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Oct 30, 2020 - 8:39 AM
6 posts since 7/3/2017

Hi guys,
Im new to the fretless banjo and prefer the low D tuning. I understand Aquila have strings for this setup but i found them too light for myself as I've a heavy hand when it comes to frailing.
Has anyone tried heavier gauges and found no issues with neck warp etc. ?
Kindest regards,
Seán

Oct 30, 2020 - 8:53:10 AM
Players Union Member

blazo

USA

229 posts since 5/16/2017

I found Aquila 7b Minstrel stings too light as well. After some experimentation, I've settled on in gauges 31*2, 34, 40 and 36w to make my own set for low D (minstrel) tuning. No neck problems to report.

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:26:24 AM

BelfastFiveString

Northern Ireland

135 posts since 7/22/2020

Sean, try Clifford Essex ones from Britain.

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:31:57 AM

789 posts since 1/30/2019

quote:
Originally posted by DublinLongNeck1993

Hi guys,
Im new to the fretless banjo and prefer the low D tuning. I understand Aquila have strings for this setup but i found them too light for myself as I've a heavy hand when it comes to frailing.
Has anyone tried heavier gauges and found no issues with neck warp etc. ?
Kindest regards,
Seán


I use Aquila red series (normal tension gDGBG set) on my fretless, tuned down to E, but not as low as D. They are fine at this. 

I've never tuned them much higher either to be honest. People say they break easily, I've never broken one ever. I've been looking for an Aquila minstrel set, but every where I look is out of stock.

Good luck with the playing!

Andy

Oct 30, 2020 - 1:28:56 PM
likes this

m06

England

9236 posts since 10/5/2006

Assuming your neck has a truss rod, have you tried steel strings on your fretless?

I play fretless the majority of the time and never touch nylons strings. Their feel is too rubbery for my taste and they don't contribute to the sound I want. In fact they specifically distract from it especially at lower tension.

A fretless strung with steel offers aspects of tone that are lost with the seeming 'convention' that fretless=nylon. Steel are definitely worth experimenting with.

Oct 31, 2020 - 8:35:11 AM

Helix

USA

13072 posts since 8/30/2006

I’ve read your homepage

1.what Banjo is the fretless
2. What fingerstyle are you playing
3. And lose the nylon if you can
4. Post some pictures of your Clipper
How much does it weigh

Oct 31, 2020 - 10:20:04 AM

m06

England

9236 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I’ve read your homepage

1.what Banjo is the fretless
2. What fingerstyle are you playing
3. And lose the nylon if you can
4. Post some pictures of your Clipper
How much does it weigh


I looked too and assume that one or both of his vintage banjos are fretless.

Edited by - m06 on 10/31/2020 10:21:10

Oct 31, 2020 - 10:49:22 AM

Helix

USA

13072 posts since 8/30/2006

I guess he's working on it.

In Europe, you have just a few banjo manufacturers, yet the Isles must be full of banjo parts. I note the imports you are offered are fewer featured entry level over-priced and not ready for steady playing. Then finer banjos have fine prices.

I would encourage a team to form a banjo company where base wages were shared and premiums were paid for specialists. Re invent everything from cases to using trees and repurposed wooden items to the difficult issues of plastic and foundry and plating smoke.
Get a grant, train young people for the future. Make something new.

China has no problem with the carbon footprint of their manufacturers.
I see other product from small or former greats, but they are too expensive, or it's too much of a niche market.

There is no merit badge banjo, something sturdy and adjustable. The advancements of the Pharoah's chariot come to mind.

This competition has been going on for banjos for more than a century. This forum helped explode myths and make tutorial and all other information available. We can talk with our friends across Oceania, we should plan for banjo in outer space, weightless banjo, a weightless banjo? what a concept.

Oct 31, 2020 - 1:51:43 PM

m06

England

9236 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I guess he's working on it.

In Europe, you have just a few banjo manufacturers, yet the Isles must be full of banjo parts. I note the imports you are offered are fewer featured entry level over-priced and not ready for steady playing. Then finer banjos have fine prices.

