H i everyone,

I am glad to have found this web site. I look forward to exchanging  opinions , information on our common  interest "The Irish Tenor Banjo"

I have been playin cape breton island nova scotia style fiddle for over 20 years and I plan to learn the tenor banjo. I know nothing about this instrument .  setup, playing etc.


I have  an old Kay banjo. I was thinking about  learning to play. Any help regarding how to set up the banjo.  my only knowledge about setting up an instrument  is  guitar,fiddle


Any good web sites, or blog on setting up the banjo would be very helpful






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Here's a good link to a page Mike Keyes wrote on banjo set up to get you started:





Thanks, Jill

I think that an ongoing discussion of setup would be quite beneficial to the members.  No two banjos are the same, although within brand names there are some similarities in setup.  The way you play, the sound you want to achieve (within the capabilities of the instrument, of course), and your mechanical abilities all come into play.  For Gibson clones alone there are at least three distinct sounds you can get by just adjusting the head.  Amount of sustain, attack decay, amount of bass, etc are all related to setup. 


I have my own peculiar ideas about setup that not all agree with, but it is best to get them out in the open for discussion <G>



Oh, count me in for discussion about banjo set up - for some reason I'm much braver when it comes to experimenting with the set up of my banjo vs. the set up of my mandolin! Looking forward to folks chiming in and looking forward to hearing some of Mike's "peculiar" ideas as well!




yeah - count me in on this one...  I've messed around with my set up quite a bit and have got a sound I'm happy with 90% of the time...., but look forward to trying out some alternatives...  best changes I've made have been with the bridge, I've been using a 5/8 snuffy smith style 1 tenor bridge for about 12 months now and love  the sound it gives and a rounded off end means it's not painful on the fingers if you catch it.


My other top tip from another forum was keep everything tight (head and tailpeice).. none of this fancy tuning the head to G, or A or D, just keep it tight.


Also bronze wound strings, with a wound A....



Something I do with all of my bridges is to round the edges and corners with an emery board.  It makes it a lot easier on the hand.

Hello Mike,

I play a little banjo and stay on Cape Breton. I've been here for a few years now but not playing much - busy with family, work, building etc...

If you message me some contact details maybe we could hook up for tunes some time.



Hi Mike - looking forward to seeing how it goes for you. I too am a recent convert to the tenor banjo and I have a particular interest in the music of Cape Breton. Started off as a guitarist and piper, went to the Gaelic College for a number of years and was drawn to the fiddle as well, and now find myself with a room full of instruments trying to make heads and tails of everything. Some of the tunes I have seen here I am familiar with, but as you know, Cape Breton generally has a different repertoire of session tunes. I'd love to see some Cape Breton stylings on this board. We have spent many a happy night at Rollie's on a summer Thursday night. Cheers!


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