How to Restring your 5 String Banjo


If you’re a banjo player, you know that restringing your instrument is a necessary part of maintaining it. However, if you’re new to playing the banjo or haven’t restrung your 5 string banjo before, it can be a bit intimidating. In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to restring your 5 string banjo to keep it sounding great.

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How to Restring a 5 String Banjo

Firstly, you’ll need to gather all the necessary materials. This includes a set of new banjo strings, a string winder (optional but helpful), wire cutters or scissors, and a banjo tuning key. Once you have all the materials, you’re ready to start restringing.

Step 1: Remove the old strings Begin by loosening the tension on each string and carefully unwinding it from the tuning pegs. Once the string is completely unwound, use your wire cutters or scissors to snip it off at the bridge. Repeat this step for all the strings until your banjo is completely string-free.

Step 2: Clean the banjo Before installing new strings, take some time to clean the fretboard and any other areas that may have accumulated dirt or grime. Use a soft cloth and some guitar cleaner to gently wipe away any debris.

Step 3: Install the new strings Starting with the thinnest string (the one furthest from the neck), feed the end of the string through the hole in the tuning peg and pull it tight. Next, wind the string around the tuning peg until there’s about 2 inches of slack left. Use your wire cutters or scissors to snip off any excess string. Repeat this step for all the remaining strings, working your way up in thickness.

Step 4: Stretch the strings Once all the strings are installed, it’s time to stretch them out. This will help them stay in tune and prevent them from slipping or breaking. Gently pull on each string at various points along the fretboard, applying a bit of pressure as you go. Be careful not to pull too hard, as this can cause the string to break.

Step 5: Tune the banjo Now that the strings are installed and stretched, it’s time to tune the banjo. Use your tuning key to tighten or loosen each string until it reaches the correct pitch. Starting with the thinnest string and working your way up, tune each string to the notes G, D, G, B, and D.

Step 6: Test the banjo Finally, give your banjo a quick test to make sure everything sounds good. Play a few chords and notes to ensure that the strings are in tune and that the banjo is playing properly.

In conclusion, restringing your 5 string banjo is a relatively simple process that anyone can do with a bit of patience and attention to detail. By following these steps, you’ll be able to keep your banjo sounding great and ensure that it’s always ready to play when you are. With practice and experience, you’ll become an expert at restringing your banjo and maintaining its overall health and longevity.

In this video, Jim Pankey shows us his tips and tricks on how to Restring your 5 String Banjo if you are a Beginner.

Video Text:

0:00:00.2 –>
hey y’all jim panky here i wanted to do a video today and show you how to change the strings on your banjo it may be time for you to do that and you may not be exactly sure how to go about it so i’m hoping this video will help you figure it out you may have been playing a little while and your strings don’t sound like they ought to maybe they’re a little dull or maybe they don’t stay in tune the way they did or maybe they just look kind of gross it’s time to change them you’re going to need a few things first and foremost you will need banjo strings you need a five string set these are light gauge you can make them whatever gauge you want you can try a different gauge usually mediums and lights you will need a tuner electronic tuner you can use a clip on like this or you can use one that you downloaded for your phone get some handy dandy little side cutters

0:01:01.6 –>
little angle cutters something to cut the string ends with and you’ll probably want your your banjo picks and get a pencil i’ll show you what we’ll do with that in just a little bit but you but you you might need a pencil that’s pretty much all you need and a place to work obviously i’m in the floor again uh it’s this is where i kind of work it gives me plenty of space to move around and i usually set my instrument on top of my banjo case it just gives me a nice safe place to work so i’m going to reposition so you can see a little better what i’m doing and i’m going to show you the process that i do to change my strings so i’ll be right back before we get into this if you could take just a second and click the subscribe button that would help it also give you notifications when i post new videos so give that a

0:02:03.2 –>
whirl hit the like button leave a comment tell me what brand of strings that you like to use if you got a favorite i’d like to hear all right we’ve repositioned let me zoom you down here to the banjo and i’ll show you the steps that i take when i’m re-stringing i usually start at the fifth string and go five four three two one replace them one at a time replace them one at a time so i don’t have to move my bridge and it just keeps everything a little a little more tidy uh i usually just flip open the tail piece cover and then i’m starting on five so i’m just going to loosen this fifth string before i do i’ll show you this see you can see there’s a little little plastic sleeve on that fifth string i’m not worried about that so much we’re not gonna keep that usually on the import banjo you will see those little plastic sleeves i’m just gonna i’m just gonna remove

