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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: What Is It? Tenor? Plectrum?


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/373524

beezaboy - Posted - 03/12/2021:  16:42:25


I have two photograph binders. One with banjoists with tenor banjos. The other binder with banjoists with plectrum banjos. I recently bought a photo of Fern Dale and her banjo on ebay (attached). It arrived today. Which album does