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How Do I Choose the Best Banjo Fretboard?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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Musicians who want to pick the best banjo fretboard can look for some specific design elements to replace a broken fretboard or fingerboard or otherwise outfit their instrument; among the major items to look for in the best banjo fretboard are the length of the fretboard and the quality of materials. Buyers can also look for customized decorations and other features for this component. The best banjo fretboards are well designed to fit a quality instrument well.

One of the biggest issues for a banjo fretboard is the quality of materials. The fretboard, as a prominent part of the headstock, should be made out of quality wood, with high quality, well engineered metal frets and other pieces. It’s important that the banjo fretboard be smooth and shaped exactly according to the requirements of the overall design. Otherwise, the banjo may not play right at all.

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Those who want to choose the best banjo fretboard for a specific instrument should consider whether or not they want to buy an extended fretboard. Some fretboards for a banjo extend in toward the bridge of the instrument. These allow musicians to play higher register notes that they otherwise would be able to. Some musicians want these higher notes included in their range, but for others, the extended fretboard mars the look of the instrument and can even interfere with play or cause problems with amplification. Not all banjo buyers look at the exact length of the fretboard, but this important item should be part of an informed choice.

Another big issue with banjo fretboards is how they work with a fifth string. Many banjo models have a fifth string that starts higher up on the fretboard, with a specific peg that sticks out of the headstock at a higher fret. The best quality banjo fretboards need to accommodate this string well, so that it looks natural and incorporated into the design. Generally, the fretboard needs to help compliment a good structural relationship between the bridge and pegs so that the strings have the right “action” or are calibrated properly.

Musicians who are looking for quality banjo fretboards also want to consider the materials and shapes of any decorative elements on the fretboard. The most common fretboards have simple circles to indicate different frets and help musicians to find the right fingering. Some of the more advanced decorations for these items include mother-of-pearl inlays or other material designs in various attractive shapes.

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