Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

644
Banjo Lovers Online


Jul 27, 2021 - 6:21:01 AM
1080 posts since 2/6/2006

As an experienced 3-finger bluegrass player I’m familiar w/ string action/height & string gauge. I’ve noticed that clawhammer players generally prefer a higher action & heavier string gauge than what I’m used to…& a stouter neck.
I’m going to have a neck built for my one clawhammer banjo (10 15/16” Vega Whyte Laydie) and want something comfortable for me…that’s not a bluegrass neck.
Looking for recommendations as to action at the 12th fret, string gauge, & overall neck mass. Thanks!

Edited by - rupickin5 on 07/27/2021 06:23:07

Jul 27, 2021 - 11:25:20 AM
likes this

jacot23

USA

221 posts since 12/13/2012

Guess I'm weird, I want a wide nut with a thin neck profile and the action as low as I can get it without buzzing; I do like medium strings though(10-13-15-24-10).

Jul 27, 2021 - 2:03:55 PM
like this

1525 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by jacot23

Guess I'm weird, I want a wide nut with a thin neck profile and the action as low as I can get it without buzzing; I do like medium strings though(10-13-15-24-10).


Yeah, I'm at 1- 5/16ths nut with a 48mm bridge spacing, thin neck. Right now I have heavy gauge 11-14-16-25-11. I might switch back to your gauge at the next string change. I never use light. My action is average. Low action hinders hammer ons.

Edited by - jan dupree on 07/27/2021 14:04:49

Jul 27, 2021 - 4:15:59 PM
like this

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

25127 posts since 6/25/2005

Maybe an Ome openback profile for the neck. I like to set the action for a 9/16” bridge at about 3/16 above the 12th fret. If I decide to go higher or lower, I change the bridge. I like Crowe spacing or a bit wider for the bridge. My string set has been unchanged for years: .0115x2; .013, .015, .023 or .024 bronze wound. I find that lighter strings clang and vibrate too much when I play. I sometimes have a banjo tuned up to open A. In that case, I use a string set that’s .001 lighter except for the 4th, which stays at .023.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 07/27/2021 16:19:34

Jul 28, 2021 - 6:02:22 AM
likes this

17 posts since 7/5/2021

I think a lot of it just has to do with personal preference and technique. In general, I think most avoid super light strings. Outside of that, I think it just depends on how heavy handed someone is and personal preference on string spacing.

Jul 29, 2021 - 6:38:37 PM
likes this

154 posts since 2/20/2004

For claw hammer maybe just try your typical bluegrass action and then adjust with different bridges. Rare to play CH above 5th fret. Very rare above 7th. Action above 7th almost doesn’t matter.
You can test things on your BG banjo. Try 11/16 or even 3/4 tall bridge and see how it feels to CH it.

Jul 30, 2021 - 7:07:49 AM
likes this

8252 posts since 3/17/2005

Hmmm, I'd say that since you're a bluegrasser, you're probably very familiar with the neck above the 7th fret. In fact there are lots of Old Time players who use the whole fretboard. Walt Koken, one of the very best ever, comes to mind as does his sidekick, Pete Peterson. There are many more. So go head and play with the action you need in order to play what you want to play. You can get by with a nice low action if you claw over the pot, have a scoop, or just bevel the edge of the fretboard in the area near the pot, to give clearance for your thumb.
Edit: I just listened to your Red Rocking Chair. By all means, do carry your use of the neck over into your c'hammering :-)

Edited by - chip arnold on 07/30/2021 07:14:02

Jul 30, 2021 - 10:21:31 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2664 posts since 3/10/2008

I want to make hammer ons and pull offs easy to do so I like light strings and close action. I don't like the plunky sound that many OT pickers idealize. (Confession: I have mostly played with bluegrass pickers and like that sort of tone on banjo. ) I use the JD Crowe GHS string sets. They are fairly light. For action, I set the strings as close to the frets as I can get them without causing buzzes.

I do like a clubbier neck than most bluegrass banjos have--1 1/4 minimum at the nut, preferably a bit wider. this helps me with HOs and POs and especially with alternate string POs. For me these are not pull offs, but pop offs: I push sideways on the string then release to get a loud clear note. That seems to require a bit of extras space between the string near the nut.

Jul 30, 2021 - 1:03:32 PM
likes this

631 posts since 5/20/2008

No one has yet mentioned intonation. I always have found that lower action means significantly better intonation. I like the action very low, i.e just short of buzzing, with medium strings.

Matt

Edited by - Matt Buckley on 07/30/2021 13:04:05

Jul 30, 2021 - 2:44:06 PM
like this

Enfield1858

England

128 posts since 8/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

I don't like the plunky sound that many OT pickers idealize.


Guilty as charged, Lew! laugh  But I also like a wide nut to give me enough space for my big stubby fingers sad

With best regards,
Jack

Jul 30, 2021 - 4:13:08 PM
likes this

4109 posts since 12/3/2008

"want something comfortable for me…that’s not a bluegrass neck."
What's a bluegrass neck? Other than perhaps having a scoop and maybe some aesthetic considerations, I'm not familiar with the designation. I'd suggest going with the "something comfortable for me."
If you have a good neck - and have easy access to the coordinator rods and truss rod - you'll have plenty of room to explore strings gauges, bridges, head tension, etc. as you move into your exploration of a new style. As you undoubtedly already know, it's the ability to adjust the thing that makes it possible to refine, refine, refine your sound.

Also, plenty of great musicians have played clawhammer and old-time music on a standard bluegrass banjo. The sound is in the setup and in your touch.

Jul 30, 2021 - 7:53:12 PM

1080 posts since 2/6/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Paul Roberts

"want something comfortable for me…that’s not a bluegrass neck."
What's a bluegrass neck? Other than perhaps having a scoop and maybe some aesthetic considerations, I'm not familiar with the designation. I'd suggest going with the "something comfortable for me."
If you have a good neck - and have easy access to the coordinator rods and truss rod - you'll have plenty of room to explore strings gauges, bridges, head tension, etc. as you move into your exploration of a new style. As you undoubtedly already know, it's the ability to adjust the thing that makes it possible to refine, refine, refine your sound.

Also, plenty of great musicians have played clawhammer and old-time music on a standard bluegrass banjo. The sound is in the setup and in your touch.


Thanks Paul, I've had, and have, a number of good "classic" bluegrass necks built buy: F. Neat, S. Huber, etc. The "classic" OT necks I've felt/played (not that many) feel bigger...fuller in hand. I'm thinking somewhere in between would be preferable. 
For better or worse, the neck builder I've chosen (very experienced in OT neck & banjo building) is gonna build a '20's style Vega neck...w/ dowel-stick & no truss-rod. That's going to restrict  some degree of adjustment. 
I'll ask him about his willingness to install a truss-rod...which I appreciate.

 Thanks, Brian 

Jul 31, 2021 - 10:30:44 AM

zac987

USA

462 posts since 5/12/2011

I'm an old-time 3-finger picker that occasionally plays clawhammer. I like my banjos to be set up with medium strings and a low action across the fretboard. I lean towards banjos with a high neck angle and a tall bridge that allow for low action with no buzzing.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.21875