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Johnt

Banjos

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I was going to post this elsewhere in the forums, but there was no-one there!

 

Either way I am interested in answers to my question from the guitarists point of view.

 

It's very simple. I have a hankering for a banjo and wondered if anyone can give me any tips of what to look for ?4/5 strings etc. I do not Gig and am looking for something $300 to $500 which will give me a good insight.

 

Thank you

 

John

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As Wile E. Coyote once said, "A legitimate question deserving a legitimate answer...."

 

There are two basic forms of entry level banjos under $500. One is a colossal piece of crap and should be avoided.

 

Example:

 

Horrible

 

Since the 1970s there have been much maligned aluminum pot banjos from the Far East. They are poo-poo'ed in the real banjo world of 24 bracket Mastertones and Mastertone clones. Think about what would happen if you showed up at a bluegrass jam with anything other than a D-28. Same stigma. The pot is all one piece, 11", made of aluminum with no tone ring. They typically have 30 brackets. The older Japanese ones from the 70s had yucky necks; they got better in Korea in the 80s. I believe this same design is being imported under any number of brand names.

 

I couldn't find one on ebay real quick but I have one. Here it is for reference purposes:

 

Pariah banjo example

 

Please be aware of a few things. On the asset side: They are cheap, plentiful, and work. They will give you a taste of the banjo and you can make decent music without going broke or making your fingers bleed. On the liability side: These will draw scorn from real banjo players. The parts are not Gibson Clone so upgrading hardware is all but impossible. You will soon lust for a $4000 Gibson.

 

Tone wise they have a deep hollow tone as opposed to a bright 'crack' you might associate with bluegrass. I personally think they are a good choice for someone starting out.

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Just remember! If you want to be a good banjo player' date=' you have to marry your cousin.[/quote']

 

Try not to be so disgusting

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn't possible divorce my sister!!!

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As Wile E. Coyote once said' date=' "A legitimate question deserving a legitimate answer...."

 

There are two basic forms of entry level banjos under $500. One is a colossal piece of crap and should be avoided.

 

 

I couldn't find one on ebay real quick but I have one. Here it is for reference purposes:

 

Pariah banjo example

 

Please be aware of a few things. On the asset side: They are cheap, plentiful, and work. They will give you a taste of the banjo and you can make decent music without going broke or making your fingers bleed. On the liability side: These will draw scorn from real banjo players. The parts are not Gibson Clone so upgrading hardware is all but impossible. You will soon lust for a $4000 Gibson.

 

Tone wise they have a deep hollow tone as opposed to a bright 'crack' you might associate with bluegrass. I personally think they are a good choice for someone starting out.

 

 

 

Thanks KSD I will go on the look out at local shops, think it's best to try and buy

 

appreciate your help

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It's very simple. I have a hankering for a banjo and wondered if anyone can give me any tips of what to look for ?4/5 strings etc.

 

You should first choose the type of banjo that will best suit your musical style, there are many different configurations such as number of strings, tunings, scale length, etc. The most common, of course, is the 5-string. While perfectly suited for fingerpicking country and bluegrass, it has limited use as a strumming instrument, and not well suited for R&R, jazz, folk or blues.

 

For banjos used in traditional jazz, swing, and other strumming applications there are two common 4-string types, the tenor and the plectrum. The tenor has a short scale neck, and the plectrum has a longer scale neck. They are also tuned differently. these instruments were developed for big band and brass band use, to cut through and be heard acoustically in these applications. The use for these instruments is virtually anywhere you might strum an acoustic guitar, very wide range of application possibilities.

 

And then the is the red-headed stepchild of the banjo family, 6-string "banjitar", or as I like to call it, the guitanjo. Basically a banjo pot with a guitar neck, tuned and played just like a guitar. I've always thought of this instrument as a guitar players cop-out for a banjo.

 

Years ago I was given a 5-string banjo. It was soon apparent I did not have the right hand to play Scruggs like bluegrass riffs. When my interest in banjo playing resurfaced years later I consulted some jazz guitar player friends. The great jazzman, Bucky Pizzarelli, recommended to me without reservation, the tenor banjo. Who am I to argue with Bucky, so I picked an old Gibson TB-1 tenor at a reasonable price. It has been a lot of fun to learn to play, and I've enjoyed it immensely.

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You should first choose the type of banjo that will best suit your musical style' date=' there are many different configurations such as number of strings, tunings, scale length, etc. The most common, of course, is the 5-string. While perfectly suited for fingerpicking country and bluegrass, it has limited use as a strumming instrument, and not well suited for R&R, jazz, folk or blues.

 

For banjos used in traditional jazz, swing, and other strumming applications there are two common 4-string types, the tenor and the plectrum. The tenor has a short scale neck, and the plectrum has a longer scale neck. They are also tuned differently. these instruments were developed for big band and brass band use, to cut through and be heard acoustically in these applications. The use for these instruments is virtually anywhere you might strum an acoustic guitar, very wide range of application possibilities.

 

Years ago I was given a 5-string banjo. It was soon apparent I did not have the right hand to play Scruggs like bluegrass riffs. ..... so I picked an old Gibson TB-1 tenor at a reasonable price. It has been a lot of fun to learn to play, and I've enjoyed it immensely. [/quote']

 

Thanks very much, part of my plan was to help my right hand a little so I heed what you say about suitability. I have located a dealer near me who sya he has a shed load of banjos old and new so am aiming to learn three chords and then go and try a few (well it worked with the guitar!)

 

I will try a tenor.

 

Will let you know

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JT, the spookiness grows. You have saved me the trouble of posting a similar question.

 

Our good friend in the heart of Suffolk has several examples - he teaches this as well. I did a gig with him in Sudbury recently with many of his students and there were 2 or 3 banjo players there.

