Master the Art of 5-String Banjo: How to String a 5 String Banjo

Photo of author

If you’ve been wanting to learn how to play the 5 string banjo and have been searching for the best way to get started, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide on how to string a 5 string banjo. By the end of this guide, you should have a good understanding of how to properly string a 5 string banjo, so you can get playing right away. So let’s get started!

Tools Needed for Stringing a 5-String Banjo

Tools Needed For Stringing A 5-String Banjo

  • Banjo
  • String set (5 separate strings)
  • String winder
  • Wire cutters
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Tuner

Preparing the Banjo

Preparing The Banjo

  • Verify the number of strings on the banjo.
  • Removing old strings. Use a string winder or a guitar pick to loosen the strings. Be careful not to damage the bridge or the peghead.
  • If the bridge is not level, use a bridge shim to level it out.
  • Clean the fretboard and the nut slots with a lint-free cloth.
  • Clean the headstock with a damp cloth.
  • Using a Phillips-head screwdriver, loosen the tuners and remove them from the peghead.
  • Remove the old strings from the bridge and the tailpiece.
  • Install the new strings.

Removing the Old Strings

Removing The Old Strings

Start by removing the old strings from the banjo. To do this, turn the banjo over so that the strings are facing up towards you. Using a pair of wire cutters or scissors, cut the strings off as close to the tuning pegs as possible. After all strings have been cut, carefully remove the strings from the tuning pegs. Finally, use a cloth to wipe away any remaining debris.

It’s important to remove the old strings before stringing the banjo, as the new strings will not fit properly over the old strings. Additionally, the old strings can cause a disruption in the sound of the banjo if they are not removed.

Installing the 5th String

  • Tie a knot at one end of the 5th string.
  • Thread the string through the 5th string tuning peg.
  • Run the string up the neck of the banjo, towards the bridge.
  • Place the string over the bridge, ensuring the string is taut.
  • Position the string over the 5th string tailpiece.
  • Tie a knot at the end of the string and pull the string to make sure the knot is secure.
  • Tune the string to the desired key using the tuner.

Tuning the 5th String

Tuning The 5Th String

String Tuning
1st String G
2nd String C
3rd String G
4th String B
5th String D

The 5th string of the 5 string banjo needs to be tuned to the note D. This can be done by using a tuner, or by using the notes of the other strings as a reference. After the string is tuned to D, it should be secured to the bridge.

Installing the 4th String

Installing The 4Th String
Start by threading one end of the 4th string through the hole at the 4th peg. Pull the string through until the two ends are of equal length. Make sure the string is taut, but not too tight. Bend the strings around the pegs in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure the string is wound in the same direction as the other strings. Secure the string in place by wrapping it around the peg several times. Use the bridge pins to secure the string at the bridge. Cut the excess string with wire cutters. Tune the 4th string to its appropriate pitch.

Tuning the 4th String

Tuning The 4Th String

  • Attach the 4th string to the peghead.
  • Start by placing the bridge in the middle of the 5th fret.
  • Tune the 4th string to a G note.
  • Tune the 4th string by turning the tuning peg clockwise to make the string tighter, and counterclockwise to make the string looser.
  • Keep turning the tuning peg until the desired note is reached.
  • Once the 4th string is tuned, move the bridge to the 6th fret to adjust the intonation.
  • Check the intonation by playing the 4th string open and at the 7th fret.
  • Adjust the bridge until the notes are in tune.

Installing the 3rd String

Installing The 3Rd String

  1. Locate the 3rd string tuning peg on the headstock, and thread the string through the hole.
  2. Pull the string taut and cut the excess.
  3. Wind the string around the tuning peg, making sure to wind downwards towards the headstock.
  4. Tighten the string until it is in tune, by turning the tuning peg clockwise.
  5. Repeat for the remaining strings.

