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Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

TheGuyInTheHawaiianShirt - Posted - 05/12/2011:  17:55:19

Is there a place on here that goes over all the terms and phrases that you guys are always saying and confusing banjo noobs like me?

beegee - Posted - 05/12/2011:  18:05:56

Are you talking hardware and appliances or licks and softgoods?

TheGuyInTheHawaiianShirt - Posted - 05/12/2011:  18:08:45

Yeah...  that's the stuff that get me.  Appliances are things like refrigerators.  What are appliances in the banjo world?  I was thinking like a banjo dictionary or something that explained what things like licks, hammers and fret nuts are.

Grum - Posted - 05/12/2011:  19:30:39

I've got nothing better to do right now so, here goes ...

Nut - bar of plastic or bone at the end of the neck. Strings pass over it on the way to the tuners.

Bridge - wooden bar or bridge shape thing at other end of strings. The strings pass over it on the way to the tailpiece.

Tailpiece - What the strings attach to at one end.

Head - the drum skin surface that the bridge rests on.

Fret - wire ridges spaced along the neck.

Capo - device that clamps across the strings to make them all sound higher. 

Open G - a Chord  (G) which sounds when you pick the strings without touching them with the left hand ie unfretted.

Rim - The wooden ring hidden under the Head and all the metal parts

Tone Ring - a ring of Brass or Bronze that the head is stretch over. It resonates or rings giving volume and tone to the banjo.

Chord - combination of three notes in a scale. Eg a Major chord is the 1st,  3rd and 5th notes on the scale.

Lick - a phrase or group of picked notes that can be applied in different places to add to the melody or general sound. Most are called G-licks because they're for use when playing in the Key of G. There's D licks, C licks etc, etc.

Vamp - A backup technique where a chord is held with the laft hand and some strings are plucked simultaneously with the right in rhythm with the music.

Mute - a metal device attached to the bridge to quieten down the banjo. Used for practice.

Hammer-on - Pluck string and then place left finger on fret quickly to get a second (higher) note. 2 notes for the one pluck.

Pull-off - reverse of Hammer-on but for same effect. Pluck string with right hand then pull the left hand finger off with a plucking action getting a second (lowe)r note.

Slide - pluck string, slide left finger up several frets. Effectively joins two notes at either end of the slide.

X-position - Right hand held near the bridge. Sharpish tone.

Y-position - Right hand moved closer to the edge of the head near the neck. Gives a more mellow tone. Often used when playing up the neck

"Up the Neck" - left hand fingering notes on frets close to the head eg 12th, 15th, 17th frets.

"Down the Neck" - left hand playing within the first 5 frets

Breakdown - very fast tune made up of lots of fancy licks rather than a melody 



TheGuyInTheHawaiianShirt - Posted - 05/12/2011:  20:02:46

Thanks much, Grum.  Many things explained in there.

How does a tone ring differ from the rim? Sounds like they're both the thing that the head stretches over.

mike gregory - Posted - 05/12/2011:  20:13:08

The wood thing is the rim. The shiny thing is the tone ring.

Rims can be made of anything. Wood, metal, plastic resin.

Tone rings can be small hoops of bent rod, or as the above picture illustrates, a very heavy casting.

Some banjos have cast metal bodies, all one piece, where the tone ring and the rim are cast as a single unit.

I have made banjo bodies out of cookie tins, PVC sewer pipe, aluminum fry pans, wooden salad bowls, aluminum pressure cookers, et blooming cetera.

Maybe looking here will help: 

Westvon - Posted - 05/12/2011:  20:56:46

This link is a glossary of things related to the banjo.  Check it out

Edited by - Westvon on 05/12/2011 20:57:23

blindsniper - Posted - 05/12/2011:  21:11:28


Originally posted by TheGuyInTheHawaiianShirt

Yeah...  that's the stuff that get me.  Appliances are things like refrigerators.  What are appliances in the banjo world?  I was thinking like a banjo dictionary or something that explained what things like licks, hammers and fret nuts are.

