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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Banjo tone Glossary


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/263735/2

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wuzapicker - Posted - 06/01/2013:  10:07:12


Chicken killing: A loud, abrupt, dry, brittle sound with a short report that can be produced by a 40-hole raised head masterclone system set up that way.

Paint Peeling: a synonym for chicken killing above.

Michael

dnichols - Posted - 06/01/2013:  16:33:07


CLANK- hard to describe. Just listen to this clip :)



m.youtube.com/watch?v=WTir7eP1xDk


steve davis - Posted - 06/01/2013:  18:10:14


Brash w/rattle.
Slightly tighter head/light strings/lowish action and or not much neck relief.

Dave Magram - Posted - 06/01/2013:  23:58:31


Some of the terms I’ve heard used to describe a good bluegrass banjo are: Snap, Crack, and Pop.



Oddly enough, here are the terms used by the Kellogg Company to describe the sound a bowl of Kellogg's "Rice Krispies" breakfast cereal makes when cold milk hits it: Snap, Crackle, and Pop!



The eerie coincidences begin:



- Kellogg’s is based in Battle Creek, Michigan at the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers. And the next city along the Kalamazoo River (just 24 miles away) is… Kalamazoo, Michigan, home of the Gibson Banjo!!



- And when did Kellogg’s begin advertising on the radio: “The merry chorus sung by Kellogg's Rice Krispies as they merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk.” ? ...In the early 1930s-- the same period when Gibson was producing its legendary flathead Mastertones!!



Just a coincidence? I wonder… big



Other questions to ponder:



- What do you think Earl Scruggs usually ate for breakfast?



- Did the three elves named Snap, Crackle, and Pop actually work a second job at Gibson making flathead banjos on the night shift?



- Which elf (Snap, Crackle, or Pop) was named "Employee of the Month" by Gibson in 1930 when Earl's legendary banjo was built?



The mystery deepens...laugh



-Dave



 


Randall - Posted - 06/02/2013:  04:50:17


I will say this and probably get called out on it! "Rattle" is a banjo tone term! Our good buddy Steve Huber used it a few times in his setup video he did 10 or so years ago!

So... If you're gonna make fun of the term "rattle", take it up with Mr. Huber!! LOL!!!

Great thread!!

"Phat" - adjective. Describes the fullness and complexities of all tones mixed together.

"Thin" - adjective. Opposite of "Phat"!

steve davis - Posted - 06/02/2013:  05:08:12


I cut out the Snap Crackle Pop trio from a box of Rice Krispies in '99 and glued them on my conversion's case.



Edited by - steve davis on 06/02/2013 05:08:53

AndyM - Posted - 06/02/2013:  08:16:47


Cuts through a mic.


banjoman56 - Posted - 06/02/2013:  14:33:04


banjohangout.org/global/ckedit.../icon.png) center no-repeat #ff0000;cursor:pointer;top:-1px;-webkit-border-radius:0px 0px 2px 2px;border-radius:0px 0px 2px 2px" title="Insert paragraph here">↵



quote


:Well, something is getting deeper,  I'm just not sure if it has anything to do with a mystery or not!  big


Originally posted by Dave Magram

 

Some of the terms I’ve heard used to describe a good bluegrass banjo are: Snap, Crack, and Pop.




Oddly enough, here are the terms used by the Kellogg Company to describe the sound a bowl of Kellogg's "Rice Krispies" breakfast cereal makes when cold milk hits it: Snap, Crackle, and Pop!




The eerie coincidences begin:




- Kellogg’s is based in Battle Creek, Michigan at the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers. And the next city along the Kalamazoo River (just 24 miles away) is… Kalamazoo, Michigan, home of the Gibson Banjo!!




- And when did Kellogg’s begin advertising on the radio: “The merry chorus sung by Kellogg's Rice Krispies as they merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk.” ? ...In the early 1930s-- the same period when Gibson was producing its legendary flathead Mastertones!!




Just a coincidence? I wonder… big




Other questions to ponder:




- What do you think Earl Scruggs usually ate for breakfast?




- Did the three elves named Snap, Crackle, and Pop actually work a second job at Gibson making flathead banjos on the night shift?




- Which elf (Snap, Crackle, or Pop) was named "Employee of the Month" by Gibson in 1930 when Earl's legendary banjo was built?




