I’ve been wanting a fretless banjo for a while now and I happened upon this very cheap one and jumped on it. Now I could be putting the cart before the horse here since it hasn’t even shipped yet, but looking over the pictures obsessively while I wait, I started worrying about the action as you can see in this pic. Is that normal for a fretless, or am I going to have to take a crash course in adjusting the neck/dowel stick? Or do I just need a shorter bridge? Or maybe I should just quit giving myself anxiety and wait until I’ve actually seen the darn thing? Help put my anxious mind to rest.
Edited by - waphel on 10/24/2020 08:37:04
I've got a similar Matthews. It too had a slightly high action.
I shimmed the neck where it meets the bracket band and lowered the bridge.
With Nylgut strings it still has a higher action than my fretted banjos but, for me, that works better for fretless playing. The action feels fine when I'm playing.
The Matthews is really good quality instrument with a great neck. I've owned mine for well over 40 years.
Edited by - jazz-phil on 10/24/2020 09:42:42
Bear in mind you won't be going high up the neck on a fretless, maybe the odd venture to 7 or 9 on the first string. So a high action might not pose as much of a problem as you think. A lower bridge will lower the action for you.
1/2" bridge, thin nylon strings and action right around 1/4" (more or less) at the 12th is correct.
If you want a modern "old time" fretless with steel strings low action and high bridge, get one of those-- luckily those are still being made.
Thank you all so much for the advice. This is my first foray into old time banjos at all, let alone fretless, nylon strings, etc. So I'm feeling a little over my head, but this all helps a ton. I appreciate it.
I'll echo what others have said . . . It should have high action with a 1/2" or 3/8" bridge. Try setting it up with light gauge nylon.
'My sad tale of woe' 2 hrs
'JD Crowe lick' 2 hrs