Banjobio: Eureka!

(Once again, thanks to Jake and Kris for the photo above.)

Not any brilliance, but my tinkering curiosity led to the capo-ble banjo.  I had made my banjo with strings all the same length so that it could easily be converted to right-handed: just switch the strings and the 5th string capo around.  That way, if I didn’t enjoy playing it, I could sell it and forget it.

I looked at that shortened 5th string, and wondered if I could just remove the capo and tune the string up to G.  No sooner wondered than done.  The string snapped in about a minute.

Further experiments demonstrated that I could only tune that 26 3/4” string up to E.  That failure stopped me for awhile. But my mind had been set in motion.

The solution was to rethink tuning around that limiting E.  I restrung the banjo with heavier 1st-4th strings, and tuned them in the same relationship as the G tuning, but a third lower: B, G#, E,  B,  E.  A capo-ble banjo was born.

Of course I needed a capo immediately, as all the arrangements I was struggling with called for G tuning.  And I had to be in G for my lessons with Joe.  Mostly, therefore, I left the capo at the third fret.  Occasionally I’d try the mellow sound of E or F, but only occasionally.

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