Forum - Banjo Ben Clark


I recently bought my first banjo and it’s J Reynolds. I know, I know, not the best quality but the price was right. It keeps tune very well which surprised me because of price. It really didn’t sound right and was out of tune up the neck so I did some research and set my bridge. This helped dramatically my chords sounded better and as well as playing up the neck. It even sounded more like a banjo. However, I still feel it does not sound right. It doesn’t have that “twang” or “tone” synonymous with the banjo. I hear Ben play and he sounds great and I just can’t get that sound out of my banjo. I understand he has a much higher quality banjo than I do and that he is a professional player so I don’t expect to sound exactly like that. Do I need to pick harder? Is there an adjustment I can make? A new bridge perhaps? Or am I stuck with this less desirable sound until I make the jump up to a better banjo?

I don’t play banjo so I can’t answer your question, but I know we got some banjo pickers around here.

Your post is more than one sentence long and it’s only been 24 hours, so our banjo players have probably managed to read only about half of it by now, but you should get some help soon. :laughing:

Ben plays a couple of really, really nice banjos. They are quite expensive and sound a lot better than less expensive banjo models. They’re loud with a bright sharp attack. Less expensive models are often lacking in these areas.

But you may need to adjust the head on your banjo to make it sound better. The head needs to be pretty tight on a banjo to make it sound ‘banjoey’.

Here is something I heard about for making head adjustments. If you lay a ruler across the top of the head (so you need a short 10 inch ruler) you will see the that the head is depressed around the the bridge. When you tighten the head, the depression gets larger. When you can fit a quarter (lying flat, of course) into this depression, your head should be at optimal tightness.

Remember that you have to tighten all the head adjustment screws the same amount around the head.

Also, bridge placement is really important. If the bridge is in the wrong place, you will be in tune at the nut but will gradually go out of tune up the neck.

If you have a tuner, then tune the top string D (the long light string). Now play the string at the 12th fret. It should still be in tune according to the tuner. If it is flat, slide the bridge forward toward the peghead end of the neck (remember the mnemonic: flat forward). if it is sharp, move it in the other direction.

Repeat this with the wound D string.

I think you are getting some good guidance. Technique and setup go a long way towards producing good tone on stringed instruments. I’d also like to add that new strings can make a world of difference. With that said, to get an idea of what your current technique is doing, if you have a shop nearby with high-dollar instruments, go try them out. You’ll not only get to see how much of the tone is in the instrument, you can also get some idea on how the pricey instruments are setup.

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

Your post is more than one sentence long and it’s only been 24 hours, so our banjo players have probably managed to read only about half of it by now, but you should get some help soon. :laughing:

— End quote

Good call :slight_smile: On a recent flight, my wife was sitting next to the drummer from CCR, Doug “Cosmo” Clifford (they were in first, I was in back with the other riff-raff) She talked to him quite a bit over the flight and told him I used to play drums in high school. After the flight we were talking about music and he said, “I guess since you played drums, you heard all the drummer jokes.” I said I not only played drums, I also played bass, and I may someday learn banjo… all of which have many great jokes about them. I shared a few banjo jokes and he enjoyed them.

Not familiar with that banjo specifically, so bear with me . Does it have a tone ring ?..if not , which often lowerpriced models dont it wont ring out like the more expensive ones do. I also agree head tension is very important as well as bridge position. good luck