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Dec 4, 2023 - 2:46:11 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

I’m currently building a couple of bass banjos and I’m measuring 43 inches from the anchor placement to the tuners. I’m wandering what my string options are.

Dec 4, 2023 - 3:19:19 PM
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61671 posts since 12/14/2005

Gee, I don't know.
Have you checked the length of available light gauge bass guitar strings?

I used bass guitar strings on the one I made for my brother.

Back when people lived like pioneers, they would twist fishing lines together to make heavier strings.

Fishing "Leader line" doesn't stretch as much as regular fishing line, and deep sea stuff can be pretty darn thick for starts.


Dec 4, 2023 - 4:30:49 PM

3518 posts since 12/31/2005

Dec 5, 2023 - 8:04:20 AM

252 posts since 4/3/2009

Upright bass strings are the right length. I suggest low tension.

Dec 5, 2023 - 12:17:02 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Gee, I don't know.
Have you checked the length of available light gauge bass guitar strings?

I used bass guitar strings on the one I made for my brother.

Back when people lived like pioneers, they would twist fishing lines together to make heavier strings.

Fishing "Leader line" doesn't stretch as much as regular fishing line, and deep sea stuff can be pretty darn thick for starts.


I'm going to have to try the braided fishing line. I have a couple of rolls of the monofilament line here I suppose lots of braided thin lines would be more playable and more consistent than twisting up few big chunky ones. But that will be for experimentings sake. This bass is for a serious player so I don't think he'll go for the fishing line solution. 

Dec 5, 2023 - 12:32:18 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Murphy

banjohangout.org/archive/288800


Thanks Brian. That thread is more about the sound of the lower bass strings being muddy which is why I'm going for a 35" scale. The longest bass guitar strings I've been able to find are 38"s long & l need 43" to make a 35" scale. I've worked out a way (idea) of placing the tuners directly onto a fiddle style floating tailpiece for future builds but I'm committed to a fixing the tuners to the tension hoop for these two. 

Dec 5, 2023 - 12:47:13 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by banjodobro56

Upright bass strings are the right length. I suggest low tension.


Yes Dave. I was hoping to get guitar strings for the job. For my own bass I made it in GDAE fifths, (2 octaves below violin) tuning on 32"s. It sounds great down to the low G with nickel wound bass guitar strings. Today I've ordered a set of 1/4 size double bass strings for one & a set of NS bass strings for the other the shop measured the total length of the NS strings at 47"&1/4" to fit a 35" scale instrument.  I'll put some photos of it here when I get a chance. 

Dec 5, 2023 - 11:59:38 PM
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martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

Here’s the pics of progress to date. I put a short scale tenor next to it for perspective




 

Dec 6, 2023 - 9:57:11 AM
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1078 posts since 3/23/2006

If you have an idea of the gauge of the string -- as well as the length -- you're looking for, I would email Mapes to see if they can meet your need. I have bought heavier wound single strings from them that I could not find elsewhere.

Dec 6, 2023 - 10:50:22 AM

2339 posts since 2/9/2007

You want a lot lower tension on a banjo string than you would on a string of similar pitch and length on a wood-topped instrument.

If I were stringing the banjo you describe, I'd first want to try something wound on silk/nylon like classical guitar basses. A guitar low E ought to give you more than enough tension on a 35"scale tuned down to G. As you say, though, the problem is the length. Search for lute strings! Aquila makes custom-gauged wound theorbo sub-basses 180cm long-- (~6 feet !!)

Dec 6, 2023 - 12:09:36 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

You want a lot lower tension on a banjo string than you would on a string of similar pitch and length on a wood-topped instrument.

If I were stringing the banjo you describe, I'd first want to try something wound on silk/nylon like classical guitar basses. A guitar low E ought to give you more than enough tension on a 35"scale tuned down to G. As you say, though, the problem is the length. Search for lute strings! Aquila makes custom-gauged wound theorbo sub-basses 180cm long-- (~6 feet !!)


I think you're right about the tension Dan and now I'm thinking I should have ordered half size bass strings instead of quarter size. I play tenor viola a lot (GDAE on a 405mm scale) & for that I use regular cello strings cut short which theoretically should be slack but they are spot on. The other thing with using double bass strings on an ongoing basis is that they are as dear as poison. 

Dec 6, 2023 - 12:27:19 PM
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martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

And by the way. That GDAE bass I made has a 31” scale. I’m starting to think that GDAE is a more viable instrument in the bass banjo format.

Dec 6, 2023 - 7:54:23 PM

2339 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by martyjoe
quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

You want a lot lower tension on a banjo string than you would on a string of similar pitch and length on a wood-topped instrument.

If I were stringing the banjo you describe, I'd first want to try something wound on silk/nylon like classical guitar basses. A guitar low E ought to give you more than enough tension on a 35"scale tuned down to G. As you say, though, the problem is the length. Search for lute strings! Aquila makes custom-gauged wound theorbo sub-basses 180cm long-- (~6 feet !!)


I think you're right about the tension Dan and now I'm thinking I should have ordered half size bass strings instead of quarter size. I play tenor viola a lot (GDAE on a 405mm scale) & for that I use regular cello strings cut short which theoretically should be slack but they are spot on. The other thing with using double bass strings on an ongoing basis is that they are as dear as poison. 


Double bass strings would be way too heavy for that banjo, I think.  If you could get an extra long 'cello set, that might work... 

