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 Other Banjo-Related Topics: Clawhammer/Old-Time
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Is there room in my heart for the Cello banjo?


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/360172

clawgrasser - Posted - 01/07/2020:  17:49:43


Several Gold Tone 5 string cello banjos have made themselves available to me. The question is; do I need one these things? I have a history of buying oddball instruments; guitar banjo, 5 string guitar, mandola, gourd banjo, etc. Some I've kept, most I've let go.

I play mostly old time and Celtic. Very proficient on guitar, open back, mandolin, and mandola.

Is the Cello banjo any more than just a flirtation to any of you?

Brian Murphy - Posted - 01/07/2020:  18:25:28


Only buy one if you like having fun. They are a blast to play. Slow finger picking and clawhammer both work great. Nice, mellow tone. Great for sitting around and noodling. I find mine very relaxing.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/07/2020:  18:25:43


My personal opinion is that they sound kind of crappy as a solo instrument, but I've heard them used effectively in ensembles.

Bear in mind that that's just MY opinion, and others will surely disagree.

MacCruiskeen - Posted - 01/07/2020:  18:30:59


For instance, like this:

youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY

lanemb - Posted - 01/07/2020:  19:19:16


Thought I might want one until picked one up and just didn’t like the sound or how it played. Want cured!

banjo bill-e - Posted - 01/07/2020:  20:32:28


I strung my 12" Ramsey with Nylgut Minstrels and tune it to C and D (Open G dropped 2.5/3.5 steps). I prefer the tone over the Cello Banjos that I've heard. I play it Two Finger, without picks.


Edited by - banjo bill-e on 01/07/2020 20:33:54

Meles_Meles - Posted - 01/07/2020:  20:33:18


The human heart is about the size of a fist. Of course a cello banjo wouldn't fit!

All kidding aside, I had a chance to play one for a while at a ukulele fextival in northern Virginia, and I think it produced a warm, full sound as a melody instrument. Not so good for jazz strumming or for clawhammer, though: ihe tone was just too flabby for chords.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 01/07/2020:  20:51:37


I have a 13” Charles Waldman. He also make 12” ones. I changed the string set a bit and tuned it up to minstrel tuning range. I really like it. Deep and thunky, a real change from the Essex I usually play. Don’t play it a lot, but it’s a nice change of pace. I would not have bought a Gold Tone though. That’s a matter of taste. Chuck’s banjo is light weight, thin wood shell; not fancy, but elegantly made. Gryphon, and I think, Elderly, carry them. But the Gold Tone is likely cheaper.

JanetB - Posted - 01/07/2020:  21:08:25


I enjoy mine, sometimes solo, sometimes accompaniment as in Hillside. Forgive my over-enthusiasm. :)


Edited by - JanetB on 01/07/2020 21:11:41


maneckep - Posted - 01/08/2020:  05:27:06


quote:

Originally posted by MacCruiskeen

For instance, like this:



youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY






Mac - I think the youtube video you posted shows an old 1920's Gibson banjo not a recent Goldtone.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/08/2020:  06:33:19


quote:

Originally posted by maneckep

quote:

Originally posted by MacCruiskeen

For instance, like this:



youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY






Mac - I think the youtube video you posted shows an old 1920's Gibson banjo not a recent Goldtone.






The Goldtones I've seen look a lot like the old Gibsons. They have utilized Gibson's headstock shape from the trapdoor era.

Brian Murphy - Posted - 01/08/2020:  06:38:33


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

I enjoy mine, sometimes solo, sometimes accompaniment as in Hillside. Forgive my over-enthusiasm. :)






If you listen to that and don't want one, then you don't want one.  Great display of the instrument's best qualities.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 01/08/2020:  09:07:49


quote:

Originally posted by clawgrasser

Several Gold Tone 5 string cello banjos have made themselves available to me. The question is; do I need one these things? I have a history of buying oddball instruments; guitar banjo, 5 string guitar, mandola, gourd banjo, etc. Some I've kept, most I've let go.



I play mostly old time and Celtic. Very proficient on guitar, open back, mandolin, and mandola.



Is the Cello banjo any more than just a flirtation to any of you?






I would say that you might be better off with the 4-string version. I'm a 5-string CB player (original 1895 S.S. Stewart) and Miz Diane will have to sell it after I'm dead.

mike gregory - Posted - 01/08/2020:  09:21:21


If you can physically try one out, you will KNOW if you like the sound and feel.



But, if you're in the BAS habit ( which should not be considered a BAD habit), just buy one, relax with it, pick with some friends, and if you don't really like it, re-sell it, and if it goes for less than you paid, consider the price difference as a combination of Instrument Rental AND Tuition in the School Of Life.

rmcdow - Posted - 01/08/2020:  15:29:37


I have a fretless CEB5 that I enjoy playing harmony on with my fiancé. I am not that good of a player, she is much better, and I enjoy playing harmony. With a regular 5 string, the harmony is always higher than the melody, at least the way I play it. With the cello banjo, I can play the harmony lower, and more in the background, because the tuning is an octave lower. For me flatwound strings are a must on the cello banjo. With the big strings and big head, the string noise is pretty distracting when the regular round wire wound stings are on the cello banjo.

nightingale - Posted - 01/08/2020:  21:09:40


Janet B, your original Clear Water is a lovely tune. I really enjoyed your playing on your cello banjo.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 01/09/2020:  07:32:07


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

My personal opinion is that they sound kind of crappy as a solo instrument, but I've heard them used effectively in ensembles.



Bear in mind that that's just MY opinion, and others will surely disagree.






The Gold Tone, 5th string added Tenor Cello banjos are nothing like the Cello banjos made in the classic era as far as tone and power.



