Hello. I have a modern Washburn banjo that am converting over to nylon strings. I installed a new tailpiece, Labella strings, and a Joel Hooks Converse bridge. The problem is that the 1st string is incredibly flat. Now Ive been playing bluegrass banjo for 30 years and Ive had to cant my bridges to get  the intonation right in the past. But this time I have to really getthe bridge crooked to get the D string even close. With the result being that the 2nd string is now way sharp. Is it a bad string maybe? I didn't have this problem with the previous bridge and steel strings. Any ideas? I have a new set on the way.

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Without seeing the whole banjo I can only guess. Is the nut cut peculiarly?  What is the scale length/ the length of the vibrating string from nut to bridge when the bridge is placed so that there is an octave harmonic (overtone) at fret 12?

To my estimating eye it looks like the treble foot of the bridge is in the right place. About 1/3 of the way along the diameter of the pot. The other strings look like they are in a position that the12th fret would produce a pitch less than an octave above the open string. What happens when you align the bridge (straight across) so that the first overtone at fret 12 and the fingered/fretted note at fret 12 are compared? do they match? if not in what way is there a discrepancy?

Well. The washburn website lists the scale length at 27.5. But when i measure from nut to 12th it comes in 13 and 5/8ths. So that would put scale length a little less than listed. If I intonate the 3rd string dead nuts, it falls a little under 27.5, so I'd say it's about right. Now to answer your other question. If I intonate strings 2, 3, and 4 as close as possible to true. The bridge ends up being pretty straight. But the 1st string comes in at almost a quarter tone flat at the 12th fret. Hope that makes it more clear Mr. Stetcher, and thank you for your attention.

Wow, that's a long scale! Sounds like a bum string to me. 

David Connelly said:

Well. The washburn website lists the scale length at 27.5. But when i measure from nut to 12th it comes in 13 and 5/8ths. So that would put scale length a little less than listed. If I intonate the 3rd string dead nuts, it falls a little under 27.5, so I'd say it's about right. Now to answer your other question. If I intonate strings 2, 3, and 4 as close as possible to true. The bridge ends up being pretty straight. But the 1st string comes in at almost a quarter tone flat at the 12th fret. Hope that makes it more clear Mr. Stetcher, and thank you for your attention.

I agree. It is long. Honestly I was surprised. I hope you are right about the bum string. I think I'm going to up the gauge knowing now how long the scale length is.

Take the string off, and put it back on flipped, see what happens. I’m surprised by the scale, but that should not matter... it just does not conform to the Gibson scale that pretty much all import banjos use.


I'll give it a shot tonight. Thanks for the suggestion Mr. hooks. I agree that scale length should not matter.

Joel you crazy S.O.B. it worked. I still had to cant it in the opposite direction. Albeit a bit less severely. But i was easily able to intonate the bridge. Hazzah! Thanks fellas!

Right, get new strings.  It is rare, but you have a false string.   Don't use any of the stretching tricks that people post on youtube or banjo hangout.  Put the strings on, tune them up one full step above standard pitch and they should settle in in a day or so. 

Good advice Joel. I generally never stretch my strings, though I am not entirely certain that I did not in this case. Thanks again.

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