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May 13, 2021 - 3:11:58 AM
23 posts since 8/7/2017

I've recently bought a new banjo (Deering Sierra) but I'm having trouble with the strings squeaking with I'm playing. Everytime I pick I get a loud squeaking sound which is hugely noticeable on audio - I never had this problem with my old Tanglewood banjo? I don't think it's a problem with my right hand position, and I tried new picks to no avail... Is it because the strings are new? Advice needed please!

May 13, 2021 - 4:40:52 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

25948 posts since 8/3/2003

I wonder if it's the way you're striking the string(s)? Maybe you're not striking and releasing but striking and scraping across. That could cause a squeaking sound. Different banjo, different neck, different feel from your other banjo? Just a thought. I'm sure others will have more ideas.

May 13, 2021 - 5:25:17 AM
like this

beegee

USA

22381 posts since 7/6/2005

Polish your picks and the examine the angle at which they meet the strings. You may need to rotate the picks on your finger or bend them to ensure they strike the strings fully on the flat surface of the pick.

May 13, 2021 - 5:29:51 AM

6125 posts since 10/13/2007

It would be my guess you are a little off clean from the way you are striking the strings. Try picking slow. set the metronome at 70 and pick one note per beat. And when you pick each note make sure you pick it solid and quick thru the string. Don't slide over it and make sure you are picking perpendicular to the string and not at an angle thru it. Also look at your picks and make sure you are picking thru the center of the pick.Getthe new feel with the new banjo of what you have to do to make a clean note.

I am certainly no expert, but that is the way I would try as I have had that before.

Good luck,

ken

May 13, 2021 - 5:38:35 AM

57439 posts since 12/14/2005

Mickey: "Dang it, Minnie, STOP SQUEAKING!"

Minnie: "Hah! YOU squeak every time you open your mouth!"

May 13, 2021 - 5:44:48 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

I've looked at my right hand but no amount of changing the pick angle stops the high pitch metal buzz when I pick the strings again...

May 13, 2021 - 5:50:31 AM

6125 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Dorset14

I've looked at my right hand but no amount of changing the pick angle stops the high pitch metal buzz when I pick the strings again...


Does it happen on all strings or just one string? Can you pick one note clean with either one or both thumb or finger where it was buzzing before? Are you near any good pickers that can try your banjo and see if it occurs with them? I would try those to see if it is the picker. If that is of no avail a lutheir needs to see (IMO) if your neck relief is ok or if anything in the neck or bridge is not clean. You could try a new or different bridge and see it that helps.

ken

May 13, 2021 - 6:08 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

All the strings are the same, just can't seem to get rid of the buzzing high pitched squeak everytime any pick makes contact with a string.... No one near to help and the shop I got it from is a long way away.... just can't work out if its me or the banjo or both!

May 13, 2021 - 6:14:49 AM

chuckv97

Canada

57623 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

I’d look for anything loose on the banjo - tailpiece, bridge (if cracked), tuning posts, j-bracket nuts, resonator bolts, etc. Vibrations from strings can set off weird noises. Good luck!

May 13, 2021 - 6:32:02 AM

Owen

Canada

8647 posts since 6/5/2011

I say just throw in the towel... learn to live with [embrace?], the squeak!   cheeky

May 13, 2021 - 6:35:16 AM
Players Union Member

spini

USA

409 posts since 9/10/2014

Check the set up, look on line at how to measure string hight. Sounds like it just needs a good set up. Wood moves with different climate. Wood and metal combined can do weird things.
Buzzing tells me its a set up issue.

May 13, 2021 - 6:39:20 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Owen

I say just throw in the towel... learn to live with [embrace?], the squeak!   cheeky


Not when it sounds awful, it's so high pitched it's as loud as me playing; I videoed myself playing and it's so distracting... I think it's me and not the banjo, and the new banjo with a tone ring is just making it sound worse than my old banjo... just can't figure out what I'm doing wrong and how to eliminate the high pitch squeaking so I can hear my self playing! 

May 13, 2021 - 6:57:48 AM
likes this

Ivor

England

64 posts since 11/18/2020

KLizzie, would you be happy to post the video, so we can hear what’s going on?

If you bought the banjo from Eagle, I’m sure they set them up and play them before shipping them out and would have spotted any strange squeaks and sorted it out!

Edited by - Ivor on 05/13/2021 06:59:03

May 13, 2021 - 7:31:02 AM

11 posts since 8/11/2016

Sounds like something loose to me. I'd pay special attention to the brackets and nuts. If one of them is loose it could cause a buzz. Sometimes it's just one loose bit that drives you crazy (I guess that applies to life in general too)!

Just a thought.....do you get the same buzzing/squeaking when you pick bare fingered? If so, it's the setup (banjo) and not the picks.

May 13, 2021 - 7:31:58 AM
likes this

57439 posts since 12/14/2005

OK, no cartoons this time.

