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Apr 4, 2021 - 9:37:50 AM
19 posts since 7/21/2011

Hello all, how is everyone. Hope you don't mind me asking a question, but thought I would try. I have a banjo and trying to get my action right on it. Have never messed with the setup a whole lot on banjos, just changing strings, bride, tailpiece is about it. I kept hearing a buzz, so i adjusted the truss rod to raise the action. It got rid of the buzz, but now it seems to be too high action up the neck, but about right toward the other end of the neck, 1st thru 5th fret. So I tried to adjust truss rod back to lower action on the high end of the neck, but every time I do it makes the action too low up toward the nut end of the neck. Is there something else I need to to besides truss rod adjustments? Kind of scared to mess with cordinator rods, never have. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

Apr 4, 2021 - 9:46:07 AM
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2130 posts since 2/12/2009

I think what this does show is that adjusting truss rods is not the best way to change the action on a banjo, neck angle relative to the pot, bridge height, nut height, these are the adjustments I would be looking at first. Truss rods are for adjusting the straightness of the neck only ! I have zero neck relief in any of my twenty or so stringed instruments and none of them buzzes anywhere, all play with perfect action.

Apr 4, 2021 - 9:59:35 AM

19 posts since 7/21/2011

Thank you for the reply. Can you please explain a little more on what you mean by neck angle relative to the pot. Should I try to adjust truss rod at about where it was before i started messing with it? Then try the nut and bridge thing? Or how do I get the correct neck angle to the pot?

Apr 4, 2021 - 10:48:41 AM

1721 posts since 2/4/2013

How high is the action at the 12th fret?

Apr 4, 2021 - 11:34:26 AM

2130 posts since 2/12/2009

Robert, what banjo is it ? style,make, is it new ? have you visually checked the neck for straightness ? from what you describe you could possibly have a crown in the neck or perhaps a defective top nut ie; too low, if the banjo is reasonably new and of decent quality then the neck to heel joint should not really need attention unless somebody already buggered around with it, is there anybody near you who is familiar with banjos ? I would be inclined to tighten/loosen the trussrod to the point where the neck is straight when the banjo is tuned up to pitch and, visually check if any frets are proud not seated and dressed properly and if the buzz persists see if the top nut is too low, or just take it to a respected luthier for a full and decent setup .

Apr 4, 2021 - 1:17:25 PM



11741 posts since 2/7/2008

If your neck has a hump on the fingerboard it will likely buzz, also caused by a high fret or a worn down fret.

A very flat neck could buzz unless frets are close to perfect. Most people have their necks very slightly concave to prevent buzzing. Capo at fret 1, hold string down at highest fret and clearance in the middle of the neck around fret 9 like .008".

You can now adjust action by height of nut and bridge or by adjusting coordinator rods or by shimming or recarving the neck heel.

A typical action on a banjo is 7/64" from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the 4th string.

Banjos are not guitars, necks are longer, picking technique is different. It is unlikely that you can get action as low as a guitar without buzzing.

Apr 4, 2021 - 2:18:50 PM

11722 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by bobbob4rd

I kept hearing a buzz, so i adjusted the truss rod to raise the action.  . . .  Kind of scared to mess with cordinator rods . . .

What no one seems to be saying outright is that the truss rod is not for adjusting action -- though good action in the low frets is one result of correct truss rod setting.

Truss rods are for setting the right amount of "relief" -- very small up-bow -- that begins around the 8th fret. Someone else described the typical condition of a well-adjusted neck as being slightly concave.

Proper relief eliminates buzzing in the low frets by elevating the nut relative to the heel end of the neck. It also promotes gradual and even increase in string height (action) over the length of the neck. Action is measured at either the 12th or 22nd fret.  The 7/64-inch at 12 recommended above should get you about 1/8-inch at 22.

Before doing anything else, return the truss rod to where it was before you started changing it, or set it so that string height in the first 5 frets to where playing is comfortable with no buzz.  I believe good relief is in the range of .01 to .015, measured at the 8th fret as previously described using a string as a straight edge by capoing at 1 and fretting the string at 17 or higher. Use a feeler gauge to measure. I usually do the 4th string.

Too bad you're scared to adjust a coordinator rod, because other than recutting the heel or adding a shim, that's how small changes in action can be achieved. To lower action, loosen the inside nut at the tailpiece end of the lower coordinator rod about 1/6 turn (easy to determine since it's a hexagonal nut). Tighten the outside nut the same amount, or a touch more if it doesn't feel snug. Check tuning then play up the neck to test how the action feels. Measure it to see where it is. If not low enough for your taste, repeat the above process: loosening the inside nut only 1/6 of a turn.

If your action was very high, then the amount of coordinator rod adjustment to lower it might  put too much stress on the rim and could possibly alter the fit of the tone to an extent that you hear a reduction in sound.

To lower action by shimming, you need to loosen the neck and insert a thin wood, metal or plastic shim on both sides of the heel adjacent to the upper lag bolt. This will tilt the neck back relative to the pot.  I cut shims from 2x3 maple veneer "cards" that I bought on  A few bucks for a pack of 10.  Some people use brass shim stock available at hobby stores, pieces of aluminum beer or soda can, or cut up credit card. No predicting the thickness of shim you'll need, but I'd guess something in the range of .01 to .02 inch might do.

