Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Banjo and tuning

what is it with banjo the it cant keep tuning like other frettet instrument?
i see on stage the have to retune all the time.
only thing different from a guitar is the skin part.

there are a lot of differences…a banjo is held together with nuts & bolts, bridge is sitting on very thin head that is easily affected by minute temp changes. neck is thinner & affected more by humidity & temp…to name a few reasons.

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A Frequently Asked Question.

It’s a banjo and a banjo is made up of many parts and materials that with temperature and humidity changes tend to expand and contract these parts differently. Added to that it has strings of varying gauges that add a lot of tension to one side of the instrument. The banjo when it’s played is subjected to more tension through the picking hand as the strings are plucked and on the fretting hand when the strings are bent. Some advanced players such as Jens Kruger will purposely bend the neck to achieve a certain sound. Sometines the vocalist or the fiddle player may request a tune or song be performed in a different key to the norm. So it’s little wonder that we have to tweak the tuning ever now and then.

I keep my banjo in one room in an almost constant temperature and humidity and for the most part it stays in tune. As soon as I venture out with it to play at a local jam I am constantly having to retune.

Just be thankful you don’t have to tune this little beast.

i dont mind tuning was just curios. why it behave like that when other instruments dont :slight_smile:

Hey Mats don’t mind me it’s just my sense of humour. Banjo’s are strange instruments and for those of us who have an engineering background it’s fairly straightforward and dare I say, common sense why the instrument behaves in the way that it does. If you ever watch a drummer before he/she begins to play you will see that they spends a lot of time tensioning the skins or for that matter a piano tuner. They just don’t do it so often during a performance.

hehe ok. so im aboute to pass 8 months marker in playing. no eariler exp.
when should i start thinking aboute tighten the skin?

I usually check mine about every 2 months. The vibration from playing can cause the tension hooks to loosen. If your nervous about doing this seek out an experienced player to show you how to do it or check out Steve Huber’s tutorial videos here on Banjo Ben’s site.

yeah thanks., ill have to try it my self. there is not many stores here for banjo.

I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but I noticed that my banjo was always way it of tune and I even had to adjust the coordinator rod and truss rod a few times when I was using a banjo stand that basically hangs the banjo by the neck. These are more expensive stands but I determined that it was maybe taking the bow out of my neck. I went back to using my traditional stand which rests the pot of the banjo on a cradle and haven’t had any more buzzing issues and tuning is now better when I pick it up each day. I have a pretty cheap Iida name brand Korean made banjo so maybe a high quality banjo wouldn’t have this issue.

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Y’all be sure and watch the head tension video in my banjo setup course.

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I agree with stuff rattling loose. My coordinator rod nuts were coming loose. I don’t put much tension on them.

I think there is a story were later in his years Earl was playing somewhere and he fell off stage, banjo and all. People were worried it was destroyed and he said, “Its ok it knocked it into tune.”

I feel like I have super sensitive ears. If either G string sounds off it drives me bonkers. I change strings frequently because any dull sound or age is distressing.

Jason, Check your fret wires for wear…

Fret wires are fine. Recently replaced. I think the nut is off at the third G string slot. Need to check it out. Need to find a good luthier but none around me.

Seems to me you have found the problem.

What that there isn’t any luthiers around me? Lol