Monday, December 8, 2014

5th String Spike And Nylgut Install

I've always been curious how my banjo might sound with nylon strings. The main thing holding me back was the need to install a spike at the fifth string in order to bring it up to tension. I work around this with steel strings by using a smaller gauge string, but I wasn't sure that would work for nylon.

Having recently acquired some tiny railroad spikes and received a new push drill, I took a crack at it and completed the job. I shortened and polished the spike, drilled a hole for a snug fit, dipped the spike in glue, pressed it in with pliers, and then tapped down to a height just above the string thickness. It took two tries to get everything lined up and pointing the right way at the right height, but it works just fine. I'd say I'm lucky, considering I didn't really practice on scrap. I didn't drill all the way through the neck or anything!

It sounds like an old fashioned thumper in person but more mellow in the recording. I will try a different bridge and give my fingers some time to adjust.

I like how easy the strings are to work with in installation, which is good because so far I've broken three (at the tailpiece knot).

Of course Emeline noticed the red strings right away. "Mommy, Daddy's banjo has red strings. Daddy, why are you always building banjos?" Well, it's just the one, Sweetie... I'm a little slow.

Nylgut reds demo audio (download):