Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Out of Tuneing!

I tune my banjo, but down the neck it is sharp. I adjust the bridge forward and backward and remains sharp. What is going on!!!

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You just need to keep moving that bridge. If it’s sharp, just keep scooting it back toward the tailpiece until you get the right note. Make sure you’re retuning the strings between each adjustment.

To make moving the bridge easier, you might want to loosen the tension on all but the 2 D strings. You can use those to get the intonation right, then tune up the other strings. Having those other 3 strings loose makes moving the bridge easier.

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Here’s a weird one. On my soon to be mostly retired MB100, the intonation is great on the open strings and twelfth frets.

But, on my G and B strings, the tune tends to go way off when I’m playing on the 2nd to 4th frets. It’s always been that way.

Any ideas?

I’m no expert on bridge adjustment, but I remember Jake Stogdill at the Banjo Ben Store made a demo video back in October on this topic…maybe this will help:


@Treblemaker, someone else had that problem and it turned out to be a crooked neck, which they fixed and the problem was fixed. To be clear, the neck itself was not crooked, it was screwed on crooked.


I’ll second what @Dragonslayer said. Also, if those frets are sharp, maybe it could be the fret height? Is the note still sharp if you just barely fret the string as opposed to pressing all the way down to the fretboard?

I’ll check that tomorrow and let you know. I had a really reputable guy set it up right after I bought it…hmmmm.

@Treblemaker, I’ve noticed my middle G string running sharp when fretted too. Like @Mark_Rocka quizes us, I know that I’m having to be careful to fret that middle G string at 2nd & 4th lightly or be more careful to lightly touch the back of the fret instead of the middle of the fret board itself in an attempt to keep these notes from going way sharp. Like you, I was wondering if this is a universal intonation problem for banjos in general, or ( if in my case) it has to do with mine being out of adjustment or just a less expensive model.

Appreciate your input Mark. Will look into it more.

You are soooooo smart Mark! Yes, with very light fretting it not sharp. Now to just remember the delicacy of touch on which strings which fret! Unfortunately I am an hour from a shop to deal with this problem! Thank you

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I still struggle to this day with pressing the strings too hard. It’s a tough habit to break. Glad that’s all it is, though. :blush:

Yes he is… just look at his picture and you can tell :+1::grin::+1:

Another thing that helps with good intonation is placing you fretting finger as close as you can to the fret. Someone mentioned it above, but I thought it worth repeating.



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Sometimes there is too much bow in your neck. There needs to be some bow, but sometimes there can be more of a bow over a span of certain frets. When you think about it, it makes sense for how open and 12 frets can be in tune but others are sharp.

If you look down a fret board from the headstock, it should be a big gradual bow. Unfortunately, sometimes I see big dips in a fretboard over the span of a few frets. If there’s too much of a bow with frets 4-8, for instance, then it means that you’re having to press the sting down further to make contact with the fret wire over those frets, which means more tension and a sharper pitch.


Yes, sure enough, I checked it tonight with my tuner. Intonation is perfect on the 12th fret, but frets 2 to 4 are sharp on the 2nd and 3rd string.

I pressed harder and softer on the strings, and moved to different positions within the frets, and it made very little if any difference.

I’m not going to do anything at this time, because I’ll be ordering my RK36 tomorrow or the next day. (Good Lord Willing).

Totally psyched about finding out what it’s like to play a quality banjo. Yaay Ben and Jake. I know it’s going to be a great one, because of all the quality reviews I see on this site. :+1:

Where’s Archie been?


That’s a really good question. I hope he’s just taking a much deserved holiday break.

Is bowing of the neck something that can be fixed?

In some cases, a truss rod adjustment can straighten it out. This video may help explain it.

In other cases, a luthier is required. In the worst cases, it’s not repairable.

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Mark, what kind of banjo do you have? With the lower price models, the companies can tend to be a bit lax with setup

I have 2 banjos. I guess both would be considered middle-of-the-road as far as quality goes. The one in my latest video is a Gibson RB-800. In most other videos I play my GoldStar G11HF archtop.

I haven’t decided which one to bring to camp, but leaning toward the GoldStar just because I’d be heart broken if anything happened to the Gibson. She and I have a unique history together.

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