Any banjo players out there?

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
4 weeks ago
164 posts

Ken Hulme:

I got my banjo playing buddy a new tuner for Christmas --  Acme Wirecutters!!~!

I had to read your comment to my "loud & raucous" banjo playing husband.  He's my Roadie & I can only get him to play for my Civil War era programs, when I do WWI or Prohibition he swears it's not his style.  Good thing I love him & vice versa 'cause I pick on him mercilessly about that banjo.winky

Steven Berger
Steven Berger
@steven-berger
2 months ago
126 posts

I have 3 banjos, none of which I play well. None have resonators, and, all have skin heads. I have a modern tonering banjo, a fretless mountain banjo, and a fretless tackhead minstrel-style banjo. Tried for years, but can't get the clawhammer or any down -picking style down, so I play a 3-finger style. Love the sound of instrument!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,723 posts

Yeah, any instrument that makes you feel happy when playing it is just plain GOOD.  :)

(Cynthia I would love to hear more of you on your kantele- I loved what you posted a while back... so full of feeling and so ...from a Different time and place.)

There are many more gourd banjo makers now than there were ten years ago.  You can actually get a decent playable one for $300 or less.  Gourd banjers are less expensive than regular banjos in general. 




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Cynthia Wigington
Cynthia Wigington
@cynthia-wigington
2 months ago
74 posts

Clawhammer banjo is the one that grabs me, and I used to play it. If I had a gourd with nylon strings I'd be playing it right now! About happiness and instruments...gotta add ukulele...yep, just gotta. Beautiful Lisa. I really love the Sacred Harp tunes on clawhammer banjo. Listen to the Banjo Apes do those. Wish I hadn't sold that banjo.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,723 posts

Bess, for that tune (from an old WV Hammons family recording) I was playing in clawhammer style. Other times I play in minstrel style and tuning.  Even though the two styles have a lot in common and can look like the same thing to an observer, I do find the actual physical playing styles of clawhammer and minstrel banjo to be different in significant ways other than simply because they use different tunings.  It took me a few years to actually notice that there were these differences.  To this day it takes me a minute or so to mentally/physically adjust when I switch back and forth between those two styles of playing.  There are always some moments of "Uh, what the heck are my fingers supposed to be doing, again?"... lolol.

I do suggest that a beginner decide which of the two styles to concentrate on for a while, rather than jumping back and forth between clawhammer style/tunings, and minstrel style/tunings.  Mixing the two up could be problematic unless you've had at least a year or two of playing one style before exploring the other style.  It's possible to learn both styles at the same time as a beginner of course, but the result would very likely be a hybrid style, so you have to decide on what your personal goal is.

If you mostly just play alone at home or with family you can play however you like without worrying about styles at all.  But if you plan to play with other folks that seriously play one of those styles and not the other, it might not be the best idea to jump into their established jamming group and start playing their customary repertoire in a hybrid style.   ;)   Playing in groups means we try to blend harmoniously and enhance what the group likes to do, rather than sticking out and possibly disrupting what they like to do.  nod




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/21/20 12:01:08PM
Black Dog Bess
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
2 months ago
29 posts

Wow! Thanks for the wonderful gourd banjo playing , Stumelia. I was fortunate enough to find a travel sized minstrel banjo who is patiently waiting for me learn how to play. Were you using minstrel style of play or clawhammer? I can manage an imitation of clawhammer and find myself using it on ukes as well as banjos and banjoleles. The non-steel strings definitely give the banjo another character. One of my favorite instruments is a baritone banjolele. I like it because it adds more of a percussive element and doesn't steal the show like a real banjo.

Barb

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,723 posts

Some banjos are loud and beautiful, others can sound mellow and beautiful.  I have quite a few banjos.  My most mellow sounding banjo is my lovely gourd banjo with nylon strings:




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/20/20 06:08:47PM
Susie
Susie
@susie
2 months ago
358 posts

I play 5-string resonator banjo, Earl Scruggs style. I had a wonderful teacher who first taught me fingerpicking guitar (46 years ago), then I moved on to fingerpicking (aka Earl Scruggs style) banjo. Don't play as much as I should, but it is still fun to pull out now and again.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 months ago
1,026 posts

I have a little 3-string banjo built by Michael Fox, called a Dulcijo.  The dulci portion of the name refers to the tunings used-- typical mountain dulcimer tunings-- but it is definitely a little banjo.  Nice & cool little instrument!




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,702 posts

I got my banjo playing buddy a new tuner for Christmas --  Acme Wirecutters!!~!

chas5131
@chas5131
2 months ago
1 posts

I play a bit of banjo.  It is a lot of fun. 

It is also loud and raucous.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. 

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
4 years ago
175 posts

Some of you might like to check out this site:

 

http://www.thebluegrasssituation.com/search?term=banjo

Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
8 years ago
64 posts

Sue - I was really pleased when I got the hang of clawhammer, it is a really versatile technique.

Lisa - I totally agree that it is impossible to play banjo or MD and not notice an immediate lifting of the spirits!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,723 posts

I think banjos and mountain dulcimers make more people happy than any other instruments!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Sue Simms
Sue Simms
@sue-simms
8 years ago
29 posts

learning this old technique of Clawhammer and love it !Grin.gif

Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
8 years ago
64 posts

well it has been a year since any banjo related news was shared.

