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Sep 20, 2020 - 4:11:36 PM

mjbrennan

Ireland

192 posts since 2/23/2011

Hi All.
Any opinions on whether a 10 string banjo can be set up successfully to be played as a 5 string?
Any opinions/advice welcome.
Thank you,
Michael.

Sep 20, 2020 - 5:11:57 PM

Selmer

Canada

58 posts since 7/22/2012

I think Goldtone sells one, so it is possible.

Sep 20, 2020 - 5:31:44 PM
like this

13212 posts since 6/29/2005

I set out to do that with an instrument which was similar to an Irish bouzouki, but had a 5-string banjo neck, and the strings were paired.

 I discovered that having the drone string be paired, which would have been clumsy and difficult, was not necessary, so what it wound up as was a 9-string.

 

Here is a sound sample— I don't  think it's possible to pick out that the 5th string is not paired, and that would be the same if it had a banjo pot.


Sep 20, 2020 - 6:36:06 PM

220 posts since 5/13/2009

Found this on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/4ackGHMJiIs

Sep 20, 2020 - 9:15:30 PM

mps.bob

USA

112 posts since 3/22/2005

Dale Small, the finest luthier for four string banjos, made me a nine string banjo; we could not figure out how to double the fifth string. It sounds great on some tunes. My E mail is not working now but I can be contacted at this address: wurzburg@mediate.com. Memphis Bob Bostick

Sep 21, 2020 - 6:07:33 AM
likes this

2949 posts since 2/18/2009

I think the OP is asking about setting up an existing 10 string banjo as a 5 string. There is no reason you can't do this, it will just look a little funny with all those extra tuners and nut slots and such, but if you ever decide to go back to 10 string it'll be easy. I have seen 12 string guitars strung with 6 strings.

Sep 21, 2020 - 7:54:17 AM

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I set out to do that with an instrument which was similar to an Irish bouzouki, but had a 5-string banjo neck, and the strings were paired.

 I discovered that having the drone string be paired, which would have been clumsy and difficult, was not necessary, so what it wound up as was a 9-string.

 

Here is a sound sample— I don't  think it's possible to pick out that the 5th string is not paired, and that would be the same if it had a banjo pot.


Not a surprise. Lutes  have been made for centuries with all courses doubled except the highest treble. A six course lute has 11 strings, an eight course lute. 15.

Sep 21, 2020 - 8:06:41 AM

Helix

USA

12970 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

Thanks Zach

I’m curious. Could you maybe show us?
The video I saw of the Gold Tone solution (1 tunneled 5th) sounded very clear, separation was great and the trouble was small

The Curtis McPeake solution is to use two types of tuners, a geared 5th and a sidewinder. At the 5th fret in the same place

Light strings are enough to start with

The gold tone team is working pretty hard these days, but there are people who know more , Email maybe

Is this for performance I hope

Edited by - Helix on 09/21/2020 08:10:58

Sep 21, 2020 - 12:40:37 PM

13212 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I set out to do that with an instrument which was similar to an Irish bouzouki, but had a 5-string banjo neck, and the strings were paired.

 I discovered that having the drone string be paired, which would have been clumsy and difficult, was not necessary, so what it wound up as was a 9-string.

 

Here is a sound sample— I don't  think it's possible to pick out that the 5th string is not paired, and that would be the same if it had a banjo pot.


Not a surprise. Lutes  have been made for centuries with all courses doubled except the highest treble. A six course lute has 11 strings, an eight course lute. 15.


That's very interesting—I never knew that about lutes, but it makes perfect sense and has application to a paired-string banjo—same thing I learned with the "bouzouki".

Here's a question apropos of this subject, and maybe because of your experience with pianos you can provide some insight; If you had a paired string on some instrument, and instead of it being two separate strings, each with a separate tuner, suppose it was a single string that went from a tuner on the peghead around a kind of bearing with a groove on the tailpiece, not unlike the bead on a ball-end guitar string, that could freely rotate and had the diameter of the space you wanted between the two paired strings,  then back to an anchor point on the peghead, if you tuned it with the tuner, would it tune both sides to the same pitch?

Ken

Sep 21, 2020 - 5:44:46 PM

Helix

USA

12970 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

mjbrennan, thanks for posting
Please let us know what you come up with

Edited by - Helix on 09/21/2020 17:45:54

Sep 21, 2020 - 6:09:25 PM

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I set out to do that with an instrument which was similar to an Irish bouzouki, but had a 5-string banjo neck, and the strings were paired.

 I discovered that having the drone string be paired, which would have been clumsy and difficult, was not necessary, so what it wound up as was a 9-string.

 

Here is a sound sample— I don't  think it's possible to pick out that the 5th string is not paired, and that would be the same if it had a banjo pot.


Not a surprise. Lutes  have been made for centuries with all courses doubled except the highest treble. A six course lute has 11 strings, an eight course lute. 15.


That's very interesting—I never knew that about lutes, but it makes perfect sense and has application to a paired-string banjo—same thing I learned with the "bouzouki".

