Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

1076
Banjo Lovers Online


Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

May 13, 2022 - 7:47:27 PM
52 posts since 3/4/2017

All:

Seeking advice on fixing an intonation problem (my crude diagnosis) on my '26 PB3 conversion. The 3rd string sounds slightly sharp when fretted at the 7th fret and also slightly sharp when comparing the fretting of the 12th fret to the chime at the 12th. I should say that checking the chimes vs fretting at the 12th fret on the 1st and 4th strings sound perfect to me...only the 3rd string sounds off. Bridge is a Silvio Feretti Scorpion which I love, it's NOT compensated/notched for the 3rd. Does this seem like a compensated 3rd would fix the problem?

Also curious about bridge slanting (effectively making the 3rd and 4th strings slightly longer), which is something Mike Munford has done numerous times on other banjos. This banjo, in particular, has not been to Mike yet and the bridge is set straight as setup by the Neat shop last year. For folks that have experimented back and forth with effects on intonation...what has been your experience? Many thanks!

May 13, 2022 - 8:14:56 PM
like this

Alex Z

USA

4823 posts since 12/7/2006

One thing you can experiment with first is how much the bridge would have to be set back to get the 3rd string in perfect tune at the 12th fret.  This will tell you how much of a slant would be needed.  Might be a lot more than anticipated.

I used to slant the bridge -- yet the 3rd string was still somewhat sharp.  But now realize that the entire banjo (my particular Prucha banjo) sounds better with a straight bridge, at least the way I play it..  The 4th string is in tune up the neck instead of being noticeably flat, and I fret the 5th string a lot, usually on the higher frets, and that's in tune also with a straight bridge.

Experiment a bit, see what gives you the best overall sound.

May 13, 2022 - 8:30:08 PM

9 posts since 1/8/2014

Yes you do need a compensated bridge.I comp the second and 3rd string usually but just 3rd will work.I can send you a couple to try if you like. Need your height, weight preferred. Send me an email and I will give you my phone number we can discuss, Harold

May 13, 2022 - 8:50:43 PM

1292 posts since 8/7/2017

Bridge position, and slant, can vary with the banjo and with the tuning. That's my experience, anyway. For sure try a compensated bridge; they commonly set the 3rd string longer. A generic one will show you if it's something that helps. If so, you can order one specifically made for your banjo. I don't remember the names of the BHO members who will build you a custom compensated bridge, sorry.

May 13, 2022 - 9:26:49 PM

mbanza

USA

2467 posts since 9/16/2007

I once did as Alex suggested and found that the 0,016" plain third string needed a full 1/4 inch compensation to be in tune at fret 12. The solution I settled on was a 0.018" wound third string. Played in tune with better tone, to my ear, than an unwound string.

Edited by - mbanza on 05/13/2022 21:28:34

May 13, 2022 - 10:13:35 PM
like this

Bart Veerman

Canada

5166 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

With one of Silvio's bridges on that kind of neck it's highly unlikely that you need a compensated bridge.

Follow this routine Jeff, it's required knowledge for any banjo player and it'll tell you exactly where you are and/or should be. Pay particular attention to where I mention some strings are more forgiving than others:

https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm

Bart, retired bridgemaker.

May 14, 2022 - 5:14:34 AM
likes this

14440 posts since 6/29/2005

If you are using  straight bridge, you ought to slant it.  With stretched strings, the stiffer they are, the more compensation (lengthening) is needed to get the harmonic partial note to match the fretted note.

Unwound plain steel ones, gauge for gauge are stiffer than wound ones, which is why compensated bridges have that backward blip at the third string—because the third string is the stiffest one.

Nylon strings don't need any compensation because they are not very stiff, so the saddles on classical guitars are straight.on steel string guitars they always slant to the bass.  With bluegrass flatpicking, the slant doesn't have to be so great, but with fingerpicking, the intonation is more critical and you need  6 degrees.  If you play a lot of chords, key-specific note tweaking is helpful.

I would imagine that banjos, with straight bridges, especially if you are fingerpicking and playing up the neck ought to be tilted between 4 and 6 degrees depending on the differences in string gauges between the 1st and 3rd.

Also short scales, ever more popular today, need more compensation, and the whole bridge has to be moved down farther. Using heavier strings to compensate for the slackness the short scale compounds the problem.

If you fret the 5th string, then you need a crazily compensated setup.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 05/14/2022 05:16:28

May 14, 2022 - 6:56:25 AM

52 posts since 3/4/2017

Many thanks all! Have some things to try!

