Author Topic: Any banjo players here?  (Read 1336 times)

Offline MrNate

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Any banjo players here?
« on: September 17, 2010, 11:24:38 AM »
I'm starting to think more seriously about learning the bluegrass banjo. Mostly to scare Cap while he's kayaking.

Does anyone here play? Any recommendations for a first banjo? I don't want to spend a ton of money on something I decide I don't like, or get bored with after a few months. Even if it's something that holds its value, NJ isn't exactly banjo buyer's central.
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Offline nicneufeld

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 11:33:35 AM »
Musician's Friend has a house brand named "Rogue", of which I have a mandolin.  They aren't absolute highest quality, but they are usually great for the money -particularly- as a low risk sort of trial instrument for beginners.

Here ya go: 
http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Rogue-LearntheBanjo-Starter-Pack?sku=511197

Right now the funky instrument I'm trying to learn is Hawaiian lap steel.  Sliding into a chord in C6 tuning is like instant relaxation.

Offline bluesman

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« Last Edit: September 17, 2010, 11:50:50 AM by bluesman »
Ron Price

Offline MrNate

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2010, 11:54:45 AM »
The part where I'm confused is the open back/closed (resonator) back. From what I gather, folk/clawhammer is open back, and bluegrass is resonator. I like both styles, especially the Irish folk style, but I sure as hell don't want to buy 2 banjos! Anyone know if you can play clawhammer on a bluegrass banjo?

Here's one of the ones I was looking at: http://www.banjohut.com/mastercraft_banjo_bluegrass_maho.htm

By the way, I thought all lap steel was Hawaiian - Is there a difference? Steel guitar is another one of my "I wish I could play that" insturments.
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Offline Mikey

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2010, 12:17:12 PM »
Give Steve Martin a call.

Offline nicneufeld

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2010, 01:05:37 PM »
By the way, I thought all lap steel was Hawaiian - Is there a difference? Steel guitar is another one of my "I wish I could play that" insturments.

Plenty of uses in varieties of blues, and in some rock genres sporadically (Steve Howe uses one to great effect in "And You And I" with Yes).  Country is much more strongly devoted to the pedal steel, which is much like the lap steel, except you have pedals to vary certain string pitches.  With lap steel, slants are the only way to get more varied chords.  Slants take a lot of work to get right I think!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA5I5PQE4QU

I'll throw sitar in there too as a longtime ambition.  Big fan of Shankar and Ustad Vilyat Khan.

Offline MrNate

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2010, 05:46:30 PM »
Very funny, guys. Yes, my family tree does have a branch or two.

Nic, when you say "slants" does that mean angling the steel across the strings?
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Offline nicneufeld

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2010, 05:53:16 PM »
Nic, when you say "slants" does that mean angling the steel across the strings?

I think so...like I say, I'm a beginner at lap steel.  The idea generally, as I understand it, is getting things like minor chord intervals, among other intervals.  In a major C6 tuning, to pick at random, to get that minor 3rd you're gonna need to do a slant, which...well, I suck at.

Thankfully, Aloha O'e doesn't have any minor chords!   ;D

Offline tubercle

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 06:04:11 PM »
Tubercle plays banjo, guitar and mandolin.

 Beware of cheap as a first instrument. It will sound like crap and play like crap and you will quicky become discouraged and quit. I've already been down that road.

Get a decent one. Fender has some decent mid-priced ones that won't make you want to quit. Cheap ones loose value immediately, what little they have, while good ones hold their value in case you find its not for you and want to sell. Kind of like guns.


 You can play 2 or 3 finger style or claw hammer on an open back or one with a resonator, it don't matter. Clawhammer is traditionally played on an open back and with a skin (vellum) head. Bluegrass 3 finger picking style is usually played on a closed back with a plastic head merely for the volume and the "snap".
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Offline MrNate

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2010, 06:08:03 PM »
Yeah... I'm definitely coming at this from a disadvantage because I don't have any kind of musical background to start with. After watching some of the videos on youtube I think I might have to tattoo "Matthew 6:3" on my inside left wrist, because I can't see picking like those guys do without divine intervention.
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Offline capozzoli

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2010, 06:13:26 PM »
My axe is the cow bell.

