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Playing Since: 1961

Experience Level: Expert/Professional

Tom Berghan has made 111 recent additions to Banjo Hangout 

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Occupation: Engineer & Musician

Gender: Male

Age: 64

My Instruments:
1) Gibson RB-250 tube & plate flange, early 70s
2) Banjo d'Amore (Orpheus) - Dan Knowles, 2011
3) 1929 Gibson TB-2, four string
4) 5-string Buck Creek - Arthur Hatfield, 2012
5) Gold Tone Fretless Bass Banjo BB-400 Custom, bass tuning EADG, 2010
6) Minstrel "early" banjo, after Joe Sweeney, by James Hartel, 2016
7) 2014 Mini-Banjo (Soprano 5 string) by Marvin Walker,

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
In general I like the "old stuff" and older styles. I admire many of today's younger "progressive" artists, but I have always enjoyed collecting records from the 1920s through to the early 1960s. That fifty year period of American music is my favorite: Bluegrass, Old Time, Blues, Hokum, Rags, Swing, Hillbilly, Country, & Rockabilly. That's for me!

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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 6/23/2009
Last Visit 7/26/2017


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Cripple Creek - double-C

Posted by Tom Berghan

35 people like this

Play count: 2691
Size: 955kb, uploaded 9/20/2009 12:57:48 PM
Genre: Traditional / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Tom Berghan Clawhammer, recorded September 20, 2009. Chuck Lee Vintage Ovilla 2008, Kat Eyz Maple/Purpleheart bridge, Vellum Calfskin head. Pitch @ 415 - I got a gal at the head of the creek Goin up t' see her 'bout the middle of the week Kiss her on the mouth, just as sweet as any wine Wraps herself around me like a sweet potatoe vine

12 comments on “Cripple Creek - double-C”

dgill Says:
Sunday, September 20, 2009 @4:19:24 PM

Very nice. You can be proud.
Frank1 Says:
Monday, October 12, 2009 @1:29:47 PM

Love this version of it, Best Cripple Creek I have ever heard!
Don Borchelt Says:
Thursday, October 15, 2009 @5:09:17 AM

A whole new take going up the Creek. Fine job. "Cripple Creek's wide and Cripple Creek's deep, gonna wade old Cripple Creek before I sleep, the hills are steep and the roads are muddy, I'm gonna kiss those girls 'til they can't stand steady."
jimh269b Says:
Monday, June 7, 2010 @5:35:25 PM

and another one tom just really great
Karen Kruske Says:
Sunday, August 22, 2010 @2:03:07 PM

Really sounds great. Keep on pickin'
Mark Johnson Says:
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 @7:43:00 AM

I think my favorite thing in old time is when a real chestnut feels fresh, as it does here. great job, Tom.
Sporting Lad Says:
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 @10:17:52 PM

Hi Tom,
Ooooo...Love that sound! Could you please tell me what kind of strings you use?
Your instrument sounds so ...mellow...compared to the "bright and ringy" tone of mine. Is it your strings, or is your Chuck Lee Vintage Ovilla set up differently?
I've got a Gold Tone CC-50; I've just begun banjo in October, but I know the sound I'm after, and you've got it. Thanks in advance for any tips. :o ]
Tom Berghan Says:
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @4:38:24 AM

10, 11, 18 wound, 26 wound, 10. Skin head. But other than the strings (which are heavier than most people use) the most significant factor is the lack of any tone ring. It is just a simple wooden rim with the skin&flesh hoop and tension hoop. Hence the absence of any ringing reverberation sound. Next of course is the head, which is thick calf skin. Goat skin is good too.
Sporting Lad Says:
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @8:14:06 PM

Hmmm. I thought maybe they were 'nylgut' strings or something.
No, my brother has an Aida (sp?) bluegrass 5 with a tone ring. He loant it to me last year, and the 1st thing I did was to remove the resonator back. The thing still just CLANGED. And it was heavy. Like 9 pounds. I hated it, so I returned it to him and got this Gold Tone, which is perfectly fine for me. I'd just like the tone(?) to be 'mellower' (more 'golden') :o] if you know what I mean. I thought about taking some tension off the head.... My GT has a "Remo" head that looks rough on the outside, but shiny like plastic underneath. I've got a few bodhrans and African hand drums that have goatskin heads.
Are you familiar with Michael Cooney's work on banjo? He has a similar sound, altho he often plays fretless.
Do you think changing over to heavier ga strings will get me closer to the sound I want, or will I still need the skinhead?
Tom Berghan Says:
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @8:56:02 PM

First, try stuffing a hand towel against the underneath of the head. Does that sound closer to what you want? If so, then get a skin head. He "clang" you describe comes from the tone ring. It is a feature. If you play rolls like Earl Scruggs, it helps create a "ringing" sound. But for clawhammer I don't like it very much. The resonator will improve the bass end. If you want a more round rich sound, wear a resonator. I do. The heavy strings give me more "plunk," and the pitch is more stable. It tales a bit of experimenting. Keep experimenting.
Sporting Lad Says:
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @10:00:59 PM

The strings I'm using now are: 10, 13, 16, 24(wound) and 10. This looks similar to what you're using. I'm surprised. Here I thought the secret would be in the strings. I could replace my st 16 & wound 24 with 18&26 wound, but would that make much of a difference?

OK, now for the really dumb newbie Q: What's a "Tone Ring"? I think my new cell phone has, wait--that's a "Ring Tone" 'o ]
I thought you were referring to the resonator back (which my Gold Tone never had). Sorry, I must be coming down with a bit of brain fade tonight.
I started playing guitar in the '60s, so you'd think I'd know a thing or two about a thing or two by now, eh? So what's a tone ring?
FYI here's a pic of my banjo;
Tom H.
In the 70s some scientist kept telling us how
we were killing off 17,000 brain cells on a good night at the pub.
Back then I never thought I'd ever have need of them but, man,
I sure could use some of them now!
Sporting Lad Says:
Thursday, December 23, 2010 @10:57:18 AM

Tom, thanks so much for the PM this AM :0) and that wealth of info. I'm going to do a few of those experiments you suggested.
This post will put some closure to the recent series of questions I posted regarding your 'sound'. Thanks again.

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