collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

During those years [Chicago late 30s] there was also a blues singer by the name of Dr Clayton out of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was very popular and made a lot of records. Danny Boy was his favourite and he could really sing it, but he was more of a blues singer - Oh, Didn't He Ramble: The Life Story of Lee Collins as told to Mary Collins

Author Topic: 6 String Banjos  (Read 14582 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Reso1

  • Member
  • Posts: 33
6 String Banjos
« on: May 05, 2004, 09:16:16 PM »
I bought one, and it should I arrive by the time I return from the annual Pelican Board Walk Boogie adventure. Any advice on strings, tunings, playing styles, & capos use would greatly be appreciated. It would be cool to bring it down to the workshop except for the airline baggage nazis! (8^)

Thanks in advance!

Lee
I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the  library and read a book.

-Groucho Marx

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2004, 12:55:30 PM »
Hi Lee,

Digging this one up out of self-interest. I assume you got your 6 string banjo, so what did you get? How do you like it? Any pics? I'm seriously considering getting one after playing the Deacon's Deering at Port Townsend.

Responding to your (old) questions, even though you probably figured it all out for yourself now, the first thing I'd do is get Papa Charlie Jackson, at least vol 1 on Document, if you don't have it. Vol 1 has much of his best material (although I like all 3). It is unfortunately pre-electric-mic style recording,? and therefore fairly poor sound. Still tremendous though.

Re. strings, you've figured that out by now too, but for what it's worth, Deacon was using extra light phosphor bronze I believe, and tried silk and steels. I've heard some people like nickel wound.

There's a blues banjo site with a little info at http://www.blues-banjo.com plus a few lessons at http://www.blues-banjo.com/lessons/index.html. I've haven't tried these to see if they're any good, but there is both 5 and 6 string banjo stuff.

As for repertoire, aside from Papa Charlie, I think a lot of ragtime stuff sounds great on a guitjo. You could adapt Gus Cannon stuff pretty easily too. I'm learning Police Sergeant Blues off John Miller's Robert Wilkins video, and I think it would sound great on 6-string banjo. Same with some of Wilkins other raggy stuff.

Any of you 6-string banjoists in the know - a Deering is an obvious choice but are there others you'd look at? No sure I like the look of the (much cheaper) Gold Tones. I would like to get an old one actually. Are there problems with intonation up the neck on these older ones? I've read the Deering is designed differently to solve such problems.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2004, 03:08:09 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Reso1

  • Member
  • Posts: 33
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2004, 05:27:34 PM »
Uncle Bud:

I got a Goldtone banjitar GT-500. I found one used in good shape and at a good price. Check out their web site, www.goldtone.com, lots of pictures and information and sound clips too.

For me right now, it's fine. The Deerings strike me as better made, so if you've got the dough and want a higher end instrument, I might go with the Deering. However, the Goldtone is fine for a banjo neophyte such as myself! If I really had the dough, it would be cool to get a vintage tubaphone or weyman!

Great for ragtime as you mentioned, & I also like to do Jim jackson's "Kansas City" on it. Great for most jug band type tunes too. Also, the capo is your friend, as these sound better capoed up the neck.

These models with the full resonator back are heavy, so get a strap, and coming from a National player, these babies are loud! The GT-500 has a pickup on it, which in my mind is a total oxymoron! My favorite string set so far are D'Addario electric nickel wounds, EXL110W. I wasn't happy with phosphor bronze at all.

A fun thing to have if used in "responsible" hands!

Enjoy!

Lee
I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the  library and read a book.

-Groucho Marx

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2004, 09:04:49 PM »
Thanks for the info, Lee. I hadn't been to their website yet. I still don't know about the look of the GT-500 - with that clear head and the sliding pickup and that gold color it looks like some sort of futuristic banjo! Good to hear they sound nice. Wish there was one around here to try. Is the head 10 inches? Can you take off the resonator easily and play it open back as with the Deering?

I kinda like the look of their Cripple Creek model. No specs on the website though aside from the MSRP.

