Improving the tone of a modest starter banjo

image by jjjournal

Just recently I had a visit by someone with a fairly cheap introductory level banjo asking if I could do anything to improve the tone and do something to reduce the amount of tuning he had to do with it.

So, I thought it might be a good subject for a blog. Banjos aren’t cheap and unless you’ve got a pretty healthy disposable income , your  number one banjo may take a while to acquire.  But take heart ! this can be an exciting time where you learn a great deal about your instrument , what you like and just as importantly , what you don’t like.

Also, although that little banjo may never sound as good as a 1933 Granada and end up paying for your house when stick it on ebay, it  will serve you well.

The thing is, theses banjos are made to a price , a very low price. They are put together with fairly wide tolerances and shipped out quick. When they arrive in the UK  , they are ‘set up’ and sold to the customer. This ‘set up’ varies considerably . There are decent specialist  banjo shops who care and do take the trouble to do the job properly but  more often than not this should be called ‘unpacked’  ( the whole things a set up! …ho ho! ) . If you are one of those people who likes to tinker a bit you can squeeze a bit more out of these instruments without spending a lot of money.

I’m going to make this a short series and just want to say, some of this stuff may effect your warranty.1/ If  you value your warranty don’t do this !  2/ I’m not going to get into tuning air chambers and changing tone rings etc. I find that stuff fascinating but its not applicable here. We want cheap and cheerful, kitchen table stuff for this.



  1. Brilliant Idea just been given a banjo for 50th plinking away but would like to get the neck sitting right

    • Thanks for all the nice positive comments . If anyone has any questions or specific areas they’d like covered ? Anything at all banjo related, please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you. Don’t be bashful ! 🙂

  2. Mo Jackson says:

    Fantastic, can’t wait for the next instalment…I’ll probably learn quite a lot. xMo

  3. Brilliant idea, Malc!

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