Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Hello folks,

I hope everyone is doing well.  I have a Bell Boucher banjo and was wondering about the typical string height. It seems pretty high, but that doesn’t matter as much with nylon or gut strings.  

It it actually seems that the head and the neck aren’t quite aligned as they should be.  Typical stringed instrument necks join the body at a slight angle. This banjo has said angle, but it appears to me to be the opposite of what it should be. Instead of rising to meet the body, this one falls. The strings are around .5” above the fingerboard where it meets the body.  This might be typical, but it seems odd to me.  Any comments are welcome.

stay safe!

Jim Robertson

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Jim, I have a Bell Stichter. The string height on it is really low. Not buzzy, but any heat or humidity and it becomes nearly unplayable, no matter how tight I wrench the head, which I absolutely hate to do. I also switched bridges to something slightly taller too...I know he tries to keep things pretty standard across his banjos. So, it may be atypical. Maybe the nut isn't notched as deep, but it wouldn't make a huge difference...not sure what to tell you aside from my experience ...

Thanks, Rob. I’ve had low action issues with tack head gourd banjos, especially if they have gut strings.  Bob Thornburg was kind enough to send me some higher bridges, which solved the problem. I live in central VA where humidity is king! I’d like to contact Mr. Bell, but the email on his site doesn’t function.

Best wishes,


Where in VA?? I live in Bowling Green, Caroline County, between Fredericksburg & Richmond.

I’m farther west.  I’m in Amherst County near Lynchburg.

Rob Mohr said:

Where in VA?? I live in Bowling Green, Caroline County, between Fredericksburg & Richmond.

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