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Aug 29, 2021 - 10:50:43 AM
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Alex Z

USA

4584 posts since 12/7/2006

Side note about rules of thumb.  Many years ago, working for a different organization, there was a colleague who kept asking about "a single formula" for some complicated financial outcome ( I even forget what it was).  "Single" doesn't mean "simple."

Finally, after 3 or 4 requests, I wrote up a "single formula."  Took three lines for one equation, sideways on 11" paper. 12 point type.  Maxes, mins, maxes of mins, nested parentheses, brackets, large brackets, etc.   You could decipher it if you knew 9th grade algebra, but it added absolutely no value to intuition or decision making about the goal.  But buy gum, it was one equation.  smiley

That was the end of the "single formula" talk!

Sometimes a simpler, step-by-step approach can reveal useful things along the way.  Here, the important aspect of changing stiffness started surfacing along the way.  And then that shed some light on a good decision considering the poster's goal of 

   "If it’s possible to get G tuning that way, or similar, would it be “successful” from a player’s perspective, meaning similar hand feel to a full size 5 string banjo?"

Aug 29, 2021 - 12:20:22 PM

Alex Z

USA

4584 posts since 12/7/2006

Odd as it may seem, to get a similar feel on a C scale banjo (tuned to open C) that you get on a regular G scale banjo (tuned open G), you have to put slightly lighter gauge strings on the C scale banjo than are on the G scale banjo.  If you put the same gauge, then it's like capoing up to C on the regular banjo, and the strings will feel slightly stiffer than open G.

Now if you want to get a similar feel on a C scale banjo tuned to open G that you get on a regular G scale banjo tuned to open G, then I don't know.  All we know from the above is that the string gauge has to be lower than 4/3 times the normal regular G scale strings.  

What we need is probably some measure of "stiffness" of the strings when picking, such as the sideways displacement per unit of force of the pick, then can zero in the string gauges to give the same feeling of stiffness.

As Mr. G. Edward mentioned, don't want to feel like you're picking a steel bar.

Interesting situation.  I need a break.  Going out to do some yard work.

Aug 30, 2021 - 5:34:20 AM

14133 posts since 6/29/2005

Using the second string on a G banjo with a 26.25" scale and a .014 string, tuned to B as an example, the tension would be 18.89# (19# for all intents and purposes)

The proportionate scale length on a C banjo would be 19.75" and the second string would be tuned to E, tension would be 19.05# (19# for all intents and purposes)

To see how the string gauge affects tension, If you used a 13 ga, the tension would be 16.3# and 15 ga would be 21.86#

so tuned to standard pitch with the appropriate tuning for the scale length, 13ga=16#, 14 ga=19#, 15 ga=22# in round numbers.

Aug 30, 2021 - 7:49:46 AM

9176 posts since 8/28/2013

I still wonder if people realize that tension affects string stiffness and that string stiffness in turn affects not only the feel, but also the tone quality. (I think Mike Halloran understands this given some of his comments concerning wound vs unwound banjo bass strings). In the worst cases, it also affects tunability.

The problem here is deeper than just the bass string, however. It is tricky at best to get good tone from a short stiff bass string (players of ITM often complain about this). But here, one is adding stiffness to five strings. If a stiff bass string produces an octave that's slightly sharp (which it will) then every time one plays that same octave note on a higher string, something will sound "off." Compound this with slightly sharp overtones on the other four stiff strings, and you'll get a banjo that not only sounds bad, but also never quite sounds in tune.

Aug 30, 2021 - 11:47:23 AM

11917 posts since 10/27/2006

On a C scale banjo, I find that the old, pre-'70s Medium gauges are generally acceptable for G tuning. This means a wound 3rd — period. Thicker plain 3ds go 'plunk' soon enough as they are too stiff.

The Pearse 1500D Hartford and Deering Julia Belle Strings are 012 014 020w 024w 012 (same set perhaps?).

Gibson Mediums back in the day were 012 014 020w 025w 011 while Vega had a Medium set that was 012 015 020w 026w 012.

Although on paper, one is tempted to think, 'of course' it doesn't quite work out exactly that way. Careful attention to the nut is paramount in getting it close and I offer to set up the nut to accommodate both when I sell a short scale banjo.. Another advantage to the wound 3rd is much better intonation going up the neck with a straight bridge.