I would encourage a team to form a banjo company where base wages were shared and premiums were paid for specialists. Re invent everything from cases to using trees and repurposed wooden items to the difficult issues of plastic and foundry and plating smoke.
Get a grant, train young people for the future. Make something new.

China has no problem with the carbon footprint of their manufacturers.
I see other product from small or former greats, but they are too expensive, or it's too much of a niche market.

There is no merit badge banjo, something sturdy and adjustable. The advancements of the Pharoah's chariot come to mind.

This competition has been going on for banjos for more than a century. This forum helped explode myths and make tutorial and all other information available. We can talk with our friends across Oceania, we should plan for banjo in outer space, weightless banjo, a weightless banjo? what a concept.


Here in the UK we have a very healthy community of individual custom-makers making banjos that are the equal of those in the US. There have been companies established in recent years who have attempted to scale up and offer an affordable, decent quality production banjo but sadly their endeavour fails. The reason is not so much that the market here is too small overall, but rather that there isn't a sustainable niche between the economics of the far east and the custom-builder. 

I guess some of these companies figured that setting a price between Asian factory-made and custom-build was a workable business model. But they overlook that Asian banjos are no longer poor quality and the cheaper Asian product is as good as or better than their slickly marketed no-niche white elephant. And the overheads of scaled-up production cause the whole enterprise to hit the buffers.

A banjo player here is often a guitar-player first and takes up banjo on a budget Asian import instrument. If they sustain their interest and progress then the home-based custom luthiers can provide the desired upgrade in quality. Not everyone fits that purchasing pattern but most do.

 

But I digress...

Edited by - m06 on 10/31/2020 14:09:03

Oct 31, 2020 - 2:20:45 PM

Helix

USA

13072 posts since 8/30/2006

No digression. I’d enjoy Acquaintancing many of these people

(A plywood plant was bought by the employees, they equaled everything out and even hired Canadian managers. Everybody made more money + bonuses and had better health care. It stabilized the community and taxes and schools)

Oct 31, 2020 - 9:55:19 PM
likes this

5883 posts since 3/11/2006

I was tuning my Bowlin Fretless to low-D but have since changed to low-E.
Either way, with a 24" scale my gauges may not be suitable to your banjo unless
it is also a 24".

Boston Catlines provides many different strings, specializing in early instruments like lutes.
They have a wide variety of gauges in NylGut, and they are a natural gut color as opposed to
the bright white.

If you supply him with your tuning and scale length, Chris can recommend gauges for you.
Great service, products, and expert help.

bostoncatlines.com

Nov 6, 2020 - 4:08:36 AM

6 posts since 7/3/2017

quote:
Originally posted by blazo

I found Aquila 7b Minstrel stings too light as well. After some experimentation, I've settled on in gauges 31*2, 34, 40 and 36w to make my own set for low D (minstrel) tuning. No neck problems to report.


Thanks for the gauges i must try them.

Seán 

Nov 6, 2020 - 4:10:07 AM

6 posts since 7/3/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I’ve read your homepage

1.what Banjo is the fretless
2. What fingerstyle are you playing
3. And lose the nylon if you can
4. Post some pictures of your Clipper
How much does it weigh


Its a mountain banjo with no truss rod. I play up picking frailing and classic banjo. 

Nov 6, 2020 - 10:19:05 AM
Players Union Member

blazo

USA

229 posts since 5/16/2017

quote:
Originally posted by DublinLongNeck1993
quote:
Originally posted by blazo

I found Aquila 7b Minstrel stings too light as well. After some experimentation, I've settled on in gauges 31*2, 34, 40 and 36w to make my own set for low D (minstrel) tuning. No neck problems to report.


Thanks for the gauges i must try them.

Seán 


I forgot to mention that those strings are La Bella singles on a 26 1/4" scale banjo.

Edited by - blazo on 11/06/2020 10:20:44

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