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Banjo 5th string tuner loose and alignment question

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Aug 14, 2019 - 3:18:56 PM
1 posts since 1/2/2019

I have a GoldTone BG 250 I purchased at the Titusville, Florida factory around 20 years ago. A couple of months ago I was tuning the banjo and the 5th string nut broke. (photo). I had it replaced with a bone nut.

Today I had need to remove and replace the 5th string and I noticed the tuner was loose in the neck and came off easily. Pressing and lightly tapping it back in was no help as the tuner remains loose in the bore. (photo)

With the tuner pushed in-place there is an offset between the 5th string alignment and the tuner hub.(photo) My guess is that this misalignment caused a sideways force on the nut resulting in breakage.

Is the tuner hub and string supposed to be in closer alignment? Any suggestions on re-installing the tuner to fit snugly? Thanks all.

Aug 14, 2019 - 4:04:40 PM
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155 posts since 6/26/2004

Back in the 1960's I was standing in a small group of guys talking to Don Reno while he changed the strings on "Old Nellie". When he took the 5th string off, the tuner fell right out onto the ground. He just picked it up, shoved it back in the hole and put the string on. After that, I never worried about the 5th string tuner. You can fit it perfectly, glue it in or "stick it in the hole" like Don did. All of them work. Once there is tension on the string, the tuner will stay in place, unless the hole is so large it turns around in it.

Aug 14, 2019 - 4:13:37 PM
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14258 posts since 3/27/2004

Your original fifth string nut lasted twenty years and it appears that it was installed with the string slot cut a bit to the outside which is most likely why it broke.  I'd say twenty years with a poorly slotted original fifth string nut isn't all that bad a deal.

What you have to ascertain now is WHY the tuner which has been snug in its bore for twenty years is now loose.  It sounds like it isn't seating in the bore properly, so I'd look very carefully in the bore for a small glue lip or other anomaly that is preventing the splined housing shaft from locking in place.  Once it goes that tiny bit further in then that will most likely take care of the slight misalignment between the fifth string tuner capstan and the fifth string nut slot.

A slight misalignment isn't normally any concern and won't cause a bone fifth string nut to break if the string slot is properly cut.

A slight angle can actually help keep the tuner seated because the slight angle helps keep the tuner pulled toward the hole rather than away from it.

If your fifth string tuner has one of the splines larger than the others make sure it's aligned with the hole properly so the tuner will seat as it is supposed to.  The "fin" spline can prevent the tuner from seating if it isn't oriented properly.

Aug 14, 2019 - 5:54:18 PM
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New Zealand

10720 posts since 6/29/2003

That tuner looks to be sitting too high. I don't think the hole was reamed sufficiently deep enough. It may also be the cause of the nut breaking over time. Given that the string was pulling upwards in the pip (nut).

Aug 15, 2019 - 6:42:13 AM
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330 posts since 4/17/2019

Remember the BG250 is a competitive spec. banjo, so things like alignment can be an issue.

Once upon a time, I was changing strings and the nut fell off, the 5th string tuner come out, the tailpiece came off and what the heck?

You remove the tuner button and washer. I use a 1/4" drive 5/16" deep socket to set down over the tuner post so you can tap the body of the tuner in. Use some white Glue. Try to bring the flutes on the tuner socket as close to the neck as possible..
If your tuner has a key spline: GRIND IT OFF.

Then set the tuner angle at about 11 o'clock to the left, so it pulls the 5th string just right. 

Edited by - Helix1 on 08/15/2019 06:43:41

Aug 15, 2019 - 7:24:41 AM
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12016 posts since 10/30/2008

Check out this thread from earlier this week.

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