Introduction and Preface by Mike Munford

Introduction by Ross Nickerson

The Banjo Maintenance chapter has been written by banjo master and banjo setup specialist, Mike Munford. Mike possesses the rare talent of being an excellent banjo player and having the knowledge and skill to set up banjos so they sound their very best. Mike has been doing my setup work since I met him and it’s made a world of difference. I also send my students to Mike when their banjos need repair or setup, and it is remarkable how good he can make even the most inexpensive banjos sound. Unlike many musical instruments, the banjo’s tone can be changed or improved dramatically by factors such as type of bridge, head tension, and tailpieces, along with many other interchangeable parts. I recommend taking the time to not only read this chapter and learn from it but doing whatever it takes to either set up your banjo properly or seek out an expert of your own.

Preface by Mike Munford

The two most important aspects to the enjoyment of playing your banjo are playability and tone quality. For many beginners, tone is not usually as vital as long as your instrument sounds reasonably like a banjo. You will tend to develop a better sense of tone as your playing improves. However, any annoying buzzes and rattles should be taken care of as soon as possible. Playability is crucial, especially to the beginner. Action that’s way too high or strings that are too heavy will give the banjo an unnecessarily difficult feel. Ultimately, the goal in terms of proper setup is to find the right combination of good tone quality and playability.