I got me a very be-au-ti-ful new banjo a couple of months ago; a Wildwood Troubadour. It was just sitting there on Ebay with no one paying any attention, so I got it for about half what I would have paid for a new one, and got to see and try it too before sealing the deal. I have wanted one with a tubaphone tone ring so I was really pleased. It needed a little attention as the head was really loose, and I found the action a little low so I swapped the bridge for a 5/8th. And now I can hardly bear to put it down! Hve not got any recordings yet but will be working on that during the summer.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,723 posts

Sam thank you for the nice comments.

Foggers, I look forward to hearing more on your banjo journey!

I got to play some banjo this weekend at a little oldtime festival in MA.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
9 years ago
64 posts
Hi allHad a wonderful weekend at the N Wales Bluegrass festival, which also has old time artists. The two great old time acts were Sara Grey who tours a lot on both sides of the Pond, and also Dana and Susan Robinson. Sara did a wonderful talk on appalachian songs and I was delighted that she allowed recording. So now I am home from our holiday (of which the festival was a part) I shall work on a couple of the songs and post something on here.
Sam
Sam
@sam
9 years ago
170 posts

I'm glad that you and Brian can find time to play your music together. The music and chemistry make this one of my all time favorite vids to watch. I'd almost bet I've watched it more than the two of you!Grin.gif


Strumelia said:

I asked my husband Brian this evening if he wanted to play some music together after dinner- something we just don't make the time to do often enough! To my surprise out of the blue he asked if I would give him a banjo lesson. So I did!

He did very well. We had to get creative due to his lacking the use of his left index finger and thumb (he has learned to get around this quite well while fiddling). We started with a non-chord style approach in G modal tuning to take advantage of the open drone strings as much as possible. I was very flattered that he would actually ask me for abanjo lesson, considering what a wonderful fiddler he is! I'm very lucky to live with a good natural musician.

So it was an interesting and rewarding musical evening for us both. Smile.gif




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Paul Rappell
Paul Rappell
@paul-rappell
9 years ago
32 posts

Well, that's great! I came upon your post shortly after putting down the banjo.

I had a brief discussion with a musician, talking about fiddle (and banjo)tunes and their names and so on. This was on Friday the 3rd of June, after the rehearsal for our daughter's wedding (which, obviously, was on Saturday the 4th). The musician was the piper. The wedding was in Strathcona park in Ottawa (since no banjos were played, I'll give a write-up in The Drifting Thread). If you ever come across a banjo tab for "The Clumsy Lovers", please forward it.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,723 posts

I asked my husband Brian this evening if he wanted to play some music together after dinner- something we just don't make the time to do often enough! To my surprise out of the blue he asked if I would give him a banjo lesson. So I did!

He did very well. We had to get creative due to his lacking the use of his left index finger and thumb (he has learned to get around this quite well while fiddling). We started with a non-chord style approach in G modal tuning to take advantage of the open drone strings as much as possible. I was very flattered that he would actually ask me for abanjo lesson, considering what a wonderful fiddler he is! I'm very lucky to live with a good natural musician.

So it was an interesting and rewarding musical evening for us both.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Paul Rappell
Paul Rappell
@paul-rappell
9 years ago
32 posts

I'm spending soooo much time on the banjo lately. Really, I should be sounding soooooooooooooooooooo much better, but I'm not.

On the 6th I celebrated my birthday by going to Toronto by myself and wandering around. Bought the great strawberry Danish at Bread & Roses, visited my old school and surprised a bunch of teaching colleagues, went downtown, and visited the Twelfth Fret. Unfortunately, they didn't have a head that would fit my old Orpheum. They did, however, have a fair selection of banjos which I took the time to try out. I started out on an 1890's Cole, and then tried the newer ones: Vegas, Gold Tone, Wildwood, and a terrific Nechville Atlas with a twelve-inch pot. I found the newer banjos easier to play, with slightly wider string spacing.

I took the Orpheum back in for its third repair of the year, some work on the peghead. It will be a couple of weeks waiting its turn in the shop. I'm thinking of relegating it to two-finger picking, but I have to save up for a new open-back. Maybe I'll try one of the "kits" that Bill Rickard puts together. The bonus is that he's just north of Toronto.

This Friday was our second jam of the new year. I raced up to Sunbury only to realize I'd left my music and instrument stands at home. I dumped the guitar, banjo, and mandolin and flew back home. I made it back with time to spare, which surprised some people. Marge signed me in second, my usual spot, and I did "Keep on the Sunny Side" and "Down the Road", both for the first time. Another singer said, when it was her turn, that I'd taken her song, so she had to choose another. Second time around I did "Pancho and Lefty", and I got a third turn and closed the evening's activities with "Goodnight Irene". A couple got up from the audience and joined in at my mic, while other musicians took the rest of the mics.

When Lorne, our steel player, had his first turn, he took so long trying to figure out his second song that I said, "Hurry up, or we'll get the hook!" And when Les thanked the audience for not running out on him during his numbers, I said, "It's cold out!" He replied, "I'll get you for that!"

Our fiddler surprised my with a banjo CD he'd burned just for me.

Well, gotta start gettin' ready for Friday's jam. So far I've narrowed it down to "Pack up Your Sorrows" (guitar), "Hard Times Come Again No More" (banjo), "Chased Old Satan" (banjo), and "So Long - It's Been Good to Know You" (maybe guitar, maybe banjo, maybe ...). But I've been working on "If I Needed You" by Townes Van Zandt, and I played a Ry Cooder CD (Into the Purple Valley) in the car when we went to breakfast this morning (and on the way back, with a newly purchasedantique table), so the list could change drastically by Friday evening.