The mystery deepens...laugh




-Dave




 







 


steve davis - Posted - 06/02/2013:  15:19:32


Wicked good.

biltur540 - Posted - 06/03/2013:  10:47:54


I remember back in the 60s in one of those 'scholarly-written' books in a library, this particular author described the sound of a banjo as a...."barbaric yawp"!! Anybody remember that one???!!!  Another really colorful metaphor for banjo tone I've run into was "cawing"....which is probably a backhanded reference to claw hammer. But a good claw hammer player CAN 'paint this image' of crows cawing, and to me that's a sign of 'authenticity'...like Carter Stanley said of Roscoe Holcomb; "You could smell the wood smoke in that voice..."



 



As far as the other terms for tone-- I've always liked "snap", which to me means 'bright with a fast response'...others I've heard were "ballsy", gutteral, hollow, stifled, bold, brassy....and a strange old term meaning overly bright: "toppy".


hartley - Posted - 06/03/2013:  21:14:58


quote:

Originally posted by Laurence Diehl

 
quote:


Originally posted by hartley

 


POP !  whenyou play above the twelth fret








I have never understood what 'pop' is. Anything similar to a cork coming our of a champagne bottle?







              Yes ...but the pop is what ever note you are fretting, it is a right hand technique which some banjos respond to easier than others.


Banjophobic - Posted - 06/04/2013:  06:54:55


Ok, Here are the terms we have so far, with some' definitions/descriptions' :



 



Growl.  One term used to describe a characteristic BG  banjo sound, usually associated with flathead banjos. This tone refers to the deep, full and well defined bass string , as well as punchy, dark mids and associated natural overtones.



Bright -  Term to describe one type of tone, with emphasis on treble response and those overtones.



Plunky- Generally refers to the banjos tone with set-up factors that reduce overall response. This type of tone is associated with such things as a very lose head, lack of 'bright'  response, with muffled bass.



Plinky- Often meaning the  opposite of 'plunk'. A banjo with a very tight set-up where the range of tonal variety is restricted and the banjos overall sound is compressed and or staccato.



Pop- Term that describes notes that have power, clarity and energy. This often refers to a banjo's quick response time too.



Crack- Similar to 'pop', in that the banjos response is quick and has cutting power in ensemble situations.



Sizzle- term to describe a banjo with a strong treble register, and with very apparent higher overtones across the board.



Sparkle- Very similar to 'sizzle'.



Dry - associated with the elusive "pre war" tone. A good balance of high and low tones with good note separation and a noticeable loss of 'bad' overtones.



Warm -  A "woody" tone, but not dull.  The opposite tone of warm would be overly bight bright, harsh or metallic and an overall pleasing midrange.



Round/Full -  Round or full tone can be achieved by playing close to the neck while picking. Refers to the type of 'full' tone that is not too trebly or harsh.



Sweet Spot -  The a spot close to the bridge where the banjo reaches if full potential.  There will be some variance from banjo to banjo on where to pick with the right hand to get the most tone from a banjo.



 Dark - generally means something with a lot to bass or low tones.



Thuddy- See also 'plunky'.



Muddy- Usually refers to a banjo with no/low definition of notes. All ranges of response are mixed and hard to define. A 'mushy' type of tone.



Snap- See also 'crack'  and' pop' ( also visit Kellogg's website-big)



Decay- refers to the time it takes a note to die out after being sounded. Banjos are know for rapid 'decay'.



Rattle. A bluegrass term for rattlingyour band members [and audience] with a killer bluegrass tone derived from a really well set up, good quality,hard driven instrument



Woody- Referring to 'warm' and darker tone. Often favored in Oldtime, open back banjos.



Tubby: See also  round, woody, and 'warm'.  Usually positive in an old-time setting, sometimes negative in a bluegrass setting.



twang - a nasty sitar kind of sound when the string slot in the bridge, or nut, is damaged, worn out, or incorrectly done (typical of V shaped slots)



mellow - clear & sweet tone, easy on the treble



nasal - BG banjos that seem somewhat stifled on clarity although distinct sounding. Typical of Don Reno's earlier recordings



harsh - producing an unpleasant, almost distorted sound with harsh (to the ears) overtones.



presence - a well defined & clear tone usually due to the player's technique(s)



Choked - Lack of overall response and volume. Can be referring to the banjos set-up, which is 'holding back' the banjos ability to produce its optimum response.



"Cannon"- A banjos ability to project with great power and volume.



Sweet: Harmonious blend of fundamental note with complementary overtones when playing up the neck.



Tinny: Similar to 'bright', but with no complementary overtones.



Cut - Term that refers to a banjo's ability to be heard in all jam circumstances. Slices through/stands out amongst them.



