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Replacing 5th string nut/pip with RR Spike

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Oct 15, 2019 - 5:13:45 PM
19 posts since 9/20/2019

Hey y'all!

After recently replacing my 5th string friction tuning peg with a geared tuning machine (and learning I needed to angle it to get it to reach the pip), everything seemed great.

Today, after practicing a few hours, my fifth string seemed to pop out of the pip every 5 minutes. Now I can't get it to stay in no matter what.

I believe the issue is that the string break angle is now significantly less from the pip to the tuner, causing the string to slip up with minimal force.

After diving through the forums, I've decided the most pragmatic and simple thing to do is to replace that worn pip with a railroad spike. I don't have access to a lot of tools (tho I do have a nice Dremel) and I want to get back practicing ASAP. I can get spikes from the hobby shop down the road, and I can dress them with the Dremel.


Should I just saw down the existing pip or remove it?

If I removed it, what would I fill it with?

I saw an excellent piece of design offered by a Swiss member here involving a jig, but his instructions assume having the fifth string aligned already (for installing capo spikes) and there would be the wait of shipping.
What is a decent way to align a spike for the fifth fret?

Is drilling a pilot hole recommended?

I'm honestly open to other recommendations. I've seen folks talk about slotted nuts as well.


Oct 15, 2019 - 8:11:27 PM
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2300 posts since 12/18/2004

Can you please send me a pic of your 5th string tuner angle and the 5th nut that it is slipping out of?
I think I can help you.....
Don Bryant NC banjo luthier

Oct 16, 2019 - 11:51:49 AM
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11508 posts since 2/7/2008

Turning your geared 5th peg away from the pip should have increaed the break angle.
I suggest you take advantage of Don Bryant's generous offer of help.

As for spikes, I dress mine with a diamond grit nail file then steel wool. The pip hole can be filled with a piece of hardwood, preferably that matches the fingerboard. A spike can be inserted in the center of that plug or slightly closer to the fretboard edge.

Edited by - Fathand on 10/16/2019 11:57:24

Oct 16, 2019 - 2:40:50 PM

19 posts since 9/20/2019

bryantde I have fired off a PM, but it doesn't look like BHO allows file attachments through the messaging system. Thanks for your offer and I look forward to hearing what you think!

Fathand I think since the original friction tuning peg's point of contact for wrapping the string is much lower than the geared 5th tuner, the angle I currently have the new peg at is not enough to bring the break where it needs to be for the pip to be functional. All of this banjo maintenance and mechanics stuff is super new to me, so I do apologize if i seem to be making a mountain from a molehill.

Really that spike placement was the big thing I wasn't sure about. It seems like folks here aren't too concerned about it needing to be super precise, so maybe that's why I was having trouble finding information. For now I'll wait to see what Don thinks once I've gotten photos to him. Maybe it's as simple as just reinstalling the tuner at a more severe angle away from the pip?


Oct 16, 2019 - 2:49:42 PM
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1319 posts since 2/10/2013

If I remember correctly, the Deering "Calico" I used to have was set up like that.
It may have been the first "Calico" made. Maybe someone who owns a older model "Calico" can provide the technical information you need.

Oct 16, 2019 - 4:11:15 PM
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2300 posts since 12/18/2004

Please send your detailed pics to me @

Don Bryant NC banjo luthier

Oct 16, 2019 - 4:24:07 PM

19 posts since 9/20/2019

Message sent! Thankyou!

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