View Full Version : Snapping strings on new banjo uke

Vespa Bob
11-11-2016, 02:53 PM
I was hesitant at first to post this question, not wanting to appear a complete idiot, but then, I thought what the heck, I want to know the answer, so I'll ask!
When tuning up my new concert size, 15" scale banjo uke, using Worth medium brown strings, first the G string snapped, then later, the same thing happened to the A string. I certainly wasn't tuning up an octave or over cranking the tuner buttons, after all, I've done this before, although I usually use clear strings.
Now this is my theory, so please don't laugh if if I don't know what I'm talking about, on my traditional ukes, the strings go from the bridge to the nut, then on to the tuners. On the banjo, the strings start at the back of the head, then travel 3.5" to the saddle then on to the nut. Can it be that this extra length requires more tension on the string to reach a particular note? I'm inclined to think that the length behind the saddle has no effect on the tuning, but I'm not sure, but I'm willing to learn!


Dan Gleibitz
11-11-2016, 03:09 PM
It shouldn't be string tension. Where did they snap? Any sharp angles in that area?

11-11-2016, 04:09 PM
What make/model banjo uke is it? That may help knowing what instrument it is.

Sharp edges at the tailpiece can exist, so if the snap point is at the tail piece, the tail piece may need replacing.

If there are no sharp edges where the break point is, the problem may be in the tuning. However, there would have to be a radical scale length problem leading to overtension. Since this is a concert scale instrument, the initial distance should be 14 1/2 to 15 inches from the nut to the bridge.

Banjo-ukes are more banjo than uke. Would suggest a little study in how a banjo works, what the parts are and how to tune one properly (strings and head). Deering has net-published some great materials for this at:
http://www.deeringbanjos.com/blogs/banjo-maintenance-tips and

11-11-2016, 06:50 PM
Certainly the string is going to have more tension on it at almost 18.5" total length. Much closer to a baritone length.

Worth Browns are a softer composition and if nicked by a sharp edge like a tail piece would easily break. Are they breaking at the tail piece, or somewhere else?

11-11-2016, 06:58 PM
There should be no difference in tension as the scale length from bridge to nut determines the tension. As long as the bridge is in the right place, a tad over twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret you should be right to go. I have only ever snapped uke strings on sharp edges. A light rub with an appropriate file on the right spot should fix that. A new tailpiece is not required, just smooth the sharp edges off.

Vespa Bob
11-12-2016, 09:06 AM
Thanks for all your replies. In my original post I left out some details as my main question was whether the additional string length could contribute to the string snapping, or could it be something else, in this case, sharp edges, which would have been my next guess, as there are some on this tail piece. However, I did think that I felt extra resistance and almost expected the string to snap!
What I have decided to do to solve both issues is to make a tailpiece similar to the one in the picture below. It will have smooth edges and the strings will be closer to the saddle, besides, I think it will look cool! Also, I have included a pic of the uke in question, something that I put together between my other builds. I never really liked the tailpiece, but it was all I had at the time. Thanks again for your comments.


11-12-2016, 10:38 AM
You ain't snapping strings you're cutting em on something sharp on the set up ...find out where the break is and you'll find the culprit.:)

11-21-2016, 06:13 PM
That metal tailpiece is cutting the strings. Try a no-knot style tailpiece.

11-22-2016, 03:37 AM
That metal tailpiece is cutting the strings. Try a no-knot style tailpiece.

The tailpiece sure does look like the culprit; mean, snarly, and razor-edged. Maybe not, it's just my first thought.

Vespa Bob
11-23-2016, 09:54 AM
Yes, I'm now in full agreement that the tail piece has to go! I'll be making another based on the one in the photo above, once I get some free time.