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ichadwick
04-26-2014, 05:35 AM
A member of our local ukulele club dropped by yesterday to lend me his five-string banjo for a while, so I could practice and learn on. It's a Vantage (a name I don't know.... any comments on it?)

Any tips, suggestions, books or sites I should visit to get some practice going?

trickcyclist
04-28-2014, 01:52 PM
Vantage is an entry level brand. Nothing special in terms of tone, but fine to learn on as long as it's set up ok (sound familiar?).
Check out http://www.banjohangout.org and http://www.rocketsciencebanjo.com
The first one is the banjo uu, the second is a great method for starting clawhammer without bad habits.
My tuppenyworth - tune it out of tedious old open g immediately if not sooner. Try shady grove in sawmill (gDGCD) or spotted pony in double c (gCGCD). Much more fun.
Enjoy!

ichadwick
04-29-2014, 03:43 AM
Vantage is an entry level brand. Nothing special in terms of tone, but fine to learn on as long as it's set up ok (sound familiar?).
Check out http://www.banjohangout.org and http://www.rocketsciencebanjo.com
The first one is the banjo uu, the second is a great method for starting clawhammer without bad habits.
My tuppenyworth - tune it out of tedious old open g immediately if not sooner. Try shady grove in sawmill (gDGCD) or spotted pony in double c (gCGCD). Much more fun.
Enjoy!
Interesting tunings. Will the standard stings work for it?

I was thinking of tuning it like a uke, one octave lower... but what to do with the 5th string?

Beryl
04-29-2014, 05:53 AM
Interesting tunings. Will the standard stings work for it?

I was thinking of tuning it like a uke, one octave lower... but what to do with the 5th string?

I just, last week, set out to do just what you describe here.

I stumbled upon a beautiful new Zither Heaven (http://www.zitherheaven.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=ZH&Screen=PROD&Category_Code=New&Product_Code=B5CMFT) banjo style and I figured it would make a really cool Uke. I even ordered the strings to set the thing up with a low G for the first 4 strings and a high g on the fith string.

Then the banjo arrived... and I was hooked the moment I saw it.

Now I gotta get me some coverals and a straw hat... I've only been playing Uke for about 4 months so I'm just scraping by but within minutes of picking that banjo up I was twanging away. The really cool thing, at least to me, is you catch a wrong string or fret on a Uke and sour sounds pour out. On the banjo catching a wrong string or fret very often adds to the sound. Very interesting...

Assuming you don't end up like me and get hooked. A low g 4th and a high G fifth is what was planning to do...

Beryl

trickcyclist
04-29-2014, 10:09 PM
Interesting tunings. Will the standard stings work for it?

I was thinking of tuning it like a uke, one octave lower... but what to do with the 5th string?
Normal strings will be fine, they're pretty standard tunings. The thumb string is usually tuned to match the 5th fret of the high string (so it's represented here by the little g of gCGCD, for example). There are variations though, so tuning it to the 3rd fret, or even sometimes the 4th does happen. The sawmill and double c are known as modal tunings in the banjo world. Technically they are tuned to a suspended chord (I think...), neither major or minor. Tuning to open g major (gDGBD, which to be fair is much more common) sounds a bit cheesy to me sometimes :D

Swampy Steve
05-01-2014, 05:30 AM
Normal strings will be fine, they're pretty standard tunings. The thumb string is usually tuned to match the 5th fret of the high string (so it's represented here by the little g of gCGCD, for example). There are variations though, so tuning it to the 3rd fret, or even sometimes the 4th does happen. The sawmill and double c are known as modal tunings in the banjo world. Technically they are tuned to a suspended chord (I think...), neither major or minor. Tuning to open g major (gDGBD, which to be fair is much more common) sounds a bit cheesy to me sometimes :D

the first tuhning mentioned here is called "double C " tuning,,, its great,,, but not where you want to start. Put it in open G gDGBD you will have familiar chord shapes. when I play clawhammer dub C is maybe my fav,,, over open g,,,, but I know a good few tunes in Dub c ,,,, start out with open G,,, if you think Im talking out of my rear, check m,y youtube, I am a banjo player.

ichadwick
05-01-2014, 06:29 AM
Recommend any company/brand/set for this tuning?

