Calling banjo players

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Tom

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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?
 
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.
 
... 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.
 
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).
 
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.
 
Tom said:
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.
 
Tom said:
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. 
 
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!
 
Tom said:
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.

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.
 
.... 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.
 

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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.

Bluegrass is life.
 
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.
 
Might have been a Weissenborn. Has a hollow neck, sleeker looking more of a bass fiddle shaped body?
 

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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.
 
[quote author=garyb1st]
Give us a heads up on your next concert..[/quote]

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.
 
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.
 
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