The Banjo Rim & the Pot Assembly
The rim is the circular wooden part that is the heart of your banjo, the banjo is built around this part. The ‘pot’ is the complete assembly of the parts fitted to the rim. A solid maple rim is the heart of any quality banjo. Maple has long been used to make banjo pots because of its fine grain, strength and bright clear tone on stringed instruments. The entire violin family instruments use maple for their backs and sides. All USA built Deering banjos have solid violin maple rims. Steinway and other quality brand pianos use maple for the pin blocks of their pianos. Bowling alleys are commonly made of maple for its hardness and durability.
Some far eastern made banjos have soft aluminium or plywood rims that do not have the sparkle, brightness or clarity of the USA built banjos.
The softer, porous wood does not have the hardness, fine grain structure or tone character of a musical quality hard wood like violin maple.
Steel and Aluminium Rims
Deering for example, uses a steel rim on the Boston series banjos. Tap on a disassembled aluminium rim and you hear a “clunk”. Tap on a disassembled Deering steel rim and it rings brightly, clearly and long. Soft aluminium has little or no musicality. It is a reasonable building material but has a poor musical tone.