Fan fret irish tenor

Irish banjo with fan frets (multiscale)

Imbalanced string tension is a common problem with Irish tuned banjos and is caused by the combination of low tuning (GDAE) and short scale length – particularly on the 17 fret banjo.19 fret banjos, have a longer scale length which allows for better string tension across the fretboard, but the wider fret spacing means they can be difficult to play for those using mandolin/fiddle fingering.

17 fret short scale banjos have a smaller fret spacing that makes playing the melody easier but they need thicker strings to maintain proper tension, which in turn impacts the playability, tone and intonation. The low G is especially affected as it is impossible to find a satisfactory balance between sufficient tension and good tone and intonation.

An irish banjo with fan frets is as easy to play as a regular 17 fret banjo but has the following advantages due to the optimised string tension:

  • Narrow fret spacing on the melody strings
  • Balance of tone across the fretboard
  • The low G is now usefulIntonation is improved along the length of the fretboard.
  • Chords now ring out