I'm in agreement that lighter gauges theoretically have better tone on shorter scales but they're a bear to fret in tune and the bridge needs to be taller. Much more practical when that shorter scale is a 22.5" guitar or a 30" electric bass. A wound 3rd on a short scale banjo takes care of the trouble spot.

I got started on this odyssey in college when I tried to make a plain 4th work on my banjo — lasted 5 minutes, I think, before I learned that lesson and ripped it off. At the same time, I got to know Carlos Montoya a little. He tuned D – d capo'd at the 3rd fret which meant A – a uncapo'd. The Savarez Co. invented a set of extremely flexible strings with a wound 2nd and 3rd so as to still be musical tuned that low (you can still buy 'em). I became hypercritical of the scale lengths of the instruments I played and the gauges and composition of the strings that they wore. I was also helped by Rick Turner's experiments with Thomastik as well as some of the resulting strings that I used.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 08/30/2021 11:52:03

Sep 1, 2021 - 12:49:31 AM

fluxie

UK

52 posts since 11/7/2020

Hi guys.
I've just been reading this post with interest, but have to admit most, if not all of it, has gone straight over my head as I'm new to the bluegrass banjo...
I'm in the process of having to get another banjo with a shorter, wider neck, probably 19 fret, due to left shoulder problems.
As I have been learning on a full-size banjo, I'm concerned that after reading the above and changing the length of the neck, I'll not be able to play in the "G" scale, although I read somewhere that by changing strings this could be achieved.
I'd be grateful for some advice, not tooooooo technical though ha ha.

Sep 1, 2021 - 6:49:23 AM
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9176 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by fluxie

Hi guys.
I've just been reading this post with interest, but have to admit most, if not all of it, has gone straight over my head as I'm new to the bluegrass banjo...
I'm in the process of having to get another banjo with a shorter, wider neck, probably 19 fret, due to left shoulder problems.
As I have been learning on a full-size banjo, I'm concerned that after reading the above and changing the length of the neck, I'll not be able to play in the "G" scale, although I read somewhere that by changing strings this could be achieved.
I'd be grateful for some advice, not tooooooo technical though ha ha.


Just don't go too short on that new banjo, and you'll probably be fine with just slightly larger diameter strings. 

In this thread, the discussion has been about a G tuned banjo with an extremely short scale; less than 20 inches. Most the usual 5 string scales are 26 3/8 inches. Somewhere in between those two will make it far easier to get to that G tuning without so many string gauge compromises. I would go for something around 24 inch scale length.

If you don't know about scale length, it is twice the measurement from the banjo nut to the 12th fret. That's the important thing, not the number of frets.

Sep 1, 2021 - 10:02:32 AM
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14133 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by fluxie

Hi guys.
I've just been reading this post with interest, but have to admit most, if not all of it, has gone straight over my head as I'm new to the bluegrass banjo...
I'm in the process of having to get another banjo with a shorter, wider neck, probably 19 fret, due to left shoulder problems.
As I have been learning on a full-size banjo, I'm concerned that after reading the above and changing the length of the neck, I'll not be able to play in the "G" scale, although I read somewhere that by changing strings this could be achieved.
I'd be grateful for some advice, not tooooooo technical though ha ha.


I have been following this thread with great interest; I like the way most of my banjos sound in A rather than in G, and I have been playing bluegrass for 55 years, most of the time with a capo.  You don't have to be playing in G just to play bluegrass, —that's why there are capos and spikes.

"bluegrass tuning" is just "G tuning", which becomes "A tuning" with a capo at the 2nd fret, "B tuning" with a capo at the 4th, "C tuning" with a capo at the 5th, etc..  Some of my favorite bluegrass tunes are played in keys other than G.

Based on your question, If it was up to me, I'd get a banjo with a short scale, like 25 1/2" (which would eliminate one fret), specify the wider neck you want, and just play it with the capo on the 2nd fret, in A—you would have a scale in the 20" range, 19 frets, and could use normal strings.  If you ever really needed to play in G, you could temporarily take off the capo.

Here are some pictures of bluegrass players using capos—Ralph Stanley, Douglas Dillard, Bob Yellin, Earl Scruggs, J.D.Crowe and Noam Pickelny.  When you see a bluegrass player with a capo on the 5th fret, they are playing in the key of C in G chord positions.

It gives them a short scale banjo for that tune.

