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Ukecaster
04-09-2019, 06:28 AM
We were given an old 4-string tenor banjo by an elderly neighbor, it originally had steel strings, but no strings on it now. pretty funky, lots of signatures on the skin, Princess brand. I've had it here for a couple of years, but never set it up to play. Could I convert it to a banjolele, using nylon banjolele strings, would that work? If so, how to restring? Do you tie knots and place them in the slots, or need strings with loops on the end?

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hoosierhiver
04-09-2019, 06:32 AM
No problem. I would just use regular ukulele strings, measure the scale length and use the appropriate size strings. Just knot the ends well so they won't slip through the slots in the tailpiece.

EDW
04-09-2019, 06:58 AM
Jake Wildwood has probably seen and worked on many more instruments than many of us will ever see. He also has a great knowledge of old vintage instruments. I would certainly ask him for his thoughts and opinion. He may have some great tips and things to try.

jakewildwood@gmail.com

Ukecaster
04-09-2019, 08:06 AM
Oh cool, I'll just give it a try.

Swamp Yankee
04-09-2019, 08:37 AM
I don't see any need to convert...as far as I can tell, it already is a banjo uke.
What is the scale length and nut width?

It looks like somebody along the line fitted it with a 5 string tailpiece... but it's OK to use that. I'd tie loops in the nylon string ends and hang them on there.

Swamp Yankee
04-09-2019, 08:43 AM
... just so happens, I drew a diagram of my preferred knot to use

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fowl
04-09-2019, 08:45 AM
I was given an old tenor banjo in a box in about fifty pieces. I managed to clean it , got a new skin and bridge and reassemble it. Since Chicago tuning on a tenor banjo and baritone uke are the same, I put some standard baritone strings on it and now I guess you can call it a baritone banjolele. It plays pretty well.

Ukecaster
04-09-2019, 11:23 AM
I don't see any need to convert...as far as I can tell, it already is a banjo uke.
What is the scale length and nut width?

It looks like somebody along the line fitted it with a 5 string tailpiece... but it's OK to use that. I'd tie loops in the nylon string ends and hang them on there.

There's no bridge on there now, I'm ordering one, many of them seem to be pre-slotted. It looks like the scale is 14" to where the middle of the old bridge was. Nut is 31.5 mm, way skinnier than any uke I've ever seen.

EDW
04-09-2019, 11:34 AM
It looks like somebody along the line fitted it with a 5 string tailpiece... but it's OK to use that. I'd tie loops in the nylon string ends and hang them on there.

It does look like a banjo uke. For a brief while I had one with that tailpiece. I knotted the strings and slipped them in the slots in between and it worked well.

captain-janeway
04-09-2019, 12:42 PM
Yes, it looks like a banjo uke with a banjo tailpiece. If you look at the tailpiece photo it looks like it only had 4 strings on it. I don't see a place to attach a 5th string as a banjo
You could always knot a bead at the end of the string and put them between the slots as an option to tying down.
Have fun

Cliff E
04-09-2019, 01:02 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuK0nqtxQIQ

Here's my converted 1923 Gibson trapdoor tenor in its ukefied iteration. 13" neck and the nut is 1.5" wide. Jake put a low G on for me. Works fine.

hoosierhiver
04-09-2019, 01:52 PM
I was given an old tenor banjo in a box in about fifty pieces. I managed to clean it , got a new skin and bridge and reassemble it. Since Chicago tuning on a tenor banjo and baritone uke are the same, I put some standard baritone strings on it and now I guess you can call it a baritone banjolele. It plays pretty well.

I've got one like that too, very fun.

Swamp Yankee
04-10-2019, 01:50 AM
There's no bridge on there now, I'm ordering one, many of them seem to be pre-slotted. It looks like the scale is 14" to where the middle of the old bridge was. Nut is 31.5 mm, way skinnier than any uke I've ever seen.

Yeah, with a scale that short I'd say it's a uke.. even with the 31mm nut.

I'm pretty sure it was made by Slingerland in the late 20s to early 30s.