Oh (said he, already having given waaay too much information for one post), bicycles and banjos (and other instruments) do mix. I've reserved the Portsmouth tavern for a Thursday evening in February for a Kingston Velo Club jam session. Exact date not set yet, but all cyclists (and non-cyclists) would be welcome.

Flint Hill
Flint Hill
@flint-hill
9 years ago
62 posts
Hey all!

Went down to Georgia for awhile, came back, got sidetracked on a couple of computer projects that are more complicated than I've done in recent years, then got bronchitis, so have been scarce here at FMD. Bronc's about bottomed out, so expect I'll be feeling better in a couple of days.

I got a head on that old banjo and strung it, but it needs a real neck reset, and I mean steam it out and re-shim it kind of reset.

I'm playing the banjo daily, practicing finger-picking on Doc Boggs' Calvary and Robin Thompson's version of Roustabout which is about the best version of Roustabout I've ever heard.

Just now, my two stock dogs got out and ran off. They'll come back in an hour or two, covered in brambles. :) There's no sense chasing them.

Been doing a lot of this (keeping water thawed for the animals).

Winter Water
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
9 years ago
64 posts
Hi Randy and Lisa. Thanks for asking.All instrument playing is on a go- slow for me cos I have had wrist problems for3 months now. However, I am still working on clawhammer and 3 finger picking. In theband we are adding some further OT numbers, Little Maggie, Johnson Boys n Weavily Wheat.Having started with dwight Diller DVD I am now mainly working on Ken Perlman's melodic CH, asthat seems to build the skills for the sounds I wanna make. When we have achieved a recordable standardI shall post it somewhere for all to see!I gain a lot from seeing and hearing your own banjo playing, so thanks for all you post on here guys!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,723 posts

I gave a 90 minute banjo lesson to a friend the other day, and boyhowdy but that toughened up my wimpy callouses in a hurry! lol! I taught him Sandy Boys, and he loved it.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
9 years ago
95 posts

Thought I'd bump this'n up....hoping to get a progress report from Ken & Foggers?....you got that banjo put together huh Ken?

I been playing Green Willis here a little lately. I had to put the noter aside a month or so ago and play dulcimer & banjo with my fingers....they were getting soft!... : )....

Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Hey Flint - that banjo is in much better condition than a mandolin banjo we got off UK Ebay some years ago.It was only a few quid so it was not the end of the world when it arrived and we discovered that the neck was sheared through halfway down and had a screw holding the 2 halves together! We got our money back and we have kept this monstrosity in order to remind us of the risks of buying instruments in Ebay!I shall look forward to hearing it when you have brought it back to life.
Flint Hill
Flint Hill
@flint-hill
10 years ago
62 posts
Thanks, Lisa, Randy. I wanted to get one of these old spun-over banjos just to get a feeling for how banjos sounded and played back at the turn of the 20th century. It seemed worth doing given that the non-collectible models are pretty cheap.I took it apart yesterday. With the tension off, the pot got rounder overnight, less than 1/4" out of round today. I'm going to block it round or a little over and leave it for a few days while I clean up the rest of the parts.There's a nice Stewart Student on ebay right now.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 years ago
1,723 posts
I used to have an SS Stewart student style banjo years ago too. It was nice! But I had to cut back the herd so I sold it to one of my banjo students.Randy, here's my tale of my own 'ugling duckling' banjo.


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
10 years ago
95 posts
That's about the ugliest banjo I ever saw Ken!... : ).....I think it'll make a heckuva good player for you....it's a good banjo.I have a Stewart banjo with a spun over rim/tone ring like that....used it for my main banjo for about 10 years and enjoyed every hour of it.....gave it to my son Bill a few years aback and it's still goin strong......
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 years ago
1,723 posts
I bet it sounds wonderful. I love the sound of those thin spun-over metal pots. They always sound beautifully resonant but clear, without sounding like they are 'underwater' like so many of the large deep pots these days.


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Flint Hill
Flint Hill
@flint-hill
10 years ago
62 posts
Sears and Roebuck Supertone Amateur banjo, model #406, ca. 1925.

It has some issues ....

OK, it has some issues

The neck is straight, needs a reset. The pot is out of round by 3/8", probably OK, since I'm putting a skin head on it. Frets are good. Needs one bracket hook, but I have the original nut, so that's no problem.

Dock Boggs played an $18 Supertone at the 1927 Bristol sessions. This one was five bucks in the 1923 catalog. Reading suggests that it was made by Lange at the old Buckbee plant, though there's a minority view that they were made by Slingerland.


Sears Supertone "Amateo" Banjo
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Oooo that is good Lisa - and it was very helpful to see your CH technique in action.I am getting on quite well with CH playing now, I just need a little help to nail double drop thumbing.There is an excellent CH player about 20 miles away, who I think I am going to approach for some tuition; I am at a stage where I think having someone watch me play and give me some feedback and further direction will help me to move up a level in my playing.Thanks so much for posting this
Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
10 years ago
243 posts
Excellent!Paul
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 years ago
1,723 posts
i played some banjo this past weekend, and a somewhat crummy recording was made of us playing "Brushy Fork of John's Creek". Brian is playing fiddle...


