Banjo Strings come in many gauges, light, medium, medium light and heavy gauge.
I use a medium light set but there a many choices and I have tried lot’s of different combinations. If you are new to banjo, how do you decide?
Everyone is different and as in everything you develop a preference through experimentation but I’ll do my best to explain some differences and my preferences.
A heavier gauge string when tuned to pitch will be tighter and give more resistance. In contrast the lighter strings are more slack and require the proper touch or you could overplay them or push them down to hard on the fret board
This set I use is the GHS PF 175 set, they are Sonny Osborne signature set.
These are the string gauges in the Sonny Osborne Set.
On a banjo you want a balanced tone.The GHS PF 175set I use, has slightly heavier than normal on the 5th and 1st and medium light in the middle. If you have light gauge strings on the 5th and 1st like a 9 or 10 gauge and a heavy string on the third like a 15 or 16 you will likely get too much sustain on the 1st and 5th and not enough on the 3rd string which could result in an unbalanced tone, or simply put, you are hearing too much 1st and 5th string and not enough 3rd string.
A couple of simple tips to help you decide what to start with is if you are heavy handed or have a tendency to hit the strings with force and push down harder, use a medium or heavier gauge and if you like to play with a lighter feel, then use lighter strings. Playing closer to the bridge with light strings adds more resistance and a tighter feel.
If you are somewhere in between a good place to start is a medium light set.
GHS strings has the most gauge choices and are what I recommend.
thanks, Ross Nickerson