Help Topics for Banjo Players

Fifth string nuts - some guidance on fitting replacements.


Many banjos, particularly budget models, are fitted with poor quality 5th string nuts - often sited in an inappropriate place. Some banjos don‘t have a 5th string nut at all - just a screw or spike of some sort - and even normal 5th string nuts wear out occasionally. The following notes aim to give you some guidance on how to go about replacement. First of all, you need to check the placement of the 5th string nut. The ideal place is immediately behind the 5th fret, slightly “inboard” from the edge of the fingerboard. If the existing hole is about right, remove the defective 5th nut. Many will just pull out but they can be drilled out quite simply if you cut them off flush. Use a 3mm drill so that you will have a suitable hole for fitting the new nut. If the existing nut (or hole) is significantly adrift from this position, a new hole will be needed. Details of how to go about this are given below - but first you have to deal with the existing arrangements. Existing incorrectly sited nuts should be cut off flush with the fingerboard with a sharp craft knife. The top can be stained with an appropriate permanent marker pen. Spikes, screws etc should be removed and any empty holes should be filled with a proprietary wood filler of an appropriate shade. To fit the new nut:- Mark a centre 1.5mm behind the 5th fret and 3mm in from the edge of the fingerboard and carefully drill a 3mm diameter hole x 5mm deep straight down into the fingerboard. A piece of masking tape wrapped round the drill bit at the appropriate point will make a reasonably accurate depth gauge. The replacement nut is coloured black on the bottom. Ensuring that the slot in the top is parallel to the strings, gently tap the new nut into place. The string should be slightly above the fret rather than sitting on it.

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