The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Kavanjo Banjo Pickup System

At long last, a banjo pickup that sounds natural and is highly resistant to feedback. The Kavanjo Banjo Pickup – the truly elegant solution to all your banjo pickup problems! – Grant MacNeill President, The Twelfth Fret

During one of the L.A. NAMM shows,  I was chatting with Jens Kruger at the Deering booth.  A Goodtime banjo with a new pickup caught my eye and I pointed it out to Jens. I asked him how it sounded and he said, “I’ve never heard one. Lets try it out”. We plugged it into a cheap little solid-state Fender amp and were both shocked at how great it sounded.  I immediately ordered several along with a factory installed pickup on a Goodtime Special, tone-ring/resonator banjo so I would have good sounding acoustic banjo to properly demonstrate the acoustic tone vs. the amplified tone to our customers.



John Kavanaugh’s banjo pickup system is a patented design (U.S. pat. 7,115,809). It incorporates cutting edge innovation and time tested technology for this classic American instrument!

John shows his genius for design with this pickup: While developing first 5 pole piece pickup for banjo he realized that unless the pole pieces are above the surface of the head, the pickup will have the same drawbacks and low output as previous Humbucker style pickups. John developed an effective way to put the pole pieces through the head that won’t cause the head to tear; allowing the strings to properly sit within the pickup’s magnetic field.

The tone is superb and surprisingly natural sounding. The volume levels available to the player are downright silly…if you want to play your banjo though a Marshall stack, it is now possible with the Kavanjo pickup.

Plugging direct is no longer a problem as signal strength is much higher and the need for a preamp is eliminated. Though you may still elect to use a preamp if you need enhanced tone-shaping capabilities not available at your PA mixer.

Kavanjo pickups are marketed to the public through Deering banjo. As a Deering Master Dealer, we carry the standard pickup in 5-string and Tenor versions mounted on the standard Deering medium crown frosted head.

We also made special arrangements to have John custom built more pickups for us using a variety of configurations and head styles: medium crown Renaissance heads and standard Remo-Weatherking medium crown frosted heads.

The heads mount like any other head and installation is straight forward. The Frosted head versions come with a simple flange mound jack system. The Renaissance head versions, intended for open back banjos, come with an ingenious Velcro mounting jack system. We install the heads here and fully setup the banjo but if you wish to do your own installation, John offers an excellent tutorial on his own web site.

The Kavanjo Banjo pickup comes with an optional string ground as on a typical electric guitar.
The fastest way to connect the ground wire is to slightly loosen off the control rod nut and sandwich the bare wire between the nut and the washer. This makes a good, reliable string ground which reduces line signal hum to lowest possible level .

A very simple and straightforward solution to banjo pickup problems!

Check out Grant’s Banjo Setup Q&A

Check out What Customer’s who bought the Kavanjo pickup are saying! 

Still have questions about this item? Ask an expert!


Guitarists’ Pro Shop
2132 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario  M4C 1J9 CANADA
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