NOTE: We are not responsible for any damage YOU do to the banjo following these instructions.

Here are the instructions for installing model railroad spikes in the finger board for capoing the fifth string.

Fifth string capos can often get in the way of playing for some people and can also throw off the tuning. By using these tiny spikes in the finger board these problems can usually be eliminated if installed properly. These little wonders require a minimum of modification to the banjo and distracts the least from the aesthetics or looks. If you decide you don't like them they can easily be tapped all the way in flush with the fingerboard and are almost completely unnoticeable.

And away we go...

1. Find a hobby shop that carries model railroad supplies and purchase a pack of HO gauge railroad spikes. They are very inexpensive--probably less than $5 for a pack of 100. You'll only need about 3-5 spikes. The guy at the shop where I got mine just gave them to me since I only wanted a few.

2. Measure back 3/8 inch from the edge of the fret, or frets, you wish to capo and mark a line parallel to the fret which crosses under the fifth string. The 3/8" spacing between the fret and the spike will allow room for a finger or thumb to fret the other uncapoed frets where spikes are installed.

3. Next you'll need to predrill the holes for the spikes. If you want to get real scientific and get spaceage precision you can use a micrometer to measure the spike to find the exact size drill bit. Or, like I did, I got a piece of scrap wood and drilled various holes until I got a good fit. It is VERY IMPORTANT to get the proper sized hole!! Too small of a hole could cause the fingerboard to split when the spike is tapped in. If the hole is too big the spike could work its way loose and pop out during your premier television gig. If your hole is the right size, the corners of the spike will just get a good bit into the sides of the hole. I was too cheap to go buy a tiny drill bit so I used a piece of stiff wire. Matter-of-fact I think it was a piece of a paper clip. When you're talking holes this small, it doesn't take much to drill one. But EXPERIMENT FIRST!! I assume no liability for any damages.

4. "Flag" the drill bit with a piece of tape to prevent drilling too deep. But, drill deep enough to take the WHOLE length of the spike in case you don't like them and want to tap them all the way in.

5. Place the drill bit on the pencil line you drew in step 2, with the drill bit touching the side of the fifth string. The heads of these little spikes are like hooks. You will need to decide which way you want your hooks to face. It's totally a matter of preference. Some like their hooks to face toward the edge of the neck and others like them to face toward the center of the fretboard. Think about this carefully before drilling because the way you want your hooks to face determines on which side of the string to drill your hole. I you want your hooks to face the edge of the neck--drill your holes on inside ( toward the center of the fretboard ) and vice versa.

6. Drill STRAIGHT DOWN into the fretboard until the tape flag touches. Then clean the woodchips and sawdust out of the hole.

7. Grasp one of the spikes in a pair of needle-nosed pliers and add a drop of white glue on the spike's tip. Now drive the spike into the hole to within about 1/16 inch from its head. MAKE SURE THE SPIKE FACES THE CORRECT WAY. If properly installed, the spike's head should be directly under the string.

8. Use a feeler gauge a couple of thousandths of an inch larger than your string gauge and place it between the fretboard and the spike's hook. Then tap the spike down until you get a snug fit on the feeler gauge. You should be able to just barely slip the string under the spike's hook.

9. Set the edge of a straight edge on top of your frets to make sure the spike's head is below the level of the frets on both sides of it. If it's too high, just file a little off the top of the spike head until the straight edge clears it.

That's it!! Now pick it up and try it out. Let me and others know how you like it.

Thanks to Kent M McCluskie!