Dannick banjo tone ring, and cryogenic strings

The American Made Banjo Co, Inc. based in Boston, MA, has been quite active this past year. Owner Tom Mirisola reactivated the Kel Kroydon brand, and has been offering both replicas of these pre war banjos, and more modern variants on this style, since February of 2006. He contacted us last week with word of two new product announcements from American Made Banjo.

Tom has been experimenting with the cryogenic process and banjo strings, and is now offering a set that has undergone this treatment. He wanted to investigate whether this process, long known to make metals more durable, might help strings last longer as well.

“The Cryogenic Process is freezing the metal to approximately -300 degrees and controlling the warming process. This process is widely used in automobile engines, bearings, gears and any metal that is subject to wear. The extended life of cryogenically treated metal parts can be in excess of 400%. The ironic part to this story is the cryogenic process also improved the sound of the strings. Lower lows and brighter highs accompanied by better note separation is what I have heard back in reports from banjo pickers worldwide.”

The strings are not currently available from the Kel Kroydon web site, but Tom invites both individuals and dealers interested in the strings to contact him by email for more details and ordering information.

Tom has also been hard at work developing a new banjo tone ring for use in his Kel Kroydon Banjos. Taking advantage of Boston’s status as a center for scientific research, he has enlisted the help of experts at MIT to determine the grain (dendritic) structure and shrinkage porosity of the metal in a 1934 flathead tone ring. He has produced three prototype rings, and hopes to have them ready to offer in his banjos, and to consumers/builders directly by October.

He plans to make them in limited quantity as the Dannick Tone Ring, with one out of ten rings sent back to the metallurgist for analysis of the grain structure. Tom is convinced that this is a crucial component in reproducing the tone and response of the highly-prized pre war flathead banjos, in addition to the alloy composition.

Pricing for these rings has not been determined, but Tom insists they will come in well below the $1000 limited production rings currently being offered by some small banjo shops. Details should be available on the Kel Kroydon site by late August.

Click the image below to see a larger photo of one of the prototype Dannicks.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.