I bet fluorocarbon fishing leader would serve for the E, probably for the A, too.  Custom wire-on-silk lute or harp strings for the D and G.  

or....   Have you considered tololoche strings?-- Tololoche is just an upright bass (often 1/4 or 1/2 size), and usually tuned ADGC (a fourth above the usual pitch).   Plucked, not bowed.  The strings are nylon wound with nylon, and way cheaper than doghouse strings!    

https://www.ebay.com/itm/134814184845?

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:20:59 AM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

Dan Gellert I must try those tololoche strings on one of my cellos. But for now I’m committed to the strings that I’ve ordered. I’m confident that the design of the instrument is going to achieve a quality sound even with a cheapo set. This bass is going to a retired bassist , he played with the highest paid covers band in Melbourne through the nineties. So he’s well able to swap & change strings but it would just be nice to set him up with everything top notch from the start. I’m flying down there next week so I’ll just have to run with what I’ve got.

Dec 8, 2023 - 6:12:39 PM

129 posts since 8/22/2023

Is the neck on your bass offset from center? Looks like it in the photo.. Is that unusual?

Dec 9, 2023 - 1:45:16 AM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by fotoguzzi

Is the neck on your bass offset from center? Looks like it in the photo.. Is that unusual?


Yes Brad. This banjo will have fan-frets so the neck is offset to accommodate the angle of the bridge. This is essential to maintain the balance of tone. The offset on this one is 22mm which places the low E string over the centerline of the pot. If you notice on the tenor banjo in the photo, it has an offset of 15mm. If you want to make a banjo with fan-frets like this just p.m. me and I'll help you through it. Fan-frets work with traditional style headstocks as well. 

Dec 9, 2023 - 6:56:53 AM

129 posts since 8/22/2023

Fascinating! Thanks.. I just learned a lot from Google about it.. I’m not a builder tho I’ve put my toe in the water with my Canjo and now a Cello made from a drum I’m still working on.maybe I’ll do a box banjo next.

Dec 9, 2023 - 7:15:06 AM

129 posts since 8/22/2023

quote:
Originally posted by fotoguzzi

Fascinating! Thanks.. I just learned a lot from Google about it.. I’m not a builder tho I’ve dipped my toe in the water with my Canjo and now a Cello made from a drum I’m still working on.maybe I’ll do a box banjo next.


Dec 11, 2023 - 10:56:24 PM
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martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

Frets are on


 

Dec 11, 2023 - 11:22:36 PM
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13007 posts since 10/27/2006

Thomastic makes your strings. They worked with Rick Turner to come up with their Acousticore bass strings with a working length of 35" plus 2" or 3" afterlength. They make other nylon core strings for upright bass and cello. 

Here is my Turner Renaissance 5 with the 35" scale. I am not suggesting that you would use the same set, of course, just giving an example of what they do. Actually, the 1st and 2nd strings would work as 3rd and 4th on your banjo, depending on the length of the tailpiece.


 

Edited by - mikehalloran on 12/11/2023 23:30:55

Dec 12, 2023 - 12:45:42 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran

Thomastic makes your strings. They worked with Rick Turner to come up with their Acousticore bass strings with a working length of 35" plus 2" or 3" afterlength. They make other nylon core strings for upright bass and cello. 

Here is my Turner Renaissance 5 with the 35" scale. I am not suggesting that you would use the same set, of course, just giving an example of what they do. Actually, the 1st and 2nd strings would work as 3rd and 4th on your banjo, depending on the length of the tailpiece.

 


Thanks Mike I have to try those. After working out the bridge placement the scale lengths have worked out to 32"&7/8ths for the first string and 33"&7/8ths for the 4th which is about 3/8ths sort of my target scale length so I need to allow for that in the future. The strings that are ordered are coming tomorrow plus a jumbo guitar gig bag for the trip to Australia this Sunday. 

Dec 14, 2023 - 3:30:27 AM
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martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

Jobs done. Bass banjo is complete. The D’Addario Omni Bass strings worked out perfectly well. It has a good strong loud & well defined sound. The 15” head is an Aquarian Super-2 which is 2ply with a 7mil layer on the bottom & a 5mil layer on top. I put a tenor banjo in the photos for perspective, this is a big banjo but it is a lighter than my B&D silver Bell. 












Edited by - martyjoe on 12/14/2023 03:33:39

Dec 18, 2023 - 5:41:40 AM

Fathand

Canada

12334 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by martyjoe

I’m currently building a couple of bass banjos and I’m measuring 43 inches from the anchor placement to the tuners. I’m wandering what my string options are.


I'm late to the party but my upright bass playing friend uses weed wacker line on some of his basses.  They are his preference if he is doing a lot of slapping. Probably cheaper than most other choices here. I see info online.

Personally, if I were doing a 43" scale, I'd be inclined to go fretless.

Dec 23, 2023 - 3:45:45 AM

martyjoe

Ireland

482 posts since 3/24/2020

Ah yes Rick. Sorry for the delayed response I’ve just traveled half way around the globe. The scale is only about 33”&3/8ths. It’s the overall string length needs to be over 43”.
Anyhow I just put into the baggage hold of the plane, just dropped the bridge. It was fine, it is built as strong as horses. On the way to the airport I called in to the regional music store. He wants to put one up on the wall so I’ll do a few more with that setup. I’ve been showing it around here so it will get delivered tomorrow.

Dec 27, 2023 - 3:41:14 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17440 posts since 8/30/2006

Thanks for posting, I've learned much. You are lucky to have an accomplished pro as your customer. Great feedback, working simple is hard. I especially like the neck heel.

Dec 27, 2023 - 4:29:55 AM

61671 posts since 12/14/2005

Lovely to look at!

I'm guessing that the dowel across the head is to hook the thumb on, for an anchor, while plucking the strings.

Am I right?

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