Curious about any suggestions amplifying banjo and banjoid instruments. I am in a band that mostly plays Cajun music. I usually mic my accordion with a clip on condenser mic through a fishman pro loudbox. My band also plays a few other styles including jazz and various traditional genres. I sometimes play my 5 string and my banjolin and have been thinking of adding in some tenor banjo for the jazz tunes. Is there a good sounding pickup/mic I could use that I could easily switch it to the other banjo instruments or would it be worth it to just have something semi permanent installed? Any suggestions for the banjolin?
If you want to be able to swap it between instruments, I think a clip-on condenser mic or just an instrument mic (sm57) on a stand would work just fine.
Alternatively, you could use a stick-on piezo and attach it to the head. They're technically removable but you probably wouldn't want to try to swap it out during a show or anything.
Pickups are, mostly, all the same. You've got piezos that turn vibrations into electrical signal, and magnetic pickups that turn vibrating metal into electrical signal. There's not really anything unique about a banjo pickup that's any different than any other pickup.
I've been using the GoldTone ABS system for a few years now. I think it sounds better than the Schatten BJ-02 (piezo) I'd been using, although I don't think the stomp-box pre-amp Gold Tone provides adds much to the system. It clamps to the rim and is very simple to put on and take off, and the goose neck lets you easily fine tune the mic position. Not sure how easily it would fit to a banjolin, but it should work well on your 5 or tenor. You're working with clip-on mic's now, so this would just be an extension of what you're already doing.
I've never used one, but the Clingon pickups get good reviews and are relatively inexpensive. It is held on with a magnet, so by putting magnets in each instrument where you want the pickup to go, you can simply move the pickup from instrument to instrument. clingon.co/clingon-pickup
I recommend a P90 guitar pickup jammed between the dowel stick and the head near the neck of the banjo. Get one with high output, because the magnetic pole pieces will be relatively far away from the strings. This setup is alot less feedback prone than any piezo.