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Sep 26, 2022 - 7:59:52 AM
4 posts since 8/2/2022

Hi there,

I've heard how leaving your banjo in G (or higher) without releasing tension from time to time will affect the neck, truss rod or even tunning pegs on the long run. I tend to tune it down every 5 days or whenever an inactivity period is taking place, but I still don't know to what extent this is relevant.

Do y'all leave it in G or higher for many days or do you tone it down to release tension as well? is it really necessary?

Thank you.

Sep 26, 2022 - 8:12:01 AM
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AGACNP

USA

368 posts since 10/12/2011

I have a >45 year old Gibson RB-250, it was bought new. I’ve never slacked the strings on it, other than with string changes, and it stays in open G tuning. The neck is still straight, with no issues at all.

I’ve continued that practice with a nearly 3 year old Huber. No issues with it. I have no plans to change my current habits.

Same with my guitar and bass. No issues with either so far.

Edited by - AGACNP on 09/26/2022 08:12:54

Sep 26, 2022 - 8:16:20 AM
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76924 posts since 5/9/2007

My banjos have been in open G tuning since 1975 with no ill-affects.I keep them ready to play at all times.
Keeping the same tension on the parts at all times lets the parts stay happily married and singing sweet.

Sep 26, 2022 - 8:22:50 AM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26499 posts since 6/25/2005

I have kept banjos at A for months at a time with no problems. I’ve never backed off trom G.

Sep 26, 2022 - 8:30:55 AM
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76924 posts since 5/9/2007

Banjos are over-built ever since they started bolting necks to thick rims.

Sep 26, 2022 - 9:00:12 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5326 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Banjos are over-built


Yup, well said!

Can you image an acoustic guitar, or violin, built to banjo specs?"wink

Sep 26, 2022 - 9:02:30 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

1882 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Fullshark

Hi there,

I've heard how leaving your banjo in G (or higher) without releasing tension from time to time will affect the neck, truss rod or even tunning pegs on the long run. I tend to tune it down every 5 days or whenever an inactivity period is taking place, but I still don't know to what extent this is relevant.

Do y'all leave it in G or higher for many days or do you tone it down to release tension as well? is it really necessary?

Thank you.


No, you're fine keeping it tuned up.

Sep 26, 2022 - 9:56:58 AM
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1658 posts since 4/13/2009

Don't listen to whoever told you that.

Sep 26, 2022 - 11:19:55 AM

4659 posts since 5/29/2011

I've heard that I was dead, too. That doesn't make it true.
Whoever says that you need to tune a banjo down is probably thinking that the long, thin neck can't take the tension for a long time. But there are banjos that have been strung to pitch since the 20s and 30s that still have straight necks. The only times that detuning the strings is advisable are for long term storage, or shipping.
Just remember, advice is free, and it's worth every penny.

Sep 27, 2022 - 4:47:32 AM

45 posts since 12/31/2015

Does loosening the tension make the strings last longer?

Sep 27, 2022 - 6:22:26 AM
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10153 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by exvagabond

Does loosening the tension make the strings last longer?


I would think that loosening, then tightening back up to pitch would shorten string life. Each time one of the bends is moved, it causes metal fatigue at all those bends. Strings are not very flexible, and if, for example, the bend at the nut  pulls into the speaking length of the string when it is tuned back up, may retain some bend and no longer tune properly.

Nobody would even think of de-tuning a piano when it's not being used. and even when a piano goes just a few cents flat, the poor tuner has to tne i uning twice, the first time above A440, due to those strings re-stretching. This may not be a large issue with a banjo's five rather low tension strings, but I'd imagine the issue is there and that it will take longer for the standard tuning to stabilize than it normally would.

Sep 27, 2022 - 8:18:21 AM

Owen

Canada

11937 posts since 6/5/2011

...dunno whether it's warranted or not, but IF I'm gonna have it in c-c-o-l-d conditions for a significant time I loosen each peg 1/2 turn.  I only use open-G tuning, but by doing 1/2 turn I can them get' em back in the right octave (?) so I can use my electronic tuner.  So far I've not noticed any harm.

