The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61597   Message #992875
Posted By: CraigS
29-Jul-03 - 06:24 PM
Thread Name: Nylon Banjo Strings
Subject: RE: Nylon Banjo Strings
No, Geoff, it's not that simple. The scale on banjos varies from 23.5" for a short plectrum to over 28" for a honky 5-string, and I still don't know what tuning the man wants. A steel guitar scale varies from 24.7" to 25.5", depending on the maker. A classical guitar may vary from 24.7" to 26.8" - it depends on the maker, and the intended purpose of the guitar. For a short-scale classic, you buy high tension strings, for a long-scale classic, you buy low-tension strings - the gauges are to some extent irrelevant as the composition of the nylon varies between string manufacturers. The advice here is to buy a set of low-tension classical guitar strings, discard the lowest (thick) string, and use the others in the expected order, ie. use the guitar strings 2,3,4,5 as banjo 1,2,3,4, and the guitar 1st string for the fifth string, then tune the whole thing a semitone flat (ie. tune to F# rather than G) to reduce breakages. If you want to tune to G, try to get flamenco strings, which are the lowest tension available (and are ALL wound - nylon on nylon for the high strings). If you can get a kosher set of banjo strings by mail order, go for it, but don't go for the heavies or the tension will beat the sustain. An inch is about a semitone around the fifth fret, but when you're down at the nut end, that semitone is closer to two inches on a long scale banjo, so you can't draw direct analogies like GtD is suggesting. You can probably get a second opinion from a PM to catspaw49 - that is, after he's told you to put the banjo in the dumpster and buy a guitar (good advice).