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Jul 10, 2020 - 5:37:36 PM
53 posts since 12/6/2019

Hey all,
Looking for some advice. I recently got this banjo. It's an open back electric style banjo. It came with a 5 star head and a 5/8ths bridge. The 5/8ths bridge was too low, and I wanted a hide head on it. So I installed a goat hide hear, put on an 11/16ths bridge and it's better but the action still seems low, especially with the height of the bridge. Looking at the nut, it seems like some of the slots are very deep. Could this be contributing to the low action? There isn't much buzz except for the 9th fret on the 2nd string, which doesn't ring quite true, especially when the 5/8ths bridge was on it. Any way to correct this? Do I need to install a new nut?


 

Jul 10, 2020 - 5:52:43 PM
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Blackjaxe47

Canada

1535 posts since 6/20/2014

If the nut slot depth is cut correctly it prevents buzzing on the frets from normally 1 to 7. The truss rod is something that also if set correctly with give neck relief to the 7th fret. So if your action is too low even after installing a higher bridge the normal way to get higher action is to shim the neck at the heel, it doesn't take much only the thickness of a credit card will normally raise the action. Whatever you do "DO NOT" mess around with the coordinating rods inside the pot, they should be set at "NEUTRAL" with the nuts just snug enough they do not work loose. Playing around with co-rods can distort the rim and even damage it.
Loosen the neck at the lower co-rod and slip a piece of plastic from a old credit card between the heel and the rim and tighten up the assembly. Sometimes it may take something a bit thicker. Also make sure your tension hoop is not higher than the finger board, if it is then you may have to get a head with a higher crown or in using a goat skin head the flesh hoop needs to be a bit lower, try giving each hook & nut a 1/8th turn.

Jul 10, 2020 - 6:16:34 PM
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beegee

USA

21753 posts since 7/6/2005
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On a hide-head banjo the head will continue to slacken and will become more slack during high humidity. Your neck should fully contact the rim and the angle of the neck should be 3-4ยบ. If your banjo has a dowel stick, it may have to be re-set to obtain the correct angle for the bridge you are using. The heel may need an adjustment to provide full contact. Since you likely will need a dowel-stick re-set, you'll need to correct the heel fit first.

The depth of the nut slots is really irrelevant beyond providing clearance over the first few frets. If the strings don't buzz when fretted at 1-4, the depth is probably oK.

Jul 10, 2020 - 6:16:52 PM

53 posts since 12/6/2019

Hey thanks for the reply. There are no coordinator rods, as it's a dowel stick style banjo. The neck also doesn't have a truss rod, only a carbon fiber reinforcement. I'm not really interested in shimming the neck for fear of damage

Jul 10, 2020 - 8:00:21 PM

53 posts since 12/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by beegee

On a hide-head banjo the head will continue to slacken and will become more slack during high humidity. Your neck should fully contact the rim and the angle of the neck should be 3-4º. If your banjo has a dowel stick, it may have to be re-set to obtain the correct angle for the bridge you are using. The heel may need an adjustment to provide full contact. Since you likely will need a dowel-stick re-set, you'll need to correct the heel fit first.

The depth of the nut slots is really irrelevant beyond providing clearance over the first few frets. If the strings don't buzz when fretted at 1-4, the depth is probably oK.


Thanks for the reply. The heel/rim fit is pretty snug and the dowel appears to be set at the correct angle. It's a very well made instrument. Dowel reset and heel cut sounds like a major surgery. The strings dont buzz on frets 1-4, only at the 9th fret on the 2nd string. The action is comfortable enough, but I'd like to correct that buzz. I noticed how deep the slots are cut (please see picture above) and I thought it may be possible that that is a contributing factor. They're much deeper than any other instrument I have. Most nuts I've seen are slotted so the string sits just so, maybe deep enough that the top of the string is flush but not much deeper. The way this nut is slotted, the strings sit fully inside of the nut, the top of the second string is about 1/16" below the opening of the slot.. I hope that makes sense. The humidity could also be playing a part; it's been dry here for the past couple weeks and we're finally getting some rain

Jul 10, 2020 - 8:15:20 PM
Players Union Member

blazo

USA

220 posts since 5/16/2017

Sounds like the nut slots are bothering you and will continue to do so unless something is done about it. Fill the nut slots with superglue and baking soda and recut 'em (you can probably youtube that for more info). It won't hurt anything, you'll learn something and it'll make you feel better about the depth. You can use a welder's tip cleaning set, cheap, get 'em at Home Depot, etc. At the very least, you'll find out if the deep nut slots are contributing to your 2nd string 9th fret zzzzzzzzzzz. Or, you could just put a paper shim under the nut to see if your buzz goes away. This is easily reversible and will answer your question quickly. If the paper shim works and you don't want to leave it there,remove it, fill and recut the nut slots or make a new nut.

Jul 10, 2020 - 8:23:42 PM

155 posts since 6/24/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Strewthday47

Do I need to install a new nut?


