There is no denying that headstock location of the truss rod access removes wood from a vulnerable area and that makes a headstock break more likely if the banjo is dropped or tips over. However, I think the pictures you posted exaggerate the risk in the sense a lot of wood remains on both sides of the truss rod channel, even at the most vulnerable point. That being said, I understand the point the pictures make and concede the increased vulnerability. I’m not an engineer and don’t know much more of a drop a solid neck joint could handle compared to a rod-routed joint. Certainly, the weight of the tuners and the string tension makes this a vulnerable break location. Accessing the adjustable rod at the heel makes removing the neck necessary and means you can’t adjust rod under string tension. Therefore, my opinion is to accept the increased risk and always keep banjos in stable stands, cases, or wall-mounts.I like the “cleanliness” of the truss rod cover with magnets instead of a surface screw. I might as well ask this with the location of the the truss rod adjustment being on the traditional location, which is pass the nut area partially into headstock. How do you feel about stability seeing that there is less wood (due to the truss rod) there making that area “fragile” and vulnerable to “headstock” break? Don’t know what the headstock angle is on a banjo, but 14-17 degrees on a set-neck electric adds to the fragility factor. Companies and builders have relocated the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck (classical/steel string guitars, bolt-on electric and yes, some set neck construction with the adaption of a “spoke wheel” truss rod knot slot at the end of the fretboard) to keep the wood whole at the headstock area- but, yeah if it drops regardless if it has more wood preserved, the headstock could still snap and break. Maybe, it is not that crucial for banjos because of the shorter scale length, shorter neck and less angle of the headstock.
Do you use anything else to make the neck rigid and stiff like carbon fiber rods, etc.?
For reference point and this is a section through that area on a set-neck electric (photo not mine):
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There are many banjo builders that leave truss rod access at the heel. That allows a clean and unrouted peghead. I don’t know of any that incorporated access at the rim end of the fretboard, as you have posted. I’d like to know more about this process.Thank you Stephen and always intrigued what path luthiers take to issues set forth on traditional design. The first photo does look exaggerated, but that really is what is going on in the center construction of the neck- it is an actual Gibson* LP that was cut and has a 17 degree angle and the thickness is about .600”. I have seen and read a lot about the issues between the extreme angle of the headstock (17-14 degrees) and the truss rod location “snapping” during shipment! Having said that everyone that builds consistently follows this construction. The set neck on this guitar is glued in via tenon into the neck pocket. There are bolt-on electrics where the access to adjust the truss rod could be located at the headstock or the butt end. Yes, you would have to release the tension of the strings and loosen the 4 mounting screws to adjust the truss rod in a rear adjust which is a pita. Some luthiers have figured out a way to move the adjustment of the truss rod on a “set-neck” construction at the rear, with access on top via a “spokes wheel“. Crafty way the luthier conceals the “spoke wheel”.
Here is one that is a set neck (
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Then there is a version below with a “spokes wheel” adjust at the rear (photo is not mine):
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There are sacrifices to be made in either option. Question- banjos are typically headstock truss rod adjust only? There is not an example of rear adjust or top adjust?
Just sharing and passing information.
There are 2 versions above- the first photo above has the same “spoke wheel”, but smaller truss rod knot fitting that allows you to have it concealed with a piece of fretboard material (screwed on or earth magnets) or the second photo has a larger “spoke wheel” at the rear end with the center notch (you would have to make this section slightly wider and deeper so the spoke wheel will clear the wood south, east and west). You route it as you would to get the channel for the truss rod and add this fitting towards the end.There are many banjo builders that leave truss rod access at the heel. That allows a clean and unrouted peghead. I don’t know of any that incorporated access at the rim end of the fretboard, as you have posted. I’d like to know more about this process.