Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Jul 25, 2021 - 10:33:27 AM

Bill H


1707 posts since 11/7/2010

I'm looking for information and tips for building a neck with a tunneled fifth string. I have a late 30s Vegaphone pot that is currently set up with a Bernunzio neck. I had originally been thinking of a Vega style reproduction neck, but recently have been leaning toward a slimmer neck with a radiused finger board and tunneled fifth. The Tubaphone pot is a monster of sound.

Way back in the early eighties when I built my first conversion neck I used Roger Sminoff's book, How to Build a Five String Banjo and have done several conversions of Slingerland, Tubaphone and Little Wonder banjos.

It seems like the tunneled string requires some steep drilling and some technique to get a tube inserted through a tunnel with some twists to it. I would welcome any tips or wisdom you might all be able to share.

Jul 25, 2021 - 10:51:26 AM
likes this

3110 posts since 2/18/2009

I have made a few tunneled necks, though it's been more than two years since the last one. I used stainless steel tubing and got advice from Rudy's posts about how to run it. Basically you want to make the path as straight as possible and to make any curves you do have to have as large and sweeping as possible, to avoid making the string bind in the tubing and make it tune more easily. I did mine with a straight run except at the end where they swept upward to send the string over the top of the 5th fret. I bought a 10 pack of surgical tubing from China on eBay, it was cheap but took a couple of months to arrive. I'll be happy to mail you a piece if you'd like, just PM me your address.

Jul 25, 2021 - 11:02:27 AM
likes this



226 posts since 12/13/2012
Online Now

Invaluable information from Rudy that Zach mentioned.
Scroll down and there's a drawing of his tunneled 5th. Sure would be great if Rudy would come back to BHO.

Edited by - jacot23 on 07/25/2021 11:04:17

Jul 25, 2021 - 11:43:08 AM



11783 posts since 2/7/2008

I made one once, made the tunnel with a dremel/router before installing fingerboard. Drilled a hole in fingerboard where the Pip usually goes. Installed peghead overlay with a hole and inserted 1/16" brass tubing from hobby shop oter end coming out at 5th fret, then glued on finger board. Fill around ends of tube with CA and sawdust mix. Sand ends of tube smooth.
Make sure your string takes as straight a route as possible to the tuner or tuning will be a pain.

Jul 25, 2021 - 7:17:39 PM

Bill H


1707 posts since 11/7/2010

Thanks everyone. Really great input. I forgot what a treasure chest of wisdom Rudy has. There are a number of folks who have moved on that I miss. Thanks for the generous offer Zachary, but I have some tubing on order with some extras for experimenting. It's been a while since I have built a neck, by the time I'm done I could have paid to have one custom built. Every luthier supply site I visit I end up adding a tool or two.

Jul 26, 2021 - 2:54:40 AM
Players Union Member



14498 posts since 8/30/2006

I suggest 3/32" tubing.   Some fill the tubing with sand , others use ice to do the bending.   sand is easier.

Plan ahead where your 5th string wants to come out of the peghead, like in the middle, or at the side.

Where are the 5 tuners? One in the middle?

This one is The Bishop, a reproduction of a D'Angelico New Yorker.

Edited by - Helix on 07/26/2021 03:02:14

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories