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Photos Butch Robins' very distinct way of wrapping the string on the tuners

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May 30, 2020 - 4:35:51 AM
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95 posts since 2/8/2019

From the Banjo Construction Photograph Collection, Appalachian Collection, McConnell Library, Radford University, Radford, VA

These photos illustrate Butch Robins' very distinct way of wrapping the string on the tuners. He uses only the barest minimum of string on the tuner and a tiny backwards wrap of the string against the direction of turning to hold the string in place.


May 30, 2020 - 4:56:20 AM

690 posts since 8/26/2009

Looks great. Is there a sound advantage with less wraps? Do the D-Tuners work better?
In my amateur status I like the ends tucked back into the hole or a loop cut short and the end pulled back into the hole. I hate getting finger sticks on my old stiff fingers.
Phil

May 30, 2020 - 5:50:49 AM
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Eric A

USA

639 posts since 10/15/2019

If I did it like that, I'd be afraid that if an actual musician saw my banjo I'd be revealed as someone who didn't know what he was doing. I guess I can stop worrying. Freedom, baby!

May 30, 2020 - 6:42:44 AM
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25 posts since 5/8/2009

The two main advantages that I have seen to this method are, the strings don't slip and its faster to change when you have a string break on stage. I string my banjo's the same way and have done so for decades. I have always thought there may be a sound advantage to not having lots of extra string wrapped around the post. I have always looked for any way to make my banjo sound and work better. This is a good way to do it. It may not be the only way but many pro's do it this way.

May 30, 2020 - 12:00:59 PM

164 posts since 6/25/2016

It's not an uncommon method. There are a bunch of youtube videos that talk about it, like this one.  I don't do it that way, but I've been told it can make it harder to remove the strings.  As for more / fewer wraps around the tuning post, I can't believe it makes any difference sonically.

Many new guitars are moving toward locking tuners, but for whatever reason they haven't reached the banjo world yet.

May 30, 2020 - 12:15:40 PM

banjoy

USA

8905 posts since 7/1/2006

Yeah, I've been wrapping strings exactly like that for 40 years.

Was shown how in 1979 by Lamar Holt at Smith Music House in Spartanburg, SC. Been wrapping like that ever since. It's the only way to go, easy to do and strings don't slip.

May 30, 2020 - 12:36:58 PM
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2163 posts since 9/25/2006

I would think increased risk of string breakage especially if using d tuners.

May 30, 2020 - 12:55:51 PM

rcc56

USA

2848 posts since 2/20/2016

I know of at least one musician who has lost the use of an eye due to a string breaking at the tuner.
I do not recommend this method.

May 30, 2020 - 1:05:23 PM
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12998 posts since 6/29/2005
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Losing an eye is very scary— I don't think I'm going change to that method.

May 30, 2020 - 1:30:38 PM

25 posts since 5/8/2009

The lock can make it harder to remove if you cut the strings too short and your not familiar with how you locked the string . You do have to know ( or remember) what your doing. I have never had a string break at the post with this technique ( D tuner or not) but I rarely have a string break. I think the less string you have wrapped around the post the faster you can re tune with less stretching when re stringing a new string on stage. I have heard this technique referred to as the "Martin lock". I guess guitar players use it also. In the end you have to do what your comfortable with. I like this way because I never have a string slip. I counts when your in front of folks.

May 30, 2020 - 3:27:59 PM
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3836 posts since 10/13/2005

I would think that more wraps create more friction/grab on the post and less stress on the string bend through the post hole lessening breakage. There is a balance here. banjered

May 30, 2020 - 4:29:05 PM

RB3

USA

700 posts since 4/12/2004

I'm inclined to agree with Mike. Without multiple string wraps, the force from the tightened string is transferred to the post of the tuner at the point where the string is fed through the cross hole. If the cross hole has a sharp edge because it has not been de-burred or chamfered, it could create a stress concentration condition that would increase the likelihood of a string break at the tuner post.

Multiple string wraps allow the tuner post to function as a capstan.

May 30, 2020 - 4:40:09 PM

235 posts since 12/10/2008

I do it this way on all my stringed instruments except fiddle. it makes string changes fast and the strings will not slip. But I usually cut my string ends off right above the bend. I feel like I remember learing that method from some old guitar book when I was a teenager.

May 30, 2020 - 4:43:14 PM

71911 posts since 5/9/2007
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Half-hitch

May 30, 2020 - 4:45:06 PM
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banjoy

USA

8905 posts since 7/1/2006

Well, I see this thread has the potential to go awry, so I'll just throw my other cent in here and take off LOL.  I never thought much about string breakage at the peg post. And I really do value my eyes.

