Průcha Bluegrass Instruments
 

How to set up your banjo

Informations / How to set up your banjo

 

How to set up your banjo

To make a good setup on your banjo is extremely important if you want to get the highest quality sound. Each Prucha banjo is set up to perfection before it is allowed to leave our shop. However, over time different variables can affect the original set up. It is good to check your new banjo after 5 or 6 months to see if it has changed. After that, it is good to check it regularly twice a year. The most common variables that change the banjo can include any temperature changes from extreme hot to cold, or how it is stored and how much it is played. Also, if you take it on any trip in an airplane the altitude can change the action of the neck or the head tension.If you need help, I recommend that you ask a banjo luthier or any friend whose style of set up you like. Very often there are setup workshops at many banjo camps or festivals. I am happy to demonstrate the setup process to anyone who wishes to stop at my booth in either Frankfurt Musicmesse, IBMA in Nashville, the Wintergrass Festival in Tacoma – Seattle, festivals in Europe or Czech Republic or in my workshop in Prague.

I know banjo players like to experiment with their instruments. If you follow the steps outlined below, your banjo is sure to produce a clear, clean tone.

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Step 1 - Tune your banjo

Step 1 - Tune your banjo

Step #1– Tune your banjo It is good to use a tuning machine to get exactly the right note. Tune as follows :1st string D - 2nd string B - 3rd string G - 4th string D - 5th string GThen you must fine tune the strings. Fret each string as the following. They should each have exactly the same pitch as the 5th G string:1st string on 5th fret - 2nd string on 8th fret - 3rd string on 12th fret - 4th string on 17th fret. Hot tip When you change strings, tighten each new string several times after the first tuning, pull it up from the fingerboard with your finger. This will help to stabilize tension on the tailpiece, bridge, nut....

 

Step 2 - Find a good banjo head tension

Step 2 - Find a good banjo head tension

Step #2 - FIND A GOOD BANJO HEAD TENSION Before our instruments leave the shop, each banjo head has been top-tuned to G#. Each banjo is tuned, allowed time to relax and stretch, and retuned again. Our banjos don’t pass inspection unless we know they have stabilized and the setup will keep its position. We feel G# is the best pitch, but your personal taste may run a little differently. However, because the open strings on the banjo are tuned to the G chord, it is not good to tune the head to G ,which can give you some bad overtones.If the head is tighter, you will get a brighter sound. If it is a little loose, you will get a low....

 

Step 4 - Check bridge position

Step 4 - Check bridge position

Step #4 - CHECK BRIDGE POSITION Many players think the right position of the bridge is twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret. However, in this position the tuning will not be correct on all the frets. On Prucha banjos the distance from the nut to the 12th fret is 335 mm( 13 13/16 inches). To place the bridge we add 2-3mm (5/64 -1/8“) to that measurement (totaling 337-338mm)(13 17/64 – 13 5/16“) to get the correct distance from the 12th fret to the bridge center so that it is actually a little closer to the tailpiece. The feet should always be parallel to the frets. In this place, you will have a good tone all along....

 

Step 5 - The neck

Step 5 - The neck

Step #5 - THE NECK First take off the resonator and check the co-ordinator rods to see if all the nuts are tight enough. All of our banjos are now built with a two way adjustable truss rod. Next check the fingerboard. It should bow a little to prevent the strings from buzzin. The easiest way to check is to site down from the nut to the banjo rim along the fingerboard edge. You can compare the binding to the straight D string. If you will push down the 3rd string on the 1st and 22nd fret together then there should be a distance of 0.5-0.7mm (5/256 – 7/256“) between the 7th fret and the string. If the distance is greater....