Hello! I am totally new to playing banjo and I just recently got my first, a Gold Tone AC-1 5 string banjo. I managed to snap a string already when just trying to tune it... like I said, I'm new, and I guess I went too tight. So now I'm looking into replacing the string I broke, which is something I'd have to learn anyways...
However I'm hitting a snag with the tail piece. No matter what tutorial I watch no one says anything about how you open the tail piece? This gold tone one seems to work differently from all the others I see in videos. Initially I thought the peg might be what removes it but after looking it up that looks to be adjusting the banjo's tone.
So, anyone have experience with this particular tail piece and know how I change the strings with it? Am I overthinking it...? I just cannot figure out how to "open" it, if it even does, and none of my searches have turned anything up. And for that little "peg" part of it... is there some kind of tool I need to tighten it again? Or something that would work for that?
Thank you in advance... and I'm SO sorry if it's a stupid question LOL. And let me know if I need to provide anymore info!
Welcome to the Hangout. The tailpiece does not open. You put the string through the hole in the back of the tailpiece and pull it through. The Peg is used to adjust the height of the tailpiece over the head, thereby putting more or less down pressure on the bridge.
Edited by - sculliganman on 03/03/2021 20:26:35
Maybe I am missing something but shouldn't the other strings provide a model or pattern to follow in replacing a broken string? Not trying to be smart alecky in my reply. Just not sure what is presenting the problem but also not sure what type tailpiece the referenced banjo wears.
Looking at pictures of that model banjo, it looks like the string attaches at to a tab on the tailpiece and goes thru a hole and under the tailpiece, there is a second tailpiece that works similarly but the string goes under tab at the front of the tailpiece. As Bobby says above, look at how the other strings are attached and attache the broken string accordingly. And don't take all of the strings off of the banjo at one time unless you have already marked where the bridge goes.
Here's a photo of a Gold Tone AC 1 tailpiece from the Web.
As Robert Buckingham and others said, this tailpiece doesn't "open" at all. You hook the loop in your new string over that little metal tab that sticks out of the side of the tailpiece -- as the other strings do. Next, you somewhat awkwardly hold that loop in place, so it doesn't fall off, while you take the other end of the string and poke it through that little hole that's just above the tab, like the other strings.
Now, more fun! Again, holding the loop end in place with one hand so it won't fall off, you push the other end of the string until it appears again from underneath the shadow of the tailpiece. Now, pushing a springy metal banjo string is not as predictable as you might think! It might come out to one side or the other or even turn around and dive down between the white plastic head and the metal stretcher band! Whenever you do see the pointy end of the string, pinch it between thumb and finger and pull it up over the correct string notch in your bridge. If you're doing the outside strings, either 1st or 5th, it's not too tricky. If it's an inside string like 2, 3 or 4, you get to enjoy the fun of pulling it up from the front of the tailpiece while also "steering" it to "stay in its lane" relative to the other 4 strings. Needle nose pliers might be helpful to pick up that string end. Yes it can be frustrating, but you just have to stick with it til you get the rascal pulled up over the bridge and hooked to the tuning peg! All the while holding onto the loop end so it doesn't fall off...
One thing that helps quite a bit: DON'T hook the loop over the metal tab as your first step! Leave the loop end free. Poke the pointed end through the little hole, do all the business about guiding it to the correct spot on the bridge, and headed for the tuning peg, and THEN make a little 90 degree bend in the looped part of the string, and hook it under the metal tab. I do this with my fingers. Sometimes this helps prevent the loop end from jumping off the metal tab while you work at the tuning peg. A little piece of masking tape down by the metal tab might be in order to keep that loop in place until you get the string tightened up a little with the tuner.
Cheap tailpieces are a PAIN! Even some of the old vintage high quality desirable tailpieces are a huge pain to "thread" a string on.
Some banjo pickers avoid this hassle by using "ball end" strings instead of "loop end". With ball end strings you just poke the pointy end through the hole, thread it over the bridge and pull the string toward the tuning peg until the "ball" end fetches up on the tailpiece. It doesn't use the tab at all.
Hang in there, and good luck. You're not alone in cursing tailpiece design!!
Edited by - The Old Timer on 03/04/2021 08:02:15
Thanks a ton for all the help!! It was hard for me to see how the other strings were attached, but now I see how the loops are hooked on. So I think I get it now! I will try restringing after work today.
Remember to change 1 string at a time or else both your bridge and tailpiece will shift all over the place and it will take much longer to restring.
'Best covers' 54 min
'ODE' 4 hrs