Bells- Generally referring to a banjos very clear, pleasing tone when played up the neck, in the higher registers.



Fat- Word to describe a banjos overall 'fullness' and complexity of tones



Thin- Opposite of 'fat', with very little range of tones.



Rich-A tonal description- see 'fat' and lush'



Lush-  A tonal description: see 'fat' and 'lush' also.



Harsh- Generally meaning an unpleasant tone or response. Can include 'bad' overtones.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------



 



Ok, this is a start on the overall list. I've used some of you guys terms verbatim and copied and pasted them, and some i edited to get to the main point. None of this is set in stone, obviously. So read these over and if you want additions/corrections, we'll do that. Feel free to write in more terms you have heard. If you make additions or add terms try to keep the format the same, with bold typing the term and with a line  spacing between them.  I know we are leaving out quite a few.



Also try to keep these terms set on 'tone'. Stay away from  playing technique terms or set-up jargon. smiley



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



Edited by - Banjophobic on 06/04/2013 06:58:15

eagleisland - Posted - 06/04/2013:  06:58:38


So alphabetize it already.  tongue


Banjophobic - Posted - 06/04/2013:  07:12:52


quote:

Originally posted by eagleisland

 

So alphabetize it already.  tongue







You OCD guys kill me............big


McUtsi - Posted - 06/04/2013:  08:04:32


In an Arch Top I appreciate a touch of "sizzle" but don´t ask me to describe it.McUtsi


The Pope - Posted - 06/04/2013:  12:42:09


Ok, Here are the terms we have so far, with some definitions/descriptions':



Bells - Generally referring to a banjos very clear, pleasing tone when played up the neck, in the higher registers.



Bright - Term to describe one type of tone, with emphasis on treble response and those overtones.



Cannon - A banjos ability to project with great power and volume.



Choked - Lack of overall response and volume. Can be referring to the banjos set-up, which is 'holding back' the banjos ability to produce its optimum response.



Crack - Similar to 'pop', in that the banjos response is quick and has cutting power in ensemble situations.



Cut - Term that refers to a banjo's ability to be heard in all jam circumstances. Slices through/stands out amongst them.



Dark - generally means something with a lot to bass or low tones.



Decay - refers to the time it takes a note to die out after being sounded. Banjos are know for rapid 'decay'.



Dry - associated with the elusive "pre war" tone. A good balance of high and low tones with good note separation and a noticeable loss of 'bad' overtones.



Fat - Word to describe a banjos overall 'fullness' and complexity of tones



Growl - One term used to describe a characteristic BG  banjo sound, usually associated with flathead banjos. This tone refers to the deep, full and well defined bass string , as well as punchy, dark mids and associated natural overtones.



Harsh - Generally meaning an unpleasant tone or response. Can include 'bad' overtones.



Harsh - producing an unpleasant, almost distorted sound with harsh (to the ears) overtones.



Lush - A tonal description: see 'fat' and 'lush' also.



Mellow - clear & sweet tone, easy on the treble



Muddy - Usually refers to a banjo with no/low definition of notes. All ranges of response are mixed and hard to define. A 'mushy' type of tone.



Nasal - BG banjos that seem somewhat stifled on clarity although distinct sounding. Typical of Don Reno's earlier recordings



Plinky - Often meaning the  opposite of 'plunk'. A banjo with a very tight set-up where the range of tonal variety is restricted and the banjos overall sound is compressed and or staccato.



Plunky - Generally refers to the banjos tone with set-up factors that reduce overall response. This type of tone is associated with such things as a very lose head, lack of 'bright'  response, with muffled bass.



Pop - Term that describes notes that have power, clarity and energy. This often refers to a banjo's quick response time too.



Presence - a well defined & clear tone usually due to the player's technique(s)



Rattle - A bluegrass term for rattling your band members [and audience] with a killer bluegrass tone derived from a really well set up, good quality, hard driven instrument



Rich - A tonal description- see 'fat' and lush'



Round/Full -  Round or full tone can be achieved by playing close to the neck while picking. Refers to the type of 'full' tone that is not too trebly or harsh.



Sizzle - term to describe a banjo with a strong treble register, and with very apparent higher overtones across the board.



Snap - See also 'crack'  and' pop' (also visit Kellogg's website)



Sparkle - Very similar to 'sizzle'.



Sweet - Harmonious blend of fundamental note with complementary overtones when playing up the neck.



Sweet Spot - The spot close to the bridge where the banjo reaches it’s full potential. There will be some variance from banjo to banjo on where to pick with the right hand to get the most tone from a banjo.



