Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tuning to Best Sound

Hey All,

I have noticed that my banjo sounds better when my G string (3rd string) is tuned just a few cents flat. I have read that banjos can be contrary and require little tinkerings. The intonation is set fine and everything is lined up right it just sounds better if I back it down a little flat.

Thoughts? Anyone else do things like this?

It generally works out where the B string needs to be just a bit flat, not the G string.

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I have done that as well. Its a compromise with the G string. I have the high D and B string perfectly intoned for high breaks but that mean the G string will run a little sharp. Lowering it a little flat seems to take out the sharpness in intonation.

Very interesting!

Really I do think one of the problems is in the nut on the G slot but I’m too scared of messing it up and having to figure out how to replace. lol

Get a banjo luthier or an experienced banjo player to check it out.

It seems I have the most problem with my third G string as well, especially on fret 3. Unless I place my finger right up against the third fret, it sounds horrible.

I need a descent banjo, but if I did that now, the house budget director would be most displeased. Seems I have a habit of buying gear without consultation. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Ben, that RK has my name on it. But it’s a bit down the road.


I usually have to tinker with my B string. Never played a banjo with an oddball G like that. Makes me wonder if the nut slot needs to be filed down.

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There are none of those in my area. Partly why haven’t done anything.

Yeah Mark that is what I was telling Ben above. I’m pretty sure thats the problem.

If you want to check to see if that’s your problem, the first minute of this video shows you how to do that.

There are better videos than this one, but this is the first one I found, and it gets the point across.

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@Mark_Rocka the gap test he did is fine for me.

I would post a video but this weather has it sounding off today anyway. Banjos are like children and pets. When you have company and you ask them to do a trick they won’t do it.

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Have you tried spanking it?


No but I make it go stand in the corner a lot. “You can come out when you’ve learned your lesson.” But then I usually give in and say, “I could never be mad at you. Come here you.”


Haha good one

Huh… well, the only other thing that comes to mind is that maybe the nut slots are filed in such a way that the take off point is in the middle of the nut rather than the leading edge. That has the effect of increasing the distance between the nut and the 1st fret.

Check out this video for a better explanation.

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Excellent video Mark. However this process must be done on the bridge as well. The ramp and take-off point on the front edge of the bridge is critical to tone AND intonation…