Tuning the 3rd String

Tuning The 3Rd String

String Note Tuning
3rd G G below middle C

The third string should be tuned to G below middle C. It is the string in the middle of the banjo and should be tuned to the highest pitch of the five strings. To tune, turn the tuning peg until the string produces the correct note. Use a tuner to ensure that the string is in tune.

Installing the 2nd String

Installing The 2Nd String

Step Description
1 Place the 2nd string through its tuning peg, located on the 2nd fret.
2 Leave at least 4 inches of slack.
3 Wind the string around the peg in a clockwise direction.
4 Continue winding until the string is tight and in tune.

Tuning the 2nd String

Tuning The 2Nd String
Tighten the string until it produces a G note. To do this, use a digital tuner or alternatively, compare the sound of the string to that of the 5th string, which should already be tuned to a G note. Tune the string accordingly by tightening it until the two notes match. Make sure the string is tight enough to ensure clarity of sound when playing.

Installing the 1st String

Installing The 1St String

Step Description
1 Select the appropriate string for the 1st string of your 5 string banjo.
2 Attach one end of the string to the tuning peg of the 1st string.
3 Wind the string around the tuning peg in a clockwise direction until the string is tight.
4 Tighten the string by turning the peg in a clockwise direction.
5 Cut off the excess string and insert the other end of the string into the tailpiece.
6 Tighten the string by turning the tensioning key in a clockwise direction.

Tuning the 1st String

The first string of a 5-string banjo is tuned to an open G note, which is the G below middle C on the piano. To tune the 1st string, use an electronic tuner or a tuning fork pitched to G. Pluck the string and adjust the tuning peg until the tuner shows that the string is in tune. If using a tuning fork, hold it close to the 5th fret of the string and pluck the 1st string. The sound of the string should match the tuning fork. If not, adjust the peg until it does.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the necessary supplies for stringing a 5 string banjo?

5 banjo strings of the desired gauge, a wire cutter, peg winder and a set of tuning keys. Additionally, a lubricant such as graphite powder or 3-in-1 oil may be used to reduce friction between the string and the peg.

How do I properly tune a 5 string banjo?

Tuning a 5 string banjo is a relatively simple process. Begin by loosening the string tension until the strings are loose enough to slide your fingers under them. Then, starting with the 5th string (also known as the “drone string”), tune it to E with a tuning fork or an electronic tuner. Move on to the 4th string and tune it to A. Follow this with the 3rd string, which should be tuned to D. The 2nd string should be tuned to G and the 1st string should be tuned to B. Once all strings are tuned, use the tuning pegs to adjust the strings until they are in tune.

How often should I change the strings on my 5 string banjo?

The frequency of string changes will depend on the playing style and preferences of the musician. Generally, strings should be changed every few months or more often if the strings are losing their sound quality, break easily, or are not staying in tune. Additionally, it is important to check the strings periodically for any wear and tear.

What techniques should I use when stringing a 5 string banjo?

When stringing a 5 string banjo, start by loosening the strings and taking them off the banjo. Once the strings have been removed, clean the banjo and fretboard. To ensure the strings fit correctly and securely, inspect the bridge and nut for any damages or wear. When installing the strings, ensure each one is securely attached to the tailpiece and the tuners. Finally, use a tuner to ensure the strings are in tune before playing.

What are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Stringing a 5 String Banjo?

It is important to avoid over-tightening the strings when stringing a 5-string banjo as this can cause damage to the neck. Additionally, be sure to choose the correct strings for your type of banjo and ensure that the strings are in the correct order. Ensure the strings are properly secured at the bridge and the tuning pegs, and that each string is at the correct height on the bridge. Lastly, regularly check the strings for any signs of damage and replace them as necessary.


Stringing a 5-string banjo is not as intimidating as it may seem. With the right tools and materials, anyone can easily string a banjo and be ready to start playing! Make sure to refer to this guide and your banjo’s manual for the best results. Enjoy your newfound banjo-strumming skills!


About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

Leave a Comment