On the other hand, if you find that they are about the same, then you may find that your fingertips are somewhat tender (which they are naturally and this is perfectly normal) and more practice will develop the necessary calluses on your fingertips. This page is intended to get you past the not-knowing-what-you're-looking-at-or-how-to-set-it-up hurdle. For more information about the coordinator rod(s) check out Deering's video here. Penson String Werks The Dangers of Heat Stress: Heat stress can kill instruments--here are some examples and tips to prevent it Frank Ford Vinyl Is the Enemy: Vinyl eats lacquer--click here to save yourself! For more information about checking or adjusting your banjo's neck, check out the Deering article here. We have had players who needed their strings as close to 3/32 inch at the 22nd fret. This reduces the volume and sustain, which helps strumming styles to sound better. If the neck is bowed, locate the adjustment screw access. Holding your face well away from the instrument, in case a string snaps, tighten the adjustment screw a bit, then sight down the neck and see if you're having any effect. They are metal rings, usually cast, that attach between the drum head and the pot. These are bowl-like wood pieces that attach to the back of the banjo's pot to reflect sound from the back of the drum head (and keep it from being absorbed into your belly). (The rest believed the jokes about all banjo players being idiots, and therefore they figured they'd be as easy to learn as, say, a kazoo.) On the other hand, the drum head is often called just the "head," so you may have to listen to the whole sentence to know which "head" the speaker is talking about. So you skootch the bridge toward the tailpiece a tad to compensate. I prefer to see about 1/16" or less, but if this is your first banjo, you may want to err on the side of caution. About one in five import banjos has this problem, so you'll probably dodge the bullet, but it's worth checking for. It will never get so tight that you can't turn the wrench, but you will notice a little more resistance as you go around the head again and again. I leave the old strings on for this step, since all this tuning and detuning is hard on the strings, and I would rather beat up the old ones than prematurely age the new ones. This adds stability and helps keep the banjo from going out of tune if you change position while you're playing it, which can happen with cheap banjos. When we are born, we can make sound but we don’t know how to make words. Of course, it’s hard not to “try” what hot players do, because we hope that the same set up contributes to their skill and success and would also help us be successful. Hopefully you won't have to do all these tweeks on every banjo you acquire. Many folks have spent many hours trying to share their own "lessons learned." But you're still WAY better off trying to learn on a banjo that is in playing condition than one that is not. Once you do back it off a quarter turn and try again. If the overtone is lower than the sound at the twelfth fret, move the bridge toward the tailpiece. For example if you strum the final chord of the song, then lift your the banjo up to the microphone, you may sense the banjo dropping a bit in pitch. but going in and out of tune whenever you change chords is not. In other words, let’s say you are playing your banjo and you feel that you have to push very hard to get the strings down to the frets. Now measure the distance between the nut and the twelfth fret. If you have time, let the instrument sit a bit so the neck can decide whether it's happy where it is - sometimes the string pressure will pull it back into a bow even after you've tightened the adjustment screw. If you can get the neck into playable condition without messing with the coordinator rods, great. Probably the best advice to provide a beginner are these three concepts: It is only through experience that you can really know with certainty what you prefer and why. Some have a bowl-like shape that is intended to reflect sound forward. We have had players who needed the strings higher above the head of the banjo so a custom neck angle and neck set had to be built into the banjo. I leave the old strings on for this step, since all this tuning and detuning is hard on the strings, and I would rather beat up the old ones than prematurely age the new ones.