Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

I recently bought a second hand Grafton 17 fret tenor banjo which had been set up for Jazz tuning (ADGC) and am having trouble getting a decent tone with GDAE tuning. I tend to be a bit heavy with my left hand which probably doesn’t help matters, but I can never seem to get an accurate note.

Can anyone suggest string types or how to set up please?

Cheers
Clavey

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

You may have a couple of issues, but your question is unclear. Assuming your strings are chosen to suit the neck length and are taut, there may be a problem with the position of the bridge. Are you right or left handed? Is the neck straight?

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

was it originally from Andybanjo?
If so, he can probably advise.

I’ll assume that you have already fitted heavier (and therefore tighter) strings more suitable to GDAE?

Slack strings and a heavy touch will have you bending notes unintentionally.

One trick you can try is to buy a set of standard "tenor banjo" strings like these:
http://www.stringsdirect.co.uk/products/830-d_addario_j63_nickel_tenor_banjo_
then "move them across"
That is, throw away the lightest string, the .009, then fit the .016 as the E, the .023w as the A, the .030w as the D and buy a .040w guitar string to use as the G

That is about the heaviest set possible for a 17 fret and should give you an idea of what will work for you

Posted by .

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

I’d think if it is an andybanjo banjo .13 .22 .32 .44/46 would be about the heaviest gauge I’d try and that he’d recommend.

But I’d start with .12 .20 .32 .44 as for me thats about as heavy a set as I’ve felt happy with.

Andy’s dose set ups: http://www.andybanjo.com/

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

You’re quite right Solidmahog, but the heavy gauges I mentioned are exactly what I’ve been using on my Andybanjo 17 fret Grafton for the last three years without any problem

The reason I suggested it is because it works with what is a widely-available set of banjo strings

Posted by .

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

If you’ve gone up to a heavier gauge of strings without having the nut and bridge slots widened, that could be causing some problems with your banjo. Make sure the bridge is positioned correctly as well…you might have moved it during a string change.

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

My ancient 17 fret Bacon banjo has got a 12 for the E and Rotosound phosphor bronze 18, 28 and 42 for A, D and G. I originally put heavier strings on but it hasn’t got a truss rod and I didn’t want the neck to suffer so I went a bit lighter, and these are fine. I like having a wound A, and I think the tone is better with bronze-type strings than with nickel wound. I get these from http://www.highlystrung.co.uk where you can pick ‘n mix your gauges and experiment.

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

I play a 17 fret Buckmaster Custom, tuned GDAE. I use .012/ .018(plain)/ .026/ .036 or .038. Whenever you change string gauges on any fretted instrument it’s a good idea to get a new bridgepiece and new nut as the grooves may not quite match up to the new strings, especially if your using a lighter gauge than previously, even if that guage might only be small. Going down from say a .013 to .012 might not seem much but it could cause buzzing. Also if the string is too light a guage the slackness when fretting can cause unintended bending, not much but possibly enough to throw it out of tune, especially if the action is a bit high.
Another thing that can affect tone is the type and thickness of plectrum. I use a .50mm Tortex, others use a .73mm nylon. I find I get a brighter tone from the tortex but if I were playing CGDA tuning I would use a nylon plectrum. Of course if the plectrum is too thick you will find that making (picked) triplets is much more difficult. I think Mick O’Connor uses a .073 nylon and Jody Moran uses a .50mm tortex so there’s no hard and fast rules about it.
Also make sure to check the bridge position which could need adjustment. To check it play a note on the twelfth fret, then play the harmonic. They must match otherwise your bridge is in the wrong position. This will cause tuning problems.

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

Bren, that being the case I see no problem with that and if you’ve had them on a couple of years then I don’t think you’ll be expecting any problems any time soon. I’ve had a couple of banjos from Andy, and all very good. I moved on because of string gauge. For me although I love the 19 & 3/4 neck on the mastertone style banjos I’ve tried, the gauge has to be quite high to get them to sound (I know there is much to banjo set up but and this is only MO) and I don’t like the work out my hand have to under go to maintain my standard. Also I don’t like the sound. Having said that my girl friend bought my last Andybanjo banjo (second hand banjos sell like hot cakes IME), fitted .13 .22 .32. .46 (or .44) and she gets a great sound out of it, so it could just be me as she’s defo the musician in the relationship.

I made a move to a 21 3/8ths (I think thats right) and as a result I now string .12 .18 (or .17 if unwound) .28 .38 much better for me to play & I prefer the sound, although I’ve had to get use to even this tiny extension in neck length.

Strings & picks;

I buy strings from the link below;

http://www.newtonestrings.com/

They’re very good IMO but you have to buy 4 sets minimum order and wait around for a few weeks for delivery, great strings though so worth the wait.

Also "sully" sells picato singles who I use if (as now) I’m not going to be around for the newtone’s to arrive as the have a next day turn around. PH Bronze, may not be to everyones taste but I like them.

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

How about no strings ?
Much quieter.
Thought we’d have a change from anti-goat-whacker prejudices……

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

Yes, It was originalyy an Andybanjo Grafton and the bridge is positioned correctly, I’m right handed and the neck is perfectly straight

I think I need to try out a lot of these suggestions and experiment with different types and gauges.

Thanks to everyone, even Guernsey Pete.!

Re: Tenor Banjo Strings - Advice Needed

A wee update………

I got an email from said Andybanjo detailing how I should set it up, and explaining the differences between "jazz" and "Irish" setups.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is after sales service at it’s very best. ……… I bought it second hand off ebay! (It was in perfect condition though!)

So, a big thank you to Andybanjo. I for one, am VERY impressed! He da man!!!!!

Clavey