I support you in that.  How about a Banjo Hangout Book of Operational Definitions so that all of us can be on the same page when we talk banjo

gdoc - Posted - 05/12/2011:  21:31:13

Let's not forget some of the slang for playing, such as "the key of 2"  which refers to playing in the Key of A, capoing at the 2nd fret so to be able to think in terms of G licks.

dmiller - Posted - 05/12/2011:  22:44:14

If there's a term used here (or anywhere) about the banjo that you're not sure of the meaning of, the quickest way to find out the meaning of it is to type the term (I'll use "tension hooks" as an example) into google with a question mark after it.

So if you type: banjo tension hooks?  into google    One of the results you get is this - - - > >

Hope that helps you out some.  Google is your friend.  We are too, but google is faster.    wink approve wink

edited to add - - -  Grum gave you a very good list there.  cool

Edited by - dmiller on 05/12/2011 22:50:24

Grum - Posted - 05/13/2011:  01:02:18

But wait, there's more ...

Back Yard - where you practice until you can play Cripple Creek properly.

Back Room - where you practice most of the time.

Auditorium - where you may perform one day.

Wife - the thing you forgot about because you're playing banjo too much.

Lawn - really long, green stuff in the Back Yard you forgot about the minute you moved into the Back Room.

BAS - Banjo Acquisition Syndrome. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Electronic Tuner - a device that clips onto your banjo to tell you exactly how far out of tune it is.

Timing - a constantly varying rate of banjo playing. It is essential to slow down for the hard parts but to speed up on the bits you know well.

Banjo jokes - people who really wish they could play the banjo tell these.

Luthier - someone who takes an enormous amount of money from you for tuning your banjo.

Duelin' Banjos - a song everybody asks you to play. Which, by definition, is tricky if you're by yourself.

Deliverance - an Academy Award winning film that has almost nothing to do with banjos.

FMB - the song the people who asked you to play Duelin' Banjos should have asked you to play.

Earl Scruggs - a man who cannot knit, juggle, stand on his head or recite Shakespeare. Has some musical talent.

Bill Keith - invented a device to de-tune a banjo.

Drive - to keep on going.

Slide - loss of traction.

Hammer-on - to go faster.

Pull-off - to steer towards the side of the road.

Expert - someone who plays better than you.

Beginner - someone not as good as you.

Festival - a place where you walk around searching for a group playing slowly.

Jam - a place where everybody seems to know other songs than you know.

Airline - company committed to crushing musical instruments.

"Fragile!" - a sticker that can only be obtained after signing a document absolving the airline of any responsibility to acknowledge the sticker.



Andyincov - Posted - 05/13/2011:  01:22:48

Ha!  Good stuff - all true

g3zdm - Posted - 05/13/2011:  03:07:56

 2 additions :

Tuner - a kind of fish

Bass - see Tuner


Banjophobic - Posted - 05/13/2011:  07:04:28

I asked for a banjo glossary as a sticky on each forum. I was told to do the glossary myself and put it on my homepage. That's not what I had in mind. It should be a part of the main site, acessible to all, from the forums. Oh well, maybe one day...wink

Banjophobic - Posted - 05/13/2011:  07:26:22

Ok, Ive decided to start this anyway. Jeff (the Banjo-L glossary creator) gave me permission to copy his work here. So, we have a starting point for this. It wont work like his glossary on Banjo-L,  with out some computer  know-how (hint,hint), but at lease its a start. Please chime in on the thread.smiley

TheGuyInTheHawaiianShirt - Posted - 05/13/2011:  07:28:45


Originally posted by Banjophobic

Ok, Ive decided to start this anyway.... So, we have a starting point for this.

Yay, I contributed to the hangout by asking a noobie question!  Someone make me a moderator ;)

Banjophobic - Posted - 05/13/2011:  09:00:05

here's the new thread:


Should be easy to find,since its on this forum..big

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