View Full Version : NOT mandolin, but desperate
I just got a very old tenor banjo..17 fret short neck. It has brass friction tuners (apparently original) that are slipping. What should I replace them with? Are there tricks to try before replacing? The banjo is birdseye maple, if that has any bearing on it. I am planning to tune in to the Irish tuning of EADG so I don't have to learn any new chords http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif Any help would be appreciated. Also, what is the difference between friction tuners and planetary tuners?
Planetary tuners might be your best bet for replacement. The difference is gearing. The planets have gears giving them a 3 ro 4 to 1 ratio making accurate tuning easier than with friction tuners.
There are planetary tuners available with small shafts to fit the smaller peghead holes like you probably have. I have some left over from a repair/restoration that I did a couple of years ago and ended up with more than I needed. PM me if you might like to buy them.
First try tightening the screw in the back of the tuner knob and you might get the original ones to tighten up just fine.
If they have been loose for a while they usually make the hole they are in bigger,which means you can't get them to tighten up by the screw in the back, but not big enough for new type tuners- like these (http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tuners/Banjo/Five-Star_Banjo_Tuning_Pegs.html)for which you will have to drill to fit.
Old banjos are usually pretty funky to tune anyway, with head flex and some neck flex conspiring to keep you from being well in tune, so the old 1 to 1 friction tuners are usually good enough once you get new strings bedded down to your chosen tuning. It's kind of an art to nudge them just enough to come to pitch, but easily learned.
Grover statites for ukes clamp between faces on opposite sides of the headstock FWIW
Also, those guys, (like the Banjo Loft) who convert vintage 4 strings to 5 string by making a new neck, may have parts from conversions available.
For what it's worth - I too tried the 9/32nds diameter planitary geared tuners in anticipation of returning my S. S. Stewart 5-string banjo to its former glory. They fit fine, but the diameter of the gear works was greater than the real-estate remaining on the headstock. The thought of four projections of gears beyond the headstock halted me in mid stride. So, I have now ruled out the planitary tuners.
Meanwhile, I don't know how to play it and am having too much fun with the mandolin. One day though, I would like to see if I can play a tune on the ban)o. Maybe I'll use the friction pegs that they show at fqms?
The reason I got the tenor was so that I could tune it Irish, like a mandolin and not have to learn any new fingerings. When I tune the G string down low, tho, the sound is rubbery. I put on a 40 mandolin string (wound) and the rubbery part went away, but the sound is dead. I don't know what I am doing wrong. I hve heard that a long neck tenor is easier to tune EADG than the short neck, but I have the short neck. I may have to learn new fingering if I want to play the thing.
You need to start with a standard set of string guages, say .012-.038 and then from here you will need to begin to play with the string guages until you hear what you like or if its close to your favorite Irish banjo player sound. There are many variables with the banjo... set up, type of head you have... frosted top or back, clear and also the size of the pot will make a difference. The tightness of the head makes a difference as well as what kind of tone ring your tenor has. Try this site as a starting point
There are many resourses out there and there is a banjo forum as well.. BanjoL if I'm mistaken and probably be better to ask your banjo questions there.
I tune mine cgda and the only thing new I had to learn was the new "voice" for the same fingering's. Unless your playing way up the neck or have HUGE hands your fingering will change somewhat anyways due to the scale length. The tuners on my Weymann were loose too but tighting the screws worked fine. Tuning it is an aquired skill but as said before, a short learning curve easily done. Have fun with it!!