Compensated Banjo Bridge

Originally posted August 5

Just put a Grover compensated bridge on the Samick 5-string that I use backless. it has the tone I want and decent action, but playing “A” on the second fret of the third string was always “iffy,” usually quite sharp. Playing B on the fourth fret of the third string, then playing B open on the second string was anything BUT unison. This was with the first and fourth string in perfect intonation.

I ordered from Elderly.com, because I ordered several other items at the same time that weren’t available anywhere else. Service was quick and the order was correct. That said, if you want to see the thing on Amazon, click this link

I ordered a 5/8″-high bridge. although I had a 1/2″ before, because the neck could stand to be cranked back a bit anyway. I used the turnbuckle to reset the angle of the neck so I could try the thing out before I got out the allen wrenches, and it worked pretty well. The Grover did not solve the problem completely, but it helped quite a bit. I play a LOT of songs using open G and related chords, so this is a good thing. I’ll update after I readjust the neck properly.

For the uninitiated, the third string on many 5-string banjos can be perfectly in tune open (unfretted) and go sharp when you fret it.  A compensated bridge has a “bump out” under the third string that makes the length of the string a tad shorter than the rest of the string lengths.  This is enough of a change to fix the problem on most banjos.  By the way, I’ve been told that the sharp A note on the third string was because I was doing something wrong.  But I didn’t have that problem on the other three 5-strings I’ve owned from three different manufacturers.  One expert told me I was just fretting that particular string too hard and if I had a lighter touch, it wouldn’t be a problem.  But I fret the other strings just as hard and they don’t go sharp.  Besides, I also play 12-string guitar, so I’ll never have a light touch.

At any rate, it wasn’t a very expensive experiment, and it seem to have paid off very well.

Paul

About Paul

Paul Race has been writing and playing all kinds of music since the 1960s, though he tends to favor acoustic and traditional songs. He has created resources like CreekDontRise.com, ClassicTrainSongs.com, and SchoolOfTheRock.com to help other musicians get a good start on their own journeys.

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