Swampy Steve
05-01-2014, 08:04 AM
the 6 dollar set from GC ,,, will get you going Martin med. 10s

ichadwick
05-04-2014, 03:57 AM
GC is... ? I suspect I can get Martins here (small town, limited access to products, but I can order online).

Swampy Steve
05-05-2014, 06:00 AM
oops , your up north GC is Guitar Center, as its sometimes referred to Guitar satan

IamNoMan
10-04-2014, 06:24 AM
For those of you who are relatively new to the Banjo: All of the various tunings for Banjo are wonderful (well maybe), but IF YOU PLAY AT A LOT OF SONG SWAPS consider learning to play in GDGBD open tuning first. At Song Swaps the Singer Determines the Key and it is much easier to use a capo than to figure out how to play out of Double C tuning on the fly, every other tune. It is a good idea to learn to play in the Key of F as well.

Jim Yates
10-04-2014, 07:24 AM
Most Bluegrass, Scruggs style players stick to open G (gDGBD) and find the chord they need in this tuning or use a capo to change keys.
Old time or clawhammer players use a variety of tunings. I do the majority of my playing in open G or double C (gCGCD), but play a few tunes in G minor (gDGBbD) or Drop C (gCGBD). While I don't use it much, Sawmill (gDGCD) is another common tuning for old time players. Much of my playing is done in A and D to accommodate fiddle and/or mandolin players, so I often play with a capo at the second fret.
Although trickcyclist suggests getting it out of open G, which sounds "cheesey", it is my favourite tuning for songs in G or A, with Double C for melodic, usually fiddle tunes in C or D. I prefer Drop C for backing up vocals chordally in C or D. I've found that it's not the tuning that makes a tune sound cheesey, it's what you do with it, but one man's junk is another...

The banjo and uke are my only two re-entrant tuning instruments.

igorthebarbarian
10-04-2014, 11:55 AM
I love me some banjo Ukes, and had a vintage tenor banjo at one point, so not sure if I neeeeed one of these too now? Do they need a good setup usually like you'd get from someone like MIM or HMS?

CeeJay
10-04-2014, 12:44 PM
If you have a 5 string banjer then I would suggest sticking with open G as specified ...it aint as hard as it sounds ...it's basically a baritone uke set up with a lower tuned top string and a g drone.....I'm English so resources over here are a bit skinny ...but I bought mine (a Deering Goodtime Leader California King thing ) and a Janet Davis book from Eagle music in Huddersfield ...that well known Yorkshire repository of Bluegrass (not !!)

Predominantly Rolls and Finger Pick Picking ...which after a while cloy ...then start to mess around with it...but learn some basics.......and Banjohangout.....I take them with a huge pinch of salt ....and Bluegrass as well .......Clawhammer ...which has a few variants ...Pete Seeger had a (do I mean Pete ? )variation of clawhammer thumb and finger pick ..bum diddy ...But this I remember " It's your banjo.Play it any way you damned well want to "

Jim Yates
10-05-2014, 07:22 AM
CeeJay mentioned Pete's "basic strum". (That's what he called it in his old red banjo book, How To Play The Five String Banjo) This is usually called "up picking". It is like clawhammer, except that where you play with the back of your nail in clawhammer, in up-picking you pluck the string with your index. Tablatures for up-picking and clawhammer are interchangeable, since anything you do with one you can also do with the other. There is a bit different sound.

Although some folks call up-picking, Pete Seeger style, Pete used a variety of banjo styles. His TV show, Rainbow Quest, always began with Pete playing a clawhammer, or down-picking version of the theme song. He also did a great clawhammer version of Little Birdie.

I would also advise anyone interested in banjo to take a look at the www.banjohangout.org. I have learned a lot about banjo from this site. It is the best banjo site I have ever come across.

PS - CeeJay, Can I assume that you are a John Hartford fan? John often referred to the banjo as a "banjer".

