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Playing Since: 1976
Experience Level: Expert/Professional
Richie Dotson has made 20 recent additions to Banjo Hangout
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Occupation: Luthier, Teacher, Webmaster
Flatt and Scruggs
The Osborne Brothers
New Grass Revival
The Bluegrass Album Band
Nashville Bluegrass Band
Ronnie Barnes (my local hero)
The Stanley Brothers
Doyal Lawson and Quicksilver with Terry Baucom or Scott Vestal or Jim Mills ...well, I guess Mr Lawson hasn't had a bad banjo player, now has he?
Anyone else who didn't stop at only 4 chords and one first generation band style.
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Last Visit 12/6/2013
A Magical Gizmo that Enhances tone!
Monday, February 01, 2010 @2:28:07 PM
A Magical Gizmo that “Enhances” tone!
Do you want to know a secret? I mean this one is a real doozey! If you want great tone, you know, like you hear the professionals getting? Yea, that tone … well the first thing you need is a good, high quality banjo, or at least one that sounds like it is a really high quality banjo. What’s the difference? Oh, well … in spite of everyone’s opinion (I know, I know … everyone’s right … just ask ‘em) it has a lot to do with your own ear.
Developing a good ear takes a long time, and it has to be trained. It’s kinda like an acquired taste for fine wine or 18 year old Scotch … you may have even thought it didn’t taste so nice when you first tried it, but that is because you weren’t ready for it. Some people associate the development of a finer taste in rare spirits or ultra high end musical instruments as bewildering or even down right foolish or snobbish. I mean, what could be wrong with Budweiser and an El-Cheapo banjo? The answer is nothing at all, but if you want better tone …
Not so much with the beer, but the banjos that range from the bottom-feeding El-Cheapos through the midrange usually have their owners busy seeking an “Enhancement” gizmo in order to “improve” their tone. Most of the time the contraption will only yield something that is tonally different than what you started out with. After all, if you stuff your tone ring full of peanut butter it will change the tone ... if you like the sound better than it was before the viscous, culinary mishap took place, then your banjo’s tone was indeed "enhanced" … if not, go get some celery, saltines, and some paper towels. You see, (or perhaps hear is a better choice of words) “enhanced”, it’s all about what makes you happy.
The truth is that obtaining a better banjo is usually the only way to get one that has more potential. That isn’t to say that a mid-range or below instrument can’t sound good, and that is where the real secret comes into play … are you ready … are you really ready? It’s in your right hand, or at least for the most part. Your clarity, timing, taste and tone are so highly dependent on your right hand (my apologies to my south-paw brothers and sisters) that even if you handed a sloppy player Earl’s, Sonny’s or J.D.’s banjo they may still think that it needs “Enhancing”… and the folks standing around may even think that the banjo doesn’t sound so hot.
Some of us call it “pulling tone” and it truly is the secret to getting good tone. If you want your banjo to sound like Sonny Osborne’s banjo, let Sonny Osborne play it! A good player who has the years and the experience and the countless hours of real-life playing, not just sitting in their room with a DVD player and spiral-bound book, can make even a mediocre banjo sound much better than it should.
So, get out there and start hanging around with other musicians and enjoy life, music, and your banjo and get your timing solid and your right hand may soon be pulling tone so well that you won’t need to spend your cash on one $30.00 gismo after another … you can start putting it aside for a better banjo that your better timing, taste and tone can make sound even more incredible!
on “A Magical Gizmo that Enhances tone!”
Monday, February 01, 2010 @2:51:37 PM
you are just right richie, that right hand is where it starts,hope you are ok
Monday, February 01, 2010 @3:19:04 PM
Said like a very wise man. I have four banjos which vary in quality and I enjoy them all. I will say that even my best banjo, most expensive banjo, favorite banjo or however you would describe it, I still must learn to play better before it will sound like it does when other more experianced players pic it.
I will say this, even at my playing level, I am having a blast and enjoying every minute of it.
Monday, February 01, 2010 @3:32:55 PM
Ya nailed it Richie! That right hand will bring out the sound as nothing else. It also takes most a while to figure it out.
Monday, February 01, 2010 @11:29:17 PM
Bang on...there's no other way to go....well said Richie.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010 @4:45:56 AM
Damned GOOD advice! I can see the common sense of it & hope that my right hand will see it too.
Thursday, February 04, 2010 @12:12:36 AM
Thanks for the advice, Richie. I think there are a lot of folks with mid range banjos who are getting OK at playing who are tempted to think that the problems are in the banjo, like you said.
|Wes Lassiter Says:|
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @4:38:56 AM
Saturday, October 23, 2010 @3:29:11 PM
theres no guessing with this richie
Friday, March 22, 2013 @11:51:17 AM
As the Brits would say, you have touched the matter with a needle.....
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