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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Poor Man's Eddy Davis Signature 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/370842

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/09/2020:  14:02:30


I fancy getting a decent tenor again. Last time I had a Deering Eagle II tenor, which was great, but I would dearly wish to pay tribute to a hero of ours, and have the Eddy Davis banjo from Pietsch pietsch-banjos.de/pbc/index.ph...avis.html - unfortunately the link on that page doesn't work. However, that is beyond my pocket, as is the Ome version. It's hard to find a mid-quality open back tenor of a similar kind. Any suggestions?

Emiel - Posted - 12/09/2020:  14:37:06


Rob, in his last years, Eddy seemed to play the Ome most of the time (he donated the Pietsch to Jack Ray, BHO-member). I don't know what kind of tonering that Ome banjo had/has, but it it/was a 12" openback, 17-fret tenor banjo. Renaissance head. Tailpiece looks to be a No-Knot. Dark colored bridge, maybe walnut.



2/3 of the back were closed with some kind of plate, see: youtube.com/watch?v=TO35iW7IrTM


Edited by - Emiel on 12/09/2020 14:50:40

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/09/2020:  14:49:19


Thanks, Emiel. That was nice of Eddy, and Jack deserves it, he's doing some good stuff. Yes, thought the Ome was a 12", 17-fret tenor. As I say, hard to find in the mid-price range which is not "Irish".


Edited by - Rob MacKillop on 12/09/2020 14:50:54

Emiel - Posted - 12/09/2020:  14:52:17


quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Thanks, Emiel. That was nice of Eddy, and Jack deserves it, he's doing some good stuff. Yes, thought the Ome was a 12", 17-fret tenor. As I say, hard to find in the mid-price range which is not "Irish".






Yes, I'm sure it is…! By the way, I just updatet my post with this remark: 



2/3 of the back were closed with some kind of plate, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO35iW7IrTM

Emiel - Posted - 12/09/2020:  14:58:34


I would say "Irish" is not the problem. You can take any 17-fret tenor banjo sold as "Irish" and install lighter strings and tune it in the traditional jazz tuning. It will be hard though to find a 12" tenor banjo on a budget…


Edited by - Emiel on 12/09/2020 15:00:10

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/09/2020:  15:02:07


Yes, that banjo is a Custom build from Ome. Costs a small fortune. Nice, though.

I was wondering if Irish was just the tuning or whether the action was set differently too.

hobogal - Posted - 12/09/2020:  15:13:44


I think the Pietsch and Ome banjos are quite different - here Eddy talks about his preference for his custom Ome with no tone-ring.



banjohangout.org/archive/332889



The Clareen Clarinbridge tenor banjo I used to have had a nice balance between bright and warm.  If I was looking for the softer Eddy Davis sound I might look into a Clifford Essex weaver with wooden tone-ring or a custom banjo by Prat, Howson or Hutchings....not tried any of them but there are some nice videos on youtube!  Mind you, I recently acquired a 17fret Vega Little Wonder on the basis of liking the 'sweet but clear' sound on videos and it is too bright for my tastes.  Currently trying to tame it - so much is in the set-up.


Edited by - hobogal on 12/09/2020 15:16:18

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  00:29:46


Thanks, hobogal. I am in fact in discussion with Will Howson, and that might well be the route I go. He makes nice banjos at a decent price, and seems a nice guy.

I'm currently writing a book for Mel Bay on Classical Studies for Tenor Banjo, and will need an upgrade on what I have to record the soundfiles. The banjo I have is not without interest: an A A Farland Favilla from c.1918, open-back wood rim, 17", which on the face of it sounds similar to what Eddy had, but it is well passed its best. Despite that, I'm quite fond of it, despite the struggle to get it to play in tune: a combination of old machines and a characterful fretboard!

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 12/10/2020:  02:22:07


 



Rob,



As mentioned by Eddy in the linked thread I had the chance testing one of his OME´s three years ago - the foldable one - at a meeting in Copenhagen.



