I asked this question on a previous post, but I'd like to start a discussion here as well.

What to use for string?

I've used actual guitar string, makes a canjo sound very metallic, almost like a guitar.

I've also used a lot of fishing line, really heavy stuff, and it makes it sound more like my ukelele.

 

What have you used, and what were/are the results?

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I often use whatever guitar/banjo/uke strings I have left over from previous builds. I've used bass stings and treble and come up with a variety of tones. I also electrify mine with piezos under the base of the can. I also find that different cans produce different tones.... the length and diameter make subtle differences. When I box my can in with a cigar box and turn it into a 3-string "Canitar" the tone is very much like a resonator guitar. I've got an example in another thread here.

Good to know. Hey, i was also thinking of making a really long one, bout 3.5-5 feet long. Will that give it a better sound, or just a deeper/larger sound range ability? And on other question: About how long is the average canjo?
Mama Mojo said:
I often use whatever guitar/banjo/uke strings I have left over from previous builds. I've used bass stings and treble and come up with a variety of tones. I also electrify mine with piezos under the base of the can. I also find that different cans produce different tones.... the length and diameter make subtle differences. When I box my can in with a cigar box and turn it into a 3-string "Canitar" the tone is very much like a resonator guitar. I've got an example in another thread here.

In addition to uke and guitar strings, I have used banjo strings which make the instrument sound more twangy like a banjo. For guitar strings, all I've used were maybe the first 2 strings on the guitar, but I suspect if you used the middle or bass strings, that it would give your instrument a bit different sound as well. Another thing I have done is made dual string canjos with the same string tuned to the same note (a "course" is 2 or more strings tuned to same note, like the 4 pairs of strings on a mandolin). After a build, I often try different strings to see what sounds best. These days I'm into box guitar building as cigar boxes are tough to find in my locale.

-Rand.

Hi Dustan,

Here's a diagram of your typical canjo.


The average length of a canjo is maybe 30 inches. The dimensions only get critical when you get around to fretting the instrument. Then you'll need to know the scale length (distance between the nut and the bridge (that little hole in the bottom of your can resonator). The scale length (aka VSL or Vibrating String Length) is the key parameter used in fret calculator programs to figure out where you should place each fret for good intonation. There are many fret calculators on the Internet. The one most often recommended at CBN is probably the Stew-Mac fret calulator.

Dustan Eichler said:


Good to know. Hey, i was also thinking of making a really long one, bout 3.5-5 feet long. Will that give it a better sound, or just a deeper/larger sound range ability? And on other question: About how long is the average canjo?
Mama Mojo said:
I often use whatever guitar/banjo/uke strings I have left over from previous builds. I've used bass stings and treble and come up with a variety of tones. I also electrify mine with piezos under the base of the can. I also find that different cans produce different tones.... the length and diameter make subtle differences. When I box my can in with a cigar box and turn it into a 3-string "Canitar" the tone is very much like a resonator guitar. I've got an example in another thread here.

I've updated my canjo diagram to show string routing, tuner, nut and "bridge" placement and scale length. Here's the updated drawing: It also shows where the strum hollow is located (in the 7" area before the can resonator). Also, the area of the neck which will be fretted is the raised area of the neck between the nut and this strum hollow.

-Rand.

Hey rand, I will upload a photo of my canjo later because I am at work right now, but I was wondering if you have noticed if the quality of sound varies with the type of wood that you use for the neck?  it seems that the canjo that I have is oak sounds much better than the one that I made with just scrap wood that I had in my garage.  Any thoughts.

also, my canjo neck is actually inside of my can.  is this atypical?  because it sounds awesome anyhow.

I bought a roll of #7 piano wire and have made numerous variations. I have'nt ran out yet but have used guitar strings also. Its like Mama Mojo says and use whatever strings you have. A word of caution on using piano wire. If you tighten the wire to tight it will eat through the can bottom. But I have found a solution to that problem for tin cans and aluminium cans. So now the strings will break or the can bottoms collapse before the string cuts through and you can get some neet sounds using it too.

Can anyone suggest string gauges for a tenor banjo? I'm building one with a 23 inch scale length.

I've previously built "plectrum" banjos (using cookie tins for bodies/resonators) but they had longer necks. A tenor is new territory for me. I'm sure I can work something out but it would be nice to know what the standard gauges are for a regular tenor. I'm envisaging tuning it to CGDA.

I have no access to proper strings so I have been using fishing line.  I have been experimenting some with different size lines I was curious if any else uses fishing line and if so what sizes do you like to use?

yes!! I use the line that can catch a shark or what not - it is pretty thick and like i posted to the first inquiry - I have been using the same string for over 5 years and it still sounds great.

I just finished this Super Bowl XLVI special Can Jo this evening. Used hard maple for the wood Special edition Pepsi can and #7 piano wire for the string, 16 Banjo frets and one of my screw in bridges in the end of the can for string support. Can is held on by 2- 8 x 32 stove bolts inserted through the inside of can through the neck with the nuts counter sunk into the bottom of the wood piece.

Attachments:


Nice build, C.Cook. First time I've seen this style of can. Looks more like an Aluminum bottle. Don't think we have them here in China yet. I imagine they sound about the same as the old style cola/beer cans. Right?  It also looks to be a chromatic fret layout. I like the style of your "stick", how it kind of "hugs" the can resulting in a fairly low profile can resonator. My main dislike about the traditional canjo design is that the can sits too high and so you have to wrap your picking/strumming arm and hand around the instrument in a strange way making it a bit harder to hold while playing. On the last canjo I made, I added a movable extension to the tail end of the neck so could better hold the instrument by having it fit into the inside "crook" of my elbow joint. You're welcome to use the idea if you find holding canjos a bit difficult.

-Rand.

C Cook said:

I just finished this Super Bowl XLVI special Can Jo this evening. Used hard maple for the wood Special edition Pepsi can and #7 piano wire for the string, 16 Banjo frets and one of my screw in bridges in the end of the can for string support. Can is held on by 2- 8 x 32 stove bolts inserted through the inside of can through the neck with the nuts counter sunk into the bottom of the wood piece.

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