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Jul 11, 2020 - 12:38:33 PM
115 posts since 2/16/2020

My open-back Goodtime has a bowed neck so the 5th string is even lower than normal at the base of the neck. I never fret the 5th string except with a capo, so I could conceivably change the action in a big way to make it easier to catch with my thumb. I did a little poking around in the archives and didn't find any ideas of how to do such a thing. Any thoughts on ways to raise the fifth string to it is level with the other four at the fifth fret? Robert

Jul 11, 2020 - 1:02:42 PM
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jacot23

USA

55 posts since 12/13/2012

You can get a bridge with raised 5th string(search the Classifieds here, i think it's Stringbean that sells them)

https://www.banjohangout.org/classified/29298


Or put in a tall 5th string nut.

Edited by - jacot23 on 07/11/2020 13:16:10

Jul 11, 2020 - 1:26:20 PM
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13054 posts since 6/29/2005

A BHO member called "schwimbo" came up with the idea of cutting a brass ball-end guitar string bead in half and putting it over the 5th fret as a "jack" to raise the string.

I now do this on every banjo I make.  You either sacrifice a guitar string or you can buy the beads on Etsy, which apparently people use to make jewelry and other craft items.

Jul 11, 2020 - 2:05:30 PM

jacot23

USA

55 posts since 12/13/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

A BHO member called "schwimbo" came up with the idea of cutting a brass ball-end guitar string bead in half and putting it over the 5th fret as a "jack" to raise the string.

I now do this on every banjo I make.  You either sacrifice a guitar string or you can buy the beads on Etsy, which apparently people use to make jewelry and other craft items.


 

That's just cool. Thanks for sharing. 

Jul 11, 2020 - 8:43:14 PM

115 posts since 2/16/2020

How do you secure the jack to the fret, or is the pressure of the string enough to keep it in place?

Jul 11, 2020 - 11:04:50 PM

AndyW

UK

525 posts since 7/4/2017

Bear in mind that the 5th string on a perfectly straight unbowed neck will usually sit slightly lower than the other 4 strings. Not such a bad thing in clawhammer where the 4th string is the most difficult to get into with power and volume when frailing.

If you are frailing/clawhammering and not venturing with the fretting hand high up the neck then a taller bridge will probably sort things out if the problem is getting the meat of the thumb into that 5th string.

I fitted a 3/4 inch bridge to my banjo and it made a world of difference. So much that I replaced the bridge on my second banjo for one as well.

Jul 12, 2020 - 1:03:17 AM
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4867 posts since 5/14/2007

I'm not sure I understand your problem. Does your neck have a back-bow, a "hump," somewhere between the fifth string peg and the rim? I'm not completely sure what uou mean by the neck's "base." Do you mean the end of the neck, where it butts up agains the rim?

If it does have a hump, a bridge with a "fifth string bump," as mentioned above, might be enough. Bart Veerman is another bridge maker who offers offers this option.

But I'm suspicious. A saggy head in need of tightening, or a loose neck which needs to be properly aligned and tightened can cause this sort of problem. Those problems are easily fixed.

Jul 12, 2020 - 6:37:24 AM

13054 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rkdjones

How do you secure the jack to the fret, or is the pressure of the string enough to keep it in place?


I put a drop of CA under it, but generally the string will keep it in place as long as it's aligned properly.

Jul 12, 2020 - 9:12:15 AM

115 posts since 2/16/2020

Thanks for the idea, Ken, I will give it a try.

In answer to the questions:
By base I meant heel, where it attaches to rim.
The bow in the neck raises the action of the four strings at the fifth fret (Goodtime necks have no truss rod).
The neck is not scooped and I like to play right near the edge of the head; at that point the fifth string is considerably lower than than the other four and very close to the fret board.
A taller bridge might be worth considering, but I really like the compensated bridge I have ($10 Golden Gate from Amazon, free shipping).

It's an old Goodtime and I am not putting a lot of money into it, but I will keep playing it. It's not a bad banjo all in all, but it is feeling its age.

Robert

Jul 12, 2020 - 9:25:08 PM

115 posts since 2/16/2020

I put a fifth string jack at the 6th fret. I cut a little steel cylinder in half (I had it in my drawer of miscellaneous washers) and just put it under the string. I didn't even notch the top for the string. It raises the fifth string 5/16". It makes the banjo much easier to play. I'm sold. The added benefit is that I can tune up a half tone to put it in A or down a half tone to put it in G, no need for spikes. I might try moving it to the 7th fret and see how it goes tuned down to G (really no different than tuning an A scale banjo to G).

Jul 12, 2020 - 10:21:42 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4665 posts since 1/5/2005

For the 5th string to be at the same height as the other 4 strings at the 5th fret is strictly a cosmetic issue, it has no bearing on playability as far as the thumb is concerned.

If the cosmetics of the 5th string being lower than the other 4 strings at the 5th fret bother you, then Ken's idea about using half of a string bead is a great and loveable solution.

For playability's sake, if you need more space between the 5th string and the banjo's head, especially when playing near the neck, then scooping the neck, or using a bridge with a raised 5th string is the way to go. Keep in mind, raising the fifth string at the bridge will NOT raise the 5th string at the 5th fret.

If you find your thumb hitting the head, that's quite common and really not a biggie - another solution, the cheapest way, is to work on your [string-hitting] playing technique... If your thumb makes a "pffft pffft" noise when hitting the banjo's head, then you could use a piece of 400, or greater, grit sanding paper to smoothen the head in the area where your thumb hits it, and solve that "problem."

Good luck and do let us know how you all of these suggestions work out for you.

Jul 13, 2020 - 9:21:06 AM

115 posts since 2/16/2020

I'm afraid I must disagree. The fifth fret is 21" from the bridge, the neck attaches 7" from the bridge. You get 1/3 of whatever change you make at the fifth fret. With a bowed neck, like I have, it is noticable. By geometry, I raised the fifth string at the edge of rim by 5/48". That is enough to notice. Playing in the scoop would be even more noticable.
I can now play some over the neck which was impossbile before. With a neck that isn't bowed and if the action is low at the fifth fret, it would probably be much harder to discern.

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