I guess a lot depends on the quality of the tuners or if the hole is slightly beveled (is that the correct word?) as it should be.. I mean, the string is already bending 90 degrees as soon as it's wrapped once -- no matter what method you use. The nature of the peg post is to bend the string once then begin wrapping. So this method is not that different, it just adds one more wrap and bend to lock it in place which then reduces a ton of wrappings. Seems to work fine.

I'm not going to defend or poo poo one way or another on how to string a banjo. I imagine there are plenty of ways that work fine. All I know is doing it this way I've never had any string break at the tuner, the few breaks I've had were always at the tailpiece. And, with this method you can put on a string and have it in tune pretty fast with about one to two turns, and the string never ever slips.

Bit I get it about the eye thing. Sounds scary to me too :)

Edited by - banjoy on 05/30/2020 16:45:54

May 30, 2020 - 4:50:53 PM

71911 posts since 5/9/2007
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I go twice around and stick it through the hole.
If it breaks it often just falls off the tuner shaft on its own.

May 30, 2020 - 4:52:49 PM
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193 posts since 4/17/2011

Aside from cutting off the excess string, this is 100% standard for guitarists. It's in the Fender manual. Most guitarists do wrap around a few more times, but I've been told by very high-end archtop builders that the additional wraps don't add any structural or tonal value. I'm no expert, but I've found some additional wraps help my banjo tone, maybe due to the banjo's lower string tension? Or maybe it's in my head? Definite possibility.

May 30, 2020 - 6:44:41 PM
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2163 posts since 9/25/2006

quote:
Originally posted by BigFiveChord

Aside from cutting off the excess string, this is 100% standard for guitarists. It's in the Fender manual. Most guitarists do wrap around a few more times, but I've been told by very high-end archtop builders that the additional wraps don't add any structural or tonal value. I'm no expert, but I've found some additional wraps help my banjo tone, maybe due to the banjo's lower string tension? Or maybe it's in my head? Definite possibility.


I kind of agree with Jon.  I do multiple wraps and it seems to me that the string vibrates a little more, creating more sustain????   Uh oh...here we go!

May 31, 2020 - 1:44:23 PM

12998 posts since 6/29/2005
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Once again, there's a difference between what works for a player and what works for a builder. Since this forum is a "building, setup and repair" forum, and not a "players" forum. I'll put in my two cents as a builder.

Right now, I'm getting close to the end with about 14 instruments, at which time I will set them all up and string them— I will probably put a string on 100 times during this part of the setup of these banjos— each setup requires the instrument to be first strung with only the third string to get the alignment and string action right, and I have to make a bridge—at this point, the neck may be taken on and off 3 or 4 times to adjust the heel cut.

Then I put on all the strings and tune it up to pitch, more adjustments and If I have to remove the neck again, I have to take off all the strings.  There have been cases with new instruments where I may have to take the strings off and on several times—the 5th string is the biggest PIA—I'm sure you're all familiar with this.

SO, what I am getting at is that for doing setups, what I do is wind the string around the post 2 or 3 times and stick the end of it through the hole below where the string has been wound around and pull it tight with pliers, then tighten it with the tuner to get it up to pitch.  I can do this VERY fast—I doubt if any player can string a banjo faster than me because I have done this so many times.  AND if I have to remove the string and put it on later, I have a lot of string to work with—somehow, they never go on the second time the same as they did the first.

Once I send the banjo out, the player can put new strings on any way they please—maybe they should wear safety glasses as I do—I have witnessed strings breaking, and its like a gunshot.

PS: I have never broken one the first time doing it the way I do—the more times you reinstall them, the more work-hardened the strings become at the bend points, which is why I don't like sharp bends.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 05/31/2020 13:53:47

Jun 1, 2020 - 1:49:22 PM
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2509 posts since 4/16/2003

Like Frank above, I've been stringing up my instruments for 50 years this way.

Download this pdf file:
"The Care and Feeding of your Martin Guitar":
 https://tinyurl.com/y9w9l4ba

Scroll down and you'll see how they recommend changing strings, looks very close to Mr. Robbin's method...

Jun 1, 2020 - 2:06:37 PM
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71911 posts since 5/9/2007
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As to being a builder,I think I once read that Butch worked in Tut Taylor's shop at one time.

Jun 1, 2020 - 4:58:11 PM
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Plastichead

Canada

551 posts since 1/11/2005

Stephen, you are correct, Butch built my 1975 Tennessee Top Tension while working for Tut & MarkTaylor back then.

Keith.

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