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Guitar players just snap a "capo" on to fret all the string at once so they can play easily in different keys. Five string banjo players do that too, but they must also readjust the fretting position of the fifth string.
This banjo has a "spike" at the seventh fret"
Then, when the player puts a capo on the second fret raising the pitch a whole step, the fifth string can be raised easily to the same pitch by simply catching it under the spike.
This banjo has a sliding fifth string capo:
Its player can simply slide the capo to any fret. This capo is a light weight spring device; a better and more sophisticated one is a screw-down affair that holds the string more firmly.
Here are the pegs at the peghead. (That's why we call it a "peghead")
These pegs are celluloid and they slip like crazy. It would be hopeless to use them with steel strings.
These are "patent pegs"
Still known as "friction pegs" because they have no gears and rely on the friction generated by tightening the central screw at the back of the button. This banjo is about a hundred years old, and is typical of the period.
The general style of banjo pegheads has not changed in all that time, but now we have geared banjo pegs. Notice that, unlike guitar and mandolin gears, the pegs stick straight back just like their old time counterparts:
This is a very important piece of banjo styling. Banjo makers stick to their traditions. Unfortunately, making geared pegs that look like friction pegs is an expensive business.
This is an inexpensive, imported banjo with right angle guitar gears:
These gears work perfectly and cost a small fraction of the price of the complex geared banjo pegs. Most banjo players consider them to be so unsightly and nontraditional that they would never consider using them on anything but beginner instruments! Nobody argues about tradition on cheap instruments. There, function is the only thing to worry about.
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