Being a 4-string specialist/set-up wizard I´m used to playing/testing all sorts of types, tunings, brands, models etc. - however this one turned out being a mission impossible for me.



Partly due to the "rubberlastic" "silk´n´steel" strings as used by Eddy - but mainly due to its very short scale - 19" as far as I recall.



By comparison it turned out that my hands were appr. 50% larger than those of dear late Eddy - we and John Gill also present at the meeting had some great laughs about this. It was simply impossible for me to place my rather fat fingers correctly at the fretboard.



I do recall you having some fantastic long and slim fingers - I guess that also you will have big problems placing all of these on a tenor with a scale that short. Do correct me if I´m wrong - LOL!



For decades 23" scale tenors have been my favorites - however these days I do prefer my 22-1/8" scale OME Mogul Jr. for single string and combined playing - the slightly shorter scale makes it possible for me to use my pinky plenty more - resulting in fewer position shifts.



And - I´ve in the later years owned/worked on plenty of early 20s BigPot VEGA´s - with a 11-13/16" pot and a 20-7/8" scale - open-back as well as resonated - and as going for the OME´s with a fretboard slighly wider than e.g. B&D´s, Paramount´s etc..  Also these VEGA´s do indeed fit my large hands.



The absolutely best performing BigPot VEGA - for all sorts of tunings - has been a Style M - with 17 frets free of the body (opposite 16 frets as going for e.g. Style X No. 9´s) - the extra fret brings the bridge closer to the middle of the head - indeed a great plus for the overall performance. Here´s my favorite Style M - with a semi-extended resonator - yet also to be played open-back:



acoustudio.dk/VEGA%20M%2060083.html



Do feel free contacting me for further infos/advices - I would love experiencing you once again playing a tenor.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  02:49:06


Interesting, Polle, as ever. I've sent you a PM. I did not know that Eddy played with six and steel strings. It seems he really did his best to neuter his banjos :-)

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  03:14:43


Silk, not six, and steel. Sorry, wrote that in a hurry.

Eddy mostly played with a small group, piano or piano and clarinet. No need for a canon there.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  03:28:42


I get around fine on my 17-fret Favilla. But I also got around fine on the Deering Eagle II 19-fret tenor. I'm so used to adjusting for different instruments, the scale length tends not to worry me. Once you've played a theorbo... :-)

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 12/10/2020:  04:07:20


quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Interesting, Polle, as ever. I've sent you a PM. I did not know that Eddy played with six and steel strings. It seems he really did his best to neuter his banjos :-)






 



Rob - thanks for the PM - I´ll think a little about this and get back to you. The banjo as mentioned there belongs to a dear friend of mine - I´ve in the later years purchased many like this from him - however they all had to be restored/re-built/optimized in order getting to my usual ultimate standard.



And yes - dear Eddy did somehow "neuter" his banjos in order getting his desired very dry/mellow sound - first of all by having a large open-back pot and a very short scale combined with light gauge "silk´n´steel" strings - giving him his characteristic sound - yet impossible for others to play/benefit from. But then again - he was a master/virtuoso - he could play anything with 5th tuned strings - LOL!



Another dear friend of mine - Don Vappie - a ditto master/virtuoso - has in the later years gone for a somewhat similar very dry/mellow sound - his choice was to have a signature banjo built by OME - also open-back, yet with a standard 11" pot size - and equipped with a fiberskyn head normally not used by 4-string players -  but Don is not a typical banjo player - his playing styles/techniques are somewhat more "guitarish" - he does e.g. not rest any "noisy" fingers at the head and/or strings - opposite most virtuoso banjoists.



Oh Dear - if only you could come by and experience my small display/collection of ultra-pro tenors - my specialty - nowhere on this planet will you find a selection like this.



Well - we´ll have to see what to do instead - I´ll shortly get back to you. laugh

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 12/10/2020:  04:10:52


quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop



Eddy mostly played with a small group, piano or piano and clarinet. No need for a canon there.






