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Aug 22, 2019 - 9:20:08 AM
28 posts since 6/22/2019


As some of you know I'm quite new to banjo and learned the reason my tuners are terrible on my grafton is that they're 'friction' tuners which are trying to imitate period design or something.. I don't care about that, I want it to stay in tune!

So as this is just a placeholder banjo until I get my cherry Banjo (might be getting one from Ballard) are there any affordable geared tuners that are functional that I can stick on here without much fuss?

Saw those 5 start ones cost £100 a set.. would be nice to do it for £50 or less. Thanks

Aug 22, 2019 - 11:39:04 AM

66 posts since 8/25/2009

If you're looking for planetary tuners, it's hard to find anything much under $100 ( £80?) in the U.S.A.  I think I read years ago that Schallers were made in Europe, so being in the UK, you might get a better price on those -until Brexit.  

The much cheaper alternative is to get guitar / ukulele style tuners with right angle gears.  They won't look as neat, and you'll have to put a few screw holes in the back of the peghead, but they'll work just as well as planetaries.  And you will still have to get a geared banjo fifth string tuner, which should be cheaper than a planetary.  

By the way, I have 14 friction tuners (on three banjos) and they all stay in tune.  You might try tightening the little screws at the top of the knobs (little by little).  I put a little light lubricating oil (3-in-1 is the common American brand) on about once a year.  One drop on the screw head seems to penetrate where it's needed.  Don't try WD-40, it's impossible to keep the spray where you want it.  Sometimes people need to add leather or fabric washers between the peghead and the tuner, but the previous owners set mine up properly.   

Good luck,


Aug 22, 2019 - 12:25:37 PM

28 posts since 6/22/2019

I've done the tightening thing. It improves them, but only for a few days, and they start to slip again.

I change tunings quite often (G, Double C, sawmill and others) and it's pretty frustrating - when they're real tight they're hard to make fine adjustments too as well. Not getting on well with them at all.

Aug 22, 2019 - 1:42:14 PM

6030 posts since 8/28/2013

Although all of banjos have friction tuners and I don't have problems with them (in fact, I like them) I will say that some friction tuners are better than others, and I'll also say that some playuers find them extremely annoying and difficult.

Guitar type tuners would be one way to go, if you can tolerate how they look.

The cheapest geared tunres I've seen are the Gotohs, available from Bob Smakula for something in the neighborhood of $80. They are excellent tuners.

Because this is, as you say, a "placeholder banjo," I wouldn't spend too much on any tuners; money saved might mean you can buy the banjo you really want just a bit sooner. Guitar tuners migght scare off a potential buyer should you later sell this banjo. I would try washers under the tuners, and while the tuners were off the banjo, I'd get rid of any glaze which may be on the surface of the peghead wood. That glaze can cause many problems with friction tuners.

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