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Thread: Banjolele action help needed

  1. #1

    Default Banjolele action help needed

    Hey all, so I picked up a nice Ohana tenor banjolele and I took it all apart and rebuilt it since the hardware was all wonky.

    To finish the setup I was thinking the action was a bit high, and it’s weird to me the string spacing doesn’t really follow the neck profile. I’m less worried about that tho.

    I’m going to try to attach pics here via mobile and hope they work, but can y’all eyeball it and see if it’s high?

    If so, is there any suggestions to set it? I know there’s 2 main ways, adjusting the rod inside and removing material from the bridge itself but I’m not sure either will work in my case:

    1, the neck is so far back from the factory I can set the uke down on a table and the headstock touches (not an issue to me, but it looks like i won’t be able to go back any further)

    2, eyeballing it, I’d have to take so much material off the bridge that it’d no longer have a wide base. I think (again, eyeballing) that I need to take off about 1/8” to get it where I need.


    Attachment 124547


    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by default; 01-19-2020 at 02:48 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Derry, Ireland


    A couple of things you can try to lower the action;

    Replacement bridges are available in various heights, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch etc. If you get one without string slots, you could cut slots to suit the neck profile.

    The internal coordinator rods can be adjusted to increase the neck angle.

    If you slacken off the internal neck attaching nuts, here may be enough play in the rim holes to raise the neck end slightly above the velum.

    Hope this is useful,

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    If your measurement is at the 12th fret, it seems to be about 4mm, which does seem rather high. On acoustic ukes I like to aim for 2.5mm, which would agree with your take the bridge down 1/8", but banjo ukes are generally a little higher. You might try aiming around 3mm. But I agree with trying to find a shorter bridge rather than hacking the one you have. At least you'll have the stock bridge to go back to.

    You might also want to print a gauge for better measurements:
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.


    Before you start altering anything. Is the intonation spot on?

    Banjo's/ Banjo ukuleles have floating bridges which freely move forwards and backwards to adjust intonation but also as you move the saddle forwards and backwards to adjust intonation the string height will raise and lower depending on if you move the bridge forwards or backwards.

    The string height may be high now but if your intonation is also a little sharp, and you then move the saddle away from the frets a little to flatten the intonation then the string height will lower itself as you move the bridge.

    Before you start sanding/cutting/shaving anything, you must first check that the intonation is as good as you can get it and then carefully mark the position of the saddle on the membrane.
    Then and only then do you assess the action height.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Sumter County, FL


    First of all, it helps to understand "action and intonation" on a banjo type instrument. Here's a quick link with a pretty good summary. (

    If the instrument's neck cannot be adjusted (some just can't!) there are ways to change the action without major surgery.

    Looking at the OP's photos I wondered what the bridge height was. That one seems a bit high in the photo. First off, if the bridge is not a 1/2 incher, changing it to a 1/2 inch bridge would lower the string height over the drum head and, correspondingly, over the fretboard. That might result in the strings being too low along the first fret or two. If that happens, the nut may need to be replaced with one having shorter string slots so that there is clearance over the interfering frets. Replacing a nut is a relatively minor bit of instrument surgery that any tech (and many musicians) can do in not much time.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    New Zealand


    The bridge appears to be a bit out of position. A quick measurement will confirm. In almost all cases like this the issue comes about from the bridge being too high, it may not have been the original one, looks like an after market addition. A half inch bridge is probably what it needs. Bridges are cheap, maybe $5.00 or so. An easy fix. Messing around with the coordinator rods will achieve precisely nothing unless you are prepared to shim the neck to body joint, which I don't think is wise unless you are totally confident that you know exactly what you are doing.
    Kind Regards
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