Cut a flat pick from a plastic bottle, if you haven't GOT a flat pick, and strike each string with that, at various frets.
Also, pick each string with a bare finger.

If it still squeaks, it's the strings, not the picks.

May 13, 2021 - 7:50:53 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Ivor

KLizzie, would you be happy to post the video, so we can hear what’s going on?

If you bought the banjo from Eagle, I’m sure they set them up and play them before shipping them out and would have spotted any strange squeaks and sorted it out!


I'll try and upload a video but I'm not sure how successful it's going to be! It's definitely me and not the banjo, my positioning for thumb and fingers is all over the place and I don't think I'm hitting the strings straight, it mainly seems to be my thumb and middle finger.... There's just no getting away with it on the new banjo ?? I've got lazy....  

May 13, 2021 - 8:26:20 AM

6125 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Dorset14
quote:
Originally posted by Ivor

KLizzie, would you be happy to post the video, so we can hear what’s going on?

If you bought the banjo from Eagle, I’m sure they set them up and play them before shipping them out and would have spotted any strange squeaks and sorted it out!


I'll try and upload a video but I'm not sure how successful it's going to be! It's definitely me and not the banjo, my positioning for thumb and fingers is all over the place and I don't think I'm hitting the strings straight, it mainly seems to be my thumb and middle finger.... There's just no getting away with it on the new banjo ?? I've got lazy....  


was the banjo shipped to you or did you get it at a store? do you have acess to a good luthier?

ken

May 13, 2021 - 11:14:36 AM
likes this

23 posts since 8/7/2017

quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom
quote:
Originally posted by Dorset14
quote:
Originally posted by Ivor

KLizzie, would you be happy to post the video, so we can hear what’s going on?

If you bought the banjo from Eagle, I’m sure they set them up and play them before shipping them out and would have spotted any strange squeaks and sorted it out!


I'll try and upload a video but I'm not sure how successful it's going to be! It's definitely me and not the banjo, my positioning for thumb and fingers is all over the place and I don't think I'm hitting the strings straight, it mainly seems to be my thumb and middle finger.... There's just no getting away with it on the new banjo ?? I've got lazy....  


was the banjo shipped to you or did you get it at a store? do you have acess to a good luthier?

ken


It was shipped... but after an afternoon of watching you tube videos, researching and experimenting, it's definitely me and not the banjo...! Found two brass angled finger picks and a bit of tweaking with hand position and not so much squeaking there, still a bit with the thumb pick so I've ordered a new one (and still need to practice hitting the strings right)! Thank you everyone for the advice! 

May 15, 2021 - 7:40:55 AM

74557 posts since 5/9/2007

Color the striking surfaces of your picks with a Sharpie or other marker.
Play for a couple of minutes and then examine the pick faces to see how the marker wore away.
The edges should retain some color and the middle should be worn off.
Polish your thumbpick blade by swiping its blade on a piece of copy paper a dozen times.Polish the fingerpick blades on a piece of leather.

May 18, 2021 - 9:02:18 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Color the striking surfaces of your picks with a Sharpie or other marker.
Play for a couple of minutes and then examine the pick faces to see how the marker wore away.
The edges should retain some color and the middle should be worn off.
Polish your thumbpick blade by swiping its blade on a piece of copy paper a dozen times.Polish the fingerpick blades on a piece of leather.


I can see they're not hitting straight, particularly when I play faster.... but rectifying the problem is proving hard work...! 

May 18, 2021 - 4:41:46 PM

2779 posts since 11/15/2003

Lizzie
First off it sounds like you have fantistic ears...and nice that your far enough along in your picking to notice the squekeeness or what ever you want to call it...and yes a video or audio would be helpful so as to see if a listener other than yourself notices what you do.

My first thought was as others...a pick to string strike problem...angle of strike and so on..
Some finger picks have higher content of nickel silver which is the desired metal content of most finger picks..
And not all give the same resulting tone...some squeak more than others...in fact..im in search of a high quality finger pick set right now because im looking for a desired tone from my mahogany banjo that im tweaking...totallty different than maple.
I dont know what is available to you in your part of the world but you may have to try various sets...and invest in a can of fast fret...ive been using it for years and i find it helpful for cutting pick noise.

What the rest of the gang has already said...strings should strike straight across the blade...no sharp edges or your strings wont just squeak...they will break..
A bad habit i didn't correct till i was almost 40 years old

Also..
Sounds like you ve traded up in banjos...a better banjo will be more sensitive to techquine than a lower model...you may have had this condition for a while and just wasn't being made aware of it due to a lesser quality of resonance.
Hope you find the solution.

Warp!

May 21, 2021 - 4:12:38 AM

663 posts since 2/15/2015

I notice string squeal after I clean the strings (mineral oil).

If the picks are the problem, maybe the picks need a bit of lube.

