Banjo Bridges - intonation issues

What affects intonation?

The answer is simple: string length. No, not the way they come out of the package, but once they're on the banjo when you look at the string length from the bridge to the nut (the scale length). Here, in no particular order, are some factors that affect string length:

  • neck angle
  • neck shimmed or not
  • head tension - goes up and down with temperature and or humidity changes
  • tail piece tension
  • bridge position
  • bridge height
  • nut height
  • string spacing on the bridge
  • too much finger pressure on strings
  • fingers bending, or choking, the string(s) while fretting them
  • nut height
  • depth of string slots on the nut & bridge
  • truss rod tension
  • neck dowel angle
  • string gauge - heavier strings make the head cave in deeper
  • string gauge - heavier strings behave differently than lighter strings
  • weirdly tight or loose tunings
  • overtightened strings
  • warped or twisted neck
  • worn out frets
  • improperly spaced frets
  • fret height
  • the player's way of playing/holding the banjo

Probably more reasons but that's all that comes to mind right now. Keep in mind that unless the neck is seriously warped or twisted, it's a lot cheaper to get a compensated bridge than it is to have a neck repaired or to have a fret job done.

 

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