The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59029   Message #938022
Posted By: GUEST,Claymore
22-Apr-03 - 05:42 PM
Thread Name: 5th String Capo
Subject: RE: 5th String Capo
Jed, I've had an extra long Shubb on my long-neck Vega Folk Ranger for about 15 years (I've had the banjo since 64). I special ordered it in unfinished brass to allow it to age along with the other appointments. It has worked well though I have made a couple of adjustments over the years.

1. Since I long ago lowered the fifth string at the bridge to about 3/8ths lower than the other four strings (it doesn't affect the picking but does allow for strumming ala tenor banjo) my fifth string rides closer to the neck. When I put the Shubb on, I filed back the length of the capo arm to allow for chord slides up the neck, so that it just extends over the fifth string by about a 1/4 inch.

2. When I mounted the capo I moved the rail further down the neck to start just at the sixth fret. That way when I play in G/C I clamp the capo down at the 8th fret (and my banjo capo is at the 3rd fret). The idea is to have your fifth string capo at the same position from the fifth fret as your banjo capo is from the nut on the whole neck. Thus, when I drop to F, both capos drop two frets. When I go to E the fifth string capo is at the end of it's travel and is open, and the banjo capo is off the instrument. The space saved near the fifth string nut gives you two additional keys at the top end.

3. Finally I use a Suzuki violin tuner attached to the fifth string just past the bridge and before the tailpiece. This allows me to quickly tweek the tuning, just like fiddlers. You will find that the tension you apply to the Shubbs tuning knob can change the strings tuning slightly, thus the Suzuki allows you to compensate and you are much faster in changing to odd keys than any other method.

Finally I use the GHS medium gauge strings (#180s) which work far better on a long neck than any others I have tried and keep the fret buzz down on open tunings.

Good Luck!