This will seem like a bizarre question; searching the archives did not turn up any leads...
I play clawhammer and have a new open-back banjo that plays beautifully in G or C tuning. When I capo up to play in A or D (or Am), however, I get a squeaking sound. This only occurs with the capo installed over the 1st-4th strings (through trial and error I can say that the 5th string railroad spike has no effect). I have now tried 3 different capos... a generic spring-loaded guitar-style capo, a Planet Waves banjo capo, and a Paige original banjo capo. The squeak is there with all three of them, so it seems to be a property of the banjo (not the capo). I have used these same capos on 2 other banjos that I own, and neither of those squeak, so it also doesn't seem to be my technique per se. I am hard pressed to localize where exactly the sound comes from, although it seems to be on the fretboard (but I can't say for sure if it is under, in front of, or behind the capo). It doesn't sound like string buzz... it's definitely a squeak of some sort. I notice it the most when I am fretting (or unfretting) notes.
Does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? Better yet, does anyone know what to try to fix this?
Many thanks in advance!
Edited by - lawnboss on 08/10/2022 09:59:28
Without actually hearing the sound, I would say it is the strings on the fretboard or the adjacent frets between the capo and the bridge.
Are you using synthetic strings or steel ?
Could be a problem with the bridge height or the action.
Let us know what type of banjo and the type of strings. Also, about how high are your strings off the fingerboard at the 12th fret.
Probably a very easy fix and has zero to do with the capo. Most likely the strings or the bridge.
Thanks for your interest in helping! It's an Enoch Tradesman. Steel strings: I believe the strings it came with were D'Addario EJ-61s: 10-12-16-23-10. I haven't replaced them yet but this is what the seller told me were installed. The strings at the 12th fret are a hair under 1/8" from the frets... closer to 1/8" than 1/16" but definitely < 1/8" (sorry, I don't have a high precision gizmo for this). The bridge height is 5/8".
In the meantime, I will see if I can capture it on an audio recording.
I've had a Taylor guitar for about three weeks that has been doing something similar. Funny someone has been having a similar issue. The capo is the same capo I use on other guitars without any noises. The noise on mine seems to be more of a high pitched pinging sound than a squeak though. To me it sounds like the tension of the string changing, or perhaps the string settling or moving slightly under the rubber of the capo. This is just an unsubstantiated theory, so take it with a grain of salt, but I assume it is related to the instrument acclimating to it's new environment. Different humidity levels, temperature changes, and so on. As time has gone on, my guitar has started to stay in tune better, and I have noticed less of the pinging capo noise. I think this is because the guitar has adjusted to the new conditions. I have also experienced similar tuning issues in the past with all my instruments in the weeks after I moved to a new home. Perhaps your banjo is experiencing the same, and it will improve once it settles in to the new environment.
Edited by - TScottHilton on 08/11/2022 09:54:41
Here's what I'd do and the order I'd do them in:
My suspicion is that you have a slightly proud fret somewhere up the neck and with a capo pulling the strings lower to the fingerboard, they are "chiming" on the proud fret.
Thanks all for these suggestions. I could agree that it might be a "chime" as opposed to a "squeak" (it's just definitely not a "buzz"). I have tried to make a recording of this, but even when I place my phone quite close to the neck I find that the sound is not audible in the recording. Perhaps I should take it to a luthier?
Get a true straightedge and lay it over the frets to see if one or more are proud. Check the width of the frets as one could be proud on one end and not the other.
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