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
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!