 

He also has a very nice Epi mandolin - another project for another day perhaps.

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JT, so, it sounds like you're after the fingerpicking bluegrass experience, more than the strumming dixieland thang. The neat thing about the banjer is that it is easier to fret - so it opens new worlds to an acoustic guitarist interested in hammering and sliding, as well as fingerpicking. I have a Deering - I think they're from CA. Their Boston model. It, so it rings like a bell - has a steel rim and is a reasonably priced instrument for someone who wants value. IE, someone who doesn't want to struggle with the same issues you'd get with a begginers level guitar, or risk spending too much$$ on something they only tinker with. Good Luck. Good way to add depth to your 'style'. If your friends start making jokes about your reminding them of the guy on Deliverance - just stare at them vacantly with your mouth open. I find that works best!

Jim

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Every time I mention banjo, there's some Pavlovian response from my peers, a vocal rendition with sitar-like accents of the song, "Dueling Banjos" as if that were the ONLY song ever played on a banjo.

 

Idiots.

 

The same people will pick up a banjo and start attempting blazing heavy metal runs all over it and then give me a blank look like, "Is it broken?"

 

Naw Sparky, YOU'RE broken.

 

I suck at banjo, I really do, but at least I know it's more than a tambourine with a long skinny neck.

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JT' date=' so, it sounds like you're after the fingerpicking bluegrass experience, more than the strumming dixieland thang. If your friends start making jokes about your reminding them of the guy on Deliverance - just stare at them vacantly with your mouth open. I find that works best!

Jim[/quote']

 

Thanks Jim and KSD.

 

You know I don't give a damn what people think about banjos/deliverance etc etc.

 

I have had so years of folk extracting the u*rine re my guitar playing, another few won't make any difference.

 

I am finding that due to exposure to this forum I am getting back in to playing the guitars I own, started by coming away, pro tem, from the safety of the J45 to the 12 string.

 

Now both of those have stayed cased for a week and I am finding my way around the 335.

 

I went to a shop which preported to sell banjos and they offered me an old Framus and several of the components of KSDs "colossal piece of crap". So they stayed put.

 

There's a store called Hobgoblin Music which I need to visit they seem to be offering at least a variety.

 

I think you're both right in that maybe a tenor is the thing to go for, when I have that I will purchase my copy of "Teach yerself banjo whilst screaming like a pig" and play with pride.

 

Hell I can't be the worst guitarist on the block AND the worst banjo player!!!

 

Or can I?

 

Thanks guys

 

John

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JT, The 'tenor' is the 4 string Roaring 20's dixieland strumming type of banjo. The bluegrass finger picking type is just called the 5 String. You'll really be struggling trying to do 'duelin' with only 4 strings!

With the 5 string, there is a standard neck and a long neck. The standard is, well.. the standard! I've had both and prefer the shorter by far. The only reason for the long neck is so you can tune it a whole note lower. Then you're stuck capoing it at the 2nd fret whenever you want to play 'normal' G tuning. G'luck. Jim

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JT' date=' The 'tenor' is the 4 string Roaring 20's dixieland strumming type of banjo. The bluegrass finger picking type is just called the 5 String. You'll really be struggling trying to do 'duelin' with only 4 strings!

With the 5 string, there is a standard neck and a long neck. The standard is, well.. the standard! I've had both and prefer the shorter by far. The only reason for the long neck is so you can tune it a whole note lower. Then you're stuck capoing it at the 2nd fret whenever you want to play 'normal' G tuning. G'luck. Jim[/quote']

 

Jim

 

I am reckoning on struggling .........period!

 

The only duelling I'll be doing short term is with the bank manager!

 

I do appreciate your tip re short and long necks though, I was unaware of that and as I am heading for London at the w/e on a banjo sortie I now know to try both, if available.

 

Thanks a million I will post the rsults of my search when successful

 

 

John

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Hey John,

 

If you want to get a traditional 5 string banjo, check out the Deering Goodtime with the open back. It's a great little banjo. As well, it won't break the bank.

 

I have a gibson Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe and the Goodtime - 99% of the time I play the Goodtime. Even for jamming.

 

Check it out.

 

Joe

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Joe & Lynyrd

 

Thanks very much for the recomendation.

 

I went up to London to search yesterday but could not find one so will turn to the 'net.

 

The stock in the shops was pretty poor.

 

I have found places to get one at £299 which equates pretty well to your $400 but I would like to try one first and the nearest store is 250 miles away so that'll have to wait until I am up country again.

 

Thank s for pointer though

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I agree with the Deering GoodTime Banjo - I have an open back & love it. I learned how to frail on it using just the top of your fingernail. A great video of how to learn is by Lynn Morris, from the www.murphymethod.com

 

Its also loud enough to play Scruggs style on - highly recommended banjo.

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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.

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Man, there are plenty of banjos out there that are in the $250-$500 range, which are good to beginner to Intermideate, without spending an arm an a leg for one. Not everyone can afford a $5000 Gibson banjo man. The cheaper banjos will most likely be made over seas, but you can get a Deering(American Made) for a good price. I for one bought an Epiphone MB200 model. Love it.

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Shame on you all....

 

No one has mentioned the Banjolele

 

Or as I prefer to call it, the Banjokule

 

Work it out for yourself

 

As played by George Formby, probably George Harrison, Brian May and comedian Frank Skinner.....

 

Seriously though folks, the banjo is great for those inclined

 

Mind boggling Bluegrass

 

To solid rhythm for Dixie/Trad Jazz

 

One thing to remember....not a subtle, dynamic instrument !!

 

Enjoy the chase !!

 

Hobgoblin are a good source....

 

V

 

:-({|=

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