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Jun 19, 2019 - 8:11:11 AM
146 posts since 11/13/2018

Ok, I'm about ready to concede that the 3rd string on a 5 string banjo just will not ring as clean when fretted and plucked as the others. No matter what I do or try. It's like a buzz, but not a buzz, hard to describe but I'm sure you all know what I mean.

And it's very sensitive to proper contact in the bridge slot. Perhaps that's because it only has downward pressure on it as it travels back to the tailpiece, where-as the rest also have some side pressure in the slot as they travel back to the tailpiece.

Thoughts?

Edited by - Trailryder42 on 06/19/2019 08:24:07

Jun 19, 2019 - 9:36:06 AM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4397 posts since 1/5/2005

It would help if you tell us more about your banjo and its setup:

make, model, type of head, head tension, strings, bridge, playing style?

Jun 19, 2019 - 11:30 AM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

Both my banjos, a Deering Artisan Special with Deering head, 91 on the head, between G-G#, Deering lights. And an RK-36, Remo Weatherking, 91 on the head, between G-G#, I'm guessing GHS lights(3rd string on both banjos is .013"), tried both stock 5/8" and 9/19" Kat Eyz bridges, compensated and non-compensated on both, playing bluegrass stuff on both.

I went thru the setup routine described on your website to see if my banjo requires 3rd string compensation. I suspected both did before doing that, as the bridge was easy to place for dialing in intonation, but the 3rd was always sharp when chiming the 12th fret. After doing your routine to see if a straight line could be drawn thru each chime point reference mark made on the head, they could be, all except for the 3rd, as it had a 1.5mm deviation from the line, so that tells me what I suspected, that I needed a compensated bridge in the amount of 1.5mm.

Rather than buy a generic compensated bridge, I used one of my stock bridges as a test bed, using a dremel router bit, I cut back the face of the 3rd string slot by 1.5mm, like I'd seen done on Snuffy Smith bridges.

Installed it on the banjo at the previous reference marks made on the head and all strings dialed in with their chimes beautifully, the strings in tune with the 5th up and down the neck, lots of sustain. Wonderful. Means I can do the same to my Kat Eyz bridges and did. All dialed in great, on both banjos.

I've been over and checked neck relief(Deering doesn't have a truss rod. The RK is set to between .015"- .020"), no loose/slack truss rod, string height(action)I have set on both banjos at 3/32",maybe a hair more, at the 22nd fret, checked for high frets that would be enough to be a problem, no loose hardware, coordinator rods set up properly, checked for buzzing at the nuts, tailpieces set up properly, have woven leather cordage thru the string overruns at both peghead and bridge ends to eliminate possible sources of buzzing.

I've been very careful with checking/dressing bridge string slot depth and width. These magnifying glasses with headlamp are great for seeing detail in slot and string interaction.

I do make sure the bridges are faced properly. I use a standard reference of the 90* angle of the corner of a business card set on the head behind the bridge to set it's initial 90* to the head footing, then tweak very slightly from there if required, for best string response/sound/tone.

A few days ago I noticed on one of my compensated bridges, the 3rd string seemed to be sinking in the slot, presumably because there's not as much slot surface area to support the string under tension as the other slots. So in an experiment, I CA'ed a small, 1.5mm thick ebony piece to the backside of the bridge at the 3rd string slot to increase the strings supporting surface area and carefully filed the slot to the proper angle, depth and width, making sure the very front of the slot was the break over high point for the string and the slot followed the string angle to the tailpiece precisely, with no slop or gap under the string.

I guess the only thing I haven't done yet, that I can think of, is tear down the banjo completely to Check tone ring tightness on the rim. I checked for a gap between the tension hoop and neck joint. I can get a .003" feeler between the hoop and fretboard down to the base of the fretboard but below that, a small section of the neck below the fretboard is tight against the hoop.

I'm a guitar player of 40 years, but only a banjo player of 6 months. I guess the 3rd string just has a sound all its own on the banjo, whether it's just frequency interaction or whatever. It's not just my banjos either. Every banjo I've picked up sounds like that.

Forgive the long winded story of how I've come to this conclusion during my banjo education.

Edited by - Trailryder42 on 06/19/2019 11:51:21

Jun 19, 2019 - 12:49:01 PM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

Here's a sound file. Both my banjos and every one I've picked up sounds like this. Granted, you get string buzz as the string is fretted and released, but in between, it's not as clean sounding as the other strings fretted.

youtu.be/gSLKhlvIZgU

Edited by - Trailryder42 on 06/19/2019 12:51:15

Jun 19, 2019 - 1:46:57 PM

chuckv97

Canada

41025 posts since 10/5/2013

If one has tinnitus, one might not hear certain frequencies/tones as clearly as one might like

Jun 19, 2019 - 2:01:51 PM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

If one has tinnitus, one might not hear certain frequencies/tones as clearly as one might like


Valid point, but I think I can rule that out in my case.