Thin - Opposite of 'fat', with very little range of tones.



Thuddy - See also 'plunky'.



Tinny - Similar to 'bright', but with no complementary overtones.



Tubby - See also  round, woody, and 'warm'. Usually positive in an old-time setting, sometimes negative in a bluegrass setting.



Twang - a nasty sitar kind of sound when the string slot in the bridge, or nut, is damaged, worn out, or incorrectly done (typical of V shaped slots)



Warm - A "woody" tone, but not dull. The opposite tone of warm would be overly bight bright, harsh or metallic and an overall pleasing midrange.



Woody - Referring to 'warm' and darker tone. Often favored in Oldtime, open back banjos.



Ok, this is a start on the overall list. I've used some of you guys terms verbatim and copied and pasted them, and some i edited to get to the main point. None of this is set in stone, obviously. So read these over and if you want additions/corrections, we'll do that. Feel free to write in more terms you have heard. If you make additions or add terms try to keep the format the same, with bold typing the term and with a line  spacing between them.  I know we are leaving out quite a few.



Also try to keep these terms set on 'tone'. Stay away from  playing technique terms or set-up jargon.



 



Edited by - The Pope on 06/04/2013 12:52:34

The Pope - Posted - 06/04/2013:  12:43:11


Thanks Banjophobic. I cleaned it up & alphabetized it. And, yes, I have OCD!  evil


Banjophobic - Posted - 06/05/2013:  06:55:08


Don't tell me we've run out of terms already...........


Helix - Posted - 06/06/2013:  02:59:22


I jhust want to add:

Snap = attack
Crackle = sustain
Pop = decay

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/07/2013:  07:03:11


Ok, here's a couple new terms added.........



Bark- Refers to a banjos volume and ability to he heard in most group situations.



Bells - Generally referring to a banjos very clear, pleasing tone when played up the neck, in the higher registers.



Bright - Term to describe one type of tone, with emphasis on treble response and those overtones.



Brittle- Used to describe a banjos tone that is very 'hard' on the listeners ear. See also 'tinny' and 'plinky'



Cannon - A banjos ability to project with great power and volume.



Choked - Lack of overall response and volume. Can be referring to the banjos set-up, which is 'holding back' the banjos ability to produce its optimum response.



Crack - Similar to 'pop', in that the banjos response is quick and has cutting power in ensemble situations.



Cut - Term that refers to a banjo's ability to be heard in all jam circumstances. Slices through/stands out amongst them.



Dark - generally means something with a lot to bass or low tones.



Decay - refers to the time it takes a note to die out after being sounded. Banjos are know for rapid 'decay'.



Dry - associated with the elusive "pre war" tone. A good balance of high and low tones with good note separation and a noticeable loss of 'bad' overtones.



Phat - Word to describe a banjos overall 'fullness' and complexity of tones



Growl - One term used to describe a characteristic BG  banjo sound, usually associated with flathead banjos. This tone refers to the deep, full and well defined bass string , as well as punchy, dark mids and associated natural overtones.



Harsh - producing an unpleasant, almost distorted sound with harsh (to the ears) overtones.



Lush - A tonal description: see 'fat' and 'lush' also.



Mellow - clear & sweet tone, easy on the treble



Muddy - Usually refers to a banjo with no/low definition of notes. All ranges of response are mixed and hard to define. A 'mushy' type of tone.



Nasal - BG banjos that seem somewhat stifled on clarity although distinct sounding. Typical of Don Reno's earlier recordings



Overtones- "Secondary' tones that are made by the banjos components. They are classified as 'good' and 'bad' overtones. Good overtones are 'musical' and pleasing, adding richness and complexity to the tone, while 'bad' overtones detract from the instruments primary voice and musicality.



Plinky - Often meaning the  opposite of 'plunk'. A banjo with a very tight set-up where the range of tonal variety is restricted and the banjos overall sound is compressed and or staccato.



Plunky - Generally refers to the banjos tone with set-up factors that reduce overall response. This type of tone is associated with such things as a very lose head, lack of 'bright'  response, with muffled bass.



Pop - Term that describes notes that have power, clarity and energy. This often refers to a banjo's quick response time and rapid decay.



Prewar- A type of tone associated with prewar Gibson banjos. Many of the terms used to describe banjo tone are also used to define 'prewar' sound. There is generally more than one type of 'prewar' tone. But many of the common terms match the tone types heard in prewar Gibson Banjos. There are two divisions of those tone types also: Flathead and Archtop. It is also known to be the types of tones heard on classic bluegrass recordings, from the legendary players. 



