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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: railroad spike placement between the frets

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:

cleslieb - Posted - 01/28/2019:  23:33:44

Just bought a new banjo from the factory with spikes at 7 & 9. The problem is I fret the 9th quite often and the spike placement is where I put my finger and if I don't fret it exactly on top of the spike which is very uncomfortable and distracting then the string goes sharp.

I've read the archived posts and there really doesn't seem to be a consensus where to place the spike between the frets. Because of this experience I would go for the middle where there is enough space to place the finger without it interfering with the spike, rather than closer to the fret.

I'm going to have a luthier do the work (either remove or move) as I'm so prone to burning things when told to apply heat, or pulling out the grain or breaking the spike when told to pull. I don't wish to destroy a multi thousand dollar instrument.

Or maybe it's my playing and I should just get used to it and always try and fret exactly on top of the spike. It is not so much a problem when fretting with the thumb, but I get inconsistent results with any other finger and I have to make a conscious adjustment (at this point) which distracts from playing the music.

Mooooo - Posted - 01/29/2019:  00:51:32

I suffer from the same affliction, but am afraid to change the position myself. mine are halfway, I wish they could be placed as far away from the fret as possible so I could fit my finger without pressing on the spike, which brings it out of tune.

Bill H - Posted - 01/29/2019:  03:30:41

I believe the center is preferred by many, for the reason you mention. When the spike is closer to the fret, it is more likely to pull the fifth string sharp.

Zachary Hoyt - Posted - 01/29/2019:  04:37:30

I put them halfway between frets, for both of the reasons already mentioned. I haven't tried putting them closer to the fret below, but I think that would make the string sharper in the same way that having the spike close to the upper fret does.

mikehalloran - Posted - 01/29/2019:  06:05:21


Originally posted by Bill H

I believe the center is preferred by many, for the reason you mention. When the spike is closer to the fret, it is more likely to pull the fifth string sharp.

That is not correct. The closer to the fret, the less likely it will pull out of tune. The downside is that the spike needs to be taller to work as it gets closer.

The worst spot for any capo is centered between the frets,

steve davis - Posted - 01/29/2019:  06:23:12

The closer to the fret the harder it is to get the string under the spike and the more difficult it is to thumbfret the 5th string.

A spike that is close to the fret pulls the string sharper than the "halfway" spike.

Near the halfway point puts much less stress on the string when under the spike and the ease of applying the spiking of the string can be set to allow a one-finger apply/release.

Halfway also allows for the lowest possible height of the spike top making fretting of the 5th string very comfortable.

Edited by - steve davis on 01/29/2019 06:26:25


rudy - Posted - 01/29/2019:  06:45:43

Everyone I know installs spikes generally about 1/8" towards the heel from the center point between the frets.  The practical reason for this is there are generally holes drilled at the center point for the side markers, and installing the spike at the center position will many times be directly over the drilled hole, or even the dot material.

This increases the possibility of breaking the tiny drill bit used to install the spike and also greatly increases the chance that the spike won't be securely anchored in solid wood.  Often times when you are called upon to repair a "loose" spike you find it installed through the drilled side marker hole.

cleslieb - Posted - 01/29/2019:  16:40:19

Thanks to all who contributed. It seems there are differing views on the placement. From my experience and the way and songs that I play (which includes Bach) I need a clean access to that fret so I'm going to remove all spikes (by a luthier) and go with a Banjo Highway capo for this banjo and use it as my primary classical and solo banjo. My other two banjos are made by Steve Huber and he places the spikes more towards the middle and I can get my finger in between the spike and fret without a problem and will go with either of them for jam situations.

Edited by - cleslieb on 01/29/2019 16:42:44

cleslieb - Posted - 01/29/2019:  23:47:26

After further exploration I have discovered that because the spike is closer to the fret, it is higher and what happens is if I position my finger behind the spike, the spike then becomes a virtual fret and the note is slightly flat. I have to land on the spike to be in tune. That doesn't work for me. So I have an appointment with the luthier tomorrow and the spikes go away and the holes will be filled in a professional manner.

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