Edited by - Owen on 09/27/2022 08:19:27

Sep 27, 2022 - 8:25:58 AM
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4951 posts since 5/14/2007

quote:
Originally posted by exvagabond

Does loosening the tension make the strings last longer?


No.

Sep 27, 2022 - 10:26:46 AM

4 posts since 8/2/2022

quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

Don't listen to whoever told you that.


I actually read that one here on the hangout about a year ago, but I was unable to find it again to check the whole thread.

Ty everyone for the responses, that will make for a much better practice experience without having to tune it back every 5 days or so, and the strings will sure last longer without teeter-tottering between loose and tense. 

Oct 10, 2022 - 6:36:19 AM

2937 posts since 2/12/2005

Warning

I left a banjo without string tension under a bed for a year or so.

When I tried to use it again, it had a string/fret buzz. IOW, lack of string tension let my neck "move".

Fortunately, after stringing it again, the buzz went away after a week or so.

Oct 10, 2022 - 8:44:52 AM

7238 posts since 9/21/2007

I take the strings off of my banjos when I am not playing them. I also take off the head to take the tension off of it.

I sometimes take all the parts off of my banjos as they are old and the metal has turned to crystal (I read that in the Scruggs book).

When I am done playing I coat my banjos with a mixture of Simichrome and Pledge furniture oil before I put them on the stand for safe keeping. The fingerboard is conditioned with a heavy coat of Mobil1 full synthetic.

I only use Fast Fret when the strings begin to rust.

Oct 10, 2022 - 6:54:58 PM

10153 posts since 8/28/2013

Joel, those of us who have read many of your posts know of your leg-pulling and satirical tendencies (I find many of them hilarious) but I sometimes fear that newcomers might actually begin coating things with substances impossible to remove.

I don't worry about idiots, but I do worry about their banjos. I also worry that one day I'll be called on to restore a banjo that's so covered with sludge that I can't even hold onto it.

Oct 11, 2022 - 5:25:45 AM

7238 posts since 9/21/2007

I wish there was a sarcasm font option for forums.

Oct 11, 2022 - 5:35:19 AM

banjoy

USA

10600 posts since 7/1/2006

Okay, if I use Mobile1 for my fingerboard, what viscosity would I use? I'm thinking 5W20? Will it make me pick faster? And how often do I need to change the oil? I don't want to void any warranties...

But to address the OP, as others have said, the answer: is don't loosen the strings when not in use. No harm will come. (The only time you need to worry about that is if you ship an instrument, a different animal entirely.)

Oct 11, 2022 - 6:03:38 AM

7238 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Okay, if I use Mobile1 for my fingerboard, what viscosity would I use? I'm thinking 5W20? Will it make me pick faster? And how often do I need to change the oil? I don't want to void any warranties...
 


Since it is only for conditioning to keep the fingerboard from drying out it does not really matter.  3 in 1 oil has been recommended in the past but I figure with Mobil1 I could go longer between treatments. 

Fast Fret will help you pick faster-- it says so right on the title.  Use it between every tune and your strings will be rust free.  I buy it by the case.

Oct 11, 2022 - 6:34:39 AM

4349 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Okay, if I use Mobile1 for my fingerboard, what viscosity would I use? I'm thinking 5W20? Will it make me pick faster? And how often do I need to change the oil? I don't want to void any warranties...
 


Since it is only for conditioning to keep the fingerboard from drying out it does not really matter.  3 in 1 oil has been recommended in the past but I figure with Mobil1 I could go longer between treatments. 

 


We bluegrass pickers usually go for possum fat.

Oct 11, 2022 - 10:30:49 AM

214 posts since 4/3/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

I wish there was a sarcasm font option for forums.


No sarcasm font, but a handful of emojis to flag posts as somewhat less than serious... winkcheekycooldevilsurpriselaugh

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