May 21, 2021 - 7:52:12 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

quote:
Originally posted by warpdrive

Lizzie
First off it sounds like you have fantistic ears...and nice that your far enough along in your picking to notice the squekeeness or what ever you want to call it...and yes a video or audio would be helpful so as to see if a listener other than yourself notices what you do.

My first thought was as others...a pick to string strike problem...angle of strike and so on..
Some finger picks have higher content of nickel silver which is the desired metal content of most finger picks..
And not all give the same resulting tone...some squeak more than others...in fact..im in search of a high quality finger pick set right now because im looking for a desired tone from my mahogany banjo that im tweaking...totallty different than maple.
I dont know what is available to you in your part of the world but you may have to try various sets...and invest in a can of fast fret...ive been using it for years and i find it helpful for cutting pick noise.

What the rest of the gang has already said...strings should strike straight across the blade...no sharp edges or your strings wont just squeak...they will break..
A bad habit i didn't correct till i was almost 40 years old

Also..
Sounds like you ve traded up in banjos...a better banjo will be more sensitive to techquine than a lower model...you may have had this condition for a while and just wasn't being made aware of it due to a lesser quality of resonance.
Hope you find the solution.

Warp!


Thank you, I've got something to put on the strings and with a slight change of position I've almost solved the fingers... the huge issue I'm currently working on is the thumb on the 5th string, I've realised that when I'm not concentrating on my right hand my thumb overpicking the 5th string and the metal part of the pick almost catches the string sometimes or I strike the banjo head, a bad habit I must have been doing for a while now but never noticed! Lots of practice and hopefully it'll fix itself...! Lesson learnt - tone is more important than speed!!!! 

You're right, my new banjo is completely different to my old one and I've completely underestimated how much I need to get used to playing a different banjo! 

May 21, 2021 - 8:37:54 AM

2779 posts since 11/15/2003

Lizzie..
When you say your thumb pick sometimes catchs at the top where the metal is...are you using a metal thumb pick or a blue chip?...not that it matters.
I know the blue chips are a hybrid plastic/metal..but the normal plastic is what strikes the strings...and metal can give you some fits on over ting...especially on new strings....as a younger man i played a metal thumpick for a while but as i improved in techquine and started pulling better tone..i started switching back to plastic thumbpicks and listening for better tone that suited my paticular taste and the sound i wanted to bring out in the bands i was in...

As you get better and develop better hand timming and techquine...your brain and ears will take over and you will develop your own personal style of how you hear and precieve tone and volume.

I wouldnt worry alot about the thumb catching at the top..
Some blades on the thumb picks are longer...take for instance the Dunlop ultrex..(my personal fav)
I love there tone and how rigid they are...but even i have there blades on the large picks hit my banjo head now and then...no big deal...and its not noticable to the listener...
Just keep working on the good tech and the rest will work themselves out as you progress....
Believe it or not....ive been picking banjo 47 years this summer...i still am cognizant of good hand tech and tone and what kind of tone is comming out of my banjo...it never goes away...the trying to be your best...
Heres wishing you a great banjo journey...
And always staying as excited as you are now.

Warp!

May 21, 2021 - 9:10:27 AM

23 posts since 8/7/2017

quote:
Originally posted by warpdrive

Lizzie..
When you say your thumb pick sometimes catchs at the top where the metal is...are you using a metal thumb pick or a blue chip?...not that it matters.
I know the blue chips are a hybrid plastic/metal..but the normal plastic is what strikes the strings...and metal can give you some fits on over ting...especially on new strings....as a younger man i played a metal thumpick for a while but as i improved in techquine and started pulling better tone..i started switching back to plastic thumbpicks and listening for better tone that suited my paticular taste and the sound i wanted to bring out in the bands i was in...

As you get better and develop better hand timming and techquine...your brain and ears will take over and you will develop your own personal style of how you hear and precieve tone and volume.

I wouldnt worry alot about the thumb catching at the top..
Some blades on the thumb picks are longer...take for instance the Dunlop ultrex..(my personal fav)
I love there tone and how rigid they are...but even i have there blades on the large picks hit my banjo head now and then...no big deal...and its not noticable to the listener...
Just keep working on the good tech and the rest will work themselves out as you progress....
Believe it or not....ive been picking banjo 47 years this summer...i still am cognizant of good hand tech and tone and what kind of tone is comming out of my banjo...it never goes away...the trying to be your best...
Heres wishing you a great banjo journey...
And always staying as excited as you are now.

Warp!


It's a propik thumb pick, it's plastic but has a metal wrap... very comfortable but doesn't help my new learnt bad habit...! 47 years?! That's amazing!!! Hopefully I'll be playing that long! Thank you!

May 21, 2021 - 1:27:02 PM

Lisa Amor

Germany

2 posts since 1/4/2020

Did you try changing the strings? I got a silverbell tenor and had that problem. The strings it came with were medium gauge and I changed them to light. Not sure if the gauge was the problem or the string brand but problem solved!

Edited by - Lisa Amor on 05/21/2021 13:29:35

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