I’m looking for someone who knows how to setup a banjo. I’m in Garden Grove California. Id like to be shown how to adjust everything on it. I started playing two months ago on a Dean B3. I broke a string. Tried to follow YouTube vids but ended up messing the bridge spacing. I’ve taken it to Sam Ask and Guitar Center for restring but both places didn’t do me any favors and it doesn’t sound right. Sam Ash gave me the banjo back and the neck was loose, guitar center pretty much fixed it but 1 & 2 strings vibrate on the fret board. Anyways if you’re in Orange County California let me know. Thanks
Sounds like a bad bridge spot or perhaps the neck is sitting low enough relative to the surface of the head and that is allowing the two strings to rattle/buzz. Not familiar with the banjo your have but if it is an inexpensive one and it were me I would be reluctant to spend much money having it set up. Just my opiion of course. What I would do is to reloosen the neck and press it downward as far as it will go away from the head of the banjo and then retighten. Also be sure the 12th fret is as close to half-way between the nut and bridge for proper, or at least close, bridge placement. Also you might try measuring your bridge and try one that is a tad higher than your present one IF that doesn't make the strings so high that it is unplayable or throws out the intonation. In any event, good luck with the banjo. Also check the head for tightness. If it has become slack that will allow for string buzz/rattle as well.
Edited by - BobbyE on 02/06/2023 05:31:40
Check out the BHO Luthier search feature -
While you're looking, a good self-directed source is Frank Ford's Five Sting Banjo Owner's Manual.
Good post by BHO member Scott Zimmerman (desert rose) on proper bridge placement -
When I set up a banjo, I always use an electric tuner and check the sound of the FRETTED string. Tune the banjo and check the bridge placement by checking the fretted twelfth fret. So many 'experts' recommend using harmonics to check intonation which is as pointless as can be. You fret a banjo to play it and you must check the intonation in the same way it is played or you are wasting your time.
Intonation involves compensating the length of the string from the mathematical perfect length due to the difference in thicknesses of the strings and the distance the string must be stretched to the fingerboard when fretted. For this reason checking bridge position by the harmonics method will always be wrong when compared to the fretted note, and since you fret the banjo to play you should set the instrument up how it will be played. If you only played open strings or played slide style like the dobro the harmonics method is the way to go. This is an important point when discussing string height also. If your banjo is set up with excessively high strings over the fingerboard ( approaching 1/4 inch), it will be impossible to intonate the banjo to play perfectly in both the upper and lower positions. When you play up the neck on a banjo like this the distance the strings must be stretched is so great that it effects the tuning and intonation. You can intonate the bridge position so it plays in the low position but it will be off in the high position. If you adjust the bridge so that it plays in the high position it will be off in the low position.
Assuming your action is about normal (3/16 inch at the last fret) and you have checked the note of the twelfth fret and determined the bridge is in the wrong place, how do you determine the right position? Here again, we will correct a major myth and misinformed piece of advice. How many of you have heard the following, "measure from the nut to the twelfth fret and set the bridge the same distance from the twelfth fret to the bridge"?
THIS IS WRONG EVERYTIME.
Unless you can rewrite every physics book ever written this is impossible. As in checking the harmonics, this doesn't take into consideration string gauges and pressing the string to the fretboard. This is good advice for dobro players. If you fret as we all do, you must compensate by placing the bridge further away from the twelfth fret to adjust the length of the string. So you are asking how much further. Well there is no one answer fits all in this situation. The exact distance of compensation must take into consideration string gauge, string height, and playing style among a few other points. I will give you a tid bit of advice taken from twenty eight years of setting up musical instruments in factories.
Measure from the nut to the center of the twelfth fret. Set your bridge this same exact distance PLUS 2.5 mm (3/32 inch) from the twelfth fret. I have found ninety percent of all banjos and banjo players will be satisfied with this and it checks out on an electric tuner within the range that most people cant hear a problem. If you do hear a slight difference playing the open string and the fretted twelfth, you can experiment with slight adjustments foreword or back. For extremely critical banjo players you can angle the bridge so that the bass foot is slightly further back than the treble, keeping the treble side of the bridge the plus 3/32 distance. But as I have said I have found ninety percent of musicians will be satisfied with the results. This doesn't take into consideration that group of banjo pickers that seem to think every bridge on every banjo is wrong and with nothing but a tin ear to go by move the bridge until it sounds 'right' to them making the banjo unplayable to everybody else.
