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May 24, 2024 - 4:33:07 PM
11 posts since 4/9/2016

I have an open-back tenor banjo (CGDA) with one dead note--and I mean the note itself, the high F, whether I play it on the first string, 8th fret, or on the second string at the 14th fret. It's as though the note gets swallowed up or cancelled out, so there's no ring or sustain at all. Almost like it's being cancelled out by overtones, if that's a thing.

I've changed strings, and some sets work better than others, but it never goes entirely away. Would loosening or tightening the head make a difference? Anything else I should try, or ask a repair shop to try?

I love the banjo, but this has been bugging me for a while, and I'd love to get it fixed, if it's fixable!

May 24, 2024 - 5:52 PM

3147 posts since 12/4/2009


Bill Baker is the guitar setup person for Ace Frehley. I use his method of string setup on all instruments I own. I have not been disappointed.

Edited by - Aradobanjo on 05/24/2024 17:52:40

May 24, 2024 - 6:43:52 PM

2471 posts since 2/9/2007

Sounds like you've got a wolf note. It's most likely caused by a resonance in one of the strings between the bridge and tailpiece. Try muting the strings there with a bit of felt or something, and if your tailpiece has adjustable pressure, see if that changes it any. Check the D and G strings up on the peghead while you're at it.

If that doesn't fix it, the resonance could be almost anywhere. Tighten every bolt, nut, and screw you can find. Make sure the head is tight, and evenly so, and that the slots in both the nut and bridge are smooth and clean. Look for any glue joint that might have opened up. A barely-noticeable loose end of binding or splinter of veneer could be the culprit.

Edited by - Dan Gellert on 05/24/2024 18:45:09

May 25, 2024 - 4:46:11 AM

3147 posts since 12/4/2009


Wolf notes are loose hardware or wood. I read that a string is weak. My suggestion to see if each string post is pointing and wound just like Ace Frehely’s guitars strung up by Bill Baker. Using this method ensures each string is heard.

May 25, 2024 - 5:06:27 AM

11 posts since 4/9/2016

Thank you both! That’s helpful advice—good to know the possible culprits.

May 25, 2024 - 5:08:01 AM

1682 posts since 11/10/2022

Ive had th8s in the past. Fixed it by slightly moving the neck in relation to the rim and retightening. Moved the neck a bit more outward if that makes sense.

May 25, 2024 - 1:06:13 PM

419 posts since 6/15/2006

if the skin itself has a strong resonance on the tone F the skin might eat the energy out of the string in no time when this tone is played. I do not know about the "tap tone" on open back tenor banjos, but if a guitar has a resonance on the deep G or A (or whatever) the sound will die out quickly, when this note is player especially on the thick string. It is not a fault but a law of nature, so it may have something to do with skin tightening (or other things as suggested). Steen

Edited by - steen on 05/25/2024 13:07:56

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