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Tuning keys on an old Supertone Tenor Banjo

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Jul 7, 2020 - 6:10:08 PM
3 posts since 7/7/2020

Having a hard time with tuning pegs (I’m an old guitar player not used to banjo keys)
I’m thinking of installing guitar type keys. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Jul 7, 2020 - 6:51:15 PM
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148 posts since 6/21/2008

If you're talking plain tuner pegs, then I'm on your side, but I would consider Gotoh planetary tuners or the equivalent first. They look much more normal, and a 4:1 ratio is much better than 1:1. If you have the money, the Rickard 10:1 tuners have a good reputation and 10:1 is a lot closer to a typical guitar ratio.

Jul 7, 2020 - 6:52:09 PM

2418 posts since 3/30/2008

Supertone tenors were made by Harmony in the 20-30's. Only the top tier instruments were labelled as "Supertone", & usually came w/ Page geared tuners. Even if your banjo came w/ friction tuners, you could learn to finesse them to hold a good tuning.
One can always buy better tuners, but there is also pleasure in learning to work w/ what you have, ( and save a little $$).  You may only need to tune your string properly & tighten the small tuner screw to stabilize the note. 

Edited by - tdennis on 07/07/2020 18:55:48

Jul 8, 2020 - 3:12:51 AM

1599 posts since 6/2/2010

You will be much happier and play it more if it has guitar tuners.

If you had a high end banjo I would not suggest guitar tuners, but since you don't I say go for it.

I have one cheap banjo with guitar tuners and a high end banjo with good banjo tuners. I tend to play the cheap one more because of the ease of tuning.

Jul 8, 2020 - 4:20:17 AM



21766 posts since 7/6/2005

Whatever floats your boat. I'd buy the cheapest set on ebay.

Jul 8, 2020 - 5:28:02 AM

3 posts since 7/7/2020

These are the pegs, I’ve tightened the screw, but they don’t really hold pitch. Would new pegs work better? Or would guitar type of keys work better?

Thank you

Jul 8, 2020 - 5:35:06 AM
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7414 posts since 8/28/2013

To me, guitar keys look ugly on banjos. Due to the peghead shape, many times they are at strange angles to each other. They can look like they were installed by a cross-eyed hack.

But since a "Supertone" is never going to be a great or collectible banjo, I see nothing wrong with doing what you want with it.

I know what it's like switching between banjo tuners and guitar models. When I get a guitar to work on, I almost always turn some of the tuner keys the wrong way momentarily.

Jul 8, 2020 - 5:47:59 AM

7414 posts since 8/28/2013

The pictures were loaded while I was typing, so I'll add a little more.

These tuners were very common, and if the screw doesn't help, there may be an issue with it having bottomed out in the tuner shaft. One can shorten the screw carefully with a file or grinder. Another thing that happens is that the wood (or plastic) of the peghead gets glazed over the years, and that can be cleaned off carefully with a bit of sandpaper. One can also install fiber or leather washers between the tuner and the peghead.

Although there are some people who have no problems with these tuners (all of my banjos have friction tuners like, or similar, to these), there are others who hate them no matter what, and find them a nuisance due to a need for frequent adjustments of that little screw.

While you might save money (but not a lot) perhaps you, too, should just go ahead and install something you're used to using, which, of course, would be guitar tuners.

In my opinion, it won't make that particular headstock any uglier than it is already. smiley

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 07/08/2020 05:49:35

Jul 8, 2020 - 11:04:09 AM

3 posts since 7/7/2020

Makes sense to me.
Thank you George

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