For comparison, the 17 fret "short scale" tenor banjos had scales at around 20". 19 fretters were up around 22".

What is the diameter of the pot?

To place a new bridge, measure from the nut to the 12th fret and double that distance. Then slant the bridge as needed to dial in the intonation. Banjo bridges come pre-slotted.

Swamp Yankee
04-10-2019, 01:53 AM
I was given an old tenor banjo in a box in about fifty pieces. I managed to clean it , got a new skin and bridge and reassemble it. Since Chicago tuning on a tenor banjo and baritone uke are the same, I put some standard baritone strings on it and now I guess you can call it a baritone banjolele. It plays pretty well.

I've had one strung with the same set of nylguts for going on 15 years :D I cobbled the strings from a 5 string banjo set, tuned it reentrant Bb tuning. It's a blast to play but wicked loud.

Ukecaster
04-10-2019, 05:02 AM
Yeah, with a scale that short I'd say it's a uke.. even with the 31mm nut.

I'm pretty sure it was made by Slingerland in the late 20s to early 30s.

For comparison, the 17 fret "short scale" tenor banjos had scales at around 20". 19 fretters were up around 22".

What is the diameter of the pot?

To place a new bridge, measure from the nut to the 12th fret and double that distance. Then slant the bridge as needed to dial in the intonation. Banjo bridges come pre-slotted.

Good info, thanks! The wooden body diameter is 8". I plan to try a set of concert Nylguts on it.

EDW
04-10-2019, 06:19 AM
Good info, thanks! The wooden body diameter is 8". I plan to try a set of concert Nylguts on it.

I see some banjo uke videos coming!

Swamp Yankee
04-10-2019, 07:04 AM
Good info, thanks! The wooden body diameter is 8". I plan to try a set of concert Nylguts on it.

No question then... it's a banjo uke by design.
The only other type of early banjo that comes close to that scale length was a rare creation they called a "tango banjo" which was basically a 4 string mandolin. But they typically had larger pots 10" or larger, and a flared and cantilevered fretboard that extended over the skin head. They were quickly superseded by tenors.

Nice gift! Congratulations!

If the skin head has no tears in it, you can best clean it with an artist's pencil eraser and some elbow grease. Don't get it wet.. it'll stretch.

If the head is torn, it will need replacement. I've got a few spares that I'll let go cheaply... I probably have a few bridges laying around, for that matter. Let me know.. I can send one off to you.

Ukecaster
05-09-2019, 05:45 AM
Finally strung this one up, with new Ping tuners. I got a couple of bridges on ebay, they are 5/8" high, I think I need a 1/2" height bridge instead, as the action at the 12th fret is way high, about 5mm. I think that if I use a 1/2" height bridge instead, the action at 12th would come down to about 3.4 mm, and lower if I sand it a bit. Probably need to buy a 1/2" high bridge, as don't think I can sand 1/8" off the bottom of this one. Also not sure why these come with 6 string slots in the saddle, probably want to cut my own slots there to increase the string spread at the saddle too. What little I can play it, it has a cool plinky sound with Nyltech concert strings. I still have some work to do here.

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Ukecaster
05-09-2019, 05:52 AM
Pic of the 6 slotted bridge/saddle I used, too high

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captain-janeway
05-09-2019, 07:25 AM
Just bought a couple of these for a couple banjo ukes I cobbled together (and a cheap string gauge).
For one the angle was off so the bridge was too high. I ended up just making one out of some wood scrap. Not pretty, but the strings are at right height and it's playable.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EUZX5GG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

DPO
05-09-2019, 10:31 AM
Pic of the 6 slotted bridge/saddle I used, too high

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You have bought the wrong bridge, you need a four slot bridge specificaly made for banjo ukes. they are readily available.

Swamp Yankee
05-09-2019, 10:49 AM
Pic of the 6 slotted bridge/saddle I used, too high

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Too high, too long (wide) and maybe too thick as well.