Don't kid yourself: once you've bought a banjo of any kind, all responsibility has gone out the window....   :P

Griffis

  • Guest
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2007, 09:28:20 AM »
I'm curious if anyone here has any experience with the 6 string banjo. I know banjo pickers will say it's not a "real" banjo, but I am aware of that.  >:(   ;D

Anyways, I played 5-string banjo for a few years and currently play a banjo-uke and a tenor banjo, but I am thinking of a 6-string banjo to sort of augment my sound. I do play 6-string guitar in standard and DADF#AD tunings and I think a 6-string banjo would be nice to have. Get the banjo sound but still be able to Carter-pick and get those bass runs in there.

Does anyone have any experience with them or any warnings as far as brands, etc.?

Advice, suggestions, thoughts?

Appreciated.

Offline Dave in Tejas

  • Member
  • Posts: 66
    • David Newton Guitars
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2007, 11:42:15 AM »
You mean a Banjo-guitar, right?
Hi Griffis.
I've seen a couple, one built by a builder in Arlington, Tx, Larry Jenkins I believe. Doesnt' the guy in Old Crow Medicine Show play a banjo-guitar? I think it would be a great way for a dedicated guitar player to expand his sound.

Offline frankie

  • Member
  • Posts: 2440
    • DoneGone.net
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2007, 04:16:34 PM »
Guitar-banjos really have their own sound...  I got to play with WB Reid and his wife Bonnie this weekend...  WB can play anything, but banjo guitar is something of a signature sound for him.  He's a real ace...  plays a Vega "Electric" model.  Nice...

The real heyday of the banjoid hybrid was around the beginning of the 20th century, and lots of makers were cranking them out.  Vega continued making them into the 20s, along with Rettberg & Lange and Gibson.  You can find 30s Gibson Mastertone guitar banjos, but they're generally very expensive instruments.

Anyway - old Vegas are certainly a good bet - a Little Wonder, Whyte Ladye or Tu-ba-phone would do nicely.  I've played some really nice Orpheum guitar banjos, but they're not to everyone's tastes - same with the old Gibson GB models (pre-Mastertone).  My buddy Nate in Richmond plays a turn of the century guitar banjo (can't recall the maker) with a 16 (!) inch head.  Sounds fantastic.

I've played some modern guitar banjos - none of which really turned my crank, but if you're on a budget or just dabbling, look into the Gold-Tone banjos.  Deering makes two models, but the Gold-Tone can be had for (I think) less than half of the lowest priced Deering guitar banjo.  I've seen other modern makes advertised (Tyler Mountain, for example), but never seen one in person.

Edited to add:  about modern makers of guitar banjos - just thought of two:  a friend of mine has a guitar banjo made by Kevin Enoch that's a real honey.  One member here has a fretless guitar banjo made by Jere Canote - I haven't played it myself, but I did hear it once.  Sounded great, but it may have had more than a little to do with the player.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2007, 04:47:20 PM by frankie »

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2007, 09:30:40 PM »
Griffis - you'll find a couple other threads on 6-string banjos by clicking on the tag of that name at the bottom left of this thread. FWIW, I am still watching out for one I like but haven't yet bought. I tried a Gold Tone Cripple Creek model (I think - the model with no resonator) and found it a little thin-sounding.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6985
  • I like chicken pie
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2007, 04:55:25 AM »
I have a Deering D-6 which I talk about in one of the tagged threads. It doesn't get played enough due to me being so in love with the sound of a wood guitar and there not being enough hours in the day.

A 6SB is a great weapon if you're playing regularly with, say, another guitarist and would like to vary the sound. You can get some cool effects capoing up high, the typical long scale makes this a good place to be.

Your post has inspired me to bring it out and see where I'm at with it. My repertoire of chord tricks has expanded into jazz chord melody in recent years and a lot of that works on the 6SB.

If you take the time it can be a very versatile instrument. It's a subtle thing, all too easy to get a generic sound, much harder to shape that into more distinct variations. Listening to developing 5 string banjo players personally I think the same applies, time on the job and some idea of what sound you want to get makes the difference, all else being equal. Here's a photo:
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 05:27:21 AM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2007, 08:07:32 AM »
I tried a Gold Tone Cripple Creek model (I think - the model with no resonator) and found it a little thin-sounding.