0:03:01.3 –>
that and just loosen this up and take that string off i like to wind them up when i’m done just to be neat that way they’re not running around here in the floor and just there you go wound up and lay that aside and then we’re gonna get our next string get it out of the package uh this the string packages will tell you what what gauge string you’re looking at so what i’m doing here let me pull over here my lap a little bit i’m just gonna there’s a loop end on these strings maybe you can see that and uh i just sometimes i’ll take a pencil and make sure that loop is nice and open so you don’t have to do that and then it just hooks around

0:04:00.7 –>
the loop here on the on the end there’s a little peg the loop hooks around that peg on the tailpiece then this string needs to go under that little foot right there so it needs to look sort of like that clear okay now how much slack do we need in our string that’s a question that gets asked me a lot i’ve got a i’ve got a method here that i think will help you out a bunch so let me show you what i do so the hole on this peg i like to turn that hole to where it’s i guess across perpendicular to the neck at a 90 degree angle so if i’m looking straight down the neck the hole is right here running across the neck i go ahead and put my string through that hole all right i’m going to do this several times so you’ll see so you’ll have

0:05:00.7 –>
several opportunities to see this i put it through there and i loop around the string backwards i pulled pretty much all the tension out of the string i’m looping around the post backwards watch watch me move i’ll do this up close too and then under the string keep being sure to keep that backwards you see i’ve come backwards now i’m going to lift up and come back around the string the right way and then tighten the string that will lock that string into place before i get it completely tight i like to take my pencil and in that nut right there if you have a nut there put just a little graphite in that nut slide your string in there and now you can tune it up so you could use your tuner for that if you wanted to i just kind of do this by

0:06:01.5 –>
ear to begin with that’s close enough and now you’ve got this extra in the string let’s cut that off so we just use our our little wire cutters and now that’s cut off and then i just loop this up and put it with my other used string so before we go any further that so we’ve got one down four to go so we are 20 finished other other than tuning so i’m going to reposition so you can see the headstock and that way you you can see how i do this wrap and then i’ll show you what i do on the tail piece into so let’s let’s look at this headstock first okay so hopefully you can see this good i’m just going to loosen this string go

0:07:00.8 –>
the right way you always tell if you’re going the wrong way should get looser and looser so we’re just going to loosen that up that’s still not loose enough yet now we’ll tell you this if your strings are just absolutely corroded and gross you can loosen them up and just cut them so anyway string is off we’ll wrap this up and just we’re just going to lay it to the side and then we’re just we’re going to need our fourth string and the packaging should be marked and i’m going to go ahead and hook that on this tail piece down here and then i’m going to go ahead and get the hole in this peg perpendicular to the neck i’m going to get it where it’s running sideways and i’m going to run the string through this hole okay that direction all right and i’ve pulled out

0:08:01.2 –>
pretty much all of the slack i mean it’s still it’s still fairly sloppy but that’s you don’t want to point to tension and you want it tight enough so it doesn’t come off the hook at the tailpiece and then we’re going to go around backwards see what i’ve done i’ve come around backwards i’m going to go under that string keep coming this direction and then we’ll pull it up and go back around that way i think you can see that really well on that string now before we get this completely tight i know i’m in the slot but we can pull that out of the slot take your pencil and mark some graphite down in there don’t worry if you smudge your smudge the nut a little bit that’ll they’ll all wipe off it’ll darken up it’s fine and that that’ll make that

0:09:00.1 –>
string [Music] and just getting it close and and you can put your tuner on there and see if you want to but you’ll have to tune a couple of times [Music] so there we go we’re in tune enough and now we got this end to get rid of and so we’re going to get rid of that end all right so simple enough it’s just a short end so i’ll lay it down here with my scraps and now i’m going to show you what i do on the tailpiece because on this presto tail piece there’s a couple of other little things that you need to know or at least one other thing so i’m going to show you that okay we’ve repositioned and we need to loosen the string so i’m going to loosen our third string now look you you see that the string goes under this little foot and then the fourth string goes under this little foot but this has a hole and that’s a hold over

0:10:02.8 –>
remnant from the four string banjo era and the tail piece was modified for that fourth third string and so they just make a hole in that and that’s pretty much standard now and to save time on winding i’m actually going to cut this string i don’t need it it’s an old string or at least that’s what we’re saying now we just need our third string so get our string and we can take and make sure that that loop is is open we just use a pencil to do that and then we hook that we’re gonna hook that loop on on that but before we do this on this third string it’s we we need to run the string through that hole first now what i like to do because it’s a

