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Oct 9, 2020 - 8:53:32 AM
368 posts since 9/4/2007

Realistically, and without breaking a medium-gauge string, how high (notewise) can one tune a 5th string without the danger of it breaking--on both a 25.5" and 26.25" scale. Just curious. I have spikes installed on my banjos.

Edited by - hayesdt on 10/09/2020 08:55:03

Oct 9, 2020 - 12:18:39 PM

Alex Z

USA

3996 posts since 12/7/2006

What exactly is the string gauge?  .010?  .011?

Oct 9, 2020 - 12:21:44 PM

KCJones

USA

976 posts since 8/30/2012

I've brought mine up to A# from G, but got kinda scared at that point.

You could always calculate string tension, and then compare that to known strengths of wire steel.

web.daddario.com/StringTensionPro/Search

componentsupplycompany.com/Sta...ength.php

Oct 9, 2020 - 12:26:26 PM

hayesdt

USA

368 posts since 9/4/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

What exactly is the string gauge?  .010?  .011?


.010

Oct 9, 2020 - 12:53:12 PM
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30 posts since 8/20/2015

I also use .010s and often tune up a half step to G# because its darn fun to play out of. I've never really been concerned with breaking a string at G#, though if I had to tune up to A I'd be sweating.

Edited by - Evan Swin on 10/09/2020 12:55:50

Oct 9, 2020 - 1:37:33 PM

3715 posts since 12/6/2009

back when I was more ignorant then now (50s) I knew nothing about spikes or 5th string capos. I would always go up to A no problem ever....on a Kay banjo....tried a B one time and bingo no go it broke. I was using mediums at the time.

Oct 9, 2020 - 2:08:22 PM

86 posts since 9/27/2014

I’ve tuned up to an A with a .010 but didn’t feel comfortable with this.

Oct 9, 2020 - 2:28:35 PM

hbick2

USA

276 posts since 6/26/2004

I've never had a problem tuning up a 5th string (.010) to A. I've got several banjos I've been too lazy to put spikes on and it works just fine. I guess I'm used to it. but it doesn't even seem to be a strain for it to go that high. I seldom break 5th strings and I play pretty hard. The only problem is that it tends to throw your other strings out a little.

Oct 9, 2020 - 3:57:40 PM
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Alex Z

USA

3996 posts since 12/7/2006

Since the 1st string and 5th string are the same tensions, can use experiences on 1st string to figure out about the 5th string.

5th string is .010.

Some medium sets have .011 for a 1st string.  .011 is light for a 2nd string, and so can tune up 3 frets from the B on the 2nd string to the D on the 1st string without breaking, essentially using the .011 string  on the 2nd or 1st string.

Based on this, I'd conclude that a .010 1st string can be tuned up 3 frets without breaking , and consequently a .010 5th string might be tuned up 3 frets without breaking.  Now

Beyond this, I'd only be guessing.  Those who have actual experience going higher than 3 fret might offer some help.

Oct 9, 2020 - 8:16:33 PM

7890 posts since 8/28/2013

KCJones has the most accurate solution.

Oct 10, 2020 - 10:20:33 AM

30 posts since 8/20/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

Since the 1st string and 5th string are the same tensions, can use experiences on 1st string to figure out about the 5th string.

5th string is .010.

Some medium sets have .011 for a 1st string.  .011 is light for a 2nd string, and so can tune up 3 frets from the B on the 2nd string to the D on the 1st string without breaking, essentially using the .011 string  on the 2nd or 1st string.

Based on this, I'd conclude that a .010 1st string can be tuned up 3 frets without breaking , and consequently a .010 5th string might be tuned up 3 frets without breaking.  Now

Beyond this, I'd only be guessing.  Those who have actual experience going higher than 3 fret might offer some help.


I understand your point, but I would believe  a .011 for the 2nd B would have less tension  on it than a .010 for a 1st D. Tuning up a .010 D three frets would most likely have a higher increase in tension than tuning up that B, which would hit a tension equal to that first string and then some after.

Oct 10, 2020 - 11:19:25 AM

Alex Z

USA

3996 posts since 12/7/2006

Thanks for the review.  Easy enough to work out and check.

Tuning up a .010 or an .011 plain string by 3 frets increases its tension by a factor of 1.18919.

A .011 string at D has 1.21 the tension of a .010 string at D.  And therefore tuning it down to B -- 3 frets lower -- would decrease its tension to by 1/1.18919 = .8409.  

So the comparative tension of the .011 string at B to the .010 string at D is 1.21 x .8409 = 1.0175.  This means that the .011 string is 1.75% higher in tension at B than the .010 string is at D.

Since a D banjo string is somewhere around 14 pounds of tension at D, the .011 string at B is 1.75% higher tension, or about 14.245 pounds.

I think that's close enough to make the comparison:  If a .011 string can be tuned up by 3 frets without breaking, then a .010 string can be tuned up by 3 frets without breaking.  Both strings start at almost the same tension -- 14.000 vs 14.245.

Beyond that, I don't have any experience.  I'd conjecture that the .011 string, being larger, could take significantly more tension than the .010 string before breaking.  Tuning the 5th string to A is not a problem.  I'm suggesting that tuning to Bb won't break the string.  After that, put a .010 string on the 5th string and crank it up until it breaks when playing.  Might cost a buck to experiment.  

Edited by - Alex Z on 10/10/2020 11:24:03

Oct 11, 2020 - 6:52:52 AM

665 posts since 6/9/2009

Oct 11, 2020 - 7:38:23 AM

1590 posts since 10/12/2011

Like others I've gone up to A and I always look away just in case the string breaks and backlashes. But to date I've never broke a 5th string doing it.

Oct 11, 2020 - 8:25:52 AM
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7890 posts since 8/28/2013

Easy enough to fing out. Simply tune up until the string breaks, then back off a little.

Oct 11, 2020 - 10:31:59 AM

AndyW

UK

609 posts since 7/4/2017

I tune the fifth (.10) between G and A all the time on my 26 inch scale banjo. Had a 27 inch that also happily tuned up to A but the string did feel a bit tighter.

Oct 11, 2020 - 12:44:07 PM

13275 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by hayesdt

Realistically, and without breaking a medium-gauge string, how high (notewise) can one tune a 5th string without the danger of it breaking--on both a 25.5" and 26.25" scale. Just curious. I have spikes installed on my banjos.


If you have spikes, you can tune it as high as there are spikes, maybe a full step higher and never change the string tension—it's just like fretting the string—there's no limit.  You could put spikes every other fret all the way up the neck if you wanted to tune the 5th string really really high.

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