Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

315
Banjo Lovers Online


Any way to measure/find the gauge of strings on a banjo.

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Nov 8, 2019 - 4:22:27 AM
5331 posts since 10/13/2007

Hello,
Is there any way to find or measure the gauge of the strings that are already on a banjo?
Thanks,
Ken

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:40:17 AM

1891 posts since 2/7/2008

I’ve used a caliper like this one to measure strings.

amazon.com/Digital-Caliper-San...9dHJ1ZQ==

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:41:03 AM
likes this

12305 posts since 6/29/2005

You could do it with a micrometer or accurate digital caliper.  .010" is 10 gauge,  .012" is 12 gauge, etc etc.

Nov 8, 2019 - 5:50:13 AM

6327 posts since 8/28/2013

A good micrometer is probably the best and most accurate method for measuring string gauges, although a really good digital caliper is easier to read for the inexperienced.

I've met adults who could never manage to learn the markings on a micrometer, even though my son could do it at age eight.

Nov 8, 2019 - 5:56:02 AM

9099 posts since 2/22/2007

That would be most helpful. My last order of Nylguts spilled out loose when I opened the package and none of them were marked in any way. My eyes cannot tell which is which.

Nov 8, 2019 - 6:14:49 AM

6327 posts since 8/28/2013

Accurate measuring tools are a must for any banjo player who even considers his own set-up work. A micrometer, feeler gauges, quality six-inch scale, and a quality tape measure will all come in handy. One might also consider a postal scale for weighing bridges.

Nov 8, 2019 - 6:19:30 AM

SBPARK

USA

327 posts since 2/25/2011

Nov 8, 2019 - 6:46:11 AM

4820 posts since 9/21/2007

Yes, Vernier Calipers.  Buy some decent ones and learn how to use them, it is easy.  Once you learn you will  wonder why you ever tried to measure small parts with a rule. 

It is funny, I remember learning how to read them in elementary school (analog)-- was this only taught in my school in a North Dallas suburb?

Being in the textile and extrusion business, I can tell you that using a micrometer for measuring monofilament can give inaccurate readings-- I don't know why this is.  The test labs we use all use Vernier Calipers to measure monofilament. 

Nov 8, 2019 - 8:28:30 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14635 posts since 3/27/2004

I have a digital vernier caliper that's great for some shop uses, especially over 1", but they are NOT as easy to use for simple measurements such as string diameter or thickness of flat metal plate.  For that use I'd HIGHLY recommend a cheap conventional micrometer.

General brand 0-1" open frame micrometer

Use it for string diameter, pick thickness, checking the diameter of that drill bit that no longer has the size displayed on the shank, checking your fingernail thickness, or monitoring the shaft diameter of your hair as it thins as you get older.  Run the barrel up to mate with a spike diameter and then insert smaller drill bits in the spike space to select a drill bit that's "a bit smaller...".

Since my vernier is a digital and displays in hundredths, millimeters, and fractions I use it MOSTLY as a quick way to convert without grabbing a calculator or using a conversion chart.  Select what you want to convert from, slide the jaws to the reading to be converted, and toggle the measurement type to convert between the three measurement types.

As a final note, anyone who wants to measure Nylagut strings needs to be aware that they vary a bit in diameter from what they are supposed to be, and the diameter varies along each string by a few thousandths, so measure at several points along the string and take an average. All bets are off if they've been installed for a while as they often do not stretch uniformly.  That inconsistent stretching is what makes them intonate poorly after they have been installed for a while and is one of the signals for when it's time to change strings.

Edited by - rudy on 11/08/2019 08:34:02

Nov 8, 2019 - 8:34:54 AM
likes this

5331 posts since 10/13/2007

Gentlemen,
thank you all for your time and advice. I just got back from Menards where I got a $12 micromerter. I will soon see if I have the reading and thought skills of George's 8 year old son.
Thank you all again.
ken

Nov 8, 2019 - 9:40:51 AM

6327 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

Yes, Vernier Calipers.  Buy some decent ones and learn how to use them, it is easy.  Once you learn you will  wonder why you ever tried to measure small parts with a rule. 

It is funny, I remember learning how to read them in elementary school (analog)-- was this only taught in my school in a North Dallas suburb?

Being in the textile and extrusion business, I can tell you that using a micrometer for measuring monofilament can give inaccurate readings-- I don't know why this is.  The test labs we use all use Vernier Calipers to measure monofilament. 

 

 


Part of the problem with a micrometer is that people tend to crank them down a little to hard, which can distort not only the accuracy of the measurement, but also of the product being measured. There can also be some variance in the measurement taken by two different people. One does need experience and sensitivity when measuring anything other than a hard material. 

Nov 8, 2019 - 1:49:13 PM
likes this

113 posts since 4/3/2009

quote:
Originally posted by banjo bill-e

That would be most helpful. My last order of Nylguts spilled out loose when I opened the package and none of them were marked in any way. My eyes cannot tell which is which.


Ken:  Hope the micrometer worked well for you.

Another trick I use when I spill the string set and my eyes don't want to focus on string diameters, is to give each string a little bend.  The thicker strings will offer more resistance, and they can be sorted in a relative sense.  Of course, compare wound with wound, plain with plain.

Edited by - banjodobro56 on 11/08/2019 13:50:27

Nov 8, 2019 - 2:03:31 PM
likes this
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14635 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

Yes, Vernier Calipers.  Buy some decent ones and learn how to use them, it is easy.  Once you learn you will  wonder why you ever tried to measure small parts with a rule. 

It is funny, I remember learning how to read them in elementary school (analog)-- was this only taught in my school in a North Dallas suburb?

