How do I restring a 5-string banjo?

You mean how do you put the strings on or how do you tune them?

The first answer is, go to a good music store and say you need strings for your banjo. They’ll know what to give you.

The second answer is a lot more complicated. The short answer is the open G tuning, which is most common. But there are a lot of others used in popular songs.

Here’s a good web page to get you started, discusses the various tunings and matches them with songs that use them.

There’s boatloads more information available on the web, too.

Do not remove all the strings from a banjo or guitar at once. Releasing all the tension can allow the neck to warp. Replace one at a time.

Hmmm… I’ve been playing for years, and when I restring I remove all the old strings first, and I’ve never had any problems.

Where’s SqrlCub, he’d know this better than anyone else here…

Ooh, ooh, I know. It’s … um …

Oh, nope, that’s popes in a Volkswagen.
I was thinking of something else.

I miss the banjo players on the talk shows.
Remember when George Segal would play?
or that other Lonesome George ___(I’ve forgotten)
I miss that. Too much rap and not enough banjo.

That would have been Lonesome George Goebel (“Well I’ll be a dirty-bird.”)

I would go with the tuning “GDGBD” since it is more common. I can play the banjo a little but my banjo technique sounds amazingly like fast fingerpicking guitar technique (there is a difference). :slight_smile: The site Ren gave is far more informative. If however you just want to learn how to string the banjo and not bother with tunings and alternate tunings say something and I will walk you through that.

Ed Asner’s Nubby

Hey, SqrlCub, you spotted this! What about that comment on warping the neck, though? Should I be worried?

I didn’t catch the neck warping issue the first time. So you know, the instrument in its natural state has no strings on it. Taking off all the strings one at a time should cause no problems. If you have neck warpage because of that, you have a deeper problem than just changing the strings. Unless you do something foolish like cutting them all simultaneously causing the neck to pop back and the strings to fly out in painfully sharp angles you should have no problem (sounds like an experience to me…loosen your strings before cutting them). Even that shouldn’t cause any warpage of the instrument assuming you didn’t find it in the garbage. Banjos in particular are quite sturdy instruments and for the most part have a heavy metal frame that supports everything.

Ed Asner’s Nubby

Sqrl, I thought banjos had truss rods like steel string guitars do. It’s a stretched metal rod in the back section of the neck that counteracts the tension of the strings. Without it the strings would bow the neck forward. If you release all the strings and leave the truss rod in tension the neck will bow back.

Padeye, you have a misconception about a truss rod. Most guitars have them too. It is simply a straight rod that is used for extra support so the higher tension strings don’t bow the neck. This is most apparent in an electric guitar. You can leave it unstrung forever and it won’t do anything bad to the guitar. The banjo is the same. If your truss rod warps your neck, you should loosen its tension (well have someone do it for you) as it is doing something screwy with your instrument. You should never have to worry about your neck bowing because it lacks the tension the strings produce. Tell me who told you that about the truss rod bowing the neck and several hundred guitarists and I will go kick their ass. :wink: heheheh


Damn, after 2 years of posting I miss the only banjo thread ever. Crud. Now when will I be able to show off my useless banjo knowledge?

Here’s my expert (albiet late) answer:
Sqrl’s right. About everything. So there.

Here are some good banjo links, should you care:

Is this what makes them a weapon of choice for duels? :smiley:

Sqrl, you ugly dude :wink:

You play the banjo? Mrs. O gots one too, she took lessons a couple years ago and hasn’t picked it up since. I just bought her a clawhammer book, which I also plan to use and learn from so’s I can shame her into playing again.

How long you been playing?

I play the bastard banjo. (i.e. tuned like a guitar) When I played it the real way, I thought it was very similar to a dulcimer with more interesting fingering techniques. I learned a little from my grandfather, which reminds me I should start a thread about him. I would love to get a hold of some of his old music (50’s country band with a few number one hits).


PS. Remember I am right about everything. :wink: I wonder if I should use that as a sig? heeheheheh thanks DocJ

…when I met my SO he had a banjo in a case. Said one day he thought he’d like to play. That was 15 yrs ago, and trust me, this man is never going to learn to play this banjo. So I’m thinking I’ll get rid of it. Sell it second hand to a guy a I know with a guitar shop.

Of course, the SO can’t bear to part with it, as with anything he’s ever owned. He even admits he won’t ever likely play the thing.

I was surprised at how quickly the fellow with the guitar shop expressed interest in buying it. It hasn’t been used, I’ll bet in 20+ yrs. Lord only knows how he came by it, or why. Otherwise it looks brand new.

What is it with banjos?

If you can jam on it like Eddie Van Halen wails on guitar, you’re set with the hippie chicks for life.

My personal opinion…banjos are happy instruments–they just SOUND so happy to me. I own one I can’t play and love a blues musician, former rock idol who plays one. :slight_smile: