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Author Topic: Calling banjo players  (Read 15917 times)

Tom

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Calling banjo players
« on: November 28, 2012, 12:04:31 PM »
I enjoy the sound from my banjo uke, and it's spawned an itch to play a 'regular' banjo. Of course, there's no such thing, but my limited research suggests I should be looking for a tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, or possibly an Irish tenor, all 4-string instruments.

Any banjo players here with words of wisdom?

TIA?
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2012, 12:23:16 PM »
I can't help you with this one Tom, a banjo is probably the only string instrument I have never played. Looks like fun though.
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gwcowgill

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2012, 01:09:23 PM »
I have a tenor banjo and love the sound. I have been trying for 30 years to learn to play it. It kinda gathers dust now. Good luck on finding the one you like.  Shop around till you hear the one you like.
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2012, 02:33:59 PM »
Quote
... a banjo is probably the only string instrument I have never played.

Hi Tom,

There are 6-string banjos which, apparently, are relatively easy for guitar players to play. However, I haven't graduated beyond 4 strings, so I'll be sticking with a 4-string banjo.
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2012, 02:56:15 PM »
Quote
Shop around till you hear the one you like.

Aye, good advice; I'm still in the research mode, and probably won't be buying a banjo for a while. I may even buy a "heavy" banjo ukulele first. My banjo uke, a Firefly from Flea market Music, is a featherweight - no metal and an open back (no resonator). This YouTube video gives some idea of what it sounds like; You can tell that it lacks metal in its construction.

By comparison, here's a demo of a modestly priced banjo uke by Eddie Finn that readily demonstrates the difference in sound (skip to 09:00 to bypass the guy's chatter).
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gwcowgill

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2012, 03:09:17 PM »
I have a 5 string Banjo which honestly I still can't play well. Trouble is I read music and at one time I could play all the brass instruments. Haven't played in years even though I still have the desire at times.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2012, 03:51:20 PM »
There are 6-string banjos which, apparently, are relatively easy for guitar players to play. However, I haven't graduated beyond 4 strings, so I'll be sticking with a 4-string banjo.
My problem is that I am maxed out for the number of instruments I can own. I just don't have any room for any more instruments.
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Jammer

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2012, 04:00:24 PM »
I enjoy the sound from my banjo uke, and it's spawned an itch to play a 'regular' banjo. Of course, there's no such thing, but my limited research suggests I should be looking for a tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, or possibly an Irish tenor, all 4-string instruments.

Any banjo players here with words of wisdom?

TIA?

Much depends on what you intend to play.  Bluegrass really requires a 5-string banjo with (g)-C-G-B-D tuning, which lends itself well to the use of finger picks.  Dixieland and some traditional folk styles use the 4-string instruments you describe, and are more typically played with a flat pick.

The original intent behind the design of the banjo was to make it loud, an objective which was indeed accomplished.  That's a blessing or a curse depending on the situation, but you'll drown out other acoustic instruments except the accordion and maybe the brass section.

I played banjo when I was much younger, and though I remember the notes and the chords, have moved on to other musical pursuits. 
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2012, 04:15:12 PM »
Thanks Jammer. That's pretty much what my limited research has turned up. I don't plan to play bluegrass, which was why I was looking at 4-string banjos. I really need to pick up an instrument and (try to) play it. I received several offers to "come try" today from a friend and from my favorite music store.

FWIW the 'friend' is the founder of our uke group. Some years ago he founded a bankjo banjo band which eventually grew to 100 players. I suspect they made a lot of noise!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 10:12:58 AM by Tom »
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Jammer

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2012, 04:24:10 PM »
Thanks Jammer. That's pretty much what my limited research has turned up. I don't plan to play bluegrass, which was why I was looking at 4-string banjos. I really need to pick up an instrument and (try to) play it. I received several offers to "come try" today from a friend and from my favorite music store.

The real difference, compared to guitar-like instruments (like the uke), is that banjos don't have any sustain to speak of.  That is a consequence of their loudness, which results in a more rapid removal of energy from the plucked string than occurs in a guitar.  Playing wise it means that the repeated notes and rapid arpeggiated passages that are so closely associated with the banjo are just as much a practical necessity as a stylistic affectation.  Given that necessity it is difficult indeed to cultivate subtlety or a diverse tonal palette, which IMO is why some people dislike the instrument.

Quote
FWIW the 'friend' is the founder of our uke group. Some years ago he founded a bankjo band which eventually grew to 100 players. I suspect they made a lot of noise!

Well, like the accordion, the banjo is a powerful instrument.  With great power comes great responsibility.
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2012, 05:58:20 PM »
Quote
.... probably won't be buying a banjo for a while. I may even buy a "heavy" banjo ukulele first.

One of our newcomers to the band caught me in my favorite uke store and snapped this picture of me trying out my new banjo uke. The longer neck and better spaced frets make this concert size easier for me to play than my soprano size Firefly. It also produces a lot more sound than the Firefly. I hadn't thought about how I'd dispose of the Firefly but, when the store owner offered to take it in trade for close to what I paid for it a year ago (at this store), it was a done deal.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 06:01:48 PM by Tom »
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PancakeBill

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 08:20:50 PM »
Banjos have even better jokes than ukes, drums and accordians. 

Hear about the guy that left his banjo in the car and forgot to lock it?  He came back and there were 2 banjos!

Banjo player with no girlfriend?  Homeless.

The 5 string is tuned to open G, same as my Dobro.  I can pick up a banjo and pick a little.  We don't press strings to frets though, so a little tricker for my fingers.

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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 09:18:12 PM »
I saw an interesting dobro in the store today Bill; Not like anything I've seen before, and I wish I'd taken a picture of it.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2012, 09:47:30 AM »
Might have been a Weissenborn. Has a hollow neck, sleeker looking more of a bass fiddle shaped body?
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2012, 10:04:56 AM »
Give us a heads up on your next concert.  We're only a 10 hour drive South.   
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2012, 10:52:31 AM »
Bill, it wasn't a hand-held instrument, which was what caught my attention. I was probably using the wrong term, and it could be a dulcimer. OTOH it didn't look quite like  THIS. The instrument was more vertical, and the strings were vertical. I'm curious, and Ill research a little more to see if I can find a picture.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2012, 10:59:25 AM »
Quote from: garyb1st
Give us a heads up on your next concert..

Will do Gary. We're currently planning/negotiating concerts for 2013. Remaining performances for 2012 are for residents of assisted-living facilities and a vision-impaired facility.
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PancakeBill

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2012, 11:29:22 AM »
That is called a hammered dulcimer, how about mountain dulcimer? 
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2012, 12:03:29 PM »
IIRC a mountain dulcimer was played by one of our forum members (Dave?) at a Moab rally - something like this:
http://www.smokeymountaindulcimer.com/dulcimers.htm
Played on his lap, and nothing like what I'm doing a lousy job of describing.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2012, 12:11:17 PM by Tom »
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2012, 06:59:56 PM »
Did it have a guitar type body and a neck?

Do you know what a dobro looks like?
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2012, 07:28:27 PM »
Quote
Did it have a guitar type body and a neck?

Neither. The best way I could describe it is it looked like a book standing upright and opened almost flat. Reminded me of the music open in front of a church organist, but it wasn't made of paper or card. The "strings" were vertical. I wasn't really paying attention, otherwise I'd have snapped a picture. I looked through the various pics I took in the store, and it doesn't show up.

Quote
Do you know what a dobro looks like?

Only from the photos I've seen online. As I said, I mis-labeled it as a dobro.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2012, 07:34:15 PM »
...a banjo is probably the only string instrument I have never played.
I was watching a Marx Brothers movie today and realized I was wrong. There are two stringed instruments I have not played, the banjo and the harp.
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2012, 07:41:46 PM »
I can't imagine playing a harp, although it was an integral part of musical culture in the old country. More correctly, it was the triple harp.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2012, 08:27:17 PM »
Actually I think the harp would be easy to play. Basic harps are tuned chromatically so every note is in harmony with every other note. The ones with three registers and a bunch of pedals would obviously be a lot harder. It is kind of like a harmonica that is tuned chromatically, they are easy to play. Next time I am in a music store I will try one out and see how easy or hard it is.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2012, 08:44:30 PM »
Way beyond my mental or physical capability.

Talking of physical stuff, I've repeatedly tried and failed to play that Bb (guitar F) chord. I've researched alternatives numerous times, and always came up blank (except for even more challenging fingering). I was recently at the home of our guitar player and we both came to conclusion that this was anatomically not possible for me. We discussed the possibility of using a capo, and I started to write out all the alternate fingering for various chords.

Shortly sfterwards, I called our music director to discuss what I was planning (I've seen him use a capo with a guitar numerous times). He thought about it, called me back, and told me not to use a capo; He had a "better alternative". Sure enough, as I pulled into a non-musical event last Saturday, he pulled in next to me, jumped out, and proceeded to show me what to play instead.
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PancakeBill

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2012, 09:08:42 PM »
Did you leave the flat third out?
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2012, 09:43:02 PM »
Bill, the first (easiest) cheater chord is to finger just the bottom two strings on the first fret. Then "progress" to a slightly better option - drop the ring finger onto the third string, second fret. All three chords sound close enough to the same, and the cheater chords just blend in when everyone else is playing the correct chord. A big relief for me, because I've been beating myself up for almost 18 months over this.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2012, 10:00:22 PM »
The guitar chord you are talking about, Bb (F guitar), has many different ways of fingering it successfully. If you cannot achieve one fingering then try out other fingerings.

The Bb is composed of 3 notes. Bb, D and F. If you just finger the first two stings of the uke at the first fret you are playing Bb and F, the first and fifth notes of the Bb scale. It is perfectly acceptable to play just those two notes instead of the entire chord. That isn't cheating. If you play the D on the third string second fret then you are playing all three notes of the chord and that is great. Adding the low Bb is a nice touch but not necessary for the chord to be complete.

BTW - Are you keeping your left arm out away your body or is it close to your body? If it is too close to your body the F (guitar) chord becomes impossible to play. The uke or guitar should not be parallel to your body, it should be at a 45 degree angle to your body.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2012, 10:05:16 PM »
When I was a kid, my folks took us to see Eddie Peabody play.  The things he could do with that banjo just amazed me.  I've enjoyed listening to the music ever since.  Now, with Steve Martin playing, I've been listening to a lot more of it.  I tried playing back then, but as with all the other instruments, sports were more of a passion, so I never learned how to play.  I play many kinds of stereos real well though.   
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Tom

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2012, 10:28:53 PM »
Quote
If you cannot achieve one fingering then try out other fingerings.

I've tried several different ones, and the alternatives are even harder (for me).

Quote
Are you keeping your left arm out away your body or is it close to your body?

Pretty much per your previous suggestions, although it does take some conscious effort on my part, as does moving my thumb behind the neck to increase pressure and keep the forefinger down, whether it's pressing two strings or barre'ing four (same thing for Bb in ukese).
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #30 on: December 03, 2012, 09:53:45 AM »
I don't really keep my thumb behind the neck, mostly it is on top of the neck. For the Bb (F guitar) chord I rarely fret it normally. I almost always barre the chord. Barres are so much easier to play one you get the hang of them. Of course I play guitar and I haven't played a uke in years so it might not be as easy to barre on a uke.

One of the most basic rock and roll rhythm patterns is the Chuck Berry shuffle pattern where you barre the F guitar shape and then use your little finger to raise the 5th every other beat. I can't make the reach with my little finger to get to the right fret. I have been trying for 50 years to get that right and I can't even come close.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #31 on: December 03, 2012, 12:48:07 PM »
Lots of information available at www.banjohangout.org , a site I help moderate.

I play 5 string banjo.  Can't help much with 4 string information.  You can play all music types on a 5 string, not just bluegrass.

Here's a cip that describes several styles for you: http://zeppmusic.com/Demo_videos/banjo_styles.wmv
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 01:30:32 PM by Gottasmilealot »
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #32 on: December 03, 2012, 06:54:45 PM »
Thanks for the link Keith. Interesting site.

Meanwhile, I opted to upgrade my banjo uke, and to continue whacking away at that for a while, then  maybe start looking for a 'full size' banjo later.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2013, 08:13:34 PM »
After a lot of research and procrastination, I recently ordered a "full size" banjo. This one is a plectrum banjo (4 strings, 21 frets). It's currently back-ordered at the manufacturer, and should arrive at my favorite music store in a couple of weeks. The store owner isn't a dealer for this manufacturer, and sells few banjos. But she went out on a limb to sign up with this manufacturer and order this instrument  for me, on the understanding that I'm not obligated to buy it. She has a MAP (minimum advertised price) matching policy, and also gives me a negotiated band discount.

Our uke band Music Director, also a banjo player, has agreed to come to the store to check it out. He's also offered (free) private lessons.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2013, 05:40:34 PM »
     Congratulations, Tom. One of the joys of music is seeking the next level - and the limitations of current instrument is one of the drawbacks to doing that.

In my case I first upgraded in the 8th grade from a school supplied coronet to a used one my folks bought - then to a $175 new trumpet they bought for me in the 11th grade. But I peaked out there as to improving due to instrument upgrade. I never reached the capability of that horn - and sold it after my time in the Navy. I now have the same horn, same year and model, that I bought on the internet and started lessons again -- and with the same horn, am still far from what an accomplished trumpeter can do with it.

The little I know about stringed instruments can easily see how small changes or upgrades can enhance how you play. Though it always depressed me a bit when an accomplished player picked up whatever horn I had and played it tons better than me. I actually own a guitar and took a few lessons from friends so know that much about how hard it is to do chords with fingers with movement slowed by arthritis.

BTW, someone once asked me about chords on a trumpet - and I explained one would need to be able to play more than one trumpet at the same time to do that. And it can be done. I can get "noise" out of two trumpets, but have you ever heard of the crazy Swedish musician, Gunhild Carling, and the Carling family band? She plays many instruments and is especially accomplished on trumpet, trombone, and bag pipes - plus an excellent tap dancer. Most of the players behind her are family members - her Dad and siblings.

Anyway, there are a number of YouTube videos of her band and tours around the world. But in this one, she plays 3 trumpets, in harmony, at the same time. Also, she plays the bass fiddle while balancing and playing a trumpet at the same time. On another video, she kiddingly fussed at her banjo playing sister - and to demonstrate how to do it correctly, played the banjo while balancing and playing the trumpet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeZKcBM5nrM

But again, good luck with the new banjo. Looking forward to hearing you plan at Quartzsite in January!!!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 05:42:44 PM by Bob Buchanan »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2013, 06:54:30 PM »
I'm jealous Tom, I have never ever played one note on a banjo. You should have some fun.

Thanks for the video Bob, that is one amazing woman.

Back when I lived in Santa Cruz in the 90s I used to jam a few times a week with Ranger Gene. We both played guitar. We tried to get more people to come jam with us but usually it was just us two. Well that leaves us without a set of drums and bass. So I eventually came up with the idea of me playing both rhythm guitar and my Casio synth at the same time. The synth has a built in rhythm section that will play in Accompanyment mode. In that mode you push a key on one of the bottom two octaves and it starts playing a tune that has bass, drums and rhythm parts in the key you pushed. You have a choice of many styles, any key and any speed you wish. So every time the chord on the song we were playing changed I would push the proper synth key at the bottom of a downstroke with my right hand and the synth would switch to the right chord. It sounds a bit crazy but it worked real well. We would jam for hours like that, two people sounding like an entire band.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2013, 07:32:52 PM »
Thanks Bob.

One of many reasons for wanting to do this came from something I witnessed several years ago. We were rafted out on the Delta in our boat with 50+ other boats, and our current Music Director was playing banjo and singing in the cockpit of his boat, entertaining 50-100 people who "drove in" by inflatable dinghy. I told him a couple of days ago "that's something I want to do before I leave this Earth", and his response was "you'll do it long before then".

The banjo was the ideal instrument to entertain the crowd in the open air without amplification.

I'm really a long way from being ready to "progress to another instrument", but feel it's a natural extension of playing the banjo ukulele. However, chord shapes for a banjo tuned to CGBD are quite different from the standard ukulele (and banjo uke) GCEA tuning. This is going to be a mental and physical (muscle memory) challenge. An added challenge is that the banjo is typically played over a wider range of the fretboard than a ukulele.

That video shows how talented Gunhild Carling is. The closest I've seen to that is Dolly Parton at one of her concerts at the Arco Arena; Her range of talents and the number of different instruments she played was quite amazing.

Quote
Though it always depressed me a bit when an accomplished player picked up whatever horn I had and played it tons better than me.

I know exactly how that feels, and experience it every time I'm with my friend, the Music Director. He taught himself to play the uke after I sent him a "please buy a uke and come teach me" email while he was on vacation in Maui. He did all the above, and showed up at our door the following week, and immediately got me past first base, after I'd been struggling for a month to strum chords.

I have no idea if this is going to work out, but I was given another incentive when we visited our son and DIL near Columbus earlier this year. That's when I found out this KY girl comes from a musical family of guitar, banjo, drums and brass players. Practicing my uke at their place was the catalyst for her to buy another (used) banjo and take lessons from her banjo teacher brother via Skype.

The attached photo is merely a pose.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #37 on: May 12, 2013, 07:57:52 PM »
No reason to be jealous Tom. I suspect you're light years ahead of me in playing any instrument.

That Casio synthesizer sounds fascinating. When we were in Indio a couple of years ago, I hooked up with several uke groups in Palm Desert and La Quinta. In one of the groups the leader had some 'box' on the floor that he pressed (or kicked) with his foot and it would (attempt to) play drums to set the beat. I say "attempt", because it kept going off the beat which, IMO, defeated the whole object of using it.

BTW a few weeks ago I was in my favorite music store (LaMorinda Music in Lafayette) to look at a Luna banjo that I'd learned they had in stock. Luna is the same brand as my banjo uke. It turned out to be a 6-string banjo with a short neck that was tuned like a guitar. They're made so that a guitar player can pick them up and immediately play. I OTOH stood in the store like a dummy, not knowing what the heck to do with this thing. That's when I asked the store owner to get a plectrum banjo in, and she immediately went to work on it.

What she ordered for me is a Gold Tone Cripple Creek that runs just under $500. Inexpensive, but of adequate quality for a beginner or intermediate player. If I ever graduate to the big time, this lady will likely buy it back from me, as she did with my first banjo uke.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2013, 08:11:45 PM »
My guitar amp has a foot pedal and I can use it to set the tempo of a beat my amp will play. The problem is the foot pedal requires two taps to set the right tempo and that can't be done by me while I am playing guitar without screwing up something. I can set the beat before I start playing with no problem but not while I am playing. But it is cool to have the technology.

http://www.amazon.com/Line-Spider-IV-75-Amplifier/dp/B002GYWBJ6/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1368407309&sr=1-2&keywords=line+6+spider

This is the amp I have. It has a whole bunch of stuff built in. If you are interested scroll halfway down the page and read the product description. It does everything except cook breakfast.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #39 on: July 20, 2013, 05:44:58 PM »
It took a long time, but my plectrum banjo finally arrived today. After the dealer initially ordered it from the factory, they came back saying it was on backorder. I waited patiently, while the dealer kept getting the runaround from the manufacturer; June delivery became July, then August/September or later.