Edited by - Trailryder42 on 06/19/2019 14:02:36

Jun 19, 2019 - 2:55:22 PM

69417 posts since 5/9/2007

I like medium string tone better than light.
My gauges are 11 12 15 22 11.Big 3rd string notes.

Jun 19, 2019 - 2:59 PM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

Bart, going back over your string slot depth and size article, I somehow missed or perhaps forgot the 2/3 rule. My .013" 3rd string is 2/3 of .019", so I widened the slot to that, from the .015" I that originally cut it at. I think it may sound a bit better. I'm going to let it go at that.

Thanks for making the time and effort to put all that info on your website.

Jun 19, 2019 - 4:48:02 PM

69417 posts since 5/9/2007

Slots that are too wide take away power and tone.
I use an .011 slot for a .009 or .010 string.

Jun 19, 2019 - 5:07:13 PM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

I like medium string tone better than light.
My gauges are 11 12 15 22 11.Big 3rd string notes.


I'm fixin to try some heavier strings on my RK. It has 9.5, 11, 13, 20 on it.

Jun 20, 2019 - 8:39:17 AM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4397 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Trailryder42

I'm a guitar player of 40 years, but only a banjo player of 6 months. I guess the 3rd string just has a sound all its own on the banjo, whether it's just frequency interaction or whatever. It's not just my banjos either. Every banjo I've picked up sounds like that


 

You sure have done your homework!

I listened to your sound byte, it sounded fine to my ears. Then I remembered, a long-time guitar playing friend told me a while ago, "I hate plain 3rd strings, they sound like 'carp,'  I only use wound 3rd strings."

It makes me wonder, in case you also have been using wound 3rds for 40 years then I can see why you don't like the "muddy" banjo sound of the 3rd string. If so, then there's nothing to stop you from using wound thirds on your banjo...

Jun 20, 2019 - 10:30:34 AM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman
quote:
Originally posted by Trailryder42

I'm a guitar player of 40 years, but only a banjo player of 6 months. I guess the 3rd string just has a sound all its own on the banjo, whether it's just frequency interaction or whatever. It's not just my banjos either. Every banjo I've picked up sounds like that


 

You sure have done your homework!

I listened to your sound byte, it sounded fine to my ears. Then I remembered, a long-time guitar playing friend told me a while ago, "I hate plain 3rd strings, they sound like 'carp,'  I only use wound 3rd strings."

It makes me wonder, in case you also have been using wound 3rds for 40 years then I can see why you don't like the "muddy" banjo sound of the 3rd string. If so, then there's nothing to stop you from using wound thirds on your banjo...

 


Thanks Bart. Never occurred to me to try a wound 3rd.

I don't have any idea what size wound string would be appropriate tho, that would tune to G pitch properly on a banjo. I know JustStrings.com sells individual strings. Just found an individually sold .022" wound stainless steel string by GHS. Hmmm......May look into it.

I took the cover flap off the tailpiece to eliminate any possible buzzing from it.

What effect in tone would you expect to hear, between a bridge like the KatEyz with it's triangle hole directly below the 3 string, compared to a bridge that is solid all the way to the footing at the 3rd?


 

Jun 20, 2019 - 11:01:40 AM

146 posts since 11/13/2018

Reading some of the past discussion on a wound 3rd, I ordered a few GHS .020" SS wound thirds I've give a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jun 20, 2019 - 11:37:05 AM

chuckv97

Canada

41025 posts since 10/5/2013

Roger Siminoff has some interesting articles on strings & bridges in BanjoNewsletter back issues.
banjonews.com/2019-04/how_stri...idge.html 

https://banjonews.com/2009-11/more_about_bridges.html


 

Edited by - chuckv97 on 06/20/2019 11:38:24

Jun 20, 2019 - 12:41:49 PM
likes this

146 posts since 11/13/2018

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

Roger Siminoff has some interesting articles on strings & bridges in BanjoNewsletter back issues.
banjonews.com/2019-04/how_stri...idge.html 

https://banjonews.com/2009-11/more_about_bridges.html


Interesting reads. Thanks. I understand now why bridges are made the way they are and the purpose/idea behind the KatEyz design.

Jun 20, 2019 - 1:47:33 PM
likes this

Bart Veerman

Canada

4397 posts since 1/5/2005

wound 3rd: 018

me thinks you might have a "guitar ear" that hasn't yet accepted the banjo thing devil

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