Presence - a well defined & clear tone usually due to the player's technique(s)



Rattle - A bluegrass term for rattling your band members [and audience] with a killer bluegrass tone derived from a really well set up, good quality, hard driven instrument



Rich - A tonal description- see 'fat' and lush'



Round/Full -  Round or full tone can be achieved by playing close to the neck while picking. Refers to the type of 'full' tone that is not too trebly or harsh.



Sizzle - term to describe a banjo with a strong treble register, and with very apparent higher overtones across the board.



Snap - See also 'crack'  and' pop' (also visit Kellogg's website)



Sparkle - Very similar to 'sizzle'.



Sweet - Harmonious blend of fundamental note with complementary overtones when playing up the neck.



Sweet Spot - The spot close to the bridge where the banjo reaches it’s full potential. There will be some variance from banjo to banjo on where to pick with the right hand to get the most tone from a banjo.



Thin - Opposite of 'fat', with very little range of tones.



Thuddy - See also 'plunky'.



Tinny - Similar to 'bright', but with no complementary overtones.



Tubby - See also  round, woody, and 'warm'. Usually positive in an old-time setting, sometimes negative in a bluegrass setting.



Twang - a nasty sitar kind of sound when the string slot in the bridge, or nut, is damaged, worn out, or incorrectly done (typical of V shaped slots)



Warm - A "woody" tone, but not dull. The opposite tone of warm would be overly bight bright, harsh or metallic and an overall pleasing midrange.



Woody - Referring to 'warm' and darker tone. Often favored in Oldtime, open back banjos.



Edited by - Banjophobic on 06/07/2013 07:12:09

banjoy - Posted - 06/07/2013:  07:05:46


I would suggest that "Fat" be spelled "Phat" ... otherwise it looks pretty complete to me...



(EDIT to add: I like it alphabetized, too :)



Edited by - banjoy on 06/07/2013 07:07:28

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/07/2013:  07:09:58


quote:

Originally posted by banjoy

 

I would suggest that "Fat" be spelled "Phat" ... otherwise it looks pretty complete to me...




(EDIT to add: I like it alphabetized, too :)







Ok, Ok, I give on the alphabetized thing..haha. "Phat" is not there. I  also made some additions to terms already there from members comments and added a few that came to my mind. There's got to be some we are leaving off here.'



You guys read this over and suggest any additions to the wording, and more terms. 



Edited by - Banjophobic on 06/07/2013 07:12:56

Hotrodtruck - Posted - 06/07/2013:  19:23:43


Probably for a new thread, but I think a sound file to go with each term will help get most of us on the same page. Here is a Monroe song featuring a banjo that has what I agree is "Pop", meaning clarity.and quick decay. BTW, I think that a fast number needs a banjo with pop, or else the sustain makes the notes run together. A slow number can use more sustain.



Roll On Buddy:



youtube.com/watch?v=WSw7Lt4gPGk



It sounds to me like a nice archtop on this number, with a tight head.



Mike



 


banjoman56 - Posted - 06/07/2013:  20:28:14


John there's always the sound of a neck breaking when it has been knocked over in the stand and the howl of anguish from the owner when it happens, but I will leave it to the experts to describe the sound. big


Dan Drabek - Posted - 06/07/2013:  21:40:50


I don't think of the descriptive "Twang" as being an unpleasant sitar-like sound. To me twang helps describe the difference between the sound quality of a resonator banjo and an open back. When I think of twang, I think of players like Ron Block with his 'twangy' chokes. Or Sammy Shelor with his overall twangy tone color. Maybe there's better term for it. 



DD


jwoods - Posted - 06/20/2013:  09:23:26


Punch - the Stelling Banjo Works tag at one time was "the banjo with punch".


Drivel - Posted - 06/20/2013:  10:30:28


Decay - refers to the time it takes a note to die out after being sounded. Banjos are know for rapid 'decay'. 



Change,  know to known.



Decay - refers to the time it takes a note to die out after being sounded. Banjos are known for rapid 'decay'.



Lush - A tonal description: see 'fat' and 'lush' also.



Change fat to phat.  Leave out lush.



Lush - see 'phat'.



Thin - Opposite of 'fat', with very little range of tones.



Phat.



Thin - Opposite of 'phat', with very little range of tones.



or,



Thin - Opposite of 'lush', with very little range of tones.



Edited by - Drivel on 06/20/2013 10:35:10

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