Hey all, about a month ago I put together a minstrel banjo kit from Carver. I followed the instructions carefully and liked the way it turned out. Recently the 5th string started buzzing and I’m not sure of the cause. The tack head seems firm. I have not adjusted the dowel to lower the action. Strings are nylon. Any suggestions are appreciated before I reach out to my luthier.
It could be the string itself, or perhaps the head is not as tight as it appears.
Does the string buzz when it's capoed? Do any other strings act oddly?
You don’t mention whether it’s his fretted or fretless version.
If it’s the fretless, not much to buzz, maybe the slot in the bridge is too wide?
The minstrel banjo is fretless and I do not use a capo. These banjos are tuned a few octaves lower than standard banjo. There was no buzz until yesterday. The tack appears tight - a good drum sound when you thump it.
Two possibilities I can think of - has the fifth string maybe slipped out of it pip and have you tried a taller bridge. Tackhead banjos do react to the humidity and often require a selection of bridges, since that about the only adjustment.
Thank you Jduke. It’s a very basic instrument so figure it can only be 1 or 2 things to check. I’ll also check pip and follow up with Brian Carver Banjos about different bridges for fretless.
Does it even have a pip? Your banjo has the 5th peg through the fingerboard, with the string going straight from the peg to the bridge, right?
Is the 5th string wound down on the peg to where it's rubbing on the fingerboard? Or wound over itself, and rubbing against another coil of string on the peg?
My minstrel does not have a 5th string pip, the tuner is as the previous poster stated, and seems the same as what Carver shows for his fretless.
I still suspect bridge. How do you have the string tied to the TP, and what is being used to secure the TP to the dowel? Is it leather, or wound copper wire?
Any of those string ends at the tailpiece touching the head? Wouldn't have to be the 5th string to have a resonant frequency at the note your 5th string is tuned to.
Check that none of the strings where they're tied to the tailpiece are touching the head. That's cause buzzing. If that's not the case and no pip, then it's probably the bridge. Put your ear close to the bridge and pluck the 5th to make it buzz. If the buzz is loud near the bridge, that's your problem. Easiest fix is a pencil. Take an razor/x-acto knife and scrape some fine graphite power from the pencil tip onto a piece of paper with a. fold in it. Then lightly tap the folded paper, sprinkling the graphite powder into the 5th string slot on the bridge. I pull the 5th string up and set it to the side so I can create a bed of graphite powder in the slot. Then put the string back in the slot and tap a bit more on top of the string at the slot. Pluck the string a few times to adjust the graphite dust. It will act as a lubricant to eliminate buzzing in the bridge slot. You can blow/brush any graphite powder off of the banjo head.
Thanks to all for your responses. Since no strings are touching the head, I’ll try graphite and if that doesn’t solve the problem, I’ll try another bridge. Any recommendations for a bridge type are appreciated.
Even if it does solve the problem, a different (lighter weight, one piece) bridge will definitely improve the sound of that banjo. Try making one out of soft wood (pine, spruce). Or check out what Joel Hooks has in a suitable size for you.
Thank you Dan. I sent Joel a message.
Highly recommend a Hooks Converse bridge for a minstrel.