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Mary Z. Cox
Mary Z. Cox
@mary-z-cox
10 years ago
52 posts
As soon as I get my fifth string gear replaced to hold a nylagut string-I will. The current gear will only take metal strings.Smile.gif Best wishes,Mary Z. Cox www.maryzcox.com
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Oooo please post a recording of it - I am really curious about Nylgut strings and their effects on sound.
Mary Z. Cox
Mary Z. Cox
@mary-z-cox
10 years ago
52 posts
Usually I don't resetup my banjos--preferring to let them sound like the builder intended--but just recentlyI am doing a different set up for my 12 inch Chuck Lee Custom. It has a 12" skin head and a 25.5 scale and some really pretty woods on it and a Tony Pass ancient wood rim--so have begun to put on some classical nylagut strings--and think I am really going to like this sound for this banjo.Smile.gif All my other banjos that have gut or nylagut strings are low tuned on big thick strings--so this is going to sound quite different--but very warm and interesting.Smile.gif

Best wishes,Mary Z. Cox www.maryzcox.com
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10 years ago
1,702 posts
Paul R, said "Hmmm ... How about banjo, dulcimer, and Northumbrian smallpipes?"Been there, done that, got the tee shirt. Actually it was a set of Border Pipes, but basically the same kind of quiet Cauld Wind Pipes. When I was on Kwajalein, and the Bass Drummer for the Kwajalein Pipes & Drums, one of our pipers also played Border Pipes; and he and I would get together and play pipe/dulcimer duets.There weren't any banjos on Kwaj though - W eapons of M usic D estruction were not allowed for private ownershipTongue.gifFrown.gifSmile.gifGrin.gif
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Paul C - LOL it is indeed a fascinating habit that people but a much desired banjo and then change every last iota on it! and having your partner as your jamming chum is indeed a treat. My OH Richard is learning guitar and we are working up to him playing for the trio we sing with. Sitting in the evening playing music together is so much more enriching than being slumped in front of the telly!Paul R - afraid that does sound like some of the symptoms of a moderate does of BAS....
Paul Rappell
Paul Rappell
@paul-rappell
10 years ago
32 posts
Paul Certo said:
BHO members are fiercely loyal to their chosen brand of banjo, if you keep in mind two things.
One,that most have at least a fairly good case of BAS. Banjo Acquisition Syndrome is rampant.
And two, a great number have changed heads, bridges and tone rings, sometimes even resonators,hoops and necks trying to change the sound of the banjo they're so loyal to. In some advanced cases of Banjo tinker-itis, only the case is original. But, there are worse things a person could be doing. I intend to build a gourd banjo, mostly for use at Historical Reenactments. Or maybe Histerical ones. Not until I change all the woodwork in my living room. Mrs. Wanda thinks that should take priority. Since I don't pull sheets with my Reenactment friends, I'm inclined to let the Mrs. prioritize my projects. She sang & played ukulele on a couple songs tonight with me, in front of several people. It was her first time out of the house with her uke. Not exactly a gig, but I was thrilled. Nothing like having a jam partner in the house with me.
Paul
I joined BHO, too (partly from my experience here on FOTMD). It's a good source of advice - and you'll get loads of it!Noreen doesn't play, but in January she played host(ess) for a jam session - she cooked up a feast for the players. In fact, the jam was her idea. Years ago when we used to go to friends' places to make music, she'd fall asleep on the chesterfield, right beside me as I was playing banjo with fingerpicks. I guess that's a form of dedication!If I had the money I suppose I'd have BAS, but it's easy not to have it when you don't, um, have it. I have no allegiance to any particular brand/maker, except my long gone Neufeld, which was eminently playable and sounded clear and clean. That's what may, some day, get me to buy another banjo - first, it has to have string spacing that's wide enough, and it has to have a tone that I like, not what people say I should have.Then again, maybe I do have a form of BAS. I have the bluegrass banjo I got to replace the Neufeld. then I got the Orpheum to replace the fact that the bluegrass banjo didn't really replace the Neufeld (because the Neufeld was a frailer). I bought a basic wooden fretless even before I got the Neufeld, and someone gave me a cheap tenor - these two need repairs to become playable. Two other banjos were given to me but went missing from my school - an old Imperial tenor (with a painting on the head of three black jazz musicians) and an old Slingerland banjo uke. And there was my first, really cheap, banjo, now departed. My list of "the ones that got away" is huge.Tinker with my banjos? Only in the most basic ways - bridge and head. It would be a sacrilege to change the Orpheum, which is a hundred years old - although I did some simple artwork on the replacement head (wonder why we don't see more of that). However, the case is brand new.
Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
10 years ago
243 posts
BHO members are fiercely loyal to their chosen brand of banjo, if you keep in mind two things.One,that most have at least a fairly good case of BAS. Banjo Acquisition Syndrome is rampant.And two, a great number have changed heads, bridges and tone rings, sometimes even resonators,hoops and necks trying to change the sound of the banjo they're so loyal to. In some advanced cases of Banjo tinker-itis, only the case is original. But, there are worse things a person could be doing. I intend to build a gourd banjo, mostly for use at Historical Reenactments. Or maybe Histerical ones. Not until I change all the woodwork in my living room. Mrs. Wanda thinks that should take priority. Since I don't pull sheets with my Reenactment friends, I'm inclined to let the Mrs. prioritize my projects. She sang & played ukulele on a couple songs tonight with me, in front of several people. It was her first time out of the house with her uke. Not exactly a gig, but I was thrilled. Nothing like having a jam partner in the house with me.Paul
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Strumelia said:
Gold Tones have a good reputation as a real solid good sounding affordable banjo. Good choice!
Yep I think that sums it up Lisa. I use Banjo Hangout sometimes for banjo hints & tips, and Deering is the make everyone seems to worship, but the GoldTone Whyte Ladie gave me most bang for ma buck.(Lawks I seem to picking up the lingo from associating with all you fine American chums in cyberspace....)
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 years ago
1,723 posts
Gold Tones have a good reputation as a real solid good sounding affordable banjo. Good choice!


