Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

531
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Sep 23, 2020 - 1:45:30 AM

Expat

Kyrgyzstan

8 posts since 10/4/2014

Apparently, either my banjo or my ears do not like Double C tuning and it is confusing the heck out of me. Whenever I try to use Double C tuning I use an electronic tuner and it says everything is in tune. But when I try to play a song the sound is always off, at least to my ear. So then I usually go back to Open G and again the tuner says everything is fine, but the sound is always off. To get it back in tune I have to loosen all the strings and tune to Open G from scratch.

I don't have problems tuning back and forth between Open G and G Modal, or using a capo for A tuning. But tuning the fourth string to C disrupts everything. I've used multiple tuners so that shouldn't be a problem. Could it be the banjo, me, bad luck.....?

I reckon I can live without Double C tuning but would rather figure out where I'm going wrong.

Sep 23, 2020 - 2:26:25 AM
like this

cevant

USA

49 posts since 2/5/2020

I wonder if your bridge placement / intonation is off. Have you checked it?

Sep 23, 2020 - 2:48:28 AM
likes this

lucas73b

Netherlands

91 posts since 3/8/2006

Try to tune the 4th string using harmonics: a chime on the 12th fret you should produce the same C note as the open 2nd string.
In the same way, check the G notes of the open 3rd and 5th strings.

From your post, I assume your banjo is okay: no loose head, worn out strings or incorrect bridge position.

Sep 23, 2020 - 4:09:06 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

3900 posts since 3/11/2004

Incorrect bridge placement or one or more strings binding in the nut, preventing the string from moving smoothly as you tune, seems possible to me.

David

Sep 23, 2020 - 4:13:24 AM

Vanjo

Canada

84 posts since 11/18/2017

You can't live without double C tuning...
Also, Get guitar tuna app for your cell phone, pay the monthly charge and get access to many banjo tunings.

Sep 23, 2020 - 4:52:52 AM

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

I find that muting the other strings also helps with electronic tuners. But like the others said, definitely check you bridge placement first and possibly just lube the nut slots with a little graphite from a pencil.

I use those discreet little D'Adario ones. Sometimes, it will say my C is a G, or my G is an A. Always a fifth, so I figure it is picking up the overtone. By checking with the opposing strings, I've come to trust that it is in tune in these situations, but what a weird quirk.

Sep 23, 2020 - 5:09:55 AM
like this

AndyW

UK

589 posts since 7/4/2017

If you mean you can't tune CC to G just by adjusting the two strings that need adjusting I think you'll find everyone is in the same boat. You can shift those strings first to get in the ballpark, but adjusting strings changes the tension on the neck, so the last bit will always be to fine tune all the strings. (I'm assuming this is what you mean by having to retune from scratch.)

Sep 23, 2020 - 5:43:20 AM
like this

4898 posts since 5/14/2007

I'm with the bridge out of place theory, too. But the neck may be pulling or shifting with the changes in string tension.

These things are tempermental beasts.

Sep 23, 2020 - 9:00:18 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

40731 posts since 3/7/2006

If you are tuned right, try a C chord with first string fretted on second fret and all other strings open.. That should sound as a major chord even if the bridge is out of place a little. Then try to make a C chord an octave above: fret all strings on twelve tret and the first string on the 14th fret (with middle finger or ring finger). Does it still sound the same as the first (but one octave lower) the placement of the bridge should be OK, otherwise try to position so the the twelve fret  is exactly in the middle between the the nut and the bridge - or try to make harmonics, wheich sholuld be exactly above the twelve fret.

Sep 23, 2020 - 10:12:21 AM

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

A loose neck, but don't forget the issues with a head that's not at a good tension either. That would affect tuning stability.

Sep 23, 2020 - 11:07:41 AM
like this

1195 posts since 8/7/2017

All of the above suggestions are good. In addition....

Old strings are very hard to tune. Every time you tune, you stretch/unstretch the string, depending on whether you are tuning it to a higher note or lower note. Do this enough (retuning), and the string will develop stiffness in random spots along it's length. These discontinuities will screw up the natural harmonics of the string -- so even when the string is "in tune", the harmonics will be out of tune--result: bad sounding banjo.

Remedy: replace strings more often. Or, and this is my favorite, buy additional banjos so you can keep each in a different tuning, and thus save tens of dollars by not having to frequently purchase new strings :-)

stringsandbeyond.com/ has done well for my new string purchases (I purchase locally if possible, but the lockdown has affected string availability). I'm sure there are other online vendors other BHO members might suggest.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 09/23/2020 11:09:28

Sep 23, 2020 - 2:58:56 PM

QldPicker

Australia

89 posts since 4/17/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Vanjo

You can't live without double C tuning...
Also, Get guitar tuna app for your cell phone, pay the monthly charge and get access to many banjo tunings.


