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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Why hasn't the 5th peg died out?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/261085

MrNatch3L - Posted - 04/19/2013:  06:52:14


The 5th peg in the middle of the 5-string neck kind of reminds me of the old story about the new bride that cut the hock off before baking a ham. When her new hubby asked why she did it, she said that's the way her mom taught her. So they called up Mom, who said that's the way her mom did it. So they called Grandma who said she did it that way because she never had a pan big enough for a ham with the hock.



The more I play the latest version of The Mutt, with Mike Rowe's tailpiece that has an integrated 5th tuner and basically gets rid of the 5th peg in the middle of the neck, the more I wonder why the tunneled 5th neck hasn't caught one widely in the banjo world and become the new standard for 5-strings. 



Thoughts?


tgaryc - Posted - 04/19/2013:  06:59:18


I think banjo is an OLDTIME instrument and most want to keep it that way. I also think the tunnel is hard to do and might make the neck weaker on the 5th string side and might cause a twist as it age's. I have thought of building one but have not yet. But that's just me. GC

Mike Moss - Posted - 04/19/2013:  07:03:37


Why haven't push-in pegs died out for the violin when we have mechanical tuners? These are musical instruments we're talking about, these quirky, traditional features give them their unique flavour. The five-stringer's typical silouhette with the 5th peg is an iconic feature which immediately singles it out from all other instruments.


JonT - Posted - 04/19/2013:  07:31:50


What Mike Moss said.

I personally think that the 5th-string peg sticking out of the neck like some unsightly growth is part of the 5-string banjo's character, something that marks it as unique, as "other." It marks it as something different from a guitar or mandolin, which I think is good. It's also a challenge to work around, which is also good. All in all, I rather like it.

I am glad that it's geared, though - the one that's in my old S.S. Stewart isn't.

Rich Weill - Posted - 04/19/2013:  07:49:54


I was watching a banjo player on YouTube and, for a moment, thought he was playing a 4-string, because I saw no 5th-string peg.  It took a few seconds to realize that the 5th string was tunneled up to the peghead.



IMHO, a 5-string should look like a 5-string.


JoeDownes - Posted - 04/19/2013:  07:59:55


I would love to get rid of that tuner sticking out of the neck. I like the 5 long strings idea, too,


Banjophobic - Posted - 04/19/2013:  09:33:13


one word answer is 'tradition'. 


doryman - Posted - 04/19/2013:  10:27:52


The tunneled 5th string seems like a wonderful idea, I may buy a banjo with one someday. Right now, though, it really narrows down your choices if that's the way you want to go. Especially if you want to buy a used instrument.

Somebody, on another thread, mentioned some problems with buzzing. I don't know if that's true or not.

ravedog - Posted - 04/19/2013:  10:51:46


I think you also have to consider the styles of music that have evolved from the shorter/ higher pitched 5th string
the music we all love be it bluegrass traditional, clawhammer and folk would never have been thought of were it not
for that "neck wort" we call the 5th string

Wykowski - Posted - 04/19/2013:  11:32:53


inovation will always continue, and makers will change as demand changes

100 years from now, the disscussion topic might be "what's that thing in the middle of neck, on old banjos"

MrNatch3L - Posted - 04/19/2013:  12:20:38


quote:

Originally posted by JoeDownes

 

I would love to get rid of that tuner sticking out of the neck. I like the 5 long strings idea, too,







Just the response I would expect from someone wearing those glasses while pickin' a banjo! bigbigbig


Mike Moss - Posted - 04/19/2013:  12:31:56


quote:

Originally posted by Wykowski

 

inovation will always continue, and makers will change as demand changes



100 years from now, the disscussion topic might be "what's that thing in the middle of neck, on old banjos"







Tunneled 5th strings have been around for over 100 years and, for a while, were perhaps the most produced 5-string banjos in the world (the Windsor factory was reputedly turning out up to 40,000 banjos per year until it was firebombed by the Germans in WWII). Paramount banjos also were very widely produced "convertible" 4 or 5 string banjos with an optional tunneled 5th (5 planetary tuners in the peghead) and they were very popular back in the day.



Edited by - Mike Moss on 04/19/2013 12:33:29

Weitzel - Posted - 04/19/2013:  12:49:49


quote:

Originally posted by Mike Moss

 

Why haven't push-in pegs died out for the violin when we have mechanical tuners? These are musical instruments we're talking about, these quirky, traditional features give them their unique flavour. The five-stringer's typical silouhette with the 5th peg is an iconic feature which immediately singles it out from all other instruments.







