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May 28, 2024 - 5:42:04 AM
1 posts since 2/1/2018

I've been playing around with different string sets and found that I prefer heavier gauges. Right now I'm using the Romero regulars (.011 - .013 - .015 - .024B - .011). I've been enjoying them, but have been curious about going heavier. I remember hearing somewhere that Chris Coole and Frank Evans use a extra heavy custom set, but I can't remember which gauges they use. I was wondering if anyone else might know.

May 28, 2024 - 6:21:24 AM

108 posts since 4/19/2014

I can’t remember off the top of my head, but Chris talks about what string gauges he uses on the picky fingers podcast. It’s near the end.

May 28, 2024 - 6:23:37 AM

33 posts since 3/7/2012

Here's a heavier gauge set that I liked:


Guages 012, 014, 020w, 024w, 012

May 28, 2024 - 7:45:28 AM
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3374 posts since 9/5/2006

I remember one night at a jam, Kirk Sutphin handed me a banjo to play and it had an 18 for the 3rd string. The rest were equally as heavy. He'd bought a cheap set of heavy Dean Markley strings off the top of a barrel at Tom Barr's shop in Galax and they nearly ripped my fingernails off!

Edited by - Bob Buckingham on 05/28/2024 07:46:12

May 28, 2024 - 11:37:20 AM



3268 posts since 8/7/2008

I've played with "heavier" strings for years, like Bob mentioned with Kirk, I use a .018 3rd string, but it's a bronze wound one instead of steel (like old string sets that used a wound 3rd string). I start with a GHS 160 set (.011 - .013 - .016 - .026 - .010) and swap out the .010 fifth with a worn out .011 first and use a plain steel .012 for a first string... I don't change strings a whole lot, and play a lot of 2 finger and 3 finger without picks in addition to rapping the banjo and this string combo gives me the sound I like, YMMV.

May 28, 2024 - 6:20:43 PM
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166 posts since 12/6/2019

Before I really dove into the banjo, I played acoustic guitar and electric guitar for years. My favorite electric guitar sets were Ernie Ball Power Slinky's. This set is .011, .014, .018, .028, .038, .048.

When I got really into banjo, I couldn't get used to how loose the strings felt most of the time, especially with a shorter scale banjo (25.5"). So I tried these gauges on a 25.5" scale banjo and have stuck with them since...

011, .014, .018, .028, .011

It's kind of a PITA to source individual strings, but I don't change strings enough to care that much.

I think especially with the "modern standard" scale of 25.5", this set (or similar heavier gauges) makes a lot of sense. Intonation is much improved when you match the string gauge to the scale.

On another note, I don't really understand why banjos tend to use such light strings. A typical set of "light" acoustic guitar strings starts at .012" and goes up to ~ .058. I suppose the top and body of an acoustic guitar need a good deal of tension to be driven effectively, but considering that banjos are notoriously overbuilt, I think most of them would handle (and maybe even benefit from tonally) a good deal more tension than they're typically exposed to.

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