0:11:00.3 –>
little hard to grab is i like to put a little bit of a bend in that string right there maybe you can see that and in that way when i poke it through the hole i can now grab it grab it pull it through and then hook it on that hook and now we’re good to go and then all we’re going to do is tighten that up at the other end so i want you to watch this again so get our get our hole perpendicular okay you want it perpendicular to the head gonna run the string through that hole go ahead and pull it up fairly taut you don’t want it completely tight go backwards under the string and then up and back around and then just tension that up now i tell you where this comes in handy

0:12:01.1 –>
but before we get it completely tight what do we do we’re going to put our pencil in the slot because it makes the strings move a little better put that in the slot there we go smudge some of that off yeah i know it’s a little darker but that’s okay and we’re just going to tune up [Music] and now we’re in 10 ish then we’re going to cut that cut that off all right let’s do another string so we’re gonna loosen that one up a lot so we’re on our second string hey we’ve only got two to go we’re almost done with this job you can tell when it’s loose enough

0:13:01.7 –>
there we go let’s go ahead and pull that off we’ll wrap that up never been a talking hands video this is kind of cool and lay that to the side and now we’re going to put on our next string be sure to look at your gauges make sure you’re putting on the right string in the right spot and i’m going to hook that on my tailpiece make sure my hole is perpendicular this time we have to go through this direction we’re going to go to the other side so let me move that tuner go to the other side pull it fairly tight come back around gonna go under and up and back the way it’s supposed to go and

0:14:02.4 –>
then tighten that up and let’s see what we’ve got all right make sure everything’s in the slots oh we forgot our graphite so we need to do some graphite while that’s not super tight we can go ahead and put some graphite in that slot there you go and then we’ll finish tuning that up so we’ll put our tenor on [Music] and that’s supposed to be a b so [Music] it’s close enough we’ll trim our end here lay that aside down now we’re going to do the final

0:15:01.6 –>
string and i’m going to move you back to the to the tailpiece so you can watch how that works first though let’s let’s loosen this one up go ahead and get that loose while we’re [Music] here you can buy a string winder it’s just a crank i don’t ever use one and we got our string off and now we’re gonna wrap this one up and now we got our final string we’re going to add it go ahead and unwind it keep track of your ends and [Music] loop looks fine on it so i’m just going to hook the loop on the hook best i can

0:16:00.7 –>
and then i hold it and put that string under that foot just like that and if you’ve got a clam shell tail piece it works basically the same way a waverly type tail piece you know your string will come over and then go down under a little bit but that that’s pretty much the way that works so that’s that’s all you need i’ve got the hole there in a perpendicular direction gonna run that string through from the inside gonna pull it up go backwards around the post go under that one string then lift it up and back around and then we can tighten it up if you break a string on stage and this is the way to do it you can change a string in a hurry because you don’t have to stand in wind and wind

0:17:00.2 –>
[Music] slide that string out put a little bit of graphite in there i don’t know if this banjo needs it but it’s always a good thing to do and there we go our graphite done and [Music] okay so we got our strings on we are ready to tune up i went ahead and cut that extra bit off and lined it up tossed it to the side i’ve put my tuner on my banjo and we’re ready to check our tuning one more time be sure to close your tailpiece cover just close that down and then let’s tune up so let’s just make sure everything is where it ought to be [Music]

0:18:01.4 –>
once i get them tuned pretty close i like to grab the strings at the 12th fret and just pull them just a little bit you’re not going to break them i promise you and then we check our tuning again [Music] and they should be a little flat and they were that just helps seed them there’s a lot of there’s a lot of place places where the string can maybe need to settle in around the post at the tailpiece and now we’re in tune now another thing that you’ll want to do if since we put on a different gauge string we want to make sure our intonation our bridge is in the right place so what i like to do is i hit the open

0:19:00.9 –>
first string and i make sure that i’m in tune and then i fret that at the 12th fret which would be an octave so if that’s a if that’s a d and i fret it at the fifth twelfth fret it should still be a d so that tells me my my bridge is still in the right spot sometimes you may have to just adjust that a little bit so at that point i’m ready to put my picks on and see how it sounds it’s also good to tune it up while you’re sitting up in a picking position because laying down is not the same as sitting in your lap so it’s going to be different so let’s look now we got brand new strings

0:20:07.2 –>
and we are ready to go so now you know how to change strings on your banjo thanks for watching we’ll see you next time bye

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