(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.