I'll quote myself to clarify something here. I am actually looking for one with no resonator. The thin sound on the Gold Tone was just thin sound. It didn't have that great warmth I've heard on good open-back banjos and the like.

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2179
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2007, 10:39:34 AM »
I have a 1926 Vega Little Wonder that has a pretty good sound. A skin head, or at least a Fiberskyn one, makes a big difference in getting a warm tone out of it. The only frustrating thing about it is that it's made to take loop-end strings, and about the thickest one I can find is a .048 (and those aren't all that easy to find, except online). I prefer heavier strings, but that's a relatively minor complaint.
Chris

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11385
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2007, 10:57:40 AM »
Hi all,
I commissioned Jere Canote to make me a fretless banjo-guitar several years ago--I think he thought I was a little nuts.  The one he made for me is a beauty, though, with an especially pretty, deep, thuddy tone, and nothing of the "icepick in the ear" quality that long-scale tenor banjos can sometimes have.  I think of the tone as being African-sounding, whatever that means. 
Jere is a wonderful maker, and very affordable, and makes open-back five-string banjos and banjo-ukes in addition to making banjo-guitars.  For mine he came up with an innovation I had not seen before on a fretless banjo:  very thin maple inlays in the fingerboard where the frets would have gone if there had been frets--virtual frets, you might say.  They are a big help with intonation, especially up the neck. 
That having been said, it is still tricky to play a fretless instrument as a chordal instrument because it is difficult to play non-barred chord positions that require fretting adjacent strings at the same fret, like an E chord in standard tuning.  It is just a bit crowded fingering the A and D strings both at their sweet spots in that position.  Until you try a fretless instrument like this you don't fully realize how incredibly forgiving frets are.
I think banjo-guitar is a great instrument and has potential to work in a lot of contexts where you haven't heard it used a lot, like in jug or string bands as a rhythm instrument.  Chordally complex stuff a la Papa Charlie Jackson often sounds good on it, too, because it has a rapid decay and doesn't get swimmy-sounding.  Best of luck finding one you like, Griffis.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Flatd7

  • Member
  • Posts: 92
    • Pre War Blues, Country, Bluegrass & Gospel Music
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2007, 05:21:49 PM »
I love git-jo's. I play a Vega Tuba-phone model from the 20's. Like all banjos's with real skin heads, they're tempermental to the weather. Sweaty bars can reek havoc!!! I've seen old ones that had light bulbs installed under the head. It's not for a disco effect, it's to dry up the head and bring the action back up!

I use one at every gig. Steve James turned me onto them and has a lot of great git-jo on his early records. Currently the git-jo is a big part of the sound of Old Crow And The Medicine Show. Don't need to get into the pro's and con's on them here, that's been covered before. But their record sales show that the git-jo sound is still pretty popular.

I just picked up the 1968 record of the McGee Brothers with Fiddlin' Arthur Smith on Smithsonian Folkways. Damn, the Amos Johnson Rag sounds damn good to this day. Also, check out Papa Charlie Jackson or Johnny St Cyr with Louis Armstrong. I don't have any Danny Barker, but he was supposed to be the real deal with the Git-jo.

So I say go for it. You can find a decent Vega for a reasonable price. I say "go vintage". Stay away from the big resonator's. A little goes a looooong way. I tried a GB-4 that I lusted for, but I would have had to flip the Vega which is very sweet. You can check out mine on the Tampa Red tune "That's The Way I Do" on our recent record.

http://cdbaby.com/cd/secondfiddles


Offline GhostRider

  • Member
  • Posts: 1273
  • That'll never happen no more!
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2007, 05:56:58 AM »
Merry Christmas:

If you'd like to see some pictures of a very nice Gibson GB-4 gitjo, there's one for sale on eBay right now.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=320190511369&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=011

Alex


Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6985
  • I like chicken pie
Re: 6 String Banjos
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2007, 08:23:55 PM »
That's a real beauty alright Alex. Any guesses on the final bid? 2.5K? 3K?

Tags: 6 string banjo 
 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2021, SimplePortal