All the while, amazon.com had the same model in stock and, a few days ago, I ordered it with Prime/2-day shipping. It arrived all set up and, with just a quick tuning (CGBD), was ready to go.

I've been sitting here with the banjo and a chord chart, and so far it's a mind bender after having played ukes (tuned GCEA) for the last couple of years. Have a few chords down, but the brain and the muscles occasionally forget and want to play uke chords. Another learning experience for my brain and muscle memory.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #40 on: July 22, 2013, 07:49:40 PM »
I have several banjo-related goals, each of which will take some time and a lot of practice:

  • Participate in jam sessions such as this recent impromptu event at our house, but playing a banjo.
  • I'd like to informally engage folks in a singalong. See this message for more explanation.
  • Join the Wineland Banjo Band. I've previously had some email dialog with Jim Bottorff, their band leader, when I was trying to figure out what to buy.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 08:42:35 PM by Tom »
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #41 on: July 25, 2013, 05:24:36 PM »
Had my first 1-on-1 banjo lesson today, and it was a lot easier than my first ukulele lesson. The uke was the first stringed instrument I'd played, and 2 years of playing the uke has at least taught me something. OTOH one disadvantage is that my fingers occasionally (often?) want to go to uke chords  :-[

I left today's lesson with the belief that I'll be able to play the banjo, given some determination and sufficient practice. I also left with my practice assignment for the next week  ;D
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #42 on: July 31, 2013, 08:38:31 PM »
I'm still practicing chord switching in a couple of simple keys (C and G), and occasionally play a few songs.

My banjo tutor called a short while ago to schedule my next class (tomorrow). Meanwhile, he's eager to have a banjo player accompany him (playing guitar) and another guy playing fiddle. Gotta exercise & train those fingers!
« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 08:50:05 AM by Tom »
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2013, 08:00:35 PM »
Today the fiddle player stopped by, mentioned he'd heard I had new banjo, and said he's eager for me to.play in a fiddle/guitar/banjo trio. I'd better get practicing!
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #44 on: August 01, 2013, 08:09:02 PM »
Your fame is spreading :)
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #45 on: August 01, 2013, 09:01:45 PM »
LOL Ned, now I have to learn some fiddle tunes  :(
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #46 on: August 23, 2013, 08:58:29 AM »
Angeline the Baker.  Great fiddle tune.  Played it with the granddaughter of Pete Seeger one time, back in RI.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #47 on: August 23, 2013, 12:46:21 PM »
Thanks Bill, I'll check it out on iTunes. I continue to practice the banjo daily, and play a few simple tunes. Haven't graduated to fiddle tunes yet, but hopefully I'll get there.

We're about to re-start the ukulele group after our summer hiatus, so we've been getting a bunch of music ready. I'm the "test driver" for all new and revised music, so had to pick up the uke. Amazingly, muscle memory took me right to the uke (GCEA tuning) chords, quite different from the plectrum banjo (CGBD tuning) chords. Yesterday I was switching between the two instruments, and going to the uke was more 'automatic' than going back the other way.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #48 on: September 06, 2013, 09:04:41 AM »
Picking both ways will eventually become automatic.  The normal ;-) banjo is open G tuning,  but I now forget the drone string tuning.  I think the other 4 are dgbd.  So drone is likely a G. 

I know if the banjo player wants to trade I can bar chord and pick along. 

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #49 on: September 06, 2013, 10:02:09 AM »
Aye, hope you're right about picking Bill. At my current rate, I'm predicting it will be a year before I'm as comfortable playing the banjo as I currently am playing the ukulele.

Plectrum banjo (4-string), which I have, is tuned CGBD and, when I picked up my friend's 5-string a few days ago, the 'other' 4 strings were tuned the same as my plectrum. Don't know if that's normal for a 5-string (I've seen mention of gDGBD), but my plectrum banjo is tuned the same as the nearby Wineland Banjo Band has their 4-string banjos tuned; The chord chart I'm using came right from their Band Leader's web site.

