Are you locking your banjo strings?

Are you locking your banjo strings?

Huh? What does it mean to lock your banjo strings?

That’s what I said recently when my buddy and bandmate Mike Hedding heard me complaining about my strings dramatically slipping out of tune soon after changing them (particularly the 5th string).

Turns out, it only took me two decades of pickin’ to discover that when my strings slip out of tune suddenly and dramatically, it is NOT happening at the tailpiece (where the string is wound to itself by the loop end) but rather, they are slipping around the tuning pegs (doh)!

So, being the good teacher that he is, Mike sat me down and demonstrated a technique for “locking strings” to the tuning pegs when you change them.  With this technique, you actually wrap the end of the string under and around itself in such a way as to lock it in place on the tuning peg. I’ve come to discover this is common knowledge in the guitar world (insert banjo joke here).

Of course, Mike made it look easy but I had a hard time visualizing what he was doing while watching him from the opposite side of the neck and  so I promptly forgot the proper order of things. He directed me to a video demonstrating it on the banjo but it still wasn’t clear exactly what was happening to create this string “lock”… so I turned to “Guitar YouTube” for more help.

So how do you actually “lock” a banjo string?

Turns out, the same way you lock a guitar string. I was able to find a variety of good  tutorials on how to do this on a guitar that helped me visualize the technique in a way that I would remember.

Below are a few videos demonstrating “string locking” from different angles. I hope you find them useful:

A good top view of the method:

A good side angle to see it in action (on guitar):

Despite the fact that this is on an electric guitar, this is the clearest view of the actual “locking action” I could find. Bonus– it includes a slow motion demonstration and heavy medal guitar soundtrack 🙂