ScottB426 Let's welcome this person to the hangout first.
Referring off post doesn't exactly help the guy. My phone is on my ads. I'm glad to confer with you off forum, text me first, I'm available all day.
1. Sam Ash and Guitar Center are not banjo tolerant. Ash has "practice" fingerpicks, but they don't sell them??? Guitar Center sold me two bass cases, but sent me a new Epiphone Advanced Jumbo guitar instead, so they put me on hold, I hold the guitar.
You have a fine entry level banjo with a dual acting truss rod in the neck.
These banjos can be setup to play and you can learn to do this yourself. Let us help.
Simple banjo set up can help you get the sound you are after and possibly dampen the harshness of aluminum.
When I met my wife, she had the Guild "Madiera" in her "closet." Really.
This is a sequence, all adjustments are made while the banjo is tuned up.
1. Tighten the head if needed. Small 1/6 of a turn is using one flat side of the nut that is on the hooks.
2. Place the bridge, you can scoot it around to your ears. Compensated bridges work and are available.
3. Adjust the tailpiece for some breakover angle on the strings after the bridge. Not too much.
4. Adjust the truss rod in the neck if needed.
5. Adjust the one rim rod inside the rim. The one rod also holds the neck on and has an adjustment slot to move the neck up and down at the heel to adjust the action. You must loosen the small nut at the heel end of the rod before any adjustments.
You will then be able to straighten up your neck and adjust the neck with a 14mm end wrench, you can watch the action rise and fall.
If you don't loosen the little nut at the back, you will warp and stress the one rod.
You won't need #4, but #5 sounds to me that they didn't know your banjo....neither.
Desert Rose is a long time contributor and has his own opinions and skills. I like paragraphs and less authoritative writing. He's very critical evidently.
Change strings one at a time, it's so much easier that way. You are already telling us about your ability to learn and tinker.
I once helped a person adjust their rim rods over the phone when I heard this big twang from the "lefty lucy" thing. They had unscrewed a tight tailpiece, so I got a shipment in the mail for warranty work.
You can't hurt anything on a Dean and it's waterproof in case of an emergency while canoeing .
That banjo should play quite well for you, out of the box. The nuances of set up are many, your ears are just fine to use.
Helix thank you very much for the welcome!!!
Your knowledge is amazing and I appreciate your reply.
I will go over everything you said over the weekend.
I’ve tweaked a few things and as of right now I’m getting pretty good sound.
Over all I’d like to ask if there is a way to find other banjo players around me? I’m not sure if I have to build a Banjo Signal and put it up in the night sky to see who shows up- lol
I’ll come back later today and reply more- I have to go into work and earn my nickel for the day!
Look over to your left and choose the word More. The first choice is member search. And you can see who is close by over there.
I’m on my iPhone- nothing to the left that says MORE
On the left side of the page, there is a list of sections -
Magnifying glass icon for searches.
I found it!!!! I found 6 guys in Garden Grove- private messages sent and then my sending privileges are on hold for 30mins because of possibly spam issues. Thanks
I will say that Frank Ford and Scott Zimmerman have years of experience, and are well respected by 99.9999% of the community.
I would not hesitate to recommend them as skilled...and reliable resources.
You are on the right track, Scott, keep your own counsel.
Originally posted by Helix
Please conduct any conflict resolution off forum. It gives the impression that dirty laundry is being hung on the line where it has no place.
I will indeed keep my own counsel.
We want to talk about banjos.
Nothing to take off forum...this is about your posts in this thread.
Backhanded criticisms of others answers ("Referring off post doesn't exactly help the guy"), and Scott Zimmerman ("He's very critical evidently").
Your meme is a fail as well.
Take your own advice, and talk about banjos.
Again, the pot is stirring the spoon. Can we stay on task, please.
Originally posted by Helix
the pot is stirring the spoon. Can we stay on task, please.
Your idiom is also a fail...
Staying on task would mean keeping your criticisms, and self-promotion, out of a thread for a change.
We would all love to see you actually do that.
Edited by - OldNavyGuy on 02/08/2023 01:43:56
ScottB426 Good luck on your journey, let us know how we can help.
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