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Jan 24, 2021 - 3:59:12 PM
2 posts since 1/24/2021

Hi Guys,

I'm brand new to the banjo and brand new to the forum, so 'hi'....

I received an inexpensive mini banjo for Christmas....and I love it!!! I don't care if it's just a $100ish instrument made in China, I can't stop playing it...(I've been a guitar player my whole life).

It came tuned to open C (CGCEG) with these strings: .011, .024w, 016, .013, .011...
On the Amazon page (it's a Mulucky 5 string mini) it says it can be tuned to G tuning using thicker strings: .016, .034w, .024w, .018, .016...

I broke a .011 last night playin' Scruggs style and I think I want to go to the standard G tuning with the thicker strings....

Any thoughts on this? I have a history of breaking strings on guitar so I always prefer thicker strings...

Oh one other question or request for advice....the string I broke happened at the nut....if it was a guitar I'd think there was a burr in the saddle or something needing filing...I assume it is the same on a banjo but I don't want to jump to any conclusions....

Any advice or thoughts will be greatly appreciated....


I love the banjo!!!!

Jan 25, 2021 - 7:02:45 AM



1351 posts since 8/30/2012

Here is some guidance I previously wrote for a mini banjo:

You'll have to do some experimenting for sure. I bought a lot of single strings from to find what worked.

I also used this website to calculate string tension to help guide my experiments:

I know that you can't go above 16 plain steel, or it sounds terrible. Realistically I think 15 is the biggest you should go unwound. You could always try to go with a wound 3rd string but I hate the feeling when you slide.

I had a gold tone bg-mini which is similar, and also tried to run it in G. In this thread I say I'm using (12,14,16,28w,12)

After a lot of playing around with it, I found that using (12,14,16,28w,12) worked the best for open G. This was basically the result of increasing string gage incrementally until the strings were too thick, and then backing down one level. You could try going 11-13-15-26w-11 and see if it works for you, but for me they didn't have enough tension in open G.

I would check the nut for burrs if that's where your string broke.

Jan 25, 2021 - 7:06:33 AM



1351 posts since 8/30/2012

Personally I think you're better off running in open A rather than open C. Most fiddle tunes are in A rather than G, and most bluegrass tunes work just fine in A. It also solves some of the issues with string gage/tension when having such a low tuning on a short scale.

Jan 25, 2021 - 9:14:11 AM

1385 posts since 2/9/2007
Online Now

If you're getting that much of a kick out of what really is not much more than a toy, I'd recommend getting a real (full-size) banjo of as good a quality as you can afford. If funds are low, and you can't find a suitable one used, I'd say to stick with a lower-end Recording King or Gold Tone, and stay away from the straight-from-the-Chinese-factory ones (which are a bit cheaper, but way less consistent).

Jan 25, 2021 - 2:34:33 PM

2 posts since 1/24/2021



Thanks so much for the very helpful post!  I'm glad you mentioned the possibility of tuning to A rather than G, I saw a video by banjo maker and old time musician Aaron Keim where he suggests that as well....

I have a long history with string breaking, lol....when I first bought a Telecaster,  the way the strings come up from the backside at a right angle had me breaking strings constantly....I quickly learned to setup with heavy strings and got my fingers to be stronger, ha...

I'm making note of your string suggestions and I'll post in the future to share how it goes.

Eventually I will get a full size banjo to play but in the meantime this is serving me will in both clawhammer and Scruggs much fun!

Thanks again!


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