One of the most common problems that the banjoist faces today is sharp tailpieces cutting gut and synthetic strings.  The typical tailpiece in use today is the so-called “no-knot” imported from Asia.  I write so-called because they are rarely used per the original design.  Often various complicated to tie knots are suggested for attaching strings to them.

The better of the “reproduction” no-good tailpieces are stamped with a patent date of 1901.  They are advertised as appropriate for 19th century banjos, yet that pattern was not in use in the 19th century.

Most antique banjos found today and put on the market are “missing” the original tailpiece.  It is amazing how often these just go missing- a part that was bolted to the banjo some how unbolted itself and got lost.

A more realistic answer is that the original tailpiece was broken by wire strings. Not being a ready supply of proper, easy to use, and pleasant looking replica tailpieces, I begin to make my own.  

I choose a very common 19th century pattern that is proper and in use before 1870 through the 1890s. These are traced from an original.  That is not to say that they can only be used on banjos made in that era.  The design is so basic and simple to use, they will work on any banjo.  One just needs to wire it in place (the only time I’ll suggest putting wire on a banjo).

Elementary to string, all it takes is a few overhand knots in the end of the string to form a sort of ball, then the string is fed through the appropriate hole and up to the peghead.

I cut them from domestic maple and drill the holes using a old-fashioned hand drill.  Don’t expect machine precision, these are handmade.  I then stain them in simulation of ebony.

These are for gut, nylon, or other plastic and “wound over floss” strings (fourths).  Stringing them with steel wire banjo strings will break them.


For a limited time only you can equip you banjo for only $20US each plus shipping.  Outside the US contact me first.

Wooden Tailpiece $20US each.

AM mc vs dc ae

© Joel Hooks 2020