In the previous newsletters, we checked the banjo all over and tried to make it playable. Now, there are still a few other things to do. You have to tune it. It is arguable that a banjo can never be tuned, but I will try to give you a few of the methods.
Let’s do a quick check on the banjo to see if it will stay in tune if you do manage to tune it. With the strings tightened enough to stop them from buzzing on the frets, check the place where the neck joins the rim of the banjo. There should be no looseness or twisting of the neck. The neck and rim joint should not be flexible. If the parts move around, you will never keep the banjo in tune. The truss rod in the neck will keep the neck straight and the coordinator rods will keep the neck tight to the pot and keep the pot shape round. The neck to rim joint is where to look for shims that someone may have placed there to adjust the neck angle. Shims will not transmit the sound and is a poor way to fix a banjo.
Next, the pegs and strings must be of good quality or the banjo will not stay in tune. A new set of strings is a worthwhile investment to carry with you when scouting for a banjo. Ask the owner if you may put them on the banjo. This is always a good excuse to examine the banjo while you are putting on the strings. Leave the strings if you have to. It is still an inexpensive way to check out a banjo. The owner may be glad to have the new strings.