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Playing Since: 1994
Experience Level: Novice
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Occupation: college administrator
I enjoy most music. My banjo interest is exclusively old-timey, and that's why I joined this site. I love the Skillet Lickers, Uncle Dave Macon, Earl Johnson and the Clodhoppers, the New Lost City Ramblers, and the Holy Modal Rounders. My favorite banjo players are Fred Cockerham, Tommy Jarrell, Bob Carlin, Paul Brown, Joel Mabus, Bruce Molsky, and all kinds of others. I'm also a HUGE fan of Curtis Eller's American Circus. Curtis is one of my oldest pals in the world, and the first banjo player I ever met.
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Last Visit 4/15/2012
Chuck Lee Banjo Arrives!
Monday, March 17, 2008 @4:01:53 PM
My custom Chuck Lee arrived yesterday, and I love it. Below is a video taking just after I got it out of the carton:
In the car, I dreamed up this silly little rhyme based on the "how old are you / you live in a zoo / you look like a monkey..." version of "Happy Birthday."
Happy Birthday to me
I got a Chuck Lee
It's a fine consolation...
For turning forty!
Actually, I don't require any consolation for turning 40. I actually think it's pretty cool.
But my Chuck Lee banjo is cooler. It's going to take a while for me to settle in with it; when I do, I will write a review. Here are my initial impressions. I will not mention cosmetics here because the thing is just flawless. These are all about playability and tone:
The action is "stiff," which I like. It will take getting used to. I like resistance from the strings, and this one has more of it than my Reiter or Ramsey. This surprised me because I think it's a slightly shorter scale length. But again, this is a plus.
The neck is wonderfully shaped, but I need to get used to it. Back behind the 5th fret it is "crowned" a little (i.e. it comes to a slight point--you can't see it, but you can feel it). Again, I like this, but it's new.
Middle finger. I cannot figure this out, but the angle of attack with my frailing fingers is very different on this banjo. If I frail with my index (which is what I usually do), I get a lot more skin from the side of my finger than I do on my other banjos. That mutes the sound quite a bit--a lot less "click" and almost no harmonic "cluck" with the index. Switch to middle finger and its click-n-cluck city. This is actually quite cool--it's like having a dampening switch! I need to play around with it.
Volume. This thing is loud, and with just a wooden tonering.
Third string. This is the only negative thing I have noticed so far, and it could be a set up issue or an issue with my attack. The 3rd string has a "muted" sound, particularly fretted. I often fret notes on the 3rd string so I need to find a solution to this. A simple way to address it would be to swap bridges. I don't really understand what is causing it yet, so I am not going to mess with it. It could just be a characteristic of this banjo.
I'll be updating with my thoughts. Oh, and Chuck asked to put my little video on his web site. I wish I had done a better job playing--maybe he'll let me update it later.
on “Chuck Lee Banjo Arrives!”
Monday, March 17, 2008 @4:09:36 PM
I couldn't see that close enough. Need to hear it better, too. Send it to me for a better review, ok? I'll get it back to you... sometime... maybe.
Monday, March 17, 2008 @11:21:10 PM
I was mesmerized by the nice tone. I can hardly wait to see the banjo you'll get when you turn 45 (or maybe 42?).
|Studebaker Hawk Says:|
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 @8:58:16 PM
I said it before and I'll say it again, we're living smack-dab in the middle of the golden age of banjo building. Beautiful five-string you got there... and you REALLY know how to play it, too. Very cool!
|Banjo Rob Says:|
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 @5:44:26 AM
Congratulations on the new banjo! It looks really awesome. Is the fingerboard mesquite as well? Whatever it is, it has a really clean look. The walnut is very pretty, also. I'm wondering about the scoop and the shape of it. You referred to a mini-fret when drop thumbing. Is that due to the curvature of the line in the scoop itself? I think that's what you're talking about, but can't see it too clearly in the video.
I also appreciate your detailed notes on the banjo. That stiff action must be nice. And the differences in tone as far as what finger you play with was interesting. As a newbie, I'll try that myself.
Enjoy! Keep us all posted as you find more out about the new banjo!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 @6:50:42 PM
Beautiful combination of Walnut and Mesquite. Chuck does wonderful work...and you'll do the instrument justice as you play so nicely. Happy belated Birthday Steve !!!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 @9:38:03 PM
Thanks for the comments on Cookie the Boston. She is a real sweetheart. She's about 7 now. I rescued her from a not-so-great situation when she was about a year and a half old. I can't take her to work, but she's at my side the rest of the time.
Happy B-day, and congrats on the new banjo. Its a great looking one, and as always you play it fantastically.
Happy Birthday to you
You got a new ban-joo
It looks really nice
And sounds pretty cool too!
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