I have taken an interest in sea shantie songs and wonder, is there a "proper" banjo to use for these types of songs? I've enjoyed writing a couple of my own originals (instrumentals so far) and it definitely works on my lovely Yates 5 string Ron Stewart mahogany, but I wonder if they are mostly done on 5 string or some other form of banjo?
Depending on the time/sound, your choices start at fretless 5-string with gut/nylon strings and hide head progressing to frets (about 1870), to wire strings (about 1890 for availability and 1916 for general use).
Lastly, adopt the attitude of a model railroader, "I'll run what I want". Not to many folks are going to say you're doing it wrong and the few that do can be ignored.
I think "add 2" chords are more commonly called "add 9." Same idea though.
add2 chords imply that the 2nd degree is added in the first or lowest octave which gives a darker sound since it is a step away from the third.
ex Cadd2 =. C D E G instead of the Cadd9 = C E G D
(not had fast rules though especially on limited range instruments like the 5 string banjo) These add2 add9 chords are ingrained in pop American culture in songs like THE WRECK OF THE EDMUND FITZGERALD & CALYPSO.
Thanks fellas, I appreciate the input and for the recommendation on Bob Zentz. I am surprised to learn that many shanties are sung acapella! In my uninformed mind, I always hear a banjo in my head in a sea shanty, that and a penny whistle!
"Working" Sea Chanteys: Short-Haul, Long Haul, Halyard, Capstan, so-named for the particular task they went with were usually un-accompanied. There was generally one sailor who sang the "lead" and the other sailors pulled on teh refrain. Focs'l chanteys may have been accompanied by whatever instruments the sailors had on board, as those songs weren't done for work, but for entertainment. . Sea Chanteys were generally sung only on merchant ships, to get the crew working in rhythm. On naval vessels, fiddles, fifes or drums may have been used to that purpose- the singing of chanteys being considered loose discipline. Fiddles, fifes or drums were also applied for the crew to dance as exercise on Naval vessels.
Back to your original question. I don't think there's a "proper" banjo for sea shanties, or for any genre for that matter. I play 5 string and plectrum, and wouldn't hesitate to use either one for Sea Shanties. The Dubliners effectively used a tenor and longneck 5string for years, and they blended quite well. I think it's healthy to play any type of banjo "outside of the box." I think it fosters creativity.