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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Rail Road Spike

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PickinNGrinin - Posted - 01/19/2007:  23:53:22

I recently got railroad spikes on my banjo. And they are kind of annoying. You see they are right where the string should be fretted. So when I press my finger on it I get a buzzing sound as I do when I touch behind the spike. But when I press ahead of the spike it is kind of flat. Any suggestions? Thanks

Pickin N Grinin With Christ,
Trey Reed

padlock - Posted - 01/20/2007:  00:35:59

Not many pickers fret the fifth string where the rr spikes would be. (ie 7,9,10). If you do a lot of 5th string fretting then spikes in my opinion would not be the way to go.

"Bring a song and a smile for the banjo" John Fogerty
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flake - Posted - 01/20/2007:  00:52:08

A string only has to come into contact with the fret to note properly. There is no reason for the fretting finger or the string itself, for that matter, to ever have to contact the fretboard, in other words "ground out", behind the fret to get a clean note. That's why spikes, when properly installed, are slightly lower than fret level---so that contact is made with the fret before contact is made with the head of the spike. You should be able to press directly on the head of a properly installed spike and get a clean note.

If you're getting a buzz off of a spike when fretting at that location, it occurs to me that they may have not been installed quite deep enough to allow the string to note cleanly on the fret. Another possible alternative is that you're just not used to them yet, but I'd bet on the former.


Texasbanjo - Posted - 01/20/2007:  15:21:05

When you're fretting the 5th string, are you fretting as close to the fret as possible? If not, that may be your problem, not the rr spike. If you are fretting close to the fret, then it may be the spike is installed improperly. Or, as said above, maybe you just need some more practice.

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Texas Banjo

randybartlett - Posted - 01/20/2007:  17:56:13

You can note the fifth string on the frets that have spikes. If you really want to get accurate in your finger placement, leave the heads on those spikes real sharp. That will train ou to place your fingertips just right (half-kidding).


My playing is a natural product. Minor variations and imperfections are normal and only serve to enhance it's natural beauty.

pierce - Posted - 01/21/2007:  10:39:42

From your description, it sounds like your spikes aren't placed just right. On the other hand, I think most players experience a bit of the same problem at one time or another, especially if you're zipping along in a tune like Banjo Signal, for example. Fingers don't always line up perfectly just behind the fret, and you get a buzz.

larushka - Posted - 01/21/2007:  17:33:55

With time and practice; you'll get use to it. I swithced from a sliding 5th string capo to spikes. It takes time to adjust. With the sliding one, you have to "go around" with the spikes, you have to fret up or down.

wrentree - Posted - 01/21/2007:  17:49:23

My GF-85 came with the spikes on 7th, 8th, and 9th. I have no problem fretting over them. Are they down far enough for you to press down on top of the spike? Mine are. And mine are mounted exactly 3/8 of an inch behind the center of the fret in front of them. Harold, Edison, Oh

Goodwoodbanjo - Posted - 01/28/2007:  08:51:01

after playing with spikes for a little while, you will pick up your banjo that has a sliding capo and wonder how you ever got your thumb around that thing. spikes are really the way to go, it really doesn't take long to get used to them.

"I'm stiff where I ought to be limber, and limber where I ought to be stiff!"

thegrover - Posted - 01/28/2007:  16:22:53

sounds like the spikes were not installed properly, im no pro, but i measured my spikes after reading this and they are slightly lower then the actual fret, even when i fret over the spike, i still dont get a buzz...

Edited by - thegrover on 01/28/2007 16:25:18

AD3AD3AD3 - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:21:20

Sounds like you might want to have those spikes looked at by somebody else; they might need resetting. Spikes, however, are the way to go so I suggest working with them until you are comfortable and the buzz is gone.


Mr. Disco - Posted - 02/06/2007:  17:24:15

-- One more thought. I have three different weight spikes and am also aware that frets can be deep or shallow. Also, the weight of your 5th string has a little bit of a bearing. In other words, depending on the relationship of your fret height and the height and thickness of your spikes to clear the string, your banjo may not really allow for a set-up where the spikes are as comfortable as other banjos. That said, it may not be as comfortable but there should still be no buzz. I'd push that buzz-causing spike down just a little bit more. Once it ain't buzzing, you're okay. I had my spikes 3/8" back from the frets per some advice I saw somewhere, but the next time I put them in, I'm going to place them dead mid-point between frets to give myself more room to fret my fifth string.
No matter what, though, once you've got spikes on that fifth string, it's going to take more accuracy to fret the fifth string at those frets. You just have to start slow and listen to yourself and look at your left hand as necessary.

-- Mr. Disco

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