 



Sorry - but no.  Eddy used the same banjo also for 6-/7-piece bands.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  04:46:41


Well, I'm not a "normal" player either, as you know Polle. I have my own way of doing things - for better or worse - and my own voice - ditto. What attracts me to Eddy's sound is that low-tension vibe, so even though you are a "wizard" of setups, you might not make the right choices for me, just as you would not - presumably - be the right setup guy for Eddy when he was around, or Don Vappie. Not that I can compare with those two, of course! I have no reason to doubt that you would be absolutely the right setup guy for everyone else. That said, I'm always interested in what you have to say, and appreciate your experience and guidance...whether I follow it or not is another story (for better or worse!).

aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 12/10/2020:  06:26:16


@ Rob MacKillop

Hey Rob, looking forward to your new book. I’m unaware of the interest in classical banjo. I’ve just started working my way through Bach’s Cello 1. Not only does that piece move me emotionally but I want to work on technique etc...
This is quite a coincidence as I was planning on making contact with you for advice. Love your playing.
Mike

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  07:18:51


aintbrokejustbadlybent Hi Mike. Is it my Bach book you are using? robmackillop.net/banjo/bach-on-the-banjo/

If not, don't worry, just to say it has three of Bach's cello suites, with sound files and tabs as well as tenor clef.

Although the book sells well, some players have written to me saying some of the pieces in it are beyond them. That's why I asked Mel Bay if they would be interested in a book of studies to approach playing Bach and other classical composers, and they agreed. So, I'm busying myself with that right now. It'll come out in 2021, I'm sure, but I don't know when. Any questions, just email me: robmackillop at gmail dot com.

As for the banjo and classical music, there are quite a few players exploring solo works by Bach and others, but also some players playing with other instrumentalists. Most of these guys are 5-string players, I'm thinking of Jayme Stone, or the guy from the Punch Brothers - both great players - but I actually think the tenor banjo is better-suited to the role. So, I want to do what I can to help encourage tenor players to explore playing in hybrid classical ensembles. There's a lot of great music, of course, and a lot of satisfaction to be had.

Jazz and Irish style players should never feel threatened, of course, as I imagine those two streams will always be paramount, and there's nothing I see wrong with that - I absolutely love jazz tenor. I'm just not a jazz or Irish player, but do feel with my experience that I can help some players into the classical world.

aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 12/10/2020:  08:18:58


@ Rob MacKillop

Hey Rob, I’m rather embarrassed to admit admit this but I didn’t realize you had a book on the subject. I just bought a piece of sheet music of course it came with the bass clef and I’ve never tried to read bass clef before so it’s been interesting. But enjoyable. I’m just taking it slowly a couple of measures each day.

I need to improve my technique such as keeping my fingers close to the fretboard keeping my elbow in to my side, relaxing while I am playing, alternating picking, among other things. I feel like this music in someway helps me with my lack of discipline in playing.

I’ll be ordering that book straight away.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  08:28:01


Cheers, Mike. One you get it, if you have any questions, just ask.

DC5 - Posted - 12/10/2020:  12:55:47


I miss Eddy.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  13:30:59


Yup. Me too. Most of us, I imagine.

geoB - Posted - 12/10/2020:  14:30:33


quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Thanks, Emiel. That was nice of Eddy, and Jack deserves it, he's doing some good stuff. Yes, thought the Ome was a 12", 17-fret tenor. As I say, hard to find in the mid-price range which is not "Irish".






Probably seen the gold tone Irish available commercially. That would be a nice one that I would consider except I want simple dotted fret markers.

geoB - Posted - 12/10/2020:  14:35:22


Did Eddy use a transducer at times? I used to see a little wire off of his OME occasionally and often wondered.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/10/2020:  15:01:24


quote:

Originally posted by geoB

Probably seen the gold tone Irish available commercially. That would be a nice one that I would consider except I want simple dotted fret markers.





