Make your banjo lighter and still get great tone
In partnership builder Martin Lewis and banjo player Gary Vann from Australia have
designed a new ultra lightweight carbon fiber tone ring.
On tour in Australia I tried these carbon fiber lightweight tone rings and they are remarkable. I know the builder Martin Lewis who makes them personally. He plays banjo and understands the dynamics of banjo tone. He also constructs Carbon Fiber violins and guitars all with amazing tone and looks. These rings are an incredible innovation for banjo players. We all know that a Mastertone style banjo is too heavy and we suffer from them being strapped around our necks like anchors. On the other hand, we will put up with it anytime for the tone or fear of losing tone. While I won't state that these carbon fiber rings sound better than your typical American made flat head tone ring, I will say that I did not notice such a significant drop in tone or volume that these carbon fiber rings are not a great alternative if you simply need your banjo to be lighter. The banjos still sounded great on their own with these super light flathead tonerings. It saves 6 lbs of weight.
The rings slip easily into a standard mastertone style bluegrass banjos with flathead tone rings and maple rims. These would be an excellent repair for heavy import banjos like Fender and other generic named heavy Mastertone copies from Korea and China. In those cases, the ring would likely improve the tone while knocking out the heavy 6 or 7 lbs of dead weight produced by the cheaper replica tone rings.