I would have to agree!

Without double C tuning in particular, the banjo would be boring.

Sep 23, 2020 - 3:41:52 PM

Vanjo

Canada

84 posts since 11/18/2017

I haven't played in open G in probably over a year... what I did do though is rework my favourite open G tunes for Old g tuning... they sound better that way to my ear.

Sep 24, 2020 - 12:24:51 AM

60 posts since 2/9/2015

I also have tuning difficulties with the 4th string in double C tuning. I've tightened the head, reset the bridge repeatedly, and put on new strings. The 4th string feels a bit floppy and loose when tuned down to C, and it sounds undefined and farty. Any tuning with the 4th tuned to D plays much more in tune, and the tone is much better; crisp and well defined.   Is this problem any better with a 12 inch rim? I've never played one.

Edited by - Paul Sutherland on 09/24/2020 00:26:39

Sep 24, 2020 - 1:07:19 AM
likes this

Expat

Kyrgyzstan

8 posts since 10/4/2014

I'd like to thank everyone for the great advice. I tried your tips to determine if the bridge was located correctly and no matter where I moved it, or what I did, I couldn't get it tuned correctly for Double C (despite the tuner saying it was correct). So I went ahead and replaced the strings. It still didn't work quite right, but the process got my guitar playing wife suddenly interested and she tuned my fourth string just a bit higher. Voila, it was tuned to double C.

I played around with it a bit and then went to G Modal and then to Open G without a problem. My double C tuning woes are gone. Thanks everyone, your help is great appreciated

Sep 24, 2020 - 6:03:54 AM

bjcole

USA

130 posts since 10/21/2007

Tuning my banjo always makes me appreciate how easy tuning my ukes and guitar is. I always need to recheck each string after tuning them the first time.

Sep 24, 2020 - 7:08:19 AM
like this

85 posts since 10/26/2018

Remember to tune UP to the note, otherwise you have slack above the nut that you release when you strike the strings which will quickly put you out of tune. If you have to tune a string down to pitch, you go past the note then back up to it. This keeps the tension even across the string length, tuner to bridge.

Edited by - WVDreamin on 09/24/2020 07:09:45

Sep 25, 2020 - 4:37:07 AM

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Paul Sutherland

I also have tuning difficulties with the 4th string in double C tuning. I've tightened the head, reset the bridge repeatedly, and put on new strings. The 4th string feels a bit floppy and loose when tuned down to C, and it sounds undefined and farty. Any tuning with the 4th tuned to D plays much more in tune, and the tone is much better; crisp and well defined.   Is this problem any better with a 12 inch rim? I've never played one.


I'd experiment with string guages. A 12" pot wouldn't effect this, but the banjo's scale length will and a lot of 12" pots seem to favour a slightly shorter (~25.5"[?]) scale length. Try a different string guage. 

Edited by - Tweelo on 09/25/2020 04:39:01

Sep 25, 2020 - 7:48:32 AM

1195 posts since 8/7/2017

Tweeloo has a good point. I found that light gauge strings would not give as good intonation as medium strings for one of my banjos. This banjo has a needlessly high action, according to a luthier I trust - he's going to lower the nut (and make some other adjustments, including replacing the worn out frets above the 5th fret). Lower action should lead to better intonation. I don't like the sound of medium gauge strings as much as light, so will go back to light gauge. Everything about a banjo is a compromise; this is not necessarily bad, you can set it up to sound the way you like it :-)

Edited by - BrooksMT on 09/25/2020 07:49:21

Sep 25, 2020 - 12:00:46 PM

AndyW

UK

589 posts since 7/4/2017

I also find intonation with light strings to be a problem. Even more so fretting where anything other than a featherlight touch can send notes sharp. I also agree high action makes it much worse. For me high action is a must to get my thumb well under the fifth, so I'm in the other boat. I will be swapping out the light strings I have tried out and am going back to medium.

Sep 25, 2020 - 1:47:53 PM
like this

613 posts since 5/20/2008

I have owned several banjos in my time, both low end and high end. A few observations come to mind:

1. Not all banjos are created equal, intonation-wise. You may have a fretboard with issues. Unfortunately, your location is such that it may be hard for you to sort out if the problem is with your instrument.  I replaced the fretboard on one of my high end instruments, and the tuning was dramatically improved. 

2. Professional set-up can be a life-saver. Again, your location may be an issue. But if you can find a banjo wizard near you, then take advantage.  Beware of experienced guitar luthiers/repairmen who think they know banjos.  You want a specialist.   Bridge placement can be especially tricky for us amateurs.  So many factors go into intonation, and it can be bewildering if you don't know exactly what is going on or exactly what to do.   I've screwed up many times by futzing around on my own.

3,  I drove several hours, and waited several months without my banjo, for fretboard replacement and professional setup, it was well worth the wait. 

