Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Question for Jake and all

Wonder if @Jake and any of you guys out there have any tips for a better slick neck when you have a varnished neck banjo. Is there a product that can be used. I don’t class myself as having sweaty hands, but I do notice sometimes there is a bit of drag that can impede getting up the neck fast enough.
Any thoughts tips??


Hi @Jono As a newbie I used to have a problem trying to play slides and moving up/down the neck for the very reason you mention. I think a lot of the problems I had were down to gripping the neck too tightly and frustration that I couldn’t play slides cleanly causing the palms of my hand to sweat. It took me a while to learn to relax and not to grip the neck so tightly. I think I tried Glyde Cote from Stelling to solve the problem, looking back I think it may have eased the problem a little but not solved it since I don’t use it as often these days especially on my Fender and I just don’t experience that drag anymore.

Try wiping down the neck with a dry cotton cloth, Look for sticky or worn patches on the varnish. Wash your hands in warm soapy water to remove any sweat/natural oils and dry off, Relax and be sure not to grip the banjo . See how that goes.

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Will try that. I’ve also read a tip that talc on the hands helps. I think it’s a case I am gripping a bit too tight on the neck. I don’t realise I’m doing it but I think that may be some of the problem.

I wasn’t conscious I was gripping the banjo so tightly. I think it was something Alan Munde mentioned on one of his videos that lead me to examine my hand position and how tightly I was holding the neck. From that point on I became more aware of the way I was supporting the neck and just focused on applying light pressure to the string when doing slides. Opening up my hand when moving up and down the neck.

Talc/French Chalk might help but I would put it on my hands and not on the banjo.

I haven’t ever had problems with that, cuz my palm doesn’t touch the neck. Only my thumb and the edge of my finger touch when I’m playing, and only my thumb if I’m moving up or down.

It is slightly destructive, but I use 0000 steel wool (lightly) on necks of MY instruments if they get a bit sticky. I know people that use pure carnuba wax, but word is that doesn’t last too long.

Yes, that’s another popular thing to do, like you say I guess it is a bit more destructive. The only down side I suppose is maybe it effecting the value of an instrument. Though if it was me, I would class it an advantage. :+1:

My palm doesn’t touch the neck, but my thumb curve does and that can sometimes drag just a little.

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Ok, my thumb usually curves back when I’m moving

also if you use any abrasive and take off any finish the moisture will cause the wood to discolour and could lead to the neck swelling or moving

that said using 0000 steel wool would take a very long time to get through a lacquer finish

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Can someone direct me to a forum in here that discusses scale length when purchasing a banjo? How do I know what scale length neck I need and how wide the nut should be, etc, etc.

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I’m a back porch picker guitar player (intermediate; 20 yrs off and on) who also wants to learn 3 finger banjo. However, I don’t want to “neglect” my guitar playing because I still want to improve with that too. So, should I even attempt the banjo if I’m not really satisfied yet with what I’ve accomplished on guitar? I realize the banjo is a different animal all together. Has anyone else struggled with wanting to learn a new instrument while you are still learning on your first one.


I don’t know if that’s been discussed here, but if it’s your first banjo it doesn’t make much difference. Try to play the instrument before you but it, and if the neck width isn’t comfortable don’t buy it

Yes, go for it. It’ll help your guitar playing too, and it’s actually not super hard.
Oh, and welcome to the forum! Hope to see you around here more!

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My advice would be yes, but be prepared for the long haul. You won’t learn banjo overnight, just like any instrument you need to put in a lot of time and learning the roll patterns. I am a guitar player and Banjo is totally different from guitar playing, but I am enjoying the learning curve. It can be frustrating at times, but also very rewarding when you take another step forward in your playing.
As for the instrument, make sure you get a good learner. Better to pay more in a good quality second hand instrument than buy a cheap new instrument.
If you can afford a good quality new instrument then Ben and Jake can advise on a good starter.
Good luck and welcome to our little porch for pickin’ :wink:


Playing more than one instrument has both good and bad points…

Each new instrument takes time away from others. Not always a bad thing…when you need a break, get bored, or discouraged, it’s nice to have another instrument to play for a bit…you’re still working on music.

Every instrument can help you improve on the one before somehow. there are many similarities such as left hand mechanics/techniques, etc. between banjo, guitar, & mando, or between mando and fiddle, fretting patterns between guitar & Bass, right hand movements on guitar & mandolin or between banjo & dobro…
Also, any theory ideas you obtain will carry over to any other instrument.

Differences in instruments can also help you progress:

slight differences in pressure needed, string spacing, etc. can help you fine tune the control needed to play accurately.

differences in how you obtain melodies, etc. on one instrument can accelerate creativity on another.

These are just a few observations of what i’ve noticed over the years playing Bass, guitar, mando, banjo, & fiddle.

I’d encourage you to try a second instrument and see if you enjoy it.


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Hi Clint,
I have played banjos with two scale lengths. I started out on a banjo with a 27.5” scale length. I played an RK-76 and it had a 27.5” scale length. I purchased a Twanger and it has a 26.25” scale length. I’ve gone back and forth and I like the shorter scale. I think it is easier to play.

With my limited experience I can’t tell if scale length affects tone, Also, the fret board widths and neck profiles have been about the same on all I’ve played.

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Great questions! Yes, get a banjo! You won’t regret it and life is too short not to pursue it.

Scale length won’t affect you that much. The standard shorter scale length will be great, and that’s what most all banjos have. As far as nut width they’re most all the same. Give us a call at the store and we’ll talk you through it: 833-226-5623

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