Thank you for my admission in your forum. I hope you will excuse my english...

I own a 5 strings banjo since some weeks and very interested in classical banjo but I have a big problem : Classical guitarist since 30 years I have long nails and it's not negociable to cut them. Is this really incompatible to play classic banjo?

My other question is : my banjo has metallic strings, is it possible to change with nylon strings ?

Thank you for your answers and have a nice day.

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Hi Francis, yes it the answer, but I would suggest speaking to my friend Claude Burvenich who lives in Nantes and is a teacher of classical guitar and banjo.

David

Thank you for the answer. Does he read the forum or may I contact him by another way ?

Sorry... I searched on the web. She is a woman. "Claude" is an ambiguous name...

Francis said:

Thank you for the answer. Does he read the forum or may I contact him by another way ?

Hi Francis, I know a few people that play the classic repertoire on banjos and do not modify their technique from classical guitar.

While it does not have the historical "classic" tone it is still fine.  

Any banjo can be strung with nylon strings.

Welcome Francis!

As you have been playing Classical Guitar for 30 yrs...you probably don't need to worry about "tone" at all, your ears and heart will let you know when they are happy.

I know several people who play banjo with guitar nails (and who have started having a history of classical guitar). No issues at all, once you've moved to nylon strings. Many steel string players use metal picks to play classic banjo tunes. They can sound great too.

This has been controversial since man began to play stringed instruments. I have no doubt that one day they will dig up a Pharaoh's tomb and find a whole wall ranting for or against the use of fingernails... ;-)

Bonjour Francis,
Ici Claude de Nantes.
Moi aussi, je suis une ''vieille'' guitariste classique. Je joue bien sûr le banjo classique avec mes ongles de guitariste.
Il est tout à fait possible de mettre des cordes nylon sur la plupart des banjos pour avoir un son plus doux et velouté!
Si tu veux discuter en direct, mon email: claude.burvenich@gmail.com
Je te donnerai alors mon tél.
À bientôt j'espère, cher banjoïste!

Ok thank you very much for all your quick and encouraging answers. So I'm ready to work to become a classic banjo player. First step : to buy nylon strings.

For Claude => merci pour cette réponse. Peux-tu me conseiller sur les cordes nylon à acheter et où se les procurer en France ? Je vois que Michenaud vend des "aquila" en nylgut (kesako ?). Je vois aussi sur le net des cordes "La bella"... Le choix ne semble pas énorme. Dans l'idéal j'aimerais des cordes pour lesquelles je pourrais accorder la corde grave alternativement en DO ou en RE suivant partition... Qu'utilise-tu de ton côté ?

Please do not take me the wrong way, nail playing sounds good.  There is no doubt.

It is just different than the "old recordings" sound of FVE, Ossman, Bacon, etc.

It is still "classic banjo."

Olly Oakley was a nail player and I love his tone.  He did play a zither banjo though so three of his strings were steel.

Bienvenu ; perso , je n 'apprécie guère les nylgut , je trouve que ce sont des cordes qui sonnent bien au début puis se vident rapidement ; les La Bella , c 'est vraiment pas terrible non plus ; je n 'utilise que des Savarez au détail ; j 'ai essayé par 2 fois ,  car je suis encore dans ce biz , de soudoyer le représentant pour qu 'il nous ponde un jeu de classic banjo mais ça ne les interesse pas car trop peu de demandes ; déjà imprimer les pochettes leur coûte trop de sous … donc Savarez , cordes pour instruments anciens , mon gauge est 52 / 64 /71 /150 NF /52 ; si ton banjo a un grand diap , il faut les prendre en longueur 2 m  ; attention , si tu as un banjo de bluegrass avec cordes métal , il peut être nécessaire d 'élargir le sillet avec une lime sinon elles vont être trop hautes au sillet

I agree about Savarez cordes pour instruments anciens, they are excellent strings for classic banjo. I disagree to some extent about Nylgut being not adequate. I have found that it depends on the banjo and its setup and on which formulation of Nylgut is being used.  Nylgut is absolutely horrible on some banjos, not even good at the beginning. But on others it is a very good set.  Aquila Nylgut strings in the original formulation (in the yellow paper package)  and my Windsor Grand Solo banjo are a match made in heaven.  Nylgut on an SS Stewart is a sad story.  Alas, Aquila keeps "improving" its strings by making them worse. One wonders if Aquila and Apple ("mac") are in alliance to degrade their own products. 

Thank you gor these new answers and advices...

Je vois que je ne suis pas le seul francophone sur ce forum.

Pour Marc Dalmasso : merci pour les conseils je vais donc essayer de trouver ces cordes savarez à l'unité. C'est marrant, sur ma guitare classique, après de nombreux essais j'en suis aussi revenu aux Savarez ...

Mon banjo est effectivement un banjo de bluegrass. C'est un premier prix mais en l'absence de points de comparaison je trouve qu'il sonne pas mal et il est juste. C'est celui-ci : https://www.thomann.de/fr/harley_benton_bjo_35pro_5_string_banjo_ob... . Plus tard quand je serai devenu un virtuose ;-)) j'en achèterai un meilleur.

A part l'élargissement du sillet je me demande si le manche prévu pour une tension plus forte ne va pas se vriller.

Francis-I hope you can excuse my English!

Jody is absolutely correct, and I had a big epiphany on this this week working on a banjo that HATED Nylguts....to the point I thought I should discard the banjo....until I put on the LaBella 17's as a last resort, which immediately transformed it into a wonderful banjo.  Looking up currently available nylguts sets, I was upset to find the old 1B sets I stocked up on (thankfully) are not made now and it's hard to find a non red set with a wound fourth.

Many make up sets from other makers to suit them from classical guitar singles.

Joel is a fan of the LaBella's as well I think, and if you don't know what to try first, these are easy to find and generally great strings for this style and not expensive.  To ME, they feel very much like gut ( at least the very new set I just bought does) with sort of a longitudinal roughness that is opposite of the nylgut feel in fingertip/nail friction feel, and for this reason the Labella's reminded me of gut strings I used to play years ago.

On your banjo, you mentioned it had steel strings now.....very important to consider in changing to nylon/gut is to make sure that you take all burrs and sharp edges off any surface that touches the strings....meaning the tailpiece, bridge, nut, and tuner holes/posts.....any semi sharp edge will either cut the new strings quickly or at the least slowly cut them shortening their useful life.

If you post pictures of your banjo and tailpiece, everyone here would be eager to suggest things if needed....we've all had to "de burr" our sharp banjos at some time or other for this reason, and someone here may be very familiar with your tailpiece and or banjo and have appropriate suggestions.

Chris

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