What’s in Your Banjo Case: Essential Tools and Parts

By Bill Evans

Whether it’s across the country to a festival or just across town to the local music store’s weekly jam session, bluegrass banjo players love to travel. Unexpected things can happen while you’re away from home with your banjo: Strings can break, your tuner’s battery can go dead, a tuning peg can fail, or something even worse.

If you were to open up the case of just about any professional touring bluegrass banjo player, you’d be likely to find the following tools and supplies to keep their banjos happy and running well out on the road:

  • Capos: Some players use a quick-release, wrap-around style capo for the first to fourth frets and a Shubb-type capo for the fifth fret and above.

  • String sets: Bring two or more for longer trips!

  • String cutter

  • Electronic tuner with extra battery

  • Bridges

  • Thumbpicks and fingerpicks: You’re bound to lose or step on one sooner or later!

  • Banjo mute: For those late-night hotel practice sessions!

  • Extra fifth string and regular tuning pegs

  • 1/4-inch banjo or T-wrench for head adjustments: 1/4-inch is standard, but check for your correct size.

  • A small, adjustable wrench for coordinating rod adjustments and replacing tuning pegs

  • A small regular or Phillips-head screwdriver that fits truss rod cover screws

  • 1/4-inch nut driver or Allen wrench for neck truss rod adjustments: 1/4-inch is standard, but check for your correct size.

  • A polish cloth for wiping down strings and your banjo neck