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About drive-south

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  1. The Tenor banjo is tuned like an octave mandolin or Celtic Bouzouki. If you know any mando chords they will work on the Tenor, but will take some stretching as the neck is longer than a mando. I find the 5-string banjo to be more useful and virsatile than a tenor. I think you would get bored with a tenor pretty quick unless you are planning to specialize in Celtic Music or Dixieland. The Old Vega company was well known for making open-back banjos although they did make resonator models as well. Thier Whyte Laydie models have a heavy brass (scalloped) tone ring and are quite loud for a open-back. I have a Bart Reiter Deluxe open back banjo (5 string) which is probably a lot more banjo than I needed to learn on. The quality is top-notch although it's probably well outside your' price range. You should probably be looking at the Good Time models. I like the open back model with the traditional banjo style headstock and planetary tuners. Other sources for good/inexpensive banjos include "Gold Tone" and "5 Star" (Saga). In any event, check out the banjo hangout web site for a lot more info and opinions.
  2. I own a DM33 made around 2000. I'm not sure how long Gibson built these but I think they may be discontinued now. Mine has the Hawiaan pattern like a National Style O. I would point out that most of these DM33's have a spider bridge with 10.5" cone. I recommend you try playing a few Nationals with biscuit bridge and 9.5" cones before you buy. I think you would find the biscuit style reso to be more suitable for playing bottleneck blues. I plan to sell or trade mine eventually after I purchase a National. With that said, I believe the Gibson DM33 is a very high quality instrument. Fit and finish, plating, are all top-notch. I've heard a lot of folks diparage Gibson Dobros but I think the criticism is not warranted. drive-south
  3. Capos are great for raising the pitch, but if the song is too high you need to lower pitch. I'll usually try to transpose the song to the 4th or 5th. If I have sheet music/tab showing the song in G, I'll try C or D. Sometimes you have no choice but switch to differant chord shapes, but I try to avoid this if the chord shapes are critical to playing the song right. You can capo up quite high if necessary. For example the Beatles "Here comes the sun" is generally played with capo at the 6th fret in the key of G. This gives you a G chord that frets like a D chord. drive-south
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