More options for banjo tuning on the Deering Company web site.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #50 on: September 06, 2013, 11:33:30 AM »
And then there is Joni Mitchell. She uses a different open tuning for just about every song. She has so far recorded about 50 to 70 different tunings. If you watch a concert video of her playing it will melt your mind.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #51 on: September 09, 2013, 08:53:53 AM »
No matter which stringed instrument you play there can be alternative tunings.  On the Dobro there are a bunch, but I am challenged enough with the standard open G. 

How are you strumming, like the uke, or roll picking?
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #52 on: September 09, 2013, 10:46:03 AM »
Quote
How are you strumming, like the uke, or roll picking?

Mainly like the uke, with some roll picking; For me, the latter needs a lot more practice, concentration and patience  :(
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #53 on: September 17, 2013, 08:20:59 PM »
I played with a banjo player in Tennessee about 2 years....have missed the rolling banjo sound for years...then I got a Yamaha and started sequencing the banjo and play my guitar with again.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNUILRfbPvI
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #54 on: September 18, 2013, 01:57:08 AM »
Nice one Cliff. That PSR9000 is sure an impressive piece of equipment.
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #55 on: September 18, 2013, 08:45:48 AM »
The old S9000 is gone. I upgraded a few months back to a S950 http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/keyboards/arranger_workstations/psr-s950/?mode=model .... It beats dragging around a 5 piece band... banjo sound is better than the 9000.... Uses a flash drive... Can play and call up 16 sequenced band members..... play and put in memory to call up for a live performance. The flash drive will also record my vocals and guitar as they are plugged into the keyboard. On board mixer and effects with digital memory.....  Sounds like a live band on stage through the Bose L1 PA.... Compact enough for a small RV...
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #56 on: September 18, 2013, 08:50:31 AM »
This was sequenced and recorded to the flash drive in the S950 keyboard..... Camping World Jingle  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZjIJXqQNcc
I am soon to be "On The Road Again" Just can't wait to get in my RV again...The life I love is going to Rallys with my friends....I just can't wait to get on the road again!!!......... rvsongs.com..... I am an Ambassador for Camping World/Good Sam.

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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #57 on: October 01, 2013, 05:34:54 AM »
Earlier in your conversation you mentioned a harp.  Did you perhaps mean the autoharp as played by Mother Maybelle Carter?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVBtvKqJoUc
I took up banjo lessons after retiring.  Always loved the sound.  Things went along pretty well until I had to learn the A minor chord.  Might change my name to Fat Fingers Fred.  Challenging but fun.  It seems the answer to all questions is "You just need to practice more."  Let's see, an hour a day practice, need at least 2000 hrs, maybe 3,000...my goodness I'll be in the ground!
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 05:40:07 AM by Dino678 »
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #58 on: October 01, 2013, 06:00:43 AM »
Earlier in your conversation you mentioned a harp.  Did you perhaps mean the autoharp as played by Mother Maybelle Carter?

I was referring to the Welsh triple harp played in the homeland.

I can see that A minor could be a challenge on a 5-string banjo, but is easy on my plectrum banjo and even easier on a tenor banjo.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 06:03:29 AM by Tom »
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Re: Calling banjo players
« Reply #59 on: December 14, 2013, 06:43:10 PM »
I would go with a 5 string banjo even if you don't want to play bluegrass.  A Deering Good Time would be an excellent choice and can be had new for about $500.  They can also be usually found on Craigslist for $300 or $400.  They are tuned in open G.  All strings open is a G.  The  C chord is an easy chord to play and beginners can substitute a D7, which is real easy to fret with only 2 fingers, for  D which is a more difficult chord to master.  You would need to get a thumb pick and 2 finger picks and learn some basic roll patterns (3 or 40 basic patterns).  You will be playing some easy 3 chord songs in a couple of hours.  Beginner DVDs such as The Murphy Method series and Pete Wernick's Lets Roll are excellent to learn from.

 

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