead, the shoes are a simple low profile threaded bracket, ready to accept the stainless steel machine screws that feed in from the top, through the stretcher band itself. Adjustment is made with a hex key. I have also eliminated at least half of the standard number of brackets for the simple reason that large numbers (usually 24 to 32, sometimes up to 40!) are completely unnecessary to hold the tension of the head. These large numbers are simply a hold-over from early 20th century styling that said more is better. I have twelve brackets, which is more than ample to securely and evenly tension the head. This will save much of your time that could be better spent playing the banjo! Fewer brackets also means lighter weight and the ability to see the beautiful wood underneath. Back to Top
Integral Fifth String Capo
If there is one factor limiting the 5-String banjo from breaking into many new styles of music, it is the difficulty of playing in any key as easily as other stringed instruments. This is brought on by the fifth, or “drone” string. In order to play in keys other than G it must be re-tuned somehow. Since the string itself has a narrow range of re-tuning with the tuner, people have had to install other mechanisms, usually a spike (which can be sharp or in the way if too many are installed, especially for those who fret the fifth string) or a sliding clamp installed on the side of the neck (which can be very obtrusive). To accomodate those who have a desire to easily change to a much wider range of keys and/or fret the fifth string without obstruction, I’ve developed, as an option, an integral capo mechanism that makes playing in any key a breeze. I can add capos on any fret desired, even putting them on all 22 frets. They sit flush with the fretboard when not in use and easily pop up when needed. Combined with the option of stringing the 5th string all the way to the head, it allows not only for capoing to notes higher than the 5th fret, but also lower, right on down to using no capo at all, tuned to D. Back to Top