Does Rim Size Matter? The New Grand 12” Rims

by Jamie Latty

In the history of the banjo, the idea of a larger rim is certainly not a new concept. For many years, banjo builders have experimented with different rim diameters to explore the different sounds and tones from their instruments. Outside of the common 11” formula that most major banjo companies stick to today, the lesser known 12” is probably next in line in popularity.

Goodtime 11 Goodtime 11" pot on top of a new Goodtime Grand 12" pot

Deering has now ventured into the wider side of life and has now started to produce new 12” versions of its beloved 3-ply violin grade maple rims that are at the heart of all of its banjos. The Grand 12” rim was launched in mid-2014 and currently is featured on two new models - the Goodtime Solana 6 and the Goodtime Americana.

What do you get from an extra inch?

When you think about it, the answer is relatively straight forward. Greater bass response. In other words, the banjo is now able to reproduce bass frequencies far more accurately. Think of the pot of the banjo as a speaker.  Larger speakers generally produce better bass tones vs. their smaller counterparts.

Another thing to consider with larger rims is that now the bridge sits closer to the center of the banjo head than it does on banjos with smaller rims.  As you move the bridge closer to the center of the head, you will produce a warmer, less bright tone.  All put together, the tone is bigger, fatter, rounder.

When placed on a Goodtime 5-string banjo, as is the case in the Goodtime Americana, you immediately notice the big warm tone. The banjo is reminiscent of those of an earlier period when larger rims were more prevalent which makes the 12” a great setup for playing old time music. The warmer, deeper tone is also perfect for banjoists looking to use the banjo to back up a vocalist or another instrument, instead of playing the a lead instrument role. A traditional 11” banjo has a far brighter sound and will “cut” more, while the Grand 12” is beautifully laid back in comparison.

The Grand 12” also features on the new Goodtime Solana 6 which originally started life with an 11” rim and it sounded great, but as we developed the Grand 12” rim we immediately saw an opportunity to improve an already great sounding banjo. So we did. The results were instantly noticeable; opening up the bottom 2 strings to give a full rich bass and an even clarity across all 6 strings.

So while the concept of a larger rim is not necessarily a new one, it is one that we have applied to an already beautiful sounding rim with resounding success and In the coming months, you can expect to see offerings from the Vega line with Grand 12” rims. If the opportunity presents itself, we would urge you to try one and experience the depth.

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