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May 24, 2024 - 7:37:53 PM
1473 posts since 11/25/2007

Lately I've been playing an RK-76 Elite. While the harmonic sounds (chimes) are crisp and clean at frets 17, 12, and 7...they don't chime quite as well or clear at the 5th fret. Is this a function of the longer scale of the neck? or have I missed something in my setup? Thanks in advance.

Edited by - Mountain Dew on 05/24/2024 19:45:27

May 24, 2024 - 7:50:55 PM

2944 posts since 9/18/2010

Not sure about banjos, but I find that some guitars will chime easily at the 5th fret and some barely at all. Not sure what the difference is.
One thing that helps is to pluck at the middle of a string mode rather than near a node.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, modes are the parts of the string that move while nodes are the parts that don't move. When we chime a string we damp it at a node, in this case the 5th fret area. That damps lower modes from the fundamental and octave all the way to the 5th fret harmonic. We then have a string vibrating in 4 modes between 3 nodes. Plucking at a node will make it hard to get a chime. The nodes are 5th fret, 12th fret, and just inside of edge of the head (on an 11 inch rim). Pluck about midway from the bridge to the rim and that will work best for a 5th fret chime.

Edited by - sunburst on 05/24/2024 19:52:47

May 24, 2024 - 9:04:07 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5721 posts since 1/5/2005

On a banjo the chimes are at the 5, 7, 12 and 19 (not 17th) frets. When any of them, especially at the 5th & 19th "fail" to chime then that's usually the banjo's way of telling you "how's about some new strings already!"

May 25, 2024 - 5:20:49 AM

1473 posts since 11/25/2007

Thanks, Bart. I changed my strings 5 days ago.

Edited by - Mountain Dew on 05/25/2024 05:21:04

May 25, 2024 - 5:28:34 AM

79702 posts since 5/9/2007

The 5th strings chimes at 17.
Hunt for the 5th fret chimes by moving around a little.The 5th fret harmonics aren't as pronounced as the 12th.A bit more finicky and at a higher octave.
Old strings will chime fine at the 5th fret.

May 25, 2024 - 8:06:05 AM
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1473 posts since 11/25/2007

Thank you, Steve. I fiddled with the bridge a bit and ended up with a slight upward slant on the treble end (d) and a lower slant on the bass end (D). This helped improve chimes at the 5th fret without any degradation to chimes at 17, 12, and 7.

May 25, 2024 - 11:42:35 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2369 posts since 8/9/2019

Very low action could possibly mute the harmonics at 5th fret a little

May 25, 2024 - 12:00:39 PM

79702 posts since 5/9/2007

And here's a tidbit.
Chimes will always match the open strings...no matter where the bridge is located.

May 25, 2024 - 12:30:51 PM

5031 posts since 9/12/2016

string harmonics are explained all over google land--they hit at the fourth fret and ninth fret also==the stronger ones chime where the strings separates itself into equal lengths --of2- 4-6-8

May 25, 2024 - 12:51:17 PM

4499 posts since 6/15/2005

In this video I play fifth fret harmonics at about 2:09. My right hand is a couple of inches or so away from the neck. The banjo is a DP Hopkins Renaissance (2006). Action is 7/64” at 12, 9/64” at 22. Head is either a Remo or an AMB tightened by ear and feel and then checked with a drum dial for reference (90). Bridge is a Hopkins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zeBqZY3lbg
 

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 05/25/2024 12:55:07

May 26, 2024 - 4:49:52 PM

79702 posts since 5/9/2007

My tb-2/Cox conversion is the sweetest,strongest banjo I've yet to play and when I first played it in '99 I noticed the extra depth and projection in its harmonics and found new examples of them on other frets.

May 26, 2024 - 5:28:46 PM

3508 posts since 4/19/2008

Pick closer to the bridge so you don’t disrupt the swing of the string on those short distance harmonic nodes

May 27, 2024 - 5:43 AM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5721 posts since 1/5/2005

Yes Steve, you are totally correct: the 5th string's chime is on the 17th indeed smiley

Just in case: make sure you "muffle" the string you want to chime straight above the fret you need, not behind the fret like when you're playing (and of course, not in front of it either). Yup, this really was someone's problem once in a post a long time ago.

Nothing to do with the OP's question but I make use of the chime to double check that my banjo is in tune. The pitch of the chime note note of the 1st string @ the 12th fret is the same as the pitch of the 3rd string @ the 7th. Oh, what the hay:

  • 1 @ 12 = 3 @ 7 = 4 @ 5
  • 3 @ 5 = 5 @ 17

One of my all-time favourite tunes, Raymond McLain playing the Bells of St. Mary's. He plays it slower here than on the original LP (oops, vinyl...) track, listen to them awesome chimed notes smiley Added: yup, he uses false-harmonics in this rendition.

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 05/27/2024 05:51:00

May 28, 2024 - 9:35:38 AM

79702 posts since 5/9/2007

Don't think about where the fret is exactly,but rather where the strongest sounding harmonic is.

May 29, 2024 - 6:26:47 AM

4846 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

And here's a tidbit.
Chimes will always match the open strings...no matter where the bridge is located.


The 12th-fret harmonics  will be an octave above the open strings, and the 5th-fret harmonics (and the 24th-fret harmonics, if you're Alison Brown, Noam Pikelny, or Jason Burleson wink) will be two octaves above the open strings. BUT the 7th- and 19th-fret harmonics will not match the pitch of the open strings; they'll be an octave and a fifth above. (Let's not even get started on the 4th-, 9th-, and  16th-fret harmonics!)

But yes, to phrase it more generally, a given harmonic will always have a particular relationship to the open string (octave, octave and a fifth, two octaves, etc.) regardless of the placement of the bridge.

Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 05/29/2024 06:30:03

May 29, 2024 - 8:00:48 AM
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2944 posts since 9/18/2010

quote:
...yes, to phrase it more generally, a given harmonic will always have a particular relationship to the open string (octave, octave and a fifth, two octaves, etc.) regardless of the placement of the bridge.

Where some people get into trouble is; the 4th and 5th harmonics are true or "just" intervals whereas fretted intervals are tempered, so they don't match exactly.

May 29, 2024 - 9:43:37 AM

5031 posts since 9/12/2016

this has some cool gif files and info

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic

Edited by - Tractor1 on 05/29/2024 09:45:53

May 29, 2024 - 1:39:45 PM

79702 posts since 5/9/2007

When I say "match" I mean both examples will read "0" on my DT-2 or Peterson tuner.Different octaves,but in tune with each other.

Edited by - steve davis on 05/29/2024 13:40:46

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