Good luck.

Apr 4, 2021 - 4:47:32 PM

8569 posts since 8/28/2013

Adjusting the truss rod is NOT the way to adress "hearing a buzz." There are many things that can cause buzzing, and it's extremely rare for it to be the result of a poorly adjusted truss rod.

Head tension often gets slack, which has the effect of lowering the bridge. Sometimes a string might vibrate against the tailpiece or some other part. A tension hook might be slightly loose. Nut or bridge slots may be the culprit. A fret may have worked its way slightly out of the fretboard so a string touches it at certain times. The truss rod won't fix any of these issues,

You need to set the truss rod back to where it was, and then look at other possible causes of that buzz. Be sure to report as to what conditions (open string, fretted string, which string, etc.) buzzing occurs so that people here can help you find its cause.

Apr 5, 2021 - 5:07:21 AM
Players Union Member



14058 posts since 8/30/2006

Thank you for the reply. Can you please explain a little more on what you mean by neck angle relative to the pot. Should I try to adjust truss rod at about where it was before i started messing with it? Then try the nut and bridge thing? Or how do I get the correct neck angle to the pot?

Show us some photos, please.

Here's a beginning suggestion.

1. adjust the head tightness if needed.

2. Set the bridge. distance from the nut to the 12th fret = distance to the bridge.

3. Set the tailpiece to medium tension, not too tight.

4. Set the truss rod. Capo 1st string at the 1st fret, push down on the 22nd fret and measure the string height at the 7th fret. this sets the slight curl in the neck needed to play accurately. Again, only if needed.

5. Adjust rim rods if needed. Loosen all nuts inside the banjo on both rods. The top rod only attaches the neck, the bottom rod does the adjusting of the rim to slightly warp it so the action of the strings at the tension hoop is lower or higher.

This will help you have an idea of where you are going, and how to get there.

the negative naysayers are always here, you can listen to their suggestions with discretion. You have the right to adjust your own banjo.
We won't be putting you down, only trying to help from hurting your rigadoo. Play often.

Now for the neck angle. Somewhere between 2 and 4 degrees slant down away from the banjo rim. I use 3 degrees standard, neutral rim rods and a 5/8" bridge to get going.  Shimming is only necessary if the heel is cut incorrectly.  I doubt you will be needing a shim, but we can see.

throwing that information at you without reference is not as helpful.

You are not required to report to us, there is nothing but friendly here. 

Now , please let us know your solution.

Edited by - Helix on 04/05/2021 05:20:18

Apr 5, 2021 - 8:18:29 AM
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74546 posts since 5/9/2007

Put all your tools down and back away from the banjo.

Apr 5, 2021 - 10:39:12 AM

8569 posts since 8/28/2013

"You are not required to report to us, there is nothing but friendly here." Of course you aren't required, and this remark is just stating the obvious.

However, while it isn't required, it's always good practice in order to receive information when encountering a problem such as a buzz. Reporting a problem as specifically as possible is one of the best ways to get good information on repairing the issue. It beats a lot of wasted time shooting in the dark.

I doubt if you would have needed truss rod advice had you reported the buzz first.

Apr 5, 2021 - 11:05:52 AM

381 posts since 4/11/2019

I can't believe no one had the heart to be truthful with the OP.


Apr 5, 2021 - 11:29:55 AM

2801 posts since 12/4/2009


When I received my RB-12, it buzzed in many places. The warranty card was not filled out. I called Gibson and explained my problem. He said I needed to adjust the Truss Rod. He described the process. I completed the task and the buzzing went away. 

Edited by - Aradobanjo on 04/05/2021 11:30:14

Apr 5, 2021 - 7:57:27 PM
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11722 posts since 6/2/2008

Truss rod adjustment is the correct fix if the buzz is in the first five frets from the neck being too flat (insufficient relief) or being in back-bow.

The truss rod nut should be turned only in very small increments: one-eighth to one-sixth at a time. A nut that puts up resistance should not be forced. You can do serious damage. If measurement shows that truss rod adjustment is needed and the nit won’t turn, take the banjo to a qualified repair person.

Apr 6, 2021 - 8:09:09 AM

2801 posts since 12/4/2009


I was actually surprised to have to supply relief. I received my Gold Star FE-100 brand new in 1985. No truss rod adjustment was required.

I did use the measurement and small increments as was suggested. The banjo was unsold inventory at a music store.

Apr 10, 2021 - 4:34:18 PM

19 posts since 7/21/2011

Thanks for all of the replies, I really appreciate it. I'll have to mess with it some more. Think I'm going to try to get it back where it was before I started messing with it and go from there. I just heard a buzz in and messed with it. Tim Davis had it all buttoned up tight and right when I got it. It's a Davis Don Reno model I got from a few months a go. Well made banjo. I wish I was close to him I know he could get it right. No Luthiers around here where I live at.

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