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Well it has been a while since I started this thread, and I was originally debating if I needed to upgrade my learner/entry level Countryman banjo, a resonator backed far East make with no tone ring. True enough it has served me well for learning both picking and clawhammer, but I nonetheless got to the point where I wanted an instrument with more punch.So my New Year gift to me was a Gold Tone Whyte Ladie 250 - I had tried one out at a banjo gathering in January and loved the mellow sound. So when I saw a pristine second hand one on Ebay which originated from Andy Perkins (best banjos in UK!) it was a sign from the gods of old time music that it was meant for me.And the sound is beautifully balanced between attack and a lovely mellow rounded sound. The action and the presence of a frailing scoop has (as I hoped) turned out to be real advantages for developing my playing, and it works really well in the trio I now play in. At last I have a banjo that can hold its own against my friend Kathy and her mighty Taylor guitar!
Paul Rappell
Paul Rappell
@paul-rappell
10 years ago
32 posts
Last month I went back to Toronto for the Bicycle Show, but my first stop was The Twelfth Fret, where I bought the first decent case for the Orpheum. Of course, I took a few banjos off the wall and tried them. The fretless was fun, and another banjo for $1800 was okay. But there was one that I took down because it looked old. In fact, it was. It was an old Windsor. Know the feeling - that as soon as you've hit the very first note, this one is for real? That's what I got out of this one. The sound was crisp and clear and just sang to me. And it was the cheapest one I checked out. If I'd had the money I would have bought it on the spot, no questions, no problem. Too bad. Add it to the long list of "the ones that got away". Maybe some day the banjo fairy will leave one on my doorstep.Tone is subjective (if you'e not brainwashed into wanting a sound that some people say you should have). It's taken me all these years to appreciate the sound of my old Orpheum, and now I'm trying to work with it, not against it. Of course, the fact that I'm really working at it and finding real progress has a lot to do with it, too!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 years ago
1,723 posts
Paul R.,Having done lots of 'setup tweaking' on both my bicycles and my banjos, it never ceases to amaze me how many similarities I find between fine tuning bikes and banjos. It's rather uncanny. I love tweaking the setup on my banjos!When i first started playing clawhammer banjo, I had banjo fever and felt I needed a banjo for every 'banjo sound' I wanted to produce. I wound up with about 13 banjos, but most of them simply gathered dust and several were unfortunate impulse buys. I Ebayed a few to get rid of the clutter, and now I have 7, one of which I still plan to sell too. My remaining 6 include 1 antique and 5 good playable 'work horses'. Two of those five are fretless. The 5 are played fairly regularly and I think I'll never need to buy any other banjos. I could actually make do with 3 or so, but since I have the 5 good ones I will keep playing them.My point here is that I used to think I needed a certain specific banjo for every distinct sound I was after. Now I've gotten way more laid back and these days I kinda feel like any banjo I grab off the wall will do just fine in any situation. As long as the banjo is set up well and plays smoothly, I'm no longer quite so picky about getting an exact certain 'sound'...now I tend to just say "hey, it's a banjo!" and it is what it is. At least all banjos sound like banjos, and they almost all sound good to me. LOL