Violin pegs are slowly dying out, too.  They usually install micro-tuners on the tailpiece to compensate for the limitations of a pure friction peg, and more and more of them are converting to 4:1 ratio planetary tuners (Peghedz and Knilling make them) that look just like friction tuners. I like the look of them and just finished using some on my latest banjo build.


doryman - Posted - 04/19/2013:  12:53:27


quote:

Originally posted by ravedog

 

I think you also have to consider the styles of music that have evolved from the shorter/ higher pitched 5th string

the music we all love be it bluegrass traditional, clawhammer and folk would never have been thought of were it not

for that "neck wort" we call the 5th string







The OP isn't suggesting that there wouldn't still be a 5th string drone.  Just that the tuner wouldn't be in the middle of the neck. 


SWCooper - Posted - 04/19/2013:  13:16:12


I love a tunneled fifth. I remember the first time I clapped eyes on one, and it was one of life's forehead-slapping moments. I have two of them and another on the way. All British (the Brits were partial to them).


UncleClawhammer - Posted - 04/19/2013:  13:19:58


They're ugly.


MrNatch3L - Posted - 04/19/2013:  13:24:05


quote:

Originally posted by Mike Moss

 
quote:


Originally posted by Wykowski

 


inovation will always continue, and makers will change as demand changes



100 years from now, the disscussion topic might be "what's that thing in the middle of neck, on old banjos"








Tunneled 5th strings have been around for over 100 years and, for a while, were perhaps the most produced 5-string banjos in the world (the Windsor factory was reputedly turning out up to 40,000 banjos per year until it was firebombed by the Germans in WWII). Paramount banjos also were very widely produced "convertible" 4 or 5 string banjos with an optional tunneled 5th (5 planetary tuners in the peghead) and they were very popular back in the day.







Wow... I had no idea. Very interesting... thanks for the info. They say there's nothing new under the sun. 


Mike Moss - Posted - 04/19/2013:  15:47:46


quote:

Originally posted by Weitzel

 
 



Violin pegs are slowly dying out, too.  They usually install micro-tuners on the tailpiece to compensate for the limitations of a pure friction peg, and more and more of them are converting to 4:1 ratio planetary tuners (Peghedz and Knilling make them) that look just like friction tuners. I like the look of them and just finished using some on my latest banjo build.







Dying out? Hardly. Micro-tuners aren't meant to replace pegs, they are installed on violins meant for steel strings for fine tuning (they were invented in the early 20th century, when gut shortages caused by WWI forced violin players to use steel), since steel cannot be tuned accurately with push-in pegs. People who string their violins with gut usually don't use them. Likewise, most pro-grade violins don't use any or only use one for the E string. I've heard pros say the fine tuners detract from the sound. Likewise, some people use Peghedz but they are more of a niche product and most pro violinists prefer well-fitted wooden pegs. I've seen 19th century violins in museums with machine pegs similar to the ones on classical guitars, which fulfilled the job of Peghedz for a lot less money and with a simpler, more reliable mechanism. And yet they never caught on on a large scale. There is just no compelling reason to drop wooden pegs.



Here's a bit of wisdom, well over 100 years old, from a great banjoist of old, Frank B. Converse (scanned and uploaded by Joel Hooks, available on his website). Read the attachment. There's nothing new under the sun and there will always be people trying to milk enthusiasts with their patent innovations and improvements, but on the really long term the rule the music trade seems to follow is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Over a hundred years ago the banjo reached its basic configuration -- tuned to G pitch, 22 frets, 24 brackets, 11" rim -- and even though alternatives are available (larger and smaller rims, more or less frets, longer or shorter scales, tunneled 5th strings, long 5th strings, more brackets, less brackets, no brackets, heli-mounts and tackheads) the standard banjo is and probably will remain roughly the same for as long as we live.



Edited by - Mike Moss on 04/19/2013 15:56:35



   

sunburst - Posted - 04/19/2013:  15:55:59


quote:

Originally posted by Wykowski

 

inovation will always continue, and makers will change as demand changes






And there you have 'why they're still around'; They work. If something else worked better, or was easier to make, or for any other reason was clearly better, there would probably be fewer 5th pegs.


Kirk Jacobs - Posted - 04/19/2013:  15:59:33


Hope this is not to far off topic but...Natch do you really like the tailpiece.  Saw it awhile back and thought it a "nifty" idea but did not know about sound and construction quality


MOUNTAIN GOAT - Posted - 04/19/2013:  17:11:43


I just made one. It is great not having that thang sticking out. No head slapping moment though. Funny thing was how without thinking about it, I was using it as a marker. Sure glad its gone. And it was not very difficult to do, nor expensive. I thought about the tail piece too.

mikehalloran - Posted - 04/19/2013:  17:41:35


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quote


:


Originally posted by Banjophobic

 

one word answer is 'tradition'. 








banjobubba - Posted - 04/19/2013:  18:26:02


I think the correct answer is because Earl had one! 



