I just acquired a Deering "Seeger" Long Neck banjo. The action feels a little bit high, but I know (or think I know) that these instruments tend to be adjusted a little differently from "standard neck" banjos.
I was wondering what the generally accepted height for such a banjo is with a capo on the third fret. I believe this would necessitate measuring string height at the 15th fret, correct.
I don't want to beat a dead horse with this question, but I did do some searching and the only thing I could find was a recommendation that the height be "a little" more than 1/16 inch at the 15th fret with a capo on the third fret.
Mine is a little higher than that and I was wondering if some of your could give me some more specific answers for the question. (string height at 15th fret with a capo on the third fret)
As always, thanks for your help.
I am not a long neck expert but when it's capoed at the 3rd fret it's about the scale length of an ordinary 5 string. 1/8" at the 12th fret is a fairly average or middle-of-the-road number for regular banjos and should be applicable to yours at the 15th fret when capoed. I have had a few customers who wanted 3/32 or a bit less, and a few others who wanted 3/16". Just over 1/16" is very low, and will buzz or will be right on the edge of buzzing if you play at all loudly.
I would just get the action correct capoed at the third fret, which would be .110" -.125" at the 12th fret and see if it buzzes when the capo's off. I'm assuming the neck is straight. If it buzzes, especially the 4th string, you can raise the bridge a little.
I concur with Z and K, the 3rd fret is now just like a zeroglide. No need to treat a longneck any different just because it has a granny gear.
I have read the responses so far and they seem reasonable, but what if the strings at the nut are really high? Wouldn't putting a capo at the 3rd fret mask that problem?
Strings "really high" at the nut on your long neck are a separate issue from string height at the 15th fret when you're playing with the capo in place at fret 3. Capoed at the 3rd fret a nut/height problem is, yes, 'masked'; but don't worry about it. You will find that several LN banjo makers built a little higher nut into them. You'll find that when playing the lower frets (i.e. capo-less or 'open') it's not a real problem: you won't even notice it once you get used to playing those lower frets -- unless of course it's excessively high for some (rare) reason. Trust Helix's answer.
"what if the strings at the nut are really high?"
Then you'd want to lower the strings at the nut.
First thing is to determine what is "high". There are two ways.
1. Uncapoed, measure the distance between the top of the first fret and the bottom of the string, for each of the 4 strings, to the nearest 1/1000 inch. Can stack up a flat auto-type gauge, or can use a banjo or guitar string as a round gauge -- for example, a banjo 4th string that may be .020 in diameter, or a guitar second string that may be .017 in diameter.
Preferences for this height vary. Myself, I like in the .017-020 range, with the 4th string in the high end of that range. Others may go as low as .015.
2. With the capo between the 2nd and 3rd fret. Look a how much room is between the string and the 1st fret when you tap it down. There should be the barest movement, but still some movement.
After taking these measurements, check back in with the BHO, and those with expert experience can suggest how to change the height of the nut slots, if needed.
Hope this helps.
Edited by - Alex Z on 01/12/2019 09:44:53
I don't know to what extent you are going to play it open. If that's going to be the default - playing in E and A, you will probably have to have the action a tad higher than if you were going to capo and play in G and C, especially playing in A open because the 4th string, designed to be tuned to a C in C tuning is going to be tuned to A and have a 5 1/4" longer vibrating length and there will be more movement of the strings.
If it's your plan to play open, I would really check the nut slot depth (and the strings should come out of there at fret height), and adjust the action accordingly with no capo.
If your plan is to play capoed most of the time, as most longneck players do, then I would set the action with a capo on the third as has been suggested by several of us who play longnecks, and hope for the best the few times you play open, preferably in E with the 4th string tuned to a B, or some tuning with a higher 4th string.
5 1/4" is a lot - a 32" scale is a lot different than a 27" one, and you will never get the action to be perfect the whole length of that neck.
I took a look at your past ads. Perhaps you just want to sell it. Sounds like the Vega is used, not brand new.
You might mention that because:
2005 I bought a new Gold Tone OB250 Flathead Long Neck with the JLS tone ring. I have since replaced the maple 3-ply original rim with a Black Walnut of my own construction using the same neck. The tone ring was replaced by one of my own construction, the head is clearly visible to be Elite by Stew Mac. I like them better.
So what's your point Helix? When new and original the banjo played everywhere open and at the 3rd and higher, perfectly. I play "Milk White Steed in E because I can,
I could play at the bluegrass jam in open E and use "G" licks" while everybody else capos 2 and plays "D" licks which sound like crap
I Still play that neck 13 years later with no trouble whatsoever. It's just set up that way, I ain't tellin' how or why. Hearts and flowers, too.
I mainstream the longneck into bluegrass, Sawmill and G minor
I've had bluegrass long-arm players shout "That's Seeger" when they see my longneck even though it has a rez. . I'm sure Pete heard that himself hearing Charlie Poole and Uncle Dave Macon a decade before Monroe's 1945 recordings with a 21 yr. old banjo player who was overworked and underpaid. Pigeon-holing is for the birds. I don't play politics, nor did I in the old days, music is better.
A long-armed banjo player is one where their torso circumference exceeds the reach of their arms, mostly men.
Next if you want to sell it to a demographic. The Kingston Trio got fired this last year being replaced by "Kingston Trio" Of Nick Reynold's family fame, mediocre at best. The best Kingston Trio replacements ever was George Groves (shortneck) and Bill Zorn and various .
Every year where I live, they would have Kingston Trio Camp. We called it K-farm. I got to meet John Stewart, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane. Henry Diltz of the Modern Folk Quartet still has a camera and his Vega longneck. He photoed K-farm.
Suddenly the stage would fill up with Vega longnecks, people who had money, no talent but money, who scoffed at a Gold Tone Maple Mountain but had all the signatures on their Vegas heads.
The Point is "most longneck players" play banjo, not capos. To suggest entrenchment , oops, too late. Youth has stolen the longneck, I'm very happy about that. Mumford and Sons have no clue. Tommy Makem just played up picking.
Disco killed "Dr. Corn's Bluegrass Remedy's" favorite West Coast venues. He plays an aluminum longneck ODE. Check it out on YouTube. Bobby Anderson still does.
You say you know or think you know they are different than 'standard neck' banjos. I won't say here on the forum until you tell us your agenda.
Other longnecks might have been out in the rain at Woodstock, or Banjosoreass, or real stove bolts on a Framus. Those are viable banjos, too.
Don't a porpoise be and play flipper. Just play. If the nut is too high...."
Edited by - Helix on 01/12/2019 16:15:33
A long neck Banjo should have similar action to a standard length neck.
First the neck needs to be straight with a slight relief. The string height off the last fret should 1/8” to 3/16”.
Nut slot depth will effect the action too but if using a capo the nut is eliminated.
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