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Apr 3, 2020 - 1:21:08 PM
12 posts since 3/20/2020

Hey all,
Talking about SS Stewart banjos... Can anyone explain to me how the adjustable bar that attaches the heel to the dowel functions? Does tightening or loosening the two way adjusting screw adjust the neck in such a way as to effect the action height of the strings and, if so, turning it which way does what? Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Apr 3, 2020 - 2:21:21 PM
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Players Union Member



200 posts since 5/16/2017

That adjustable bar is likely to break something if tweaked. I believe they were designed to function as you describe but they typically end up snapping dowel sticks, heels or worse. It should be set in a neutral position and left alone. It should not be used to attempt to change the action, the risk of damage is too great.

Apr 3, 2020 - 2:43:44 PM

7059 posts since 8/28/2013

What Blaies says. Leave it alone.

Apr 3, 2020 - 6:24:41 PM

7059 posts since 8/28/2013

Sorry about the typo, Blaise.

Apr 4, 2020 - 1:19:43 PM

95 posts since 3/6/2006

I have an adjustable truss on my Weymann 5-string. If left in the neutral position, the screw will be loose and rattle. It requires some tension in either direction to be stable. And yes, it does change the action. Because of the geometry in play, a very small amount to dowel stick motion translates into a noticeable neck angle change. I tension the adjuster a bit in the direction that lowers the action, but never so much as to snap the dowel stick. I have had this banjo for about 30 years and have played it for about 18 years. My neck and dowel are maple.   I have a Stewart, but it lacks the tension adjustment turnbuckle. 


Edited by - larrytoto on 04/04/2020 13:21:53

Apr 4, 2020 - 4:32:24 PM

5193 posts since 9/21/2007

We affectionately call those "heel crackers." Install it neutral and then gently snug it finger tight to keep it from rattling.

It was sold as a contraption to adjust the neck angle. The problem is that modern ideas of what that angle should be causes people to crank them down and... pop goes the heel.

SSS banjos were built with a zero neck angle. They use a 1/2" bridge and with thin nylon strings you will have a period correct action of nearly 1/4" at the 12th fret. Put wire strings (or the extremely high tension thick "nylgut" strings) and the neck will flex forward. They are what they are, built for a very specific style of playing.

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