FWIW, here are two sound files of the same bluegrass tune played the same way, with G chord positions,  in G (open) and in A with a capo on the second fret.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/01/2021 10:05:49

Sep 1, 2021 - 9:54:41 PM

146 posts since 9/30/2009

I play a Fairbanks Electric Banjeaurine with a 20" scale and Nylguts and it is fine in open A tuning, but too floppy in G. Interestingly, a friend has a Coles with a 21.5" scale and medium gauge steel strings, and it was shockingly good tuned in open G. These are both nominal 11" pots and I'm very pleased with the tone and volume of each. With the short scale the biggest hurdle was to have it play in tune up the neck, and I was able to make a compensated bridge for the Coles and get it to do quite well. They both perform far better than my experience and theories would indicate and either one would be a great old-time travel banjo.

Sep 3, 2021 - 10:25:50 AM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Well, these posts are All very interesting!

Mike H. do you have vid or recording samples of what those C banjos sound like with the medium strings you posted?
A pic or 2 of the banjo(s) with them on?
Which banjos have you put them on that work (with nut adjustment)?


All,

Is the head size determined by any of this discussion on scale, tension, short neck, string gauge, playability? It doesn’t seem like it would, (ie, that you could put a short neck with any size head as long as it’s large enough to put the bridge in the right place) but I only see short scale, or smaller, banjos with small heads (< 11”); wondering if there is a technical reason for it?

Older banjeurines seem to do it, wondering if there are ramifications of a larger head on a shorter neck.

(‘Seems like there has been room in banjo world for some time for big heads…. :) )

Rockyjo

Sep 3, 2021 - 12:07:13 PM

11917 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by rockyjo

Well, these posts are All very interesting!

Mike H. do you have vid or recording samples of what those C banjos sound like with the medium strings you posted?
A pic or 2 of the banjo(s) with them on?
Which banjos have you put them on that work (with nut adjustment)?


All,

Is the head size determined by any of this discussion on scale, tension, short neck, string gauge, playability? It doesn’t seem like it would, (ie, that you could put a short neck with any size head as long as it’s large enough to put the bridge in the right place) but I only see short scale, or smaller, banjos with small heads (< 11”); wondering if there is a technical reason for it?

Older banjeurines seem to do it, wondering if there are ramifications of a larger head on a shorter neck.

(‘Seems like there has been room in banjo world for some time for big heads…. :) )

Rockyjo


The best I can do is record various chords picked and strummed but I can do that. I'll try to get to it this weekend. My left arm is crippled and I don't use fingerpicks so my ability to demonstrate banjos is quite limited.

It will not be the new Saga SS-10P travel banjo that I have in stock, however, since no one has bought it from me and asked me to string it with the heavier strings in G tuning. I have another open backed banjo with light strings/plain 3rd that I plan to re-string with my preferred gauges matching the old Vega Medium set I posted earlier. I'll capo as close to a 20" scale as I can. This will be great because it hadn't occurred to me to record it before removing the other strings. 

Sep 6, 2021 - 3:41:03 PM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Ken,

Thank you for your sound files… food for thought :) and great tone and playing!


Mike,

Looking forward to hearing what you record.. hopefully it will include the capo’d banjo for a 20” scale with the medium strings on it that you use for standard G tuning.

Sep 6, 2021 - 4:58:46 PM

11917 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

 

(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)

Hope I got everything down correctly here.  smiley


I tried to make it really clear that the flexibility of the strings is a huge factor in any discussion of shorter scales. You haven't accounted for this, so I have to say: No, you do not have everything down correctly here.

I much prefer my results gained by stringing banjos and other instruments with strings I can buy. The string companies know this, too, which is why string sets for "tuned down to D" banjos have wound 3rd strings. Capo most banjos up 5 and you have the approximate scale of nearly all C banjos. It's a little strange that overall they are a touch lighter than Mediums from the '60s but only by .001" or .002" on the 4th; .001" on the 2nd and 5th depending on if comparing Gibson or Vega.

When I wrote that I was experimenting with this in college, I probably should have mentioned that was 49 years ago but I haven't stopped.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 09/06/2021 17:00:43

Sep 6, 2021 - 7:57:47 PM
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9176 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

 

(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)

Hope I got everything down correctly here.  smiley


I tried to make it really clear that the flexibility of the strings is a huge factor in any discussion of shorter scales. You haven't accounted for this, so I have to say: No, you do not have everything down correctly here.