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
10 years ago
243 posts
From the posts on The Banjo Hangout, it's clear that a lot of banjo players are constantly trying to change the sound of their banjos, looking for "that elusive sound." I do stuff the inside of mine, mostly to avoid waking my wife when she decides to go to bed early. Other than that, I'm more afraid of losing the sound that I bought. When I bought this banjo, I had narrowed it down to 2 models of the same make. I went back & forth a number of times, and I'm sure I could have been happy with either one. One had an 11" pot with a spun nickle overlay, and had a sparkle to the sound that was really beautiful to hear. The other had a 12" pot, without the overlay. It had a depth and richness that I found captivating. Over a 3 week period, I went back & played both several times. Every time I put the 11" down and picked up the 12", that richness reached out & grabbed me. I ended up with that one, and have never regretted it. That was 9 years ago. If the money would have been available, I might have both, but It took me several years of saving for one, 2 was not an option at the time. Who knows what the future may bring? Seems like one of any instrument isn't ever enough. I think the sparkle of that 11" might just be perfect for the 2 finger playing I've gotten more into the past couple of years. 9 years ago, I wasn't playing much 2 finger, having really gotten more into the clawhammer style. Now, I'm kinda reverting to what I played earlier. I'm fingerpicking all my toys a lot lately. Learning to express my moods by changing my playing styles.Paul
Paul Rappell
Paul Rappell
@paul-rappell
10 years ago
32 posts
Paul Certo said:
I play banjo, also. I started with guitar in '66, banjo in '68. But after starting to learn dulcimer in '90,I really got more interested in banjo again after hearing clawhammer players playing with dulcimer players. The combination just feels right to me.
Paul
It's never too late to start over!Different combinations of instruments have appealed to me, too, Paul. Back in the seventies I thought that Appalachian dulcimer and synthesizer would make a great combination. Go figure.Kate and Anna McGarrigle used a variety of instrumental mixes, even dual clawhammer on "Excursion a Venise" in concert (you can find it on YouTube), with Kate and sister Jane. The Transatlantic Sessions (lots of it on YouTube) feature a variety of North American and British Isles instrumental combinations. Banjo and dulcimer sounds like a great mix. A friend once gave me "The Best of Just Friends", a dulcimer CD by George Haggerty from Vermont, and it's filled with combinations: dulcimer with guitar, tin whistle, concertina, fiddle, bodhran, banjo, mandolin. The Fuzzy Mountain String Band had dulcimer in among all those fiddles and banjos.Hmmm ... How about banjo, dulcimer, and Northumbrian smallpipes?Messing with the banjo could be the musical equivalent of working on your bicycle. The Orpheum has been "tweaked" lately with head tightening and replacing the bridge with the one that came with the banjo when first purchased. If the sound needs to be "plunkified", stuffing something between the head and dowel stick works well. The old metal mute also completely changes the tone.
Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
10 years ago
243 posts
I play banjo, also. I started with guitar in '66, banjo in '68. But after starting to learn dulcimer in '90,I really got more interested in banjo again after hearing clawhammer players playing with dulcimer players. The combination just feels right to me.Paul
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Hey Paul - it is never too late to chip yer penny's worth into a thread on this forum!
Paul Rappell
Paul Rappell
@paul-rappell
10 years ago
32 posts
I know this is really late, but ...There are some very impressive banjos - and players, of course - posting here. (As a recent member I just got to see this thread.)I've been an on again, off again beginner since the early seventies. I unfortunately got rid of the best bajo I ever owned, built by Jake Neufeld here in Ontario in the late seventies. I had a couple of frailing lessons at the long-gone Toronto Folklore Centre (where I bought the banjo), from Kate Murphy. I wanted soemthing louder and went to a resonator model which I had spruced up at the Folklore Centre, with inlay work by Tony Duggan-Smith. It's the heaviest banjo I've ever picked up - put it on the end of the see-saw with an elephant at the other end and it'll hold its own!Shortly thereafter I picked up an Orpheum Number One, also at the Folklore Centre. (All Orpheums are dated 1915, because they can't trace the serial numbers.)Part (or most) of my inspiration came from being a volunteer at the Mariposa Folk Festival through the seventies and early eighties and seeing lots of great banjo players, from Pete Seeger (no autographs) to old-time players - even lightning-fast bluegrassers.Toronto isn't the Centre of the Universe for clawhammer (although some Torontonians think T.O. is the Centre of the Universe, period), although I found out that a couple of Hogtowners have won categories in the Appalachian String Band Festival.I recently dug out my Orpheum and started practising "for real", using tunes from old Oak Publications books: Clawhammer Banjo, Melodic Clawhammer Banjo, and Old Time Mountain Banjo. I've been looking at video clips on line and have downloaded loads of tabs. Another inspiration has been the banjo demos by Don Zepp, playing tunes on the banjos he sells. After watching him, I was able to work out a version of the "A" part of St. Anne's Reel, which I couldn't see in any of the tabs. Now to get it right!As usual, everyone's three steps ahead of me on sources of instruction. It pays to check all over this site!
Mary Z. Cox
Mary Z. Cox
@mary-z-cox
10 years ago
52 posts

Hello--just love banjos and have sixteen of them. I try to record on different ones so folks can hear their voices. There is a Goldtone 5-string cello banjo, a Gibson RB250, Deering John Hartford, Lame Horse Shooting Star, and a Bowlin 1865 fretless on the new CD that's coming out soon.Also--there is my Blue Lion mountain dulcimer and Ron Ewing dulcimette. :) One of my favorite tunes has cello banjo and dulcimette playing together. :)
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
10 years ago
64 posts
Liz (Elizabeth) Thacker said:
Aha Jane I can see why I (hardly) never got to play my new banjo at our Christmas get toether - You were sizing it up for "secret santa" - good job I sat between you and the door - my new banjo AND the dulcimer book......
See ya soon friend.
Liz

Liz (Elizabeth) Thacker said:
Foggers said:
THanks for the replies Lisa and Randy; here is the news...

Well my laptop kind of hiccupped on the DVDs, but after threatening it with a hammer, things settled down and the disks play okay.

I like Dwight's approach to the right hand rhythm. I had already made a start on the bump-ditty pattern through a book i got a couple of months ago, but when I listen to practice recordings it just sounds too "busy" somehow. Having had a weekend with Dwight's "Just Rhythm" DVD I can see that I need to stop worrying so much about the "ditty" and I am already sounding more like I want to! So that is fun indeed.

Of course I can now see that my "Countryman " banjo just aint right at all for clawhammer playing...maybe I need a new banjo from Santa??
LOL Liz - yes, sorry if I kind of hogged your new baby a bit - it was of course sheer envy on my part especially given that the Saga banjo I had got earlier in December was decapitated by Parcelforce *sniff*See you when the snow thaws!
Mary Z. Cox
Mary Z. Cox
@mary-z-cox
11 years ago
52 posts
Yes--a nice simple tab arrangement of it is in the Florida Banjo Tab book which is available through my website. maryzcox.com Also--here is a Youtube of it too. Foggers said:
Mary your banjo playing is a delight. I especially like The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Is there anywhere I can get the TAB for that tune?
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
Mary your banjo playing is a delight. I especially like The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Is there anywhere I can get the TAB for that tune?
Mary Z. Cox
Mary Z. Cox
@mary-z-cox
11 years ago
52 posts
Hello,Yes--I've played banjo since I was 12 years old and my Grandad was also a professional banjoist.If you'd like to know more about me and my banjo music, please visit my website. :) maryzcox.com I do usually play at least a couple mountain dulcimer tunes in concert and evidently I play my mountain dulcimer so much in the old time string band style that folks have come up to inquire "What is the difference between a banjo and a mountain dulcimer? They sound so much alike when you play them. " :)

Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
David Beede said:
Foggy - Always glad to talk gourd stuff. I keep meaning to put some building stuff on line but haven't gotten to it. There is a little piece on David Hyatt's site about how I reheaded a banjo for Mike Seeger with a tensioning system I invented that has no metal in it. Here 'tis:
http://www.dhyatt.com/craft_how_to_skin_Beede.html

Foggers wrote:
Hi David - that is so lovely! Have seen you on YT with the gourd banjos, and am really interested in gourd "technology" - will PM you!
Hi David; that is a really interesting way to tension the head on a gourd - though I guess that Delrin is not exactly a traditional material!!My OH is an amateur luthier having made just 2 MDs after years of tinkering with electric guitars mainly. He now has an idea for a percussion instrument that would need a gourd as the sound box, and it seems impossible to source properly dried gourds here in the UK (weather just too damp I think!)
David Beede
David Beede
@david-beede
11 years ago
3 posts
Foggy - Always glad to talk gourd stuff. I keep meaning to put some building stuff on line but haven't gotten to it. There is a little piece on David Hyatt's site about how I reheaded a banjo for Mike Seeger with a tensioning system I invented that has no metal in it. Here 'tis: http://www.dhyatt.com/craft_how_to_skin_Beede.html Foggers wrote:Hi David - that is so lovely! Have seen you on YT with the gourd banjos, and am really interested in gourd "technology" - will PM you!
David Beede
David Beede
@david-beede
11 years ago
3 posts
Great job Randy. I loved both those tunes and your style too. That's a fine sounding ol' banjo. Did you say you built it or resurrected it? It has a larger head than most of the mountain ones with a wood ring around them. Again, great sound and great tunes.And you're right about the getting old thing. In the playing realm I gave up on virtuosity in favor of variety decades ago. But it seems, if you stick to anything long enough, you either get half way decent at it, or at least eventually you get recognized for endurance!!
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
David Beede said:
Glad to see some banjo action 'round here.
I took up ol' time banjo years ago, but then got away from it in favor of dulcimers. I've been building and playing gourd banjos for about five years now and have grown very fond of the mellow round sound they have. Some of mine I string heavy and tune down to D which makes them easy to play along with DAD dulcimer players. The bluesy feel from being fretless also tickles my ear. Here's a tune of mine that I taught to my wife, Julie Johnson's first grade class. They sing on it and illustrated it with some amazing art work. It's one of those "metaphor wrapped in a riddle" songs. Check it out here:
Hi David - that is so lovely! Have seen you on YT with the gourd banjos, and am really interested in gourd "technology" - will PM you!
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
Randy Adams said:
David I saw a vid of your 1973 box banjo over @ Cig Box Nation...nice box & sounds great! No wonder you build such beautiful instruments!...that's a long time...there's not too much good to be said about getting old...but getting good at your job is one of 'em!

So I got my new/old banjo goin'....ended up putting a piece of brass over the fingerboard to brighten up the sound of the 1st string. I recorded a couple of vids today & I would share them with you if you please?
I learned Watermelon on the Vine from a Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers record....great Georgia band from the 1920's!

When I got my banjo to where it was playable the 1st song it wanted to play was this tune...I couldn't think of the title....after I recorded it my son asked me "what tune is that?" & it came to me....it's Nashville Blues, a Earl Scruggs tune. I don't play it in the right style or the right key/mode but it's Nashville Blues allright! Thx for whatching!
Once again Randy - you are great! The sound of that banjo is so right for those tunes.
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
11 years ago
95 posts
David I saw a vid of your 1973 box banjo over @ Cig Box Nation...nice box & sounds great! No wonder you build such beautiful instruments!...that's a long time...there's not too much good to be said about getting old...but getting good at your job is one of 'em!So I got my new/old banjo goin'....ended up putting a piece of brass over the fingerboard to brighten up the sound of the 1st string. I recorded a couple of vids today & I would share them with you if you please?I learned Watermelon on the Vine from a Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers record....great Georgia band from the 1920's! When I got my banjo to where it was playable the 1st song it wanted to play was this tune...I couldn't think of the title....after I recorded it my son asked me "what tune is that?" & it came to me....it's Nashville Blues, a Earl Scruggs tune. I don't play it in the right style or the right key/mode but it's Nashville Blues allright! Thx for whatching!
David Beede
David Beede
@david-beede
11 years ago
3 posts
Glad to see some banjo action 'round here.I took up ol' time banjo years ago, but then got away from it in favor of dulcimers. I've been building and playing gourd banjos for about five years now and have grown very fond of the mellow round sound they have. Some of mine I string heavy and tune down to D which makes them easy to play along with DAD dulcimer players. The bluesy feel from being fretless also tickles my ear. Here's a tune of mine that I taught to my wife, Julie Johnson's first grade class. They sing on it and illustrated it with some amazing art work. It's one of those "metaphor wrapped in a riddle" songs. Check it out here:
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
Randy Adams said:
Here's what I been doin the last couple days.
[IMG] http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i227/randyadams/Picture8.jpg [/IMG]
My brother Rodney gave me this banjo a while back & at first I played it and liked it but...it had frets....and a long scale. So yesterday I removed the frets, sanded her down, glued a veneer on the fingerboard, cut 3.5" out of the neck made a 22.5" scale....I like to tune in A & D.....it cracks now!....& I think I got it to where I won't get slivers when I'm playin it!... : )....
I'm hoping this banjo will call to me...ya know....think of a song & know right away this is the perfect banjo to play it on.....get in the rotation so to speak.
This might be fun!
Wow Randy - and here is me too meek to tweak the tension on the head of my banjo! That is lovely work and I shall look forward to HEARING it when you post something here or on YT.
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
Strumelia said:
Foggers said:
Thanks Randy. It is really interesting trying out tunes on different instruments. I think certain tunes just work on a particular instrument. A song from Jean Ritchie that I have always wanted to do is "Sweet William and Lady Margaret". Of course Jean does it on MD but when I listened to it and sang it I could just "hear" an OT banjo accompaniment. That was one of the things that prompted me to go back to the banjo (as I already could play a little fingerstyle on it) and finally work on getting the frailing going!.