I'd try a 1/2" Grover Non-Tip bridge

https://www.amazon.com/Grover-Non-Tip-Tenor-Banjo-Bridge/dp/B0060VKBIE

merlin666
05-09-2019, 11:12 AM
Good stuff, and it can go the other way too as I had my recently acquired concert uke set up to be tuned like a tenor banjo. Wanted to learn/experiment with this type of tuning.

Ukecaster
05-09-2019, 05:26 PM
Cool, thanks for the tip on the non-tip bridge! :D. I've never heard of a non-tip bridge, but the one I got tipped already one time.

Jim Yates
05-09-2019, 07:26 PM
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Here's an old SS Stewart tenor banjo that I have strung with nylon strings and tuned f,Bb,D,G with a capo at the 2nd fret, making it gCEA. I like it a lot. It's sharing the couch with some other banjoleles. I tied a loop in the strings to hook onto the tailpiece..

I've used it often with the Maple Leaf Champions jug band..

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DPO
05-09-2019, 08:32 PM
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Here's an old SS Stewart tenor banjo that I have strung with nylon strings and tuned f,Bb,D,G with a capo at the 2nd fret, making it gCEA. I like it a lot. It's sharing the couch with some other banjoleles. I tied a loop in the string.

I've used it often with the Maple Leaf Champions jug band..

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How could you not like all those B/U's :D

Jerryc41
05-11-2019, 12:35 AM
Too high, too long (wide) and maybe too thick as well.

I'd try a 1/2" Grover Non-Tip bridge

https://www.amazon.com/Grover-Non-Tip-Tenor-Banjo-Bridge/dp/B0060VKBIE

They call it a banjo bridge, but it has only four slots cut in the bridge.

Swamp Yankee
05-11-2019, 02:06 AM
They call it a banjo bridge, but it has only four slots cut in the bridge.

It's for tenors and banjo ukes.

Jim Yates
05-11-2019, 03:56 AM
They call it a banjo bridge, but it has only four slots cut in the bridge.

It is also available with 5 slots cut in the saddle and, I believe with eight slots for a mandolin banjo.

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Swamp Yankee
05-11-2019, 03:59 AM
Cool, thanks for the tip on the non-tip bridge! :D. I've never heard of a non-tip bridge, but the one I got tipped already one time.

When that happens on a full size banjo it can be like a shot going off :D

Ukecaster
05-18-2019, 06:32 AM
The new lower bridge worked well, and the Nyltech strings have settled. The nut width on this one is painfully slim, at only 31.2 mm, with a string spread of 24.6 mm. Can you say cramped? A fun experiment, but very hard for me to play, so not sure what will happen to this one. What's a decent banjo uke with wider nut?

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Jerryc41
05-18-2019, 06:42 AM
The new lower bridge worked well, and the Nyltech strings have settled. The nut width on this one is painfully slim, at only 31.2 mm, with a string spread of 24.6 mm. Can you say cramped? A fun experiment, but very hard for me to play, so not sure what will happen to this one. What's a decent banjo uke with wider nut?

What bridge did you use? It doesn't look like the non-tip. How high is the bridge?

Ukecaster
05-18-2019, 06:50 AM
The new bridge is just over 1/2" tall, with action pretty normal at 12th fret now. It is a non-tip bridge, but the little black plastic piece that gets attached perpendicular to the bridge, to provide the anti-tip support, did not fit, the slot in it was too small, so I just went without it, and it hasn't tipped at all.

DPO
05-18-2019, 11:22 AM
The new lower bridge worked well, and the Nyltech strings have settled. The nut width on this one is painfully slim, at only 31.2 mm, with a string spread of 24.6 mm. Can you say cramped? A fun experiment, but very hard for me to play, so not sure what will happen to this one. What's a decent banjo uke with wider nut?

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There is one here, seems pretty decent. :D

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?139356-FS-Southern-Cross-Banjo-Uke-Tenor

Ukecaster
05-18-2019, 12:09 PM
There is one here, seems pretty decent. :D

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?139356-FS-Southern-Cross-Banjo-Uke-Tenor

That is nice, but only about $800.00 more than i want to pay :D