Banjo anyone?

merlin666

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Banjo is a unique instrument and I had my temptations to start learning. There are basically two ways of playing: clawhammer and bluegrass and the clawhammer style is fascinating. But there are also a myriad of tunings and it can get overwhelming quickly.
 

Jerryc41

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Banjo is a unique instrument and I had my temptations to start learning. There are basically two ways of playing: clawhammer and bluegrass and the clawhammer style is fascinating. But there are also a myriad of tunings and it can get overwhelming quickly.

I heard an instructor say that banjo players spend 90% of their time tuning, and the other 10% playing out of tune. The thing is, as you adjust one string, you change the pressure of the bridge on the head, and that can affect the tuning of the other strings.
 

Jim Yates

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Looks good Jim. So it'd be okay to change out a tenor banjo to a nylon strung baritone DGBE? They're both the same scale length.

Should work perfectly Patrick. I've had to monkey around to get the sound I like. I tried a calfskin head and it sounded too "plunky" for me. The head on there now is a Fiberskin (made of mylar, but with some kind of coating that makes it sound (and look) a little more like a skin head. I still stuff it with an old red sock to take off a bit of twanginess. (probably any colour will work)
I thought of trying the baritone (often called "Chicago") tuning on mine, but tried the C6 tuning (capo 2nd fret) first and it worked, so I didn't change it.
 
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LarryS

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Banjo uke is what I like. It looks like a banjo, and it sounds like a banjo, but it plays like a ukulele. I experimented with playing a banjo years ago, but with no local group, I lost interest. It's still sitting in its case, larger and heavier than any of my ukes. : )

Yes I like those Duke 10 banjoleles. Can't afford one though unfortunately
 

rsmillbern

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Should work perfectly Patrick. I've had to monkey around to get the sound I like. I tried a calfskin head and it sounded too "plunky" for me. The head on there now is a Fiberskin (made of mylar, but with some kind of coating that makes it sound (and look) a little more like a skin head. I still stuff it with an old red sock to take off a bit of twanginess. (probably any colour will work)
I thought of trying the baritone (often called "Chicago") tuning on mine, but tried the C6 tuning (capo 2nd fret) first and it worked, so I didn't change it.

I keep getting tempted by a nylon string banjo, there is a really cool Mike Ramsay fretless at a shop near me.
I do have a Nechville open back tuned down 3 steps to open E that I find much more mellow, despite the steel strings, but it does not have the same sound/feel of nylon strings..
 

Mivo

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I picked up a banjo three or four years ago, but I didn't really know what I wanted at the time, so I didn't keep it. It was a Deering Eagle II. A while ago I got back into banjos and bought a Recording King OT25-BR, which is an open-back. I very quickly fell in love with it and have been playing it daily. I play 2- and 3-finger "old time" styles, so neither bluegrass nor clawhammer! Styles like those of Will Keys, Wade Mainer, or Dock Boggs. I play mostly with bare fingers or a thumb pick. There is a young artist who also plays in 2-finger style, Nora Brown or this lady (Amy), who plays a 2-finger thumb lead style.

Like with ukes, I live in the wrong country for banjos! Wrong continent, even. There's very little choice when it comes to new instruments and even less with used ones. Importing is just too expensive, so I found a local banjo builder with 35 yeas experience and commissioned a custom open back banjo with the specs I want: slightly wider neck, 12", 26-1/4" neck, stainless steel frets because I don't want to deal with fret wear every few years, Dobson tone ring, adjustable tail piece, peace dove inlay. It'll be done in June or July, so a long wait. I went with the slightly wider nut width (34 mm) to a) match what I'm used to from ukuleles and b) to support nylon strings if I ever want to switch to them.
 

Nickie

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Yes I like those Duke 10 banjoleles. Can't afford one though unfortunately

I owned a Duke 8 for about a year. I didn't like it so I sold it. I got a Gold Tone banjouke for less money, and I like it way better.
 

Jim Yates

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Banjo is a unique instrument and I had my temptations to start learning. There are basically two ways of playing: clawhammer and bluegrass and the clawhammer style is fascinating. But there are also a myriad of tunings and it can get overwhelming quickly.

While these may be the most common ways of playing a 5-string, they are far from the only ways. Bluegrass can include Scruggs' style, Reno style and melodic style.
There are thumb-lead 2 finger, index-lead 2 finger, up-picking, several folk right hand styles, like the Lullaby lick and arpeggio picking with 4 fingers. Pete Seeger's book had many blues, rhumba. . .strums.

As far as tuning goes, bluegrassers stay in open G most of the time, but sometimes go into open D (especially if they have D-tuners).
I spend most of my time in open G (gDGBD), double C (gCGCD) and dropped C (gCGBD), but also like open Gm (gDGBbD) and Sawmill (gDGCD) for a few tunes.
 
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LarryS

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The funny thing is I'm interested in banjo but can't stand bluegrass or country.
 

Mivo

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The funny thing is I'm interested in banjo but can't stand bluegrass or country.

Not a problem! There is a very large body of American old-time music and European-influenced "Classic Banjo" music (guitar-style). It's a chromatic instrument, so you can really play anything on it (some people play Bach on the banjo).
 

LarryS

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Not a problem! There is a very large body of American old-time music and European-influenced "Classic Banjo" music (guitar-style). It's a chromatic instrument, so you can really play anything on it (some people play Bach on the banjo).

I like the look of the Duke 10, but no money for one
 

vonbiber

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I just got an Irish tenor banjo 17 frets yesterday.
Right now I'm spending most of the time tuning it and retuning it over and over.
As soon as it stabilizes I'll start learning from some of the mandolin tabs I already got
 

LarryS

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I just got an Irish tenor banjo 17 frets yesterday.
Right now I'm spending most of the time tuning it and retuning it over and over.
As soon as it stabilizes I'll start learning from some of the mandolin tabs I already got

So you're using fiddle tuning? (GDAE)