Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Phosphor bronze strings

All the sets of ‘phosphor bronze’ strings I’ve looked at have the phosphor bronze wound on the low D string only. I was wondering if anyone has experimented with using other pb wound strings for a warmer sound. Does anyone know of any sets that have strings other than the D string that are pb? Alternately, for the G string for example, could a G string from a set of phosphor bronze guitar strings be used?

I have never tried that. I don’t know if you can find a wound string smaller than .016.

You could loosen your head some. That will take some of the highs out of your tone.

Interesting, I didn’t realise it could be adjusted. I have a few questions around that if you wouldn’t mind providing some more details. Does that mean loosening all of those brackets around the head? Does it require a special tool? And how much adjustment would you recommend?

If you are one of Ben’s students, look at his Steve Huber banjo maintenance lesson.

If not, do a Google search and find a Youtube video with someone doing this. Seeing is always better than just a text description.

You will need to be able to tighten or loosen the nuts. Don’t use pliers! You need to make fairly small, consistent adjustments and pliers will not be accurate enough. There are nut wrench tools to do this (if you can find a drum key that will fit, that would do the trick).

When you do adjustments, make small ones. One-eighth turn maximum at a time (thus the nut wrench). Adjust one nut and then adjust the nut on the other side of the rim.

If you number the nuts 1 to 24 (assuming there are 24 nuts) going clockwise around the rim, then I would start doing 24 then 12, 1 then 13, 23 then 11, 2 then 14 and so on. You want to try and keep the tension consistent as you make your adjustments so you can’t do one ‘side’ (say nuts 13 to 24) and then the other and be accurate.

Be aware that if you loosen the head, the bridge will also ‘sink’ a bit because there is less head tension to support it. You may need to get a taller bridge to compensate. This is normal.

Great video, thanks for pointing that one out, I hadn’t looked at the whole banjo set up series.