It never seemed to give him any trouble!


BoneDigger - Posted - 04/19/2013:  19:16:57


We are traditionalist and like traditional things. Fried chicken, mashed taters with gravy, cat-head biscuits, and banjos that look like the banjos we knew growing up. It's all good.

Todd

sunburst - Posted - 04/19/2013:  19:50:11


Tradition might be part of it, but I don't think it is a huge part of it, and as I said already;

It works! Simple as that. Doing something else has a certain element of a "solution in search of a problem". Yeah, it looks like a tuner stuck in the middle of the neck, but hey, there are four more of them on that funny-shaped thing up there at the end of the neck, and they don't seem to bother people much. Heck, some people even put flashy, shiny pieces of pearl, metal or other stuff up there to cover the big old hole that has the truss rod adjustment in it. Some people even draw more attention to it by engraving things in it! And they have the nerve to say the 5th string tuner is "ugly"?!

OK, no offense intended to all you folks with custom engraved truss rod pocket covers, just trying for a little perspective here. Truss rod covers are such a tradition that I've removed them from the pegheads of necks in need of adjustment to find.... no adjustment! Yep, non-adjustable necks with a "truss rod cover" just for looks! 5th string tuners at least have a purpose, and they cause no problems (especially if we keep our thumb behind the neck where it belongs). If we think it is ugly enough to put up with having to thread a string through a "tunnel", and pay the price to have the builder make a neck with a "tunnel"; if we want to further complicate an already "busy" thing like a tailpiece by adding tuners to it, we're free to do so, but that doesn't change the fact that a standard 5th tuner is a simple solution that works just fine.



Edited by - sunburst on 04/19/2013 19:52:15

TB-4 Guy - Posted - 04/19/2013:  20:34:22


"Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof."   


Dave1climber - Posted - 04/19/2013:  20:51:36


As far as I am concerned a long fifth string with five tuners on the peg head, and a zero fret looks good, sounds good, and is easier to build.



Here is a long fifth built by Warren Yates.



youtube.com/watch?v=vW9d1O27Yag


MrNatch3L - Posted - 04/19/2013:  22:14:35


quote:

Originally posted by Kirk Jacobs

 

Hope this is not to far off topic but...Natch do you really like the tailpiece.  Saw it awhile back and thought it a "nifty" idea but did not know about sound and construction quality







Kirk - I wrote a review on the tailpiece here: banjohangout.org/reviews/searc...edir=true



Unfortunately Mike ran into problems finding a plating company who would take on small batches. He couldn't get them done at any kind of cost that would let him sell them at a reasonable price. Probably his only option would have been to outsource the work offshore, and he wasn't willing or able to go that route. He was selling his last stock at cost when his wife became seriously ill and he suspended his accessories business. Too bad because he had some nifty designs and everything he offered was top-shelf quality.


imac50 - Posted - 04/20/2013:  05:29:11


I have a Nechville with a built in capo that has the fifth string all the way to the peghead. You can capo from the first to the 22nd fret. The fifth string capo is really unobtrusive. These necks can be fitted to any banjo not just Nechville. Nowadays this is the banjo I use for gigs.



Nechville Nuvo neck


Dan-Ban - Posted - 04/20/2013:  12:43:17


Wow, that Nechville looks great. Bet it sounds good, too. I must say though, the fifth string peg sticking out the middle of the neck has never been a problem for me. In fact, it's one of the many things I find aesthetically pleasing about the 5 string Banjo. It acts as a kind of compass for me, too. It's also one of the features that distinguish it from other stringed instruments. For those who aren't so keen on it, it's great that there's a tunnel option available. It would be a crying shame and a true loss to some of us, though, if that was the only option. My fifth string peg is staying where it is.

pick it - Posted - 04/20/2013:  18:35:10


I like the 5th string five frets down on the neck, I think it looks like a bluegrass banjo  apparently most other people do too.


mike gregory - Posted - 04/21/2013:  16:40:37


If any of my opinions were humble, it would be my humble opinion that the short drone string is a leftover from the horsehair strings on gourd banjos.



Lot easier to get a high note out of a short string, than to crank it up tight, and hope it doesn't break.