The IT250? That has a White Laydie tone ring, which I've never been a fan of. 

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 12/11/2020:  00:54:51


quote:

Originally posted by geoB

Did Eddy use a transducer at times? I used to see a little wire off of his OME occasionally and often wondered.






 



Great observation!  It´s however not a cable/wire for a transducer to be seen - the bridge is attached to the banjo with a string - so that the bridge wouldn´t get lost when Eddy after a gig would fold the banjo and put it in his small custom made "turtle" soft case.



 



 


Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 12/11/2020 00:59:23

Compass56 - Posted - 12/11/2020:  02:50:57


Hello everyone.

I played Eddy’s Ome custom banjo of which you speak many times. Here are a couple of thoughts on that banjo.

First, it is actually a very loud banjo. He used to play it every Monday night with Woody Allen at The Cafe Carlyle with a seven-piece group (with drums) with no amplification, and the patrons could hear every delicious note he produced on that banjo no matter where they were sitting. Eddy generously let me play one tune on it at The Carlyle, and I was shocked how it carried so well. The place was packed, and the banjo really projected, and it’s a pretty big room. As I was leaving, several patrons sitting near the door generously complimented me on what I did, so they clearly heard it. (They also clearly drank as much as I did that night; at best, my playing that night could be described as loose. )

Eddy did not use thick strings on that banjo. He put a 9.5 on the high A I believe.

That white plate referenced earlier is actually a piece of a plastic kitchen garbage can that Eddy cut out himself with a steak knife.

I saw Don Vappie a while back playing a banjo that from a distance looked a lot like Eddy’s custom banjo. I think the one Don was playing was (like Eddy’s) an Ome. Like Eddy’s banjo, it had a short neck, open back, and guitar-style tuners that went out (as opposed to traditional banjo tuners that go back). Don’s tone was similar to Eddy’s. Don got a deep, resonant sound like Eddy did, but those two virtuosos could probably get a similar sound on a tomato can.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/11/2020:  03:05:56


Hi Tony! That's great - playing Eddy's banjo in the Carlyle! It doesn't get much better than that, so, Congratulations! Good to know it was loud as well, as Polle made it out to be otherwise. Loud enough for a seven-piece with drums is more volume than I would ever need. Eddy knew what he wanted!

geoB - Posted - 12/11/2020:  08:08:55


quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

quote:

Originally posted by geoB

Probably seen the gold tone Irish available commercially. That would be a nice one that I would consider except I want simple dotted fret markers.





The IT250? That has a White Laydie tone ring, which I've never been a fan of. 




---------



Rob, I was referring to the Gold Tone IT-17, I have never played one but it meets all the parameters that I would look towards when purchasing 17 fret tenor banjo. I currently have a 19 fret 11 in Iida which is fine... But if I ever had to do it all over again and wanted an open back...



Oddly enough this link is nested under the mandolin section of the website.



goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldton...nts/it-17

Emiel - Posted - 12/11/2020:  08:32:53


quote:

Originally posted by geoB

quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

quote:

Originally posted by geoB

Probably seen the gold tone Irish available commercially. That would be a nice one that I would consider except I want simple dotted fret markers.





The IT250? That has a White Laydie tone ring, which I've never been a fan of. 




---------



Rob, I was referring to the Gold Tone IT-17, I have never played one but it meets all the parameters that I would look towards when purchasing 17 fret tenor banjo. I currently have a 19 fret 11 in Iida which is fine... But if I ever had to do it all over again and wanted an open back...



