I'm been trying to string my old ragtime King banjo with nylgut red 11b strings and broke the 1st string, possibly from the knot I used. I was wondering what kind of nylon strings that can be tuned to the classic or ragtime tuning.

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Any set listed for banjo will work. How well they work is the issue...you just have to try them out and see what you like.

Right now, the only Nylon strings available here in the States are "LaBella" (I get mine from Elderly Instruments). These are quite thin (the "17" set) compared to Aquila Nylgut sets...but are reported to be very good with the proper setup. I have a couple of sets of these but haven't gotten around to using them yet.

Otherwise, I really like the old Aquila nylgut "Classic". I don't like the sets which feature a solid 4th, the wound 4th is much better. Of course, I haven't bought any in years so I don't know much about the current stuff. I tend to buy in bulk, so I'm still working on sets I bought 5 yrs ago!

Alternatively, Clifford Essex has really good sets of nylon for the banjo. I've used the medium gauge 23-32 +.028Weaver 4th and they're just right for me. http://www.cliffordessex.net/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=890

They're about $27 shipped to the US for 3 sets. I'd order a couple extra 4ths too. In my experience, I use 2ea 4th's for every set...they just wear faster than the solids.

Thank you. I ended up having more on the string and changed the way I knot the string and so far, it's holding up. After these strings pop or needs changed, I will try those nylon strings.

Trapdoor2 said:

Any set listed for banjo will work. How well they work is the issue...you just have to try them out and see what you like.

Right now, the only Nylon strings available here in the States are "LaBella" (I get mine from Elderly Instruments). These are quite thin (the "17" set) compared to Aquila Nylgut sets...but are reported to be very good with the proper setup. I have a couple of sets of these but haven't gotten around to using them yet.

Otherwise, I really like the old Aquila nylgut "Classic". I don't like the sets which feature a solid 4th, the wound 4th is much better. Of course, I haven't bought any in years so I don't know much about the current stuff. I tend to buy in bulk, so I'm still working on sets I bought 5 yrs ago!

Alternatively, Clifford Essex has really good sets of nylon for the banjo. I've used the medium gauge 23-32 +.028Weaver 4th and they're just right for me. http://www.cliffordessex.net/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=890

They're about $27 shipped to the US for 3 sets. I'd order a couple extra 4ths too. In my experience, I use 2ea 4th's for every set...they just wear faster than the solids.

I use the Aquila Nylgut strings for my banjo and have used them for several years. I put them on an older Ome openback banjo, which I have designated for classic style. I ended up having to send my banjo to the folks at Ome to get it setup for the strings, since the action was way too high after putting them on. They did an excellent job with the setup and banjo and I are two happy campers. 

The Labella strings currently sold as "No. 17" are actually thicker then they used to be.  The 1th & 5th are .019 (with the rest two thousands thicker) than the original strings that were .017. .019, .023, .024, .017.

The real 17s work for me.  They also approximate period correct gut strings used from the late 1880s until gut fell out of favor for wire strings in the 1920s-30s.  I order singles from Labella's website and build my own sets.

I never could get polyester strings (sold as nylgut) to work for me.  I found them thick and clacky.  They also squeaked on my fingertips (evidently something that has only affected me and no one else).  They tend to develop flat spots at the frets faster then nylon.  I also found that they would stretch out and eventually be untrue (uneven and not intonate correctly).

Polyester strings seem to work for a lot of people despite the breakage.  You will just need to try different things and find the right mix for you.  When trying strings, don't expect that they will click immediately.  Give them time with a lot of practice.  If you are new to nylon strings then there is a real learning curve.  You have to learn how to play with them-- it is practically a different instrument than the wire string banjo. 

I second Marc's suggestion. I now use Clifford Essex Medium strings, but for beginners I would suggest the Heavy gauge. The heavy gauge seem to be better at building up the calluses on the fingertips that give the characteristic tone of "Classic Style".

I have just bought 5 sets of CE Mediums but they do last ages before they develop wear grooves on the frets and need changing!

Good luck!

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