 



As for getting the 5th peg out of the way, without permanently altering the instrument, here's my quick and reversible offering:



The plug isn't even glued in, since the pull is across, not out of, the hole.



Purple paper added just to make the string show up better on the photo.



Want to put it back the way it was?



Remove the string, wiggle out the plug, slide the guitar tuner assembly out from under the J hooks, and put the original peg back where it was.




Remove peg


Wood Plug


Mark where it goes.


Add a brad


Guitar peg in wood block


Block mounts on aluminum bar.


Slide beneath the J's


5th String to tailpeg

banjoak - Posted - 04/21/2013:  17:55:16


For the most part I never saw the fifth string peg as being any problem with being in the way, nor aesthetics Worked for many a fine player. I don't think so much of just tradition for tradition sake, but that the five string has a certain sound, from it's tuning, part of it IMO about that short drone. "if it ain't broke" - And for CH I like the fifth string to sit up high (don't like RR tacks or fifth string capos that pull it down). I do not think I would want the tuner in the tail, too easy to bump.



But I did have the opportunity to play a friends full length five string. He had it tuned dADF#A tuning (restrung with different strings) has an interesting lower sound. Same relationship as G but a fourth lower. Offered the keys of D, E and F easily. As well the full length drone string offers ability to fret (change the drone) though the chord shapes are now slightly different. I would consider having one as an alternative instrument; but keep the regular old five string for most playing.



As far as violin friction pegs -  good friction pegs work just fine.


dmiller - Posted - 04/21/2013:  18:23:01


quote:

Originally posted by imac50

 

I have a Nechville with a built in capo that has the fifth string all the way to the peghead. You can capo from the first to the 22nd fret. The fifth string capo is really unobtrusive. These necks can be fitted to any banjo not just Nechville. Nowadays this is the banjo I use for gigs.




Nechville Nuvo neck







My Nechville (also) has the fifth string all the way to the peg head,

and has a built in capo that goes all the way to the top.  I love it!





 


Tom Meisenheimer - Posted - 04/23/2013:  11:36:29


I recently started playing a "minstrel" necked banjo and find the fifth string peg (which juts down at right angles to the fingerboard surface) to be truly awkward. I have to think through how I'm going to go up the neck or I bump into the peg. Not a problem if it were a geared peg. It isn't, of course, and usually the peg just unwinds causing me to re-tune. Its OK since I don't mind having to learn a new approach. I'm used to playing above the fifth fret on a standard fretted banjo and I have no problems with the post civil war fretless since it's fifth string peg is in the typical location. I've been tuning my old Kay to banjo tunings but haven't altered the strings, tuning the 5th and 6th in unison and an octave below the third (G) string. I have a baritone Ukulele tuned to banjo tuning and have thought about adding a fifth string to it. I'd like the chance top play a "hidden" fifth banjo but no-one around my parts has one. Personally I think it great fun to mess around with the banjo's set-up and to play with different materials when constructing one. Remember those all aluminum, clear plastic headed banjos from the 60s? I always wanted to have one so I could play it under water...

McUtsi - Posted - 04/23/2013:  12:46:05


It´s a good thing we can choose the construction we prefer ; I love the trad



5th string peg...if I had a tunnel mdl,I would install a dummy



peg,and I could never come to terms w/  a neck that doesn´t taper off in terms



of width...to each,his/her own...there are many parts of our instruments that



we technically could do without;the headless guitar has advantages,no slack



storage,better balance etc,but... it´s not for everybody...I´ll build what the



customer wants but,for me personally,a 5 string banjo without the trademark



peg is like The Stars & Stripes w/  only Stripes.McUtsi


TertryK - Posted - 04/23/2013:  21:45:40


This thing I built-- in my profile pic-- has a 5th string tuner AND a 6th string tuner.. G tuning-- The 6th string is tuned to "b" an octave above the 2nd string.. I like it.. Thought about tunnelling them but-- maybe next time.. It's a prototype dontcha know.. 1st string is doubled up like a mandolin.. Sound is --- interesting..

John Allison - Posted - 04/24/2013:  05:19:14


I think most, not all, are traditionalists and are reluctant to deviate from tradition. There are a few that are not so inclined such as Tom Nechville,

f#dead - Posted - 04/24/2013:  08:02:18


I doubt that the 5th string peg at the 5th fret will ever go away.  As previously mentioned tradition is a factor and that's how Earl did it. 



I have three banjos now, two with tunnels and one with the "traditional" peg set-up.  Yes I can play around the peg like everyone else.  Not having the peg on the neck however is just plain liberating.  I'm not stoked in any tradition and I love my tunnels.



 







 


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