Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Change your strings; it's good for the soul

So lately, I’ve noticed my playing has been quite unpleasant, hideous really. It has that irritable and shrill quality of one of those first generation computer 300 baud modems, you know, the ones you had to put the handset of the phone into. My timing is off, my fingers just lock up and go all spastic and I’ve taken to scolding myself and calling myself names.

Now I’m not one to take that kind of abuse, not from anyone, not even myself. I was about to get in my own face and tell me what’s what and all, and then I noticed an unopened package on my desk from the General Store. Then I got this idea see, I remembered I’d ordered a set of Rickard Cyclone tuners for my Gibson and some new strings, so…

Couldn’t hurt I figured. So, I looked up and watched the string changing videos and Jake’s video on changing tuners on the lessons site and got to work. After a little trial and error, luckily I had extra sets of strings, I got it done.

WOW, I am shocked, stunned I say, at how good I am now. I am in awe of how fast my nimble fingers are moving along the fret board so smoothly, like butter I tell ya, and not that “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” crap. Pick noise is gone and my right hand fingers are like lightning, hitting every string with the precision and accuracy of, well something that has high precision and accuracy. I feel like I could mix it with the boys of Kentucky Thunder now.

It’s amazing what a new set of stings can do. It’s given me a tremendous boost of energy and motivation, it’s so refreshing, like a whiff of new car smell or Coppertone suntan lotion. It’s a blue sky sunny day with that Fall crispness in the air and all is well.

How To Change Banjo Strings
How To Change Mandolin Strings
How To Change Guitar Strings

How To Change Banjo Tuners


This weekend I took @MissMaggie 's lead and changed my strings.

Back in the day I played Dean Markley and Stelling strings. There were times I would try other brands but these were my strings of choice. Last year when I started playing again, after 30+ years, I tried several different sets of the GHS strings. I settled in on the PF135’s. I tried the PF140’s but they are too light for me. Some of the others GHS strings didn’t make an impression.

I week ago I was impulse shopping at “The Store” and put a set of the 135’s in the cart but my gut said, “get the Stellings”. So I thought of @Archie and also purchased a set of Stelling Medium Heavies. The RED pack.

Last night I put them on, tuned, checked the bridge, tuned and played a little. They went flat so I tuned and played some more. I could tell they were stiffer and sounded different but not that much. The Twanger still had the pop. Then I noticed that the B note (4th fret) on the G string was not as sharp as usual.

I found the KORG tuner and tuned the banjo as perfect as possible. When I played the B note (4th fret). It was only slightly sharp, about 5 cents. With the PF135’s I am always sharp on the 4th fret 20 cents. I have checked this on three banjos in recent months. Two with PF135’s and one with a set of Yates’ strings of similar weight. I came home from work today to check it again. 5 cents sharp worst case.

I picked up another banjo with the lighter strings and checked it. 20 cents sharp. I made sure I was fretting straight down and as light as possible. Still Sharp. In my limited experience, with every banjo I have played, the 4th fret, G string is sharp to some degree. But I was amazed with the Medium Heavies. I guess the stiffer string doesn’t bend as much.

I am curious to the experiences others have had. I am a little bit of a tinkerer but a banjo player has to be? Right?

@MissMaggie was right. A new set of strings are good for ya. As for the motivation, I am currently losing it because the cookie smell from the kitchen is over taking my self discipline and will power.


Well, I was so careful not to move the bridge by doing one sting at a time and maybe I just got lucky because I didn’t have to adjust the bridge at all. I used the Huber Truetone strings from the General Store and I really like them. I put them on both banjos. I play each banjo for about three weeks or so and then switch. I dunno, it just seems refreshing somehow.

I’m going to order several sets of those strings now to have on hand and start changing them on a more regular basis, maybe once a month or so. I’m curious as to how often other folks change their strings. I think the pros change them almost every show don’t they?

Yeah, things like that tend to distract me too.


I don’t change strings. They’re not easy to get out here, so I only replace strings when they break until I run out of used spares. The I change strings. So usually about once a year

1 Like

i find that i’m changing my strings around every 3 weeks and currently using GHS 135 and have a good few sets of GHS 155 also… i wouldn’t say i’m changing every 3 weeks because the strings are totally gone but i find that they start to loose a bit of tonal edge and defo loose their ability to hold the note

changing to a new set gives me momentum and renewed playability/enjoyment, which has to be worth the £6 every 3 weeks

Keep Picking Y’All


Oh my… as often as you play? When you come for camp, we’ve got to load you up with enough strings to take back to last a while.


Yeah, it doesn’t really matter if you sound good if there’s no one around to play for. I did change my mandolin E strings twice in the last few days cuz they broke

1 Like

My grandfather bought a fiddle from a neighbor that was moving, but it didn’t have strings on it, so he took it the his local music store, and had them put strings on it. The strings must have not been sealed because one broke while I was tuning it! I was able to make do and fix it once I found out how much fiddle strings cost.

1 Like

Anywhere from $10 to about $200 depending on quality :scream:

1 Like

:+1: Well said!


I’m a master of the metaphor. Metaphor is my middle name :slight_smile:


This metaphor is brought to you today from the Department of Redundancy Department.



I’m a fan of really bad metaphors such as - Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

I have a whole collection of them here:


Talk about differences in writing styles. I do five paragraphs on the benefits of changing your strings and @BanjoBen posts:

in his post Discuss the Banjo lesson: How to Change Banjo Strings

That’s why I love this guy :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Plus, it’s a clear indicator of how I have way too much time on my hands.


Well, my banjo has been getting hard to tune and the intonation has been awful, so I decided to change the strings. This is the first time I’ve changed strings on my new banjo. Ok first note, I don’t like loop end tailpieces. They’re just hard to use. Also, dang these strings take long to break in. When I changed them on my mandolin, within five minutes it would hold tune. Same on my fiddle. But I restrung the banjo last night and played for fifteen minutes, then played fifteen this morning and it still doesn’t hold tune. And the dtuners… well, they’re not useable yet, they take the strings flat so fast. The strings I put on are actually the ones I was sent when I was GPotW last year. I’ll keep y’all posted on when they finally break in

1 Like

A couple tips that may or may not be helpful Gunnar:

  • On loop end tailpieces, often a slight bend in the loop end of the string will greatly assist with installation

  • Once I install strings, I will grab them individually and pull them hard away from the instrument and then give a few seconds of a bouncy pull. I do this with each string individually and repeat a couple times. Doing so stretches the string in a way that tuning stability is there almost immediately. I have had luck with this on every steel string I have tried. Nylon strings (like on a uke or classical) are a bit tougher… they just seem to take forever.


I had previously discovered that with my old banjo, but it had been so long since I changed strings that it took two strings before I remembered that. Pliers work well for that.

I’ve seen that done before, but I usually don’t do it cuz it’s usually unnecessary. I did however try it this time, but I don’t think I stretched them enough. I’ll try again


If the string is already up to pitch, it may be easier to detune it a bit before doing the manual stretching. I notice that on mandos I have to stretch them with string a few notes low before I can get enough flex to pull them effectively. Don’t be bashful… pull on on those puppies.


I think it’s cuz I had picks on my fingers that I couldn’t stretch it enough. I can definitely flex banjo strings enough to stretch


Wow, what strings are they. After I changed mine with the Hubers and stretched them like Ben says in the video, I didn’t have a single problem with them. They held their tune just fine. Hmmmm.