I much prefer my results gained by stringing banjos and other instruments with strings I can buy. The string companies know this, too, which is why string sets for "tuned down to D" banjos have wound 3rd strings. Capo most banjos up 5 and you have the approximate scale of nearly all C banjos. It's a little strange that overall they are a touch lighter than Mediums from the '60s but only by .001" or .002" on the 4th; .001" on the 2nd and 5th depending on if comparing Gibson or Vega.

When I wrote that I was experimenting with this in college, I probably should have mentioned that was 49 years ago but I haven't stopped.


I have to agree with Mike H on this one. Flexibility is a huge issue with short scales, and wound and plain strings do not react the same way, even when the tension is just about the same.  A short plain steel string needs to be very thick to keep the tension the same as a longer string, and that thickness can make the string so stiff it will sound horrible. This stiffness problem was apparent centuries ago, and it's the reason wound strings were invented in the first place.

Sep 6, 2021 - 8:24:08 PM

146 posts since 9/30/2009

This has been a very interesting discussion. Rockyjo and I have been corresponding a little off the list about the 21 1/2" scale banjo that I mentioned in my previous post. I wanted to talk about it a little bit as this is about how we can travel with an instrument that is not too great of a compromise from what a more "normal" banjo might feel or sound like.

The banjo is a (possibly) Coles half-spun pot, nominal 11", with a 21 fret, 21 1/2" scale mahogany neck that was made by Wayne Henderson for his partner Helen White. My friend Jeanie Murphy in Port Townsend WA received it after Helen's passing a few years ago. It looks very similar to my Electric Banjeaurine in terms of size, but is actually a very different banjo.

In my experience, short scale banjos such as my Electric play poorly with steel strings, but pretty well with nylon. This one was the exception. From the time I first played it, I was surprised by both the voice and the feel with it strung with medium gauge steel strings.

I did a setup on it, doing small adjustments to the depth of the nut slots, some tuning peg work, and building a new compensated bridge to the sweet spot of each string. It was strung with stock D'Addario EJ55 Medium Phosphor bronze. The result was really surprising to me and I'm now looking for a suitable pot such as a Vega Little Wonder or a heavy spun-over to try building a neck for. Please let me know if you might have something.

I play a lot of different banjos and do setup to find the voice in each. This one seems to have hit a spot I've been trying to reach of size and playability. It did not fit the formulas, but I can't deny how much I liked this little banjo.


Edited by - jfhascall on 09/06/2021 20:38:01

Sep 10, 2021 - 7:06:43 PM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Hi Mike,

If you get a chance to make/post those recordings, I’m still very interested to hear them, and likely not the only one!
You could use a flatpick if that’s easiest.

Best,
Rockyjo

Edited by - rockyjo on 09/10/2021 19:07:48

Sep 10, 2021 - 9:29:33 PM

Fathand

Canada

11867 posts since 2/7/2008

If you have a 5 string banjo with a scale of approx. 20" or what some call a C banjo and want to tune it to open G, get a set of Baritone Uke strings with an extra 1st string. It will tune very nicely to open G. Baritone ukes use an approx. 20 " scale and are normally tuned DGBE so you are dropping the 1st string one tone and the 5th to match, scale wise. Note that these are nylon strings.

Warning, do not practice 5 string rolls on a 4 string baritone uke. You can mess up you right hand. Ask me how I know.

Sep 11, 2021 - 10:45:03 AM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Thanks, Ryk. I’m wanting steel strings, uh, yea to practice rolls for one thing.

Ouch! So I’m askin’… how did the bar/uke strings “mess up” your right hand?
It sounds like it caused a problem with your hand, and not just how well you played rolls…?

Rockyjo

Sep 11, 2021 - 1:33:09 PM

Alex Z

USA

4584 posts since 12/7/2006

Me:

"(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)

"Advice:  The string tensions may end up the same, but the feel won't.  The strings will feel significantly stiffer because (a) they have larger diameters and so are in fact stiffer, and (b) the scale is shorter -- just as capoing up to C feels stiffer than playing in open G.

   "My advice would be -- unless you have perfect pitch -- go for the feel, not the nominal tension and the G frequencies, if you are practicing rolls.  It would be better for your practicing goals to use a standard set of strings and simply tune up the shorter banjo to C -- same as if a longer banjo were capoed up to C.  Still not perfect, but a lot better than using heavier strings just to tune down the shorter banjo to hear G.

