Friday, April 26, 2013

Improving your banjo ukulele tone: put a sock in it!

If your banjo ukulele tone has too much sustain and sounds muddy, here's an idea to help clean up the sound.  This little trick is nothing's been used for years, but a lot of people don't know about it.

All you really need is an old sock that's getting ready to head towards the trash.  It might be a bit easier for us guys to locate an old sock (or 10) in the drawer.  My wife always trashes her socks as soon as they develop a hole or two...whereas mine generally have 5 or 6 before I toss 'em.  It's a guy thing, right?

You could also use a piece of foam or a cloth.  Here's whatcha need to do...

Step 1 - get an old sock.

Probably a better idea to grab a sock that's clean.  Here we go!  Complete with a few holes and some nice stains - they add character. 

Step 2 - roll it up!

Roll that sucker up into a ball or fold it over a couple times.

Step 3 - "install" the sock

Wedge the sock in between the skin and the coordinator rod like this picture.

This should take care of that unwanted resonance and sustain and clean up the sound a bit for you.

They do sell banjo "mutes" that help with this sort of problem, but why spend money when you don't have to? 

Here's a short audio clip to show you the difference and improvement that this sock makes in my 1920's Slingerland banjo ukulele - I also apparently made up the word "resonation" in this clip when searching for the word "resonance"....I'd correct it, but it's always been my opinion that imperfections are the spice of life!  Hope this helps ya out!


  1. Ha, I've had a piece of bath sponge tucked into my Slingerland fo some time now! Nice audio to hear the difference!

    1. :) I guess great minds think alike! I read somewhere that Vaudeville players used to use this trick to not only clean the tone up, but also quiet it down so they could sing over their instrument better. These little guys can get pretty loud!