4. Other than to verify basic pitch, i.e. C, stop using the tuner and start using your ears.  Tuning every string to the tuner is a recipe for trouble.  Fretted instruments are notorious. We all make minute adjustments, depending upon the tuning, to arrive at a compromise that is pleasing to our ears. This takes time, and experience, but you'll get there.  Think small increments.   Read some articles online about why fretted instruments are, in and of themselves, a compromise.  The finest of fretted instruments do not play perfectly in tune at every fret and for every purpose. 

5. With all of my banjos, the lower the action, the better in tune.  Others may disagree, but that is my direct experience.   I think high action, and whamming away for more volume, is overrated.  smiley  I'd rather have more pleasing intonation, even if I sacrifice a bit of volume. 

6.  Sometimes, your ear and/or the instrument just have bad days.  Put the instrument back in the case, and pick it up another time. 

7.  Humidity and climate can play havoc.  Try to keep your instrument in an environment that is at least 40% relative humidity.  If you're in a very dry climate, then keep a damp sponge in the case, and keep the instrument in the case, to help with humidity. 

8.  I, too, avoid light strings, and use medium light or medium depending upon the gauge.  I even will substitute out a particular string from a package if I think the gauge should be different.   In particular, I often want a stronger 3rd string than is available with many sets. 

There ya go.  My two cents thus far.

 

 

'

Edited by - Matt Buckley on 09/25/2020 13:52:38

Sep 25, 2020 - 2:02:19 PM
likes this

613 posts since 5/20/2008

P.S. If you are using a tuner for every string, and something sounds wrong to you, then I would say that is very encouraging. Your ear is telling you that something is off, and that suggests your ear is just fine.   Extreme, I know, but I have often myself wanting to grab folks' tuners and throw them (the tuners, not the folks) out the window.  Well, maybe sometimes the folks. 

Edited by - Matt Buckley on 09/25/2020 14:03:09

Oct 2, 2020 - 7:59:11 AM

72 posts since 8/1/2012

As said above, there is a lot of compromising when setting up the banjo. I've learned a lot about my banjos by trying to get things acceptable to me. Some years back I got a banjo (from a very well known respectable maker) to use as a lighter weight 2nd instrument. I could NOT get it to sound right in double c to my ears. Each string sounded fine, both to the tuner and my ears. But when I played it, it just had the overall impression of being out of tune. So I'd check the strings out again. Fine. Play it, it made me wince. I guessed there were some overtones that just weren't sounding right. The strings were lightweight, which probably had something to do with it, and looking back, I might have tried to tighten the head. (I sold it.)
My new banjo has a higher action than my current one, and came with lighter weight strings. I noticed some of the same problems with the sound of double c. I replaced the Renaissance head to a Fiberskyn to cut down on the ringing, (I don't like to stuff if I can avoid it) tightened the head, put a medium Moon bridge on, and put medium strings on. Plus, I bought a set of strings specifically to get a certain lighter weight wound that I could put on for the third string, which was giving me intonation problems when fretting up. It's not as clear a tone, but bam! fixed that pesky issue.

Oct 3, 2020 - 6:31:07 AM

126 posts since 7/14/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Paul Sutherland

The 4th string feels a bit floppy and loose when tuned down to C, and it sounds undefined and farty. 


Every string has a minimum working tension, and below that tension it won't work properly, with exactly the symptoms you describe.

A heavier 4th string will work better as a C because it needs higher tension to make the C note. However, tuned back up it might feel rather stiff. There's no free lunch here!

Oct 8, 2020 - 5:23:38 AM

10949 posts since 6/17/2003

If the bridge is correctly placed, put on a capo at any fret, tune the banjo, and if the problem is corrected, you have a worn nut.  If the problem persists, try another bridge in case your bridge slots are worn.  Good luck!

Oct 9, 2020 - 10:22:08 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4730 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

The 4th string, being kinda flabby at this tension, sometimes takes a little coaxing to get it to sound right in this tuning. Like others have already mentioned, the bridge does need to be at the proper location. If you haven't seen it before, here's a handy routine to help you get there:

https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm

Despite what an electronic tuner tells me, I find the easiest way the get the forth string to toe the line: go by the pitch of the properly tuned 3rd string. Play the C chord at the 5th fret: 1st string fretted at the 5th, 2nd string at the forth and 3rd string at the fifth, 4th string open > tune the open 4th string to get it to sound right and gels with the other 3 fretted strings.

Keep in mind, the head being made of a flexible material, it usually means that tuning/retuning 1 string on a banjo that the others also need to be re-checked.

Yes, I also find light gauge string (like 0.09~0.20) to be problematic for intonation on some banjos.

Banjos... Hmmm, the craziest and delightfully weird inventions, aren't they smiley

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.328125