IamNoMan
01-25-2015, 05:52 PM
I saw John Hartford about a month before he passed at the Philly Folk Festival. It was a good performance but not with the fiddling while singing while dancing energy I had seen in earlier years. Afterwords he found a spot to rest in in the shade. I was working nearby and soon I heard the most beautiful music coming from behind the spot-a-pots. Maybe 12 or 15 younger musicians, of national stature had found John and started jamming. John joined in. You should have seen the look of joy on his face.

Anyone who plays the uke and is just taking up the banjo should consider sticking with the standard open G tuning for a while. Its good for song circles where the Key can change every tune. Ukers have an advantage or two over new non-uker banjoists. You are familiar with chording - which is very helpful when accompanying a singer; yourself included, and you are familiar with reentrant tuning. Is is something most non-banjo/ukulelists are unfamiliar with. Capitalize on this knowledge and experience in exploring the possibilities of the banjo.

One technique which may be unfamiliar to ukers is sliding up the strings. this works very well on the banjo in any tuning but is muchless common on the uke.

PTOEguy
01-25-2015, 06:15 PM
Another vote for BanjoHangout.org - It certainly helped me when I decided to pick up banjo. And for the folks with UAS, I should note that BAS is worse - banjos are definitely more expensive for comparable quality.

GregT
01-26-2015, 10:56 AM
Vantage is an entry level brand. Nothing special in terms of tone, but fine to learn on as long as it's set up ok (sound familiar?).
Check out http://www.banjohangout.org and http://www.rocketsciencebanjo.com
The first one is the banjo uu, the second is a great method for starting clawhammer without bad habits.
My tuppenyworth - tune it out of tedious old open g immediately if not sooner. Try shady grove in sawmill (gDGCD) or spotted pony in double c (gCGCD). Much more fun.
Enjoy!

I agree - these two sites will serve you well. I started playing 5 string (Bart Reiter) about a year ago and love it.

IamNoMan
01-26-2015, 02:04 PM
Hard to go wrong with one of Bart's banjos.;) What is the special aspect of the Deering Goodtime? I had one and the frets were so poorly dressed I quickly got rid of it. (kept the case though). A neighbor of mine wants to learn open back banjer. Any recommendations for a cheap starter banjo in this regard? BAS is not really a problem. All the banjo players I know drive Jaguars and have lots of banjos. I reckon if you can tune a banjo you can tune a Jaguar.

CeeJay
01-26-2015, 02:22 PM
What is the special aspect of the Deering Goodtime?

Well....I 've got one....the "Carolina King"...I think for 600 it's great...but then it is my first ...and I think only....

and sorry Jim ..Jim Yates ..I forgot to get back to you ....no I do not know John Hartford.....I think I picked up "banjer" from Banjohangout.....

I picked up ackordeen from Pete Barbutti...and I think that is enough about things that I have picked up :o

IamNoMan
01-26-2015, 02:53 PM
Why should you not leave a banjo and accordion in the back seat of an unlocked car?

I think I paid about $400 for my Reiter #325. I asked Bart about what kind of banjar it was. He didn't know; said he'd thrown away all his old records in 1990. I have an Accordion made by Mark Savoy. Accadian brand. Username is the same at BHO and UU. Hey PTOEguy is it true you have to carry fiddles or ukuleles in a paper bag or better in SLCounty? The Dailey Frail (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailyfrail.com%2F&ei=mODGVKXXDMeagwSgrIKgCw&usg=AFQjCNFsm9-egAdRyLfgTYEzWajATl3KEA&sig2=J1FIpHFEYwWKDBk1M04ftQ&bvm=bv.84349003,d.eXY) has good stuff in it. Patrick is persona non grata at BHO but ignore that. His teaching methods are excellent. Patrick, and I had the same banjo teacher back in the eighties.

If you leave a banjo and an accordion in the back of an un-locked car when you return you find three banjos, two accordions and a ukulele with a warped neck.

PTOEguy
01-26-2015, 06:01 PM
Hey PTOEguy is it true you have to carry fiddles or ukuleles in a paper bag or better in SLCounty?
.

Not to my knowledge, although Salt Lake has been referenced as a place where ukuleles are restricted. I suspect that its mostly about the view of Salt Lake as a place where the rules are slightly weird.