Oddly enough this link is nested under the mandolin section of the website.



goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldton...nts/it-17






Nice looking banjo. 12" rim, 17-fret. Rolled brass tonering.

hobogal - Posted - 12/11/2020:  10:54:03


Yes, that Goldtone is a good recommendation for a poor man's OME.  Looks like it is not yet available here in the UK. Thomann say it will be in stock in 12-15 weeks.  The Clareen Clarinbridge also has a rolled brass tonering but it is an 11 inch.

hobogal - Posted - 12/11/2020:  11:43:52


I'm wrong - just found it here: projectmusic.net/gold-tone-iit...161-p.asp

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/11/2020:  12:18:46


Thanks everyone for chipping in. I have a few leads to follow, and am thinking of other possibilities too.

geoB - Posted - 12/11/2020:  15:49:18


quote:

Originally posted by Polle Flaunoe

quote:

Originally posted by geoB

Did Eddy use a transducer at times? I used to see a little wire off of his OME occasionally and often wondered.






 



Great observation!  It´s however not a cable/wire for a transducer to be seen - the bridge is attached to the banjo with a string - so that the bridge wouldn´t get lost when Eddy after a gig would fold the banjo and put it in his small custom made "turtle" soft case.



 



 






Thank you for the information! Appreciate it.

banjopaolo - Posted - 12/11/2020:  23:02:58


Hi Rob
I hope to hear soon with a new tenor banjo!
I have an open back tenor with wooden tone ring, it was made by a good luthier here in Italy (Silvio Ferretti scorpion banjo he make s exellent banjo bridges... maybe some of you know) with a Tony Pass rim, I suggest you to consider this possibility, Tony Pass rims sound great end looks great (with the block construction) really good crafted stuff! You can get an 11 or 12 model (I have a 11) then the luthier just have to set it up with a neck... I think you can get a good instrument at a reasonable price!

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/11/2020:  23:34:40


Thanks, Paolo. Very interesting! I will follow it up.

Irish - Posted - 12/12/2020:  09:20:25


In 2015 at the American Banjo Museum, Eddy wanted to buy this banjo from me. He said he could play things on this banjo that he couldn’t play on those with a longer scale. I didn’t sell my banjo to him, but enjoyed a great conversation with him. He is certainly missed.

banjohangout.org/forum/attachm...ID=268588


calfskin - Posted - 12/28/2020:  03:47:32


quote: FYI i have a Vega tubaphone 17 fret  11 13/16 tenor , low action with 5/8 bridge it has a resonator which is easily removed for open back playing, it is strung for Irish playing but easily changed . £1200 i am in York UK

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

I fancy getting a decent tenor again. Last time I had a Deering Eagle II tenor, which was great, but I would dearly wish to pay tribute to a hero of ours, and have the Eddy Davis banjo from Pietsch pietsch-banjos.de/pbc/index.ph...avis.html - unfortunately the link on that page doesn't work. However, that is beyond my pocket, as is the Ome version. It's hard to find a mid-quality open back tenor of a similar kind. Any suggestions?






 

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/28/2020:  05:19:02


Too late, Frank. I would have been interested, but have something else now. Thanks anyway.

aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 12/28/2020:  05:38:11


So Rob, I’m curious about your choice of tenor banjo.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 12/29/2020:  08:09:35


Well, Mike, I eventually opted for something completely different. I didn't think that what I initially set out to get was available in my price range, and then I remembered the Deering instruments I used for my album, and how clear they were. The combination of clarity and warmth I'm seeking is hard to find, but I had it when I made that album - back in 2011, nearly a decade ago (gulp!).

So I looked online for a Deering Eagle II Tenor, and saw that Eagle Music in England had one on sale at a good price. So, I phoned, and they said it was in stock. I paid for it, and only when they went to give it a look-over did they discover it wasn't an Eagle II but a Sierra. I was a bit put out by this, but they offered it at the same sale price as the Eagle II, and I could return it if I didn't like it.

Well, it came, and I played it for two hours straight, then phoned them saying I wouldn't be returning it as it is superb, just what I wanted. I'm very happy with it. One day I'll see how to take the flange off, and try it without the resonator. I currently have a cloth in the pot, just take the excess zing off, and reduce the volume for the neighbours.

So, a world away from Eddy's banjo, but one I'm perfectly happy with nonetheless.

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