Hey, ill go as far as camping with guitar music. You guys bust the banjos out and Im-a- runnin.

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Offline tubercle

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2010, 06:15:55 PM »
My axe is the cow bell.

Hey, ill go as far as camping with guitar music. You guys bust the banjos out and Im-a- runnin.

"Take off them panties."



Ain't he got a purty mouth?
Sweet Caroline where the Sun rises over the deep blue sea and sets somewhere beyond Tennessee

Offline MrNate

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2010, 06:17:15 PM »
Tubercle plays banjo, guitar and mandolin.

 Beware of cheap as a first instrument. It will sound like crap and play like crap and you will quicky become discouraged and quit. I've already been down that road.

Get a decent one. Fender has some decent mid-priced ones that won't make you want to quit. Cheap ones loose value immediately, what little they have, while good ones hold their value in case you find its not for you and want to sell. Kind of like guns.


 You can play 2 or 3 finger style or claw hammer on an open back or one with a resonator, it don't matter. Clawhammer is traditionally played on an open back and with a skin (vellum) head. Bluegrass 3 finger picking style is usually played on a closed back with a plastic head merely for the volume and the "snap".

Yeah... trouble is, seems like mid-range for a banjo is $800 or so. There's a video on this page of a guy playing this one, would you mind listening to it and telling me how you think it sounds?

http://www.banjohut.com/mastercraft_player_deluxe_banjo.htm
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Offline nicneufeld

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2010, 06:29:44 PM »
I don't know how much banjos differ from guitars...I've tinkered with them, the principles are pretty much the same, albeit of course tuning differences and soundbox construction and such like.  A cheap banjo will not necessarily lead you on to greater heights of playing, but if you aren't prone to playing, it at least will represent a cheaper investment.  I've known plenty of folks who get motivated to play guitar, and then get convinced that they need to buy a Martin, and find out, wow, chords are going to take a few months of good work to get down right, and then they become an owner of a nicer guitar that many excellent guitarists don't even own. 

A cheap banjo is guaranteed to not be sufficient for most folks when they approach the advanced or even intermediate stage, but it just depends on how certain you are that you'll hit those stages...I still have my beginner stage guitars, an old used Yamaha superstrat from the 80s, and I love that thing, crappy neck and pickups notwithstanding.

Put it this way, if you can make a Rogue banjo sound as good as it can, then you'll be then at the level you can make a more expensive banjo sound great, and you'll probably be happy to spend the money.  But if you jump into name brand banjos, you're statistically likely to be the equivalent of that guy that bought the stainless conical fermentor cause he was told it was the best way and decided after his first batch that homebrewing wasn't for him.  :D  Good luck regardless!

Offline tubercle

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Re: Any banjo players here?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2010, 06:36:16 PM »
Tubercle plays banjo, guitar and mandolin.

 Beware of cheap as a first instrument. It will sound like crap and play like crap and you will quicky become discouraged and quit. I've already been down that road.

Get a decent one. Fender has some decent mid-priced ones that won't make you want to quit. Cheap ones loose value immediately, what little they have, while good ones hold their value in case you find its not for you and want to sell. Kind of like guns.


 You can play 2 or 3 finger style or claw hammer on an open back or one with a resonator, it don't matter. Clawhammer is traditionally played on an open back and with a skin (vellum) head. Bluegrass 3 finger picking style is usually played on a closed back with a plastic head merely for the volume and the "snap".

Yeah... trouble is, seems like mid-range for a banjo is $800 or so. There's a video on this page of a guy playing this one, would you mind listening to it and telling me how you think it sounds?

http://www.banjohut.com/mastercraft_player_deluxe_banjo.htm

 Yea, unfortunately $800.00 is mid-range.

 That one in the video sound decent, good sustain and plenty of snap. A banjo is very adjustable as far as tone goes with the tension on the head and such, so one can be tinkered with to get the sound you want.

 I'd risk $229 on that because of the mahogany (gives a bright tone, not like maple, but good enough) Geared 5th Peg & Adjustable Truss Rod. Any decent music shop has a luthier that can set it up right as far as neck bow, string height and head tension to you liking for about 50 bucks.

 If you want to pick a banjo, go for it.
Sweet Caroline where the Sun rises over the deep blue sea and sets somewhere beyond Tennessee