I have a Clareen tenor banjo that I bought second hand a few months ago. I was recently checking the bridge position after changing strings and I noticed that the G, D and E strings are all in tune with their harmonic or whatever it is called on the 12th fret, but the A string is flat by a little bit. This is confusing me to death because I've always thought that if the G and E strings are in tune with themselves, I have the bridge in the right spot. I've been checking using a Snark tuner with the 'mic' setting on. It does sound fine when I play it however sometimes I do feel like the A and the E string are out of tune to my ears, but when I ask my roommate he is unable to tell. Does this sound like a problem or should I just leave it?
I've also noticed when I tuning it the A string might sometimes *click* and then suddenly become a lot sharper, not sure if this is relevant or not; none of the other strings do this.
The click indicates the string is pinched the nut. First thing to do is sharpen a pencil and draw a line of graphite in the string slot. If that issue still persists, the nut may need to have a nut file go through the slot to widen the slot slightly.
The intonation issue could be a defective string. Worth changing the A since that is an inexpensive test.
Another thing to consider is wound strings and plain strings intonate differently.
Thanks for the replies, Bob Smakula will try switching out the A string today and using the lead pencil.
martyjoe I believe my GDA strings are all wound, but the E strong is not wound, but instead just a plain steel string.
I also should probably mention, as the anchor points for the strings on the tailpiece were too large for the E string loop, I had to wrap it around and back through itself to make a larger hole. I spent ages trying to widen the loop using all manner of tools and ended up just giving up. I'm not sure if this would have any impact on the situation?
I would guess that this banjo was originally made for CGDA tuning, which uses smaller string gauges. I would use the pencil on ALL of the nut slots, and widen any slots that still seem to bind. You should also check the bridge slots.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean about your "E" string, but I don't think that it's part of the intonation problem.
My first thought would be a tight slot in the bridge but Bob is right, the nut could just as easily be the problem. George made a good point too, the banjo was probably made for jazz tuning with lighter strings. His suggestion is a good one.
If it's a Clareen banjo, it's an Irish made banjo for Irish GDAE tuning. I prefer to use wound GDA and a plain E, but there are a lot of sets available with the plain A. For all my 19 fret 23" tenors I use .036 (nickel), .026 (nickel), .016 (nickel) & .011 (plain). I've noticed a lot of players use slightly heavier sets which incorporate an .018 (wound) & a lot of players around here go for phosphor bronze winding. The bronze gives a louder brighter tone which is good for loud pub sessions, nickel has a softer sweeter tone which I prefer even for the loud pub sessions. I get my string sets from Clifford Essex in England.
Thanks for the replies.
martyjoe it's a 17 fret actually, and I'm currently using a .042, .03, .02 and .014 (all wound phosphor bronze except for the 0.014 which is plain steel).
Culloden If it's a tight slot in the bridge, would the graphite pencil fix this? If it's a nut problem, what would I have to do?
G Edward Porgie I tried the lead pencil trick and changed the string; this seems to have fixed the slipping of the string at least. It does seem to be in tune with itself better, however still not perfect on the A string :/
'GOLD STAR NECK' 4 min
'PREWAR FLATHEAD' 1 hr