Being in the textile and extrusion business, I can tell you that using a micrometer for measuring monofilament can give inaccurate readings-- I don't know why this is.  The test labs we use all use Vernier Calipers to measure monofilament. 

 

 


Part of the problem with a micrometer is that people tend to crank them down a little to hard, which can distort not only the accuracy of the measurement, but also of the product being measured. There can also be some variance in the measurement taken by two different people. One does need experience and sensitivity when measuring anything other than a hard material. 


That is why many micrometers, including the inexpensive General linked above have the little friction spindle at the rear of the barrel.  My metals shop instructor would apply a foot to the derriere to anyone who used a mic by any other method than using either the friction clutch or the pressure of a single finger on one side of the barrel.

Many of the low-priced digital vernier calipers are made of plastic and are much easier to distort the measurement from heavy-handed use.

Edited by - rudy on 11/08/2019 14:09:49

Nov 8, 2019 - 3:59 PM
likes this

5331 posts since 10/13/2007

Well Gents,
The micrometer worked great. I turned it as hard as I felt i had to turn it to get the measurement to go to zero with nothing in the clamp. It confirmed on the dot that the strings were .095, .011, .013. Thank you all for your help.
Rudy, I have a question for you: how do you use the friction spindle at the end of the barrel?
Thanks again,
ken

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:30:02 PM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14635 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

Well Gents,
The micrometer worked great. I turned it as hard as I felt i had to turn it to get the measurement to go to zero with nothing in the clamp. It confirmed on the dot that the strings were .095, .011, .013. Thank you all for your help.
Rudy, I have a question for you: how do you use the friction spindle at the end of the barrel?
Thanks again,
ken


You simply rotate the barrel between your fingertips.  Some have an actual release that spins when the correct amount of force is reached and the "faux clutches" simply prevent you from being able to distort the frame from excessive force.

Nov 8, 2019 - 6:55:21 PM

5331 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by rudy
quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

Well Gents,
The micrometer worked great. I turned it as hard as I felt i had to turn it to get the measurement to go to zero with nothing in the clamp. It confirmed on the dot that the strings were .095, .011, .013. Thank you all for your help.
Rudy, I have a question for you: how do you use the friction spindle at the end of the barrel?
Thanks again,
ken


You simply rotate the barrel between your fingertips.  Some have an actual release that spins when the correct amount of force is reached and the "faux clutches" simply prevent you from being able to distort the frame from excessive force.


laugh Thanks Rudy,

I am getting a better education here on the hangout than I got in high school.

ken

Nov 8, 2019 - 7:35:52 PM

6327 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by rudy
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

Yes, Vernier Calipers.  Buy some decent ones and learn how to use them, it is easy.  Once you learn you will  wonder why you ever tried to measure small parts with a rule. 

It is funny, I remember learning how to read them in elementary school (analog)-- was this only taught in my school in a North Dallas suburb?

Being in the textile and extrusion business, I can tell you that using a micrometer for measuring monofilament can give inaccurate readings-- I don't know why this is.  The test labs we use all use Vernier Calipers to measure monofilament. 

 

 


Part of the problem with a micrometer is that people tend to crank them down a little to hard, which can distort not only the accuracy of the measurement, but also of the product being measured. There can also be some variance in the measurement taken by two different people. One does need experience and sensitivity when measuring anything other than a hard material. 


That is why many micrometers, including the inexpensive General linked above have the little friction spindle at the rear of the barrel.  My metals shop instructor would apply a foot to the derriere to anyone who used a mic by any other method than using either the friction clutch or the pressure of a single finger on one side of the barrel.

Many of the low-priced digital vernier calipers are made of plastic and are much easier to distort the measurement from heavy-handed use.


I'm familiar with those "spindle" types, and I have one. But for a couple of decades (before it was stolen) I used one without that useful attachment. It just takes practice and lots of care. As with any tool, one gets used to how it behaves, and it also has to be taken care of diligently.

I hate those plasitc calipers; they're worse than the worst. One might as well measure things with a C-clamp. 

Nov 8, 2019 - 8:38:12 PM

10858 posts since 4/15/2012

I've never used Aquilq nylgut strings on a banjo, but I use them on all my ukuleles. On the uke sets, each string has a blob of colored paint on thr bridge end, and the key to the color/pitch concordance is printed on the string set's cardboard packaging. Check your package and you just might save yourself the price of a micrometer,

Nov 10, 2019 - 10:06:54 AM
likes this

70397 posts since 5/9/2007

It's very easy to use a 1" micrometer.Holding it in one hand and adjusting it while holding a piece in the other hand takes a bit more practice,though.
I found one at Rankin's Lumber store in Camden many years ago for $3.50,right at the cash register.I checked it with my more expensive one and it is just as accurate.
It's my go-to string measure and fits easily in the banjo case.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/General-Micrometer-Model-102-0-1/223734603845?hash=item34179f2045:g:HgsAAOSwDF5dv6bA

Edited by - steve davis on 11/10/2019 10:17:57

Nov 11, 2019 - 6:42:35 AM

203 posts since 11/1/2006

I use dial (not vernier or digital) calipers for almost all accurate measurements. Stainless steel ones are not expensive. I have a digital caliper, but I dislike replacing the battery. A true vernier caliper has the matching lines to contend with like a traditional micrometer, and this strains old eyes. It is easy to mismeasure strings under tension: either use the narrow area at the tip of the jaws, or make sure that the string is square with the jaws. With practice one develops a touch, giving the correct pressure to the adjusting wheel. Be sure that the caliper is set at zero when the jaws are closed.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.2180176