Looking at
Banjo Fifth String Nuts
© Frank Ford, 1/28/99; Photos by FF, 1/25/99

Traditionally, the fifth string held the string rather high over the fifth fret:

The idea is that you play the fifth string with your thumb and hit it hard, so it pays to have the extra clearance to avoid buzzing.

Modern players often fret the fifth string, and having the nut positioned that high and that far behind the fifth fret causes the fifth string to play drastically sharp up the neck.

Use of a fifth string capo or "fifth string spikes" like this one also demand that the string play reasonably in tune:

A simple remedy is to lower the notch in the nut so that the string rides directly on the fret:

Some banjos have the nut positioned directly in line with the fret so that intonation isn't a problem at all:

A few modern makers have done away with the nut altogether, substituting a little nail to guide the string and hold it down against the fret:

This is certainly a very functional device, although it strains the sensitivity of the "vintage types."

It pays to
look at the regular nut over which the other four string pass, too.

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