Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Spikes or Shubb 5th String

Hi All

I’ve just got a new RK-75 and need some advice as to what peoples recommendations are regarding Spikes or Traditional Shubb Capo

Personally 'm leaning towards installing spikes as i believe that the Shubb capo requires drilling two holes in the neck


Congrats on the new RK! Those things are NICE!

I’ve only played 1 banjo with the Shubb and hated it. It doesn’t feel good to grab the neck where the capo is. I suppose you’d get used to it over time, but I really didn’t like it.

I’d always lean toward spikes, but maybe this is a good compromise.

Thanks for that @Mark_Rocka as i thought Spikes are probably the way to go


I had a sliding 5th string capo on my first banjo and hated it. I love the spikes. The next best option is the Strum Hollow capo that @Mark_Rocka showed. I have one and have used it, it works well.

I just installed 5th string spikes on my RK this last weekend. I have any old banjo I practiced on first. It was pretty easy if you are good with your hands. I followed Jake’s video and deering’s advice on location.
I found some micro sized drill bits at Harbor Freight and used a hobby knife holder to hold the bit. I put the hobby knife holder in my drill since my drill chuck does not hold bits that small. A friend of mine builds model railroad trains so he gave me the railroad spikes. I recommend using some blue tape on the fret board before you use a mechanical pencil to mark the location to install the spikes. OR, just pay a luthier to do it for you. LOL

Well, here’s my tuppence… I’ve heard that the holes you have to drill to install the sliding capo lower the value, while installing spikes can actually raise the value. Spikes look better IMPO. As to feel, I’ve played both, and I don’t notice either when playing, but I also don’t wrap my thumb very far. The presence of the sliding capo could help you locate the fifth fret subconsciously, but could also get in the way. If you have spikes, be careful when fretting the fifth, as you could spike your finger. I’m just thinking out loud, I’m not sure how much of this need be considered, it’s just what I’ve considered.

Thanks @JoeB I’m defo gonna do the spikes myself as I’m a cue maker so have all the gear to hand

What frets did you decide to do?

Thanks @Dragonslayer :+1:

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7, 9, and 10. Some folks do 8 as well, but I am not sure how often the key of Bb comes up.

My Stelling has spikes fitted at the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th frets. Perhaps not the most popular key but Bb does come up from time to time on certain tunes. I quite like Bb as it adds another colour to the sound palette.

You didn’t have them put in when you bought it?

More often than most fiddlers and mandolinists would prefer!

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I absolutely love Bb on the fiddle, mondo, and bass!

fingering the I & V with the III being open gives a great different sound and feeling of control to the instrument.

You seem to be the exception, based on mandolin cafe. And you’re also much more advanced than most folks who dislike it

Just a different position to figure out…I prefer it a lot over G or C for certain things

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well, I wrote a tune on guitar in Bb. but that’s G capoed three. I haven’t learned it on the fiddle yet though

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We’re kinda drifting off of the OP though

back to regular programing…

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If you don’t do 8, you’re gonna need 8. Do 8.


no Ben… but i don’t mind tackling them i’m pretty handy with woodwork and tools

i think 7,8,9,10 it is to cover most bases even though im not at the Capo stage of playing yet… i will be at some point

Thanks all for the replies