Here's a question apropos of this subject, and maybe because of your experience with pianos you can provide some insight; If you had a paired string on some instrument, and instead of it being two separate strings, each with a separate tuner, suppose it was a single string that went from a tuner on the peghead around a kind of bearing with a groove on the tailpiece, not unlike the bead on a ball-end guitar string, that could freely rotate and had the diameter of the space you wanted between the two paired strings,  then back to an anchor point on the peghead, if you tuned it with the tuner, would it tune both sides to the same pitch?

Ken


That's a tricky one. Most pianos do, in fact, use one lengh of wire to make two strings, but they still utilize two tuning pins. The reason for that is because piano strings are very high tension (generally averaging about 155 pounds) and would bind too much around the "hitchpin" to make the tuning equalize for both string segments. I don't know how low tension strings would react, and I also don't know whether a kind of bearing would help, but I still suspect that equalizing the two strings segments could be difficult. It seems possible for this proposed system to work, but I think it could very well take an inordinate amount of time to get both strings tuned perfectly. One has to consider that the strings involved don't simply wrap around a bearing, but have to cross two other friction points (bridge and nut), and there are possible length discrepancies between the two strings if the stationary end of the string is in a slightly different place than the single tuner.

The only real answer would be to try it, as I don't know if there's any history about attempts to do this.

Sep 22, 2020 - 4:39:17 AM

13212 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

That's very interesting—I never knew that about lutes, but it makes perfect sense and has application to a paired-string banjo—same thing I learned with the "bouzouki".

Here's a question apropos of this subject, and maybe because of your experience with pianos you can provide some insight; If you had a paired string on some instrument, and instead of it being two separate strings, each with a separate tuner, suppose it was a single string that went from a tuner on the peghead around a kind of bearing with a groove on the tailpiece, not unlike the bead on a ball-end guitar string, that could freely rotate and had the diameter of the space you wanted between the two paired strings,  then back to an anchor point on the peghead, if you tuned it with the tuner, would it tune both sides to the same pitch?

Ken


That's a tricky one. Most pianos do, in fact, use one lengh of wire to make two strings, but they still utilize two tuning pins. The reason for that is because piano strings are very high tension (generally averaging about 155 pounds) and would bind too much around the "hitchpin" to make the tuning equalize for both string segments. I don't know how low tension strings would react, and I also don't know whether a kind of bearing would help, but I still suspect that equalizing the two strings segments could be difficult. It seems possible for this proposed system to work, but I think it could very well take an inordinate amount of time to get both strings tuned perfectly. One has to consider that the strings involved don't simply wrap around a bearing, but have to cross two other friction points (bridge and nut), and there are possible length discrepancies between the two strings if the stationary end of the string is in a slightly different place than the single tuner.

The only real answer would be to try it, as I don't know if there's any history about attempts to do this.


Thanks,  I thought that would be the answer—otherwise people would be doing that on 12 string guitars and mandolins using modern mini bearings—it sure would be an easier way to tune a 12-string guitar.

I had pondered that idea when I was figuring out how to do the 10 string bouzouki until I realized that the drone string didn't have to be paired.

Ken

Sep 22, 2020 - 8:02:58 AM

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

Ken,

A little further clarification: Unequal length should only be a probem if the speaking length of the two segments differed. I was thinking "piano" here, because due to the hand chiselled bridge notches and the slightly corved pressure bar (the piano equivalent of "nut") exactly equal lengths are rare in the extreme.

One other aspect of the one string for two that I'd be concerned with would be the bearing point. There would be a lot of side thrust, which would probably be another source of friction and the binding of strings, and that bearing point would probably be subjected to a lot of wear and tear.

As you (and lute makers) have indicated, though, it is probably not needed for a high note like the 5th string. However, should anyone wish to explore a doubled 5th, my suggestion would be a tuner at the usual position for one of them and a tuner for the other string at the tailpiece.

I'm not sure, myself, of 10 string banjos. I would think that some pretty heavy duty construction would be needed (I've seen the warped necks of banjo mandolins) and that could influence tone. I do wonder, though, if anyone has tried octave pairings as used on 12 string guitars and lutes. That might make for an interesting sound.

Sep 23, 2020 - 1:13:40 AM

PaulRF

Australia

3112 posts since 2/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I set out to do that with an instrument which was similar to an Irish bouzouki, but had a 5-string banjo neck, and the strings were paired.

 I discovered that having the drone string be paired, which would have been clumsy and difficult, was not necessary, so what it wound up as was a 9-string.

 

Here is a sound sample— I don't  think it's possible to pick out that the 5th string is not paired, and that would be the same if it had a banjo pot.


Ken, that looks great and sounds great. Fantastic work.

Sep 23, 2020 - 1:16:22 AM

PaulRF

Australia

3112 posts since 2/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt

I think the OP is asking about setting up an existing 10 string banjo as a 5 string. There is no reason you can't do this, it will just look a little funny with all those extra tuners and nut slots and such, but if you ever decide to go back to 10 string it'll be easy. I have seen 12 string guitars strung with 6 strings.