Foggers,
Listen to the clip of my favorite recently recorded version of "Lady Margaret"- HERE . It's played by Brad Leftwich, Alice Gerrard, and Tom Sauber. Instruments are fiddle and banjo, so it might give you some ideas for playing it on banjo.
That whole CD is well worth buying.
Thanks for the album recommendation Lisa- what a treat! I have the albums Alice Gerrard did with Hazel Dickens so this is a great addition to my collection - just downloaded it.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
11 years ago
1,723 posts
Foggers said:
Thanks Randy. It is really interesting trying out tunes on different instruments. I think certain tunes just work on a particular instrument. A song from Jean Ritchie that I have always wanted to do is "Sweet William and Lady Margaret". Of course Jean does it on MD but when I listened to it and sang it I could just "hear" an OT banjo accompaniment. That was one of the things that prompted me to go back to the banjo (as I already could play a little fingerstyle on it) and finally work on getting the frailing going!.
Foggers,Listen to the clip of my favorite recently recorded version of "Lady Margaret"- HERE . It's played by Brad Leftwich, Alice Gerrard, and Tom Sauber. Instruments are fiddle and banjo, so it might give you some ideas for playing it on banjo.That whole CD is well worth buying.


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
11 years ago
95 posts
He didn't build Robin..he bought from somewhere.I'm still working on it...can't get volume out of the 1st string....just kinda goes thump....little frustrating. Robin Thompson said:
Did Rodney build the banjo, Randy?
The work you've done looks real nice.
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
11 years ago
1,026 posts
Did Rodney build the banjo, Randy?The work you've done looks real nice.


--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
11 years ago
95 posts
Here's what I been doin the last couple days.[IMG] http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i227/randyadams/Picture8.jpg [/IMG]My brother Rodney gave me this banjo a while back & at first I played it and liked it but...it had frets....and a long scale. So yesterday I removed the frets, sanded her down, glued a veneer on the fingerboard, cut 3.5" out of the neck made a 22.5" scale....I like to tune in A & D.....it cracks now!....& I think I got it to where I won't get slivers when I'm playin it!... : )....I'm hoping this banjo will call to me...ya know....think of a song & know right away this is the perfect banjo to play it on.....get in the rotation so to speak.This might be fun!
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
Thanks Randy. It is really interesting trying out tunes on different instruments. I think certain tunes just work on a particular instrument. A song from Jean Ritchie that I have always wanted to do is "Sweet William and Lady Margaret". Of course Jean does it on MD but when I listened to it and sang it I could just "hear" an OT banjo accompaniment. That was one of the things that prompted me to go back to the banjo (as I already could play a little fingerstyle on it) and finally work on getting the frailing going!.
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
11 years ago
95 posts
Glad to hear you got the banjo going Foggers. I'm sure that Countryman will make a fine banjo for you.The banjo & dulcimer are the same for me...I play the exact same notes on both & approach them the same way on most tunes.... a few tunes are instrument specific.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
11 years ago
1,723 posts
That's so true that learning a second instrument, or a third, actually helps us with all our instruments.I just LOVE tinkering with my banjos! The banjo is the absolute best instrument for tweaking all the mechanical parts on it. TOO FUN!!Great that you took off your resonator and loosened the tailpiece a bit. Try loosening the head just a little bit all around too....like a 1/4 turn per bracket. If it doesn't sound good then put it back again. I find the best sound is when loosening the tailpiece all the way and then tightening it just only enough until it grabs a little....no more. Gives a nice soft bell tone.


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
11 years ago
64 posts
Well I have been persevering with me frailing and an currently working on accompanying Rich my OH when he sings "Little Sadie". I will put up an MP3 when we can get through it without coughing (we are both full of germs at the mo).I have curbed my urge for a new banjo - I have tweaked the sound of my countryman banjo by loosening off the tension on the tailpiece and it is sounding a little more plunky. I am reluctant to tweak the head tension in case I go too far and can't redeem a problem. I have also worked out that the resonator comes of easily anyway as it does not have a flange. See how I sound like I know what I am talking about??? That's cos I did go to the expense of buying a book on banjo construction and maintenance so I can sound all clever now.... Actually, I like to know something about the practical side of any instrument I play- i like to know the basics and be able to tune, change strings and do minor adjustments at least.What seems funny is that it was getting my first dulcimer exactly a year ago that re-kindled my interest in the banjo I had owned for a few years too. I used to find it difficult to move between instruments; it felt like my fingers went kind of dyslexic. But now I think that the skills I pick up on one are usefully transfereable to the others- so I am becoming a better all round musician.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
11 years ago
1,723 posts
Well you should know that many of the very best old clawhammer banjo frailers use/used resonator banjos.By the way, I have frailing scoops on my banjos, but i have migrated to playing even higher up the neck than the scoops, so they don't do anything for me anyway. ;)The banjo you have is likely just fine for clawhammering....just don't use metal bluegrass picks.


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
 
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