May 14, 2022 - 8:08:47 AM

75972 posts since 5/9/2007

My compensated bridge design works fine on plectrum banjos,too.

May 14, 2022 - 8:44:52 AM

rmcdow

USA

1100 posts since 11/8/2014

I can vouch for Bart's method of establishing what compensating bridge is best for a particular banjo. I had a Lyon & Healy banjo that I was having particular trouble with in terms of the intonation. It was mounted with gut strings, and I had tried a few compensating bridges unsuccessfully before reading the method outlined on Bart's link. I made a bridge that compensated for the poor intonation, and it was completely different from what I would have imagined. I learned that there are a lot of factors that influence compensation. String size, as has been mentioned, is a big one, as the stiffness of the string heavily influences intonation. Here is the resulting bridge that corrected the intonation on this particular banjo.


Edited by - rmcdow on 05/14/2022 08:45:33

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!
May 14, 2022 - 8:50:01 AM

75972 posts since 5/9/2007

My compensated design works on all 5 string and plectrum banjos that have no significant build issues.
Most banjos don't have specific problems with their build.

May 14, 2022 - 8:52:12 PM

500 posts since 1/24/2004

What works best for me is to slant the bridge. The first three strings are fretted much more often than the fourth and fifth (especially when playing Scruggs-style) and thus more notes overall will be in tune.

May 14, 2022 - 9:30:46 PM

17 posts since 9/1/2020

Try a generic compensated bridge. Sounds pretty straight forward.

May 14, 2022 - 11:16:20 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5166 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

It's wonderful to see so many people chiming in on this topic.

Once upon a time I used my method, as per link above, to measure the required offsets for the individual strings on a whole bunch of banjos that I owned, or borrowed for the occasion. As well, from the many offset numbers that folks would email me over the years after they followed the routine I linked to, it became totally clear that not one banjo behaves like another as clearly was shown by the offset numbers people used to send to me after going thru this routine.

It should not come as a surprise that banjos often disregard logic, or even the laws of physics, being the weird critters they are.

Because of the results of the many, many tests I did, I decided, very much to the dismay of my retail dealers, to discontinue my generically compensated bridges (I think it was back in 2006) as it was all too clear that averaged generically compensated bridges didn't have a hope in hope in heck to solve people's intonation problems and there was no way I could sign off my name on a "here's-hoping" product.

Angling/slanting your bridge? > check the link I posted above: you don't have to worry about the number of the degrees, your own ears will guide you to perfection.

Rives: I'm tickled to see that your bridge did the trick for you. And, well, why shouldn't it - there are millions of electric guitar players with moveable saddles who are all too pleased about being able to play in proper tune and that's what my wacky method is/was based on. By the way, on the picture you posted it looks like, in your specific case, that you needed to shorten the 2nd string's length >  in the 20+ years that I futzed around with bridges, I only remember 2 people who asked me to do just that so you're the 3rd fellow ever who needed to shorten their 2nd string smiley

I've always wondered, how can one possibly recommend a generically compensated bridge, without even asking which strings, and by how much, their intonation offsets need to be corrected? Again, once you actually take the time to measure up a bunch of banjo and you'll experience it for yourself that banjos are hugely unique and generically comped bridges cannot hope to possibly cut it.

[rant > off]

Just in case: please remember I'm retired now so, for my personal sanity's sake, I no longer answer bridge-question emails. Oh, here's that link again: https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm - again, it's required knowledge for anyone playing a banjos of whatever kind.


 

May 15, 2022 - 12:03:17 AM

17 posts since 9/1/2020

Bart, He mentioned the third was the only one that seemed sharp. Generic compensated bridges always have the 3rd lengthened most. Not a certain fix, but an easy first thing to try. That's how I could recommend it.

May 15, 2022 - 5:56:26 AM

14440 posts since 6/29/2005

What Bart says is thoroughly correct.

Intonation on banjos (and guitars for that matter) is string gauge specific.

Not so long ago, it was common to use a wound third string on banjos, which makes the third string less of a problem, and would make a generic compensated bridge useless, so would using the 11-11-15-23-11 set used by Bill Keith.

The thing with banjos is they have a fast decay, little sustain, and rapid-fire notes, and to quote Pete Seeger "there's a galaxy of notes with a melody in there somewhere", so it's hard to pick out a slightly "off "note in that milky way.  Electric guitars, on the other hand have an endless sustain, so they MUST have individually adjustable string bearings on their bridges.

If you had a banjo playing style that was slow, with long notes and a lot of full chords, string stiffness inharmonicity would be more noticeable, and banjo bridges would have to be different.

