Need a volunteer banjo player (or two)

Need a volunteer banjo player (or two)

After about 20 years I finally got around to updating my "Banjo Care and Feeding" page.

If anyone has a few minutes to spare, I’d appreciate your looking through the file to ensure that it makes maximum sense.

All comments, suggestions, etc. are welcome. Disclaimer: Totally negative ones will be placed in the same folder that I use for Nigerian investment opportunities and herbal hemorrhoid cures.

URL is (that’s a zero before the 4).

Bill Black

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Re: Need a volunteer banjo player (or two)

That’s an entertaining read (at least if you’re into banjos). A couple of comments. You might talk a bit more about string materials. You mention nickel-wound and phosphor-bronze. But there are other choices out there, especially when buying single strings or bulk strings (like from, which is where I buy mine). I tend to prefer nickel on my banjos, but my tenor guitars normally get bronze, and I have tried it on banjo a few times. And I had a banjo that sounded best with stainless steel wound strings. The main choices (in my order of preference for banjo) are: Nickel, Stainless Steel, Phosphor Bronze, Bronze. An then you could talk about different kinds of strings (round wound, half round, flat wound, plain steel)

And the reason that a bridge is never exactly twice the distance from the 12th fret is because you have to bend the string to reach the frets, which sharpens the note. So the bridge will always be a bit further from the nut than twice the distance to the 12th fret. How much further depends on how high the action is (how much you need to bend the string to reach the fret - if your action is higher, the bridge will be closer to the tailpiece to compensate).

This also brings up why I think it’s important to try to match the tension on each of your strings. I like to shoot for about 17# of pressure on each string for the banjo. There are lots of string tension calculators out there, but these days, I mostly use from D’Addario. If your tension is pretty even, then you’re more likely to be able to have all strings in tune all the way up the neck. If you have one string that is much lower tension, then you have to compromise on the bridge position, because higher tension strings will sharpen more when bent to reach the fret. And even with closely matched tension, the fatter the string, the more it sharpens when bent (even at the same tension,). So for me, the ultimate bridge placement always has the bass end of the bridge angled back toward the tailpiece a bit (meaning the bridge is not exactly perpendicular to the neck)

Anyway, nice job on the Care and Feeding page! But *nobody* ever needs more than ONE banjo player 😉

Re: Need a volunteer banjo player (or two)

Thank you. Downloaded to enjoy when I have some free time.

Re: Need a volunteer banjo player (or two)

Nice resource. Thank you for sharing.

You might consider adding Smakula to the resources section for parts. Elderly is sometimes out of stock for some of the harder to find banjo head sizes. I have found Smakula to always have what I am looking for.

Re: Need a volunteer banjo player (or two)

Useful information and good tips throughout — thanks for that! While 1/2" and 5/8" are the standards, banjo bridges can also be obtained commercially in finer sizes — I recently replaced a 5/8" bridge (too high) with 9/16" Farquhar bridge, and it was just right — 1/2" being too low. Available from Bernunzio’s.