I am putting new strings on a cheap bottle neck banjo for a kid. The tailpiece is almost impossible. I would install a new/different tailpiece for the kid if I had one but I don't and I don't have time to wait to order one. After two hours and lots of cussing I have managed to get two strings installed. The hole on the end of the tailpiece is so close to the hook that the string loop that fits over it is almost impossible to fit. So, it is impossible for me to install the strings without lots of pushing and pulling and bending. Is there a trick to it?
Edited by - TN Time on 02/07/2023 19:03:41
Originally posted by TN Time
I am putting new strings on a cheap bottle neck banjo for a kid. The tailpiece is almost impossible. I would install a new/different tailpiece for the kid if I had one but I don't and I don't have time to wait to order one. After two hours and lots of cussing I have managed to get two strings installed. The hole on the end of the tailpiece is so close to the hook that the string loops fits over it is almost impossible for me to install the strings. Is there a trick to it?
Can you post a picture of the tailpiece?
It is exactly like this one.
Bend the loop end to about 45 degrees before you thread the string thru the hole. As you draw the string thru, slip the loop over the tang, then pull the rest of the string carefully, maybe even holding the loop down.
Ouch! Would it be easier to take the tail piece off ? Then put strings on then put tailpiece back on ? That’d bite ! Or maybe teach the kid 2 string banjo . Good luck. I hope you have patience.
I would probably make my own loop by putting the string into the string loop, pulling it through until you get a small loop, put that around the hook, and then pull it tight..like a lasso.
Then, thread the string into the hole
Changing strings one at a time keeps the tailpiece and bridge in place as well.
try ball end strings, as used on billions of guitars. Many guitar strings are of gauges that are identical to those used on banjos. Gauges are usually listed on the packages.
For now, just do as Deestexas recommends. I have found that a pair of small vice grips can help hold the loop on while other stringing operations are being done. A capo can also help hold the string over the fingerboard. Do NOT remove the tailpiece, as that will make matters even worse. I would not try making an extra loop, either. Two pieces of sharp steel wire can cut each other when tensioned.
I hate these tailpieces, but they are, unfortunately, a gigantic part of cheap Asian banjos. Get rid of it as soon as you can.
OK, I got all five strings on the thing. There IS a trick to it as I found out. deestexas and George have the right idea but I will add something. Just bending the string just before the loop did not work as I still could not get the loop to go over the hook. First, with a small pair of needle nose pliers I squeezed the loop into more of a rectangular shape than just a round hoop shape. Next, I used the pliers to bend the elongated loop itself to a 45 (close to 90) degree angle. When pushing the loop end of the string into the hole you must also push UP on the loop and it will slide right over the hook and be anchored. I think I once read in Roger Siminoff's book on banjo set up that these tailpieces make great door stops. They are not good for much else. Thanks for everyone's responses.
Those tailpieces are a PITA! I use a small flathead screwdriver to keep the loop under the tab while pulling it tight.
Once you have it sussed, train the kid!
Further to the suggestion above re using ball end guitar strings: a ball end taken from an old guitar string (if you have such a thing to hand ) can be placed in a string loop with a little care before pulling it through the hole in the tailpiece.
I have encountered a few tailpieces that required re-shaping the loop slightly to fit on the anchor post.
There are quite a number of bad designs, but this one is one of the very worst.
I also recommend teaching the owner, whether adult or child, how to use this. Better yet would be to recommend the owner pay for something better. Strings don't last forever and will require replacement. Mental health, on the other hand, cannot be replaced.
What deestexas said. I always bend the loops or the string just a head to nearly a 45 degree angle. You will need to bend the loop part. Don't make a sharp bend though for there is danger of breakage. I just use my fingertips and nails to make a gentle bend in the hoop. Still, you have to keep tension on the string to keep the hoop from slipping off the tang.
I recommend using round-end pliers for bending strings. The usual needle nose pliers tend to bend the wire too sharply, and the string can easily break at the bend.
Needle nose pliers work just fine. Don't make any severe sharp bend in the wire loop, as a gradual curve is all you need. Then the string won't break.
Needle noses do work, but require more care and patience. I've used them myself. A freing gave me some round nosers (he ha forerly done jewelry work) and was amazed at how much easier the bending became.
Here are some basic instructions for stringing some bad tailpieces:
1. Thread the string end through its loop end, making a large open circle.
2. Tie remaining length from a ceiling beam.
3. Stand on a chair and place your head through that open circle.
4. Rock back and forth until the chair falls over and you no longer have its support.
change the tailpiece!
Edited by - Dan Gellert on 02/09/2023 15:56:55
I bend the loop itself over something round, so it looks like Dali's clock.
Then, run the string through the hole, put it through the peg, hold the loop in place with one hand, tighten the peg with the other.
ALSO: Even though I do not remove all 5 strings at once, I do mark around the bridge feet with a sharp #2 pencil, so if it ever DOES get knocked awry, I can just set it on the marks.
'OB-3RF "Twanger"' 3 hrs