May 15, 2022 - 9:16:28 AM
likes this

Bart Veerman

Canada

5166 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Berry Banjos

Bart, He mentioned the third was the only one that seemed sharp. Generic compensated bridges always have the 3rd lengthened most. Not a certain fix, but an easy first thing to try. That's how I could recommend it.


 

Yes, the original poster did say his 3rd string needed lengthening. He also did say that his 4th string sounded properly in tune.

Here's the thing though: without measuring by how much needs to be lengthened then you're at the mercy of someone else's guess. Over the years I've experienced that the offset measurements for the 3rd string ranged from 0.5 to 7 mm.

Keep in mind, generic compensated bridges also lengthen the 2nd and 4th string. When these 2 strings sound accurately in tune as-is, then by being made longer, now you have purposely introduced intonation issues for these 2 strings. Oops...

"An easy first thing to try." Yes, that it is. What do you think the chances for success are though...? Then again, a budget bridge like that plus shipping would be what, $20 or so, the economy sure would appreciate that...

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 05/15/2022 09:25:13

May 15, 2022 - 9:35:32 AM

75972 posts since 5/9/2007

I'm not retired from bridge making.

May 15, 2022 - 10:38:44 AM

17 posts since 9/1/2020

Fair enough. I suppose it's the difference between addressing a problem and still accepting some compromise, and achieving perfect intonation. Which seems to have been your focus. But if it comes down to a straight bridge having the third way out, or a generic compensated/moon bridge with compromises, it might be worth 20 bucks.

May 15, 2022 - 10:42:33 AM

17 posts since 9/1/2020

My point being, Even if better isn't perfect, it's still better..

May 15, 2022 - 11:11:45 PM
likes this

Bart Veerman

Canada

5166 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Berry Banjos

My point being, Even if better isn't perfect, it's still better..


For any bridge maker worth their salt, making a properly intonating bridge is easily doable. Re-read RMCDOW's post: perfection can easily be obtained by anyone making a bridge according to the method I wrote up in the link I mentioned.

The days of having to settle for an intonation compromises ended over 20 years ago when I started making them using this method. Yeah, I know, it's a lot of extra work compared to cranking out generic comps.

Then again, what do I know, I'm just a banjoey...

May 16, 2022 - 4:15:24 AM
like this

275 posts since 3/2/2013

When i have this problem i simply fudge a little more on the bass side, meaning i make those strings a little longer to help the 3rd string out and then comprimise when tuning the 4th string. I do a lot of up the neck playing and the 4th isnt as critical to have exactly right since i dont use it much up there.

May 16, 2022 - 7:46:21 AM
likes this

75972 posts since 5/9/2007

There are other solutions than just yours,Bart.

May 16, 2022 - 8:38:20 AM
likes this

hbick2

USA

584 posts since 6/26/2004

If you need an instrument with perfect intonation, then a banjo is probably not your best choice. Check out the thousands of banjo recordings, starting in the 1890's with Vess Ossman, Fred Van Eps and others and coming down through the recordings of Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe and others. None of these people worried about perfect intonation, compensated bridges, etc. They set their bridges as close as possible and concentrated on their playing, not the instrument. Spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about perfect intonation will not help near as much as spending the same amount of time practicing. As the old adage goes: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!"

May 16, 2022 - 8:51:52 AM

75972 posts since 5/9/2007

It's impossible to achieve perfect intonation with other than stepped frets.
My beautiful comper is still a compromise,but much closer than any straight bridge.
The difference shows up in not needing to retune when quickly throwing on a capo or playing direct harmonies with fiddles,guitars,mandolins and pianos.

What my bridge does for all 5 string and plectrum banjos is give them the 12th fret fretted and harmonic notes both at "0" on a tuner.
This improves all fretted notes with many fretting at or near 0.The sound is very sweet in the balance of the chords.

I offer free trials of my bridges.

May 16, 2022 - 9:43:43 AM
likes this

9485 posts since 8/28/2013

There is not an instrument made that will ever have perfect intonation, and stringed instruments are probably among the worst. One get get close but there will always be some oddities because strings are stiff and don't completely follow the rules of physics. The can also be the effects of imperfect bridges and nuts which cause imprfect termination of the string's speaking length. Frets can be slightly off, and even playing technique will affect intonation (finger pressure or a slight sideways pull will make the string go sharp, and the minute one has everything adequately tuned everything begins to go out.

A compensated bridge can certainly help. but forget about perfection. Tune as best you can. and play.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.203125