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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Beginner Banjo to Beginner Banjitar?

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doorty - Posted - 12/12/2017:  19:53:15

I'm thinking I should get a banjitar/guitjo as there are more tutorials out there for guitar especially for "pop" songs that I want to play. Thoughts? I think the banjo gives modern songs a unique sound, but unfortunately I'm not at the level where I can write my own tabs.

gtani7 - Posted - 12/12/2017:  20:35:48

Without spending a lot of money:

You can look thru chord dictionaries to translate the guitar tab to banjo and then if you can read the melodies in treble clef you're set. With a lot of pop music there won't be a lot of chords, course then there's Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan.

You could retune your top 4 strings to capture the D-G-B-E intervals in std guitar tuning (I wouldn't tune 1st string to E, i would downtune the others and just use the top 4 strings of guitar tab

doorty - Posted - 12/12/2017:  20:58:19

Thanks. That's a good idea to save money for sure.

I'm not too worried about the cost because I bought my banjo used and will re-sell it to buy a used 6-string, so it's basically a trade.

Just wondering if there's anything I might regret? The advantage would be that I would be learning another instrument (guitar), but I wonder if I would miss any of the banjo sound by playing in a guitar style.

gtani7 - Posted - 12/13/2017:  05:07:41

I've been trying the "alternatives" recently, 6 string, plectrum, tenor, fretless. The last 2 are a lot of fun, banjitar didn't do much for me (and it was a nice one, Deering Maple Blossom, I think.

Time for a road trip: Gelb, Gryphon, Sylvan etc

mipake - Posted - 12/13/2017:  07:50:53

The lack of tabs is not a good reason to switch to a bangitar. If you don’t already play guitar there are some reasons not to switch.
Consider that the banjo is a percussive instrument that helps a group keep the beat. Also, if you want to play modern songs or in my case 50’s thru today you are going to play backup to a vocalist. If so the guitar tab is not important. You will need to learn chords. I do this several ways. Playing rolls on my five string. Sometimes which just a triad chord. Also I will vamp the chords. If the song is one I want to strum I use a plectrum. Both banjos are tuned to open G DGBD. BTW learning chords from tab sucks.
Sticking to open g has some advantages. 1. Chords are easy to learn. Three primary forms. 2. The tuning is close enough to guitar tuning that playing riff from tab is not that hard. Just adjust the tab on the 1st string by one step.
By staying with the banjo you can fret all four strings as you make the chords. With the banjo you will not always want a string ringing which is not fretted. Since you will want to play up the neck to add variety you will not have to worry with barr chords as with a guitar.
My advice keep the five string and learn the basic roll patterns of three finger picking. Apply that to your favorite tunes. Learn the chords for each tune. Get a rubber stamp for the bass guitar and stamp the chord on the music.
Buy the Hal Leonard “banjo chord finder” it has all the chords you will need in several tunings. And each chord is shown at two places on the neck.
If you want to invest in a new instrument get a plectrum. Strumming a plectrum is the easiest way to join in join in to a contemporary music group.
most importantly HAVE FUN

Rick McKeon - Posted - 12/13/2017:  13:43:31

If you are an experienced guitar player but a banjo novice it might have some advantages. I bought a banjitar because I thought some of the tunes I played on the guitar would sound good with a banjo sound. Eventually I decided that if I wanted a banjo sound it would be better on a banjo so I sold it.

That's just my experience. It might be different for you.


Fathand - Posted - 12/14/2017:  06:04:24

To my mind, guitar banjos sound muddy if strummed but can sound very nice if finger picked. If you are planning on strumming arrangements you may prefer strumming a plectrum banjo. If you are planning on finger picking then a 5 string banjo is likely easier than a 6 string as there are less strings to pick and fret. As mentioned you can modify guitar arrangements, you usually only have to alter the 1st string.

For inspiration, see what Don Reno and Earl Scruggs did with pop songs of the day. These older pop tunes are no harder than modern ones and often quite a bit harder.

Ultimately, I think people should play the instrument they like to hear as it provides inspiration.

Helix - Posted - 12/31/2017:  02:20:24

You can have one if you like, not a sales message, I make them, so I encourage you to look for one. The Deans are terrible.

The Gold Tone neck @ 6-strings is totally strong Maple as you can see. They use a beefy tailpiece.  This one is a Cherry rim, great mid-range, I sought that for being worthwhile, nobody likes a tinny 6-string at the jam, they pull wind. 

BUT.........You can retrofit a 5-string neck when you are ready, same hardware, you can even use the 6-string tailpiece which is Price-licensed.

Hope this helps to encourage you.

Edited by - Helix on 12/31/2017 02:23:05

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