"Hope I got everything down correctly here.  smiley"

------------

Responder, first quoting me:

[(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)

Hope I got everything down correctly here.  smiley]

 

"I tried to make it really clear that the flexibility of the strings is a huge factor in any discussion of shorter scales. You haven't accounted for this, so I have to say: No, you do not have everything down correctly here."

-----------

I did account for this -- in the part of my explanation that was left out of the quote!

Geez guys!  You can't go leaving out the relevant part of my comment -- the bold section above that deals with stiffness and feel -- just so you can quote the remaining parts and then disagree with the remaining parts on the grounds that it doesn't deal with stiffness and feel!!  What kind of debate strategy is that?   This was not accidental.  The deleted parts were in the middle of the original, so removal had to be intentional, not a mouse clicking error.

We either have honest debate and advance the knowledge of the group, or we're just another schoolyard shouting match.

I'm miffed.  

So I'm challenging you:  Exactly what part of exactly and precisely what I wrote -- not a misinterpretation of what I wrote --  is not down correctly?

Geez.  I'm going out to do some yard work.

Edited by - Alex Z on 09/11/2021 13:34:13

Sep 11, 2021 - 2:19:53 PM

9176 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

Me:

"(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)

"Advice:  The string tensions may end up the same, but the feel won't.  The strings will feel significantly stiffer because (a) they have larger diameters and so are in fact stiffer, and (b) the scale is shorter -- just as capoing up to C feels stiffer than playing in open G.

   "My advice would be -- unless you have perfect pitch -- go for the feel, not the nominal tension and the G frequencies, if you are practicing rolls.  It would be better for your practicing goals to use a standard set of strings and simply tune up the shorter banjo to C -- same as if a longer banjo were capoed up to C.  Still not perfect, but a lot better than using heavier strings just to tune down the shorter banjo to hear G.

"Hope I got everything down correctly here.  smiley"

------------

Responder, first quoting me:

[(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)

Hope I got everything down correctly here.  smiley]

 

"I tried to make it really clear that the flexibility of the strings is a huge factor in any discussion of shorter scales. You haven't accounted for this, so I have to say: No, you do not have everything down correctly here."

-----------

I did account for this -- in the part of my explanation that was left out of the quote!

Geez guys!  You can't go leaving out the relevant part of my comment -- the bold section above that deals with stiffness and feel -- just so you can quote the remaining parts and then disagree with the remaining parts on the grounds that it doesn't deal with stiffness and feel!!  What kind of debate strategy is that?   This was not accidental.  The deleted parts were in the middle of the original, so removal had to be intentional, not a mouse clicking error.

We either have honest debate and advance the knowledge of the group, or we're just another schoolyard shouting match.

I'm miffed.  

So I'm challenging you:  Exactly what part of exactly and precisely what I wrote -- not a misinterpretation of what I wrote --  is not down correctly?

Geez.  I'm going out to do some yard work.

 


My complaint is that you have equated plain strings with wound. They do not behave the same way, and you can't calculate the tension (or even guess at it) by that inaccurate comparison. I was  only reiterating the plain fact that tension affects feel, as you have stated. and that feel will be stiffer with short strings at the same tension. (I can see how I didn't make it clear that I was mostly complaining about your claim of wound and plain string equivalency, though. I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear.)

A wound string requires additional information in the tension formulas if accuracy is to be obtained and inharmonicity minimized. Oddly, when I've measured or calculated wound strings for pianos, they actually need to be at a somewhat higher tension than the plain steel strings to get a decent tonal blend between the two, as well as the same "feel" at the key from the hammer strikes. I realize that pianos and banjos are not the same, but string formulas are string formulas, and it doesn't matter if it's a banjo or some other instrument.  I'll admit that perhaps the issue is slightly less relevant with a low tension instrument, but that doesn't mean it's nonexistent.

Sep 11, 2021 - 3:50:54 PM

Alex Z

USA

4584 posts since 12/7/2006

"My complaint is that you have equated plain strings with wound. They do not behave the same way, and you can't calculate the tension (or even guess at it) by that inaccurate comparison."