Hi Cameron, this brief tutorial will let you determine if the action at the nut is correct or not. It shows the method on a guitar but it applies to any fretted instrument. 

http://frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/GenSetup/NutAction/nutaction.html

There is a 5 string banjo manual page on Mr. Ford's site as well. Great site, chock full of info.

http://frets.com/FretsPages/OwnerManual/manbanjo.html

Hope this helps, 

Charlie

Jul 10, 2020 - 8:59:36 PM
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155 posts since 6/24/2019

If we are talking about fret buzz when playing a note on the second string fretted at the 9th fret, the nut slot of the second string is out of the equation.

Using a fret rocker on the 9th, 10th, and 11th frets is the first step. The 10th fret may be a bit high.

Jul 11, 2020 - 4:24:46 AM
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752 posts since 2/19/2012
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The important thing with nut slots is how high they place the strings over the first few frets. Your slots are likely deep because the body of the nut has not been filed down closer to the strings. There is a lot of info available on slotting nuts. The last step is to file the top of the nut down so the strings aren't sitting in a deep slot. But the important thing is clearance between the strings and the top of the first few frets.

Edited by - Parker135 on 07/11/2020 04:25:38

Jul 11, 2020 - 5:57:01 AM

2896 posts since 2/18/2009

It is my understanding that the only buzzing that is caused by the nut slots is buzzing on the first fret when playing an open string.

Jul 11, 2020 - 7:46:05 AM

752 posts since 2/19/2012
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If you're saying it buzzes on the 9th ftret when played open, I'd have a good look at that fret. Look up "fret rocker" and improvise with a credit card or other straightedge. It must be high and either needs dressing or checking to be sure it's not coming up out of its slot.

Jul 12, 2020 - 8:14:03 AM

53 posts since 12/6/2019

Thanks for all the replies. I wasn't aware that the top of the nut would be filed down as the final step. Seems like the nut isn't the issue. I'll check with a fret rocker and report back. The buzz happens when the note is fretted, not when the string is played open. If the issue ends up being a high fret, is it okay to file the fret carefully with fine sandpaper or is it better to have a pro do this?

Jul 12, 2020 - 8:36:43 AM
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155 posts since 6/24/2019

Just grab a credit card and do it. Lay it on the 9th, 10th, and 11th frets. If the 10th fret is high, you will be able to rock the card down on the 11th or 9th fret depending on how you tilt it. If it is high, try tapping the 10th fret lightly with a small hammer. Place the card over the fret before tapping it. The fret may have just lifted due to humidity or improper "oiling the fretboard".

Again, tap lightly with your palm on the back of the neck to cushion to blow. If the fret has lifted, it won't take much to reseat it.

If that doesn't work, the proper file will needed to deal with it. That will be your call whether you do it or let someone do it.

I learned to do fretwork by practicing on an old flat top guitar that was beyond salvaging before I got anywhere near a decent instrument.

Good luck with it, and again, tap lightly with the card in between the fret and hammer.

Edited by - Hugh Walter Jennings on 07/12/2020 08:40:47

Jul 12, 2020 - 8:38:59 AM

752 posts since 2/19/2012
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Oh boy, you're edging into banjo tinkering! It must be a fret a little further up the neck from what you're describing. I guess whether or not you do it yourself depends on a few things. What is the value of the banjo? Do you want to learn about fret leveling and recrowning? Normally, after being sure it's not a case of the fret working up out of the fretboard (you could try tapping it down with a small hammer, protecting the fret with a small block of wood) one would file the fret to be level with the others, then reform the crown (restoring the rounded contour after you've filed it flat) then polish with 0000 steel wool, etc. You can invest in special tools for all this or make do with ordinary files; however, recrowning is best done with a file designed to not mar the fretboard.

I suggest looking for more info on frets.com or from a web search on dressing frets. Rudy posted a nice tutorial on this several years ago about using a simple triangular file with a couple of edges ground smooth. Stewart McDonald has lots of videos on this also, but they'll make you believe you need an expensive diamond file to do the job.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do. If you have a good luthier nearby and want to risk going there with all the virus stuff out there, that's always an option.

Jul 12, 2020 - 9:59:12 AM
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53 posts since 12/6/2019

Thanks again for all the replies! I checked the frets between 8-11 with a straight edge and the 10th fret is just slightly high right on the 2nd string. This forum is great! I really appreciate all the knowledge and info. Parker, I'm a tinkerer for sure but I try to keep the ratio of tinkering/playing weighted towards the playing end of things ??. I play in open D a lot so the 9th fret on the second string is used often enough that its bugging me. I've done some work on instruments, mostly an old fender pedal steel and electric guitars but this year I made and set new dowel sticks for instruments that weren't playable as they were, and Ive been pretty happy with the results. I'll see if tapping the fret down works, and if it doesn't I'll probably have someone who knows fret work take a look. Thanks again!

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