If going to five strings would you need to adjust the truss rod due to the less tension?  I suppose you could also use heavier strings.

Paul

Sep 23, 2020 - 6:57:12 AM
likes this

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

If one is going from ten strings to five, I would think that a truss rod adjustment would depend on the rigidity of the neck and truss rod; it may or may not need some tweaking. It's definitely something to be concerned about, though.

I also wonder just how heavily a ten string banjo is built in the first place. If it's built more heavily to take the tension of all those strings, it may be a bit too heavily built and affect the tone/volume when it only has five. I know that a twelve string guitar has to be braced differently than a six string, and that even though it can be strung with only six, that it's generally not done.

For the most part, I agree with Zachary Hoyt, but also have to agree with the truss rod proposition. Head tension adjustments may also be needed. However, heavier strings could make up for the lost tension of half as many strings; it's too big a difference.

Sep 23, 2020 - 9:23:23 AM

Helix

USA

12970 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

I thinkI would be more interested in reading your contributions if you drift sailors would start another thread


I haven’t heard the Whyte Laydie Version of the ten string, I like the player using more melodic and Gaelic to demonstrate its unique sound

Sep 23, 2020 - 1:30:22 PM

PaulRF

Australia

3112 posts since 2/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

If one is going from ten strings to five, I would think that a truss rod adjustment would depend on the rigidity of the neck and truss rod; it may or may not need some tweaking. It's definitely something to be concerned about, though.

I also wonder just how heavily a ten string banjo is built in the first place. If it's built more heavily to take the tension of all those strings, it may be a bit too heavily built and affect the tone/volume when it only has five. I know that a twelve string guitar has to be braced differently than a six string, and that even though it can be strung with only six, that it's generally not done.

For the most part, I agree with Zachary Hoyt, but also have to agree with the truss rod proposition. Head tension adjustments may also be needed. However, heavier strings could make up for the lost tension of half as many strings; it's too big a difference.


Thanks for that reply.  I don't think the OP would have any trouble going to 5 strings but might need a bit of neck adjustment.  Interesting point about the neck build as well. 

Paul

Sep 23, 2020 - 3:11:04 PM
likes this

2949 posts since 2/18/2009

I would think that if there is a truss rod it might need to be adjusted, but I think it's fairly likely that this is an old banjo that may not have one, but that's just a guess.

Sep 23, 2020 - 8:13:29 PM
likes this

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I thinkI would be more interested in reading your contributions if you drift sailors would start another thread


I haven’t heard the Whyte Laydie Version of the ten string, I like the player using more melodic and Gaelic to demonstrate its unique sound


I see no drift here, except maybe your complaint about such alleged drift. 

Sep 24, 2020 - 4:59:25 AM

13212 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

If one is going from ten strings to five, I would think that a truss rod adjustment would depend on the rigidity of the neck and truss rod; it may or may not need some tweaking. It's definitely something to be concerned about, though.

I also wonder just how heavily a ten string banjo is built in the first place. If it's built more heavily to take the tension of all those strings, it may be a bit too heavily built and affect the tone/volume when it only has five. I know that a twelve string guitar has to be braced differently than a six string, and that even though it can be strung with only six, that it's generally not done.

For the most part, I agree with Zachary Hoyt, but also have to agree with the truss rod proposition. Head tension adjustments may also be needed. However, heavier strings could make up for the lost tension of half as many strings; it's too big a difference.


I agree with your and Zach's points.

I don't think there would be any problem with the truss rod going from 10 strings to 5.  If there is a truss rod, it would most likely have been designed to work with a guitar.

As for the neck, my own observation, having built that 9-string bouzouki, is that a well built banjo neck with a truss rod is perfectly able to take the strain of 10 strings—at least I didn't have any problems, and was worried more about the pin-bridge.

I really don't see any problems other than one that hasn't been mentioned (or I didn't read it)—is there a second hole in the neck for a second "5th string" tuner?  I think that would have to be filled.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/24/2020 05:00:22

Sep 24, 2020 - 7:01:06 AM

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

I would guess that if there are two 5th strings that there would be two tuners. If that second tuner didn't interfere with anything when there were ten strings and two 5th strings, then I don't see why that extra tuner couldn't just be left in place.

There are so many configurations possible (a tunneled 5th with a standard 5th, a tuner at the tailpiece, possibly two tuners at the side of the neck) that it's impossible to say what would need to be done about extra holes or extra tuners without first seeing the banjo. Even then, filling a hole might simply be what the player chooses to do cosmetically.

Sep 24, 2020 - 2:44:32 PM

Helix

USA

12970 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

My compass was backwards
Sorry. I didn’t read well

This man has a ten going to five

What’s the problem
What kind of ten was never shown
Enjoy

Sep 24, 2020 - 5:24:49 PM

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

I read somewhere that the Earth's magnetic poles have been moving around a bit lately. Maybe that's what went wrong with your compass. wink

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 09/24/2020 17:26:13

Sep 24, 2020 - 7:53:05 PM

Helix

USA

12970 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

Still want to get back to topic please

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