Yes, I know that.  In fact, I acknowledged that and predicted that in my posting:

    "(Caution:  There are those who will say that the equations relating length, tension, and frequency don't work exactly for wound strings.  Two answers:  (1) there are 4 plain strings and 1 wound string on the banjo, and (2) the wound string will be close enough for purposes here.)"

My "caution" came to pass! smiley    That's why reading the exact words of the posting is important.  I'm giving the original poster some information on what would need to be done to have the same tension on the shorter neck banjo.  80% of it is exactly correct -- the 4 plain strings out of 5.

The other 20%, the one wound string -- is close enough -- we're taking the string diameters only to 3 decimal places.  For the wound string starting at .020, the method results in .0266, so we say .026 wound is close enough.  Using the D'Addario string chart, the tension shown for a wound string of .020 at the low D is 11.4 lbs.  Ratio of 4/3^2 for a shorter scale banjo would result in a .026 wound string at 19.266 lbs.  The D'Addario chart shows it at 19.3 lbs.  D'Addario doesn't make a .0266 string or a .027 string.

So at least for the long/short scale situation, the result error band is within the precision of the D'Addario string tension chart.

That's what I mean by "close enough for purposes here"  -- a string gauge difference less that .001 inch and a tension difference less than 1 lb.  We're not stringing a 10 foot Bosendorfer here over 8 octaves smiley, and I didn't say the results were exact for wound strings, only close enough for purposes here, on a 5 string banjo, one octave.   And they are in fact "close enough" as explained above.

I mean, give me some credit for checking these things out beforehand so that I can write concisely.

Peace to all, brothers and sisters.  Back to the yard work, get done before dark.

Sep 11, 2021 - 4:50:35 PM

Fathand

Canada

11867 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by rockyjo

Thanks, Ryk. I’m wanting steel strings, uh, yea to practice rolls for one thing.

Ouch! So I’m askin’… how did the bar/uke strings “mess up” your right hand?
It sounds like it caused a problem with your hand, and not just how well you played rolls…?

Rockyjo


The 4 string bari uke was great for a while, in open G all the chords and melody notes were in the same place. It was quiet and easy to grab for a quick practice.

One day my timing and drive on 5 string went kaput. I went to a teacher, was told my rolls were too busy, mixed up and not using enough 5th string and melody not standing out.  I practiced bad habits on the 4 string uke. It would be fine for just working on chords/melody. Tough getting back but it's coming.

Sep 11, 2021 - 6:23:01 PM

Alex Z

USA

4584 posts since 12/7/2006

Nothing like hard yard work to let off some steam.  I feel better.  smiley

I got a little intense with my banjo correspondents MH and GE, about -- what, string tensions on banjos?  Definitely a first world issue.  Hope it didn't come across as disrespectful.  We've had many friendly back and forths.

I apologize to MH and GE for responding from a competitive perspective -- the "who is right, who is wrong, and so's your old man" type of debate.   Better to have come from the perspective of adding to the total knowledge on an issue.

Alex

Sep 19, 2021 - 10:51:49 AM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Hi Everyone,

I spent some quality time a few days ago rereading all the posts and with a string calculator.

My gosh Alex, your knowledge (and math detail) on these subjects is amazing, as is George’s and others. Really helpful. It is very illuminating, and food for thought.

Re: another dish in this buffet of trying to understand how all the relevant menu items fit together for a smaller size banjo:

1). Strings.. a basic question.. Are Tenor banjo strings (definitionally for a shorter scale instrument) designed/constructed differently for a shorter scale and to tune to the notes for tuning to tenor banjo (CGDA in this case), than banjo strings of the same gauge/material/manufacturer for 5 string banjo standard G tuning?
If so, anyone know how they are constructed differently?

Same question applies to using steel guitar strings, classical guitar strings, baritone uke strings and probably others that I’ve read that people put on smaller banjos. Do you gain anything, or enough, by using strings “designed” for a shorter scale instrument, or is it basically the same wire cut shorter and marketed differently?

2). Given that higher gauges are needed for a smaller banjo (tuning to std G), could someone describe the different tonal, flex, and possibly “feel” properties of using a) nickel, b) phos. bronze, or c) stainless steel on wound strings, and comparing to the plain steel 1st, 2nd, and 5th strings?

c). If a wound string is better on the 3rd for more flex (and tone I think Mike said), what would the advantages/disadvantages be of wound strings for all five strings?

Thank you.
Rockyjo

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