They scales are too short and in my opinion the rims are too small.  The short strings cause for a floppy action.



The few times I have heard people try to play these as a clawhammer solo instruments were very uncomfortable to my hearing.  Something about the octave low chords really bothered me and I had to move away from it.



In their proper place, playing divided counterpoint accompaniment (usually the root with a regular banjo playing the chord), the original pattern classic era cello banjos are fantastic and offer a rumbling bottom end to the high regular banjo tone.



The Gold Tone version would likely fill the same role in a group composed of all tenor banjos (if it was tuned as a tenor but an octave lower).



 



 

spoonfed - Posted - 01/09/2020:  07:42:53


I stood and watched a guy play one and, he was a decent player however, I was bored after about five minutes or less with the droning sound it made, others may like them though.

Judith511 - Posted - 01/09/2020:  08:19:07


quote:

Originally posted by MacCruiskeen

For instance, like this:



youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY






Oh my this woman is amazing I Love the sound of her music. 

rudy - Posted - 01/09/2020:  09:52:40


I produced a construction plan for a cello banjo that I developed for one of my friends to use as a guide for construction who also builds and plays his own instruments.  (I posted it here on Banjo Hangout a while back.)



My friend has made 5 cello banjos currently and just did a solo set at our local hootenanny and was well received.  He tends to do more melodic pieces with the cello banjo and his opening piece was Bach's Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring.  Not a bad tune to introduce the audience to the lower, dulcet register presented by the cello banjo!  wink



We did this quick demo when he had just completed the first one:



 


Edited by - rudy on 01/09/2020 10:01:23

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/09/2020:  10:04:18


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

My personal opinion is that they sound kind of crappy as a solo instrument, but I've heard them used effectively in ensembles.



Bear in mind that that's just MY opinion, and others will surely disagree.






The Gold Tone, 5th string added Tenor Cello banjos are nothing like the Cello banjos made in the classic era as far as tone and power.



They scales are too short and in my opinion the rims are too small.  The short strings cause for a floppy action.



The few times I have heard people try to play these as a clawhammer solo instruments were very uncomfortable to my hearing.  Something about the octave low chords really bothered me and I had to move away from it.



In their proper place, playing divided counterpoint accompaniment (usually the root with a regular banjo playing the chord), the original pattern classic era cello banjos are fantastic and offer a rumbling bottom end to the high regular banjo tone.



The Gold Tone version would likely fill the same role in a group composed of all tenor banjos (if it was tuned as a tenor but an octave lower).



 



 






I totally agree with you on the Gold Tone CBs. I've read the specs, and can't imagine getting much out of them tone-wise. The ones I've heard have a rather flabby sound, which of course is due to a too-short string length and small head. One could conceivably bolster the thickness of the string sto gain tension, but that would just cause a harsh and thud-like sound because they'd be too stiff at such short lengths. 



I find some of the same issues to be true of modern banjo-guitars. The heads are too small and the heavy strings needed to get any tension on the low notes are just too stiff to offer much in the way of tonal clarity. 

hoodoo - Posted - 01/10/2020:  06:57:49


Mary Z Cox also plays one : youtu.be/b_6FnIimZHA

maryzcox - Posted - 01/15/2020:  11:25:49


My 5 string cello is a delight —but a little high maintanence .  The cello at my house is newly outfitted in a spanking new 14” black velvet head for the start of the decade !  And I think it records pretty good too . It was getting envious of the black heads on my baritone ML-1 & my John Hartford . 



This might be a great time to pick up a neglected cello & spruce it up for the new decade . Got its head from Bob Smakula in West Virginia & think he ordered



more than mine .



maryzcox.com



 



 


maryzcox - Posted - 01/15/2020:  11:33:01


maryzcox - Posted - 01/15/2020:  11:37:48


nightingale - Posted - 01/15/2020:  20:17:42


Mary Z. - Your cello banjo sounds great!

Paul Roberts - Posted - 01/16/2020:  14:16:46


Is there room in your heart for the Cello banjo? Let's listen to your heart with a stethoscope and we'll find out.


Edited by - Paul Roberts on 01/16/2020 14:17:33


Chris Meakin - Posted - 01/16/2020:  15:20:31


quote:

Originally posted by Paul Roberts

Is there room in your heart for the Cello banjo? Let's listen to your heart with a stethoscope and we'll find out.






Excellent playing Paul!



I thought the original poster had maybe posed a trick question, especially having listened to you and others playing a cello banjo over the years.

Leslie R - Posted - 01/16/2020:  22:59:02


Very nicely done !

maryzcox - Posted - 01/31/2020:  16:19:17


Gonna bring out my cello banjo for my banjo concert with Celtic Band Runa on Feb 8 th . Come on out if you’d like to hear the cello live :)



Tickets are from Monticello Opera House



monticellooperahouse.org



 



 

Tom Banjo - Posted - 02/10/2020:  22:00:40


Here’s a couple of cello banjo makers that haven’t been mentioned in the thread yet.

First is Brian Carver. His is tackhead style on a 12” rim, and actually has 6 strings instead of 5, so you can tune it gADGBD or whatever variation sounds fun. I spoke with him yesterday, and he said it might be 2-3 months before he has any more cello banjos available (I had broached the idea of having him build me a custom cello/tenor hybrid that would be tuned CGDAE).
carverbanjos.com/product/cello...6-string/

Second is Zach Hoyt. His are a bit unusual in that they use a 16” rim, much bigger than what anyone else is doing. He also uses a scale length of 29” rather than than the 24.5” scale the other makers are using. No financial interest, but the one in the link below is still available to buy, if it strikes anyone’s fancy.
hoytbanjos.com/banjos/banjo-13...llo-1200/

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