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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 5th string advice

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:

AndyW - Posted - 09/14/2018:  07:33:40

The new (to me) banjo I have acquired doesn't have a scoop.

And although I know I can play over the head rather than the neck, being a rh thigh player I find my wrist alignment is far better playing over the neck/neck-pot junction.

I have bought a 3/4" bridge[biggest I could find in UK] to raise the action, and although it helps take it from completely unplayable to just playable at neck, I still can't get my thumb onto the 5th properly.

I don't want to scoop just yet in case I want to resell the banjo. This might seem 'out there' but is an oversize/high 5th string nut solution ever used?

mike gregory - Posted - 09/14/2018:  07:46:20

May as well EXPERIMENT a little.

Whittle a little ^ shaped hunk of wood, set it at the 7th fret, to raise the 5th string.


A dab of rubber cement, or a tiny dab of white glue should hold it in place, without doing serious damage to the fingerboard..

Mess around with it until you find a height that works.

Or until you find out that nothing but a scoop MUST be the solution.

Alternatively, make a bridge with a hump at the end, to raise the 5th string THERE.

Best witches   for a successful project.

hayesdt - Posted - 09/14/2018:  07:54:25

I had a similar situation with a banjo a few years ago. I ended up trying a Bart Veerman bridge that featured a higher 5th string slot. It had the effect of raising slightly the fifth string higher off the fretboard Solved the problem for me. For more information and a view of this type of bridge, go to his website.  Scroll down the page for a view of this clawhammer bridge.

Edited by - hayesdt on 09/14/2018 07:56:54

jack_beuthin - Posted - 09/14/2018:  07:57:05

Andy, You can get bridges that have a "raised" fifth string that will compensate for the problem you are describing. I would try that as the next step. It would be a custom job, but I am sure that any of the bridge builders out there will make one for you (lots cheaper that a new banjo, or paying a luthier to scoop the neck).

Actually, Elderly in the US sells a "high 5" bridge.  Not necessarily recommending this particular one, but using it to illustrate my suggestion.

Neil Allen - Posted - 09/14/2018:  07:57:33

I may be wrong here, but aren't frailing scoops a relatively recent "innovation"?

Plenty of clawhammer players play perfectly well without scooped banjos and some (most?) would argue that they are absolutely not necessary.

Also, the trade-off is that you lose some high frets. I know there is apparently "no money above the fifth fret" but one day you might want to branch out into some other styles and you might regret not having the range on the banjo that you would otherwise have had.

AndyW - Posted - 09/14/2018:  08:59:45

The banjo only cost me £90[$120ish] including hard case and other bits so a $34 bridge would be a bit extravagant(I know that one was only an illustration).

Since I'm pretty much permanently capoed in D/A to suit my little hands I'm gonna go with Mikes idea and trial a wooden 'lift'. It should have the double benefit of acting as a 5th string capo to save me having to hang off the tuner to get the string to A.

banjered - Posted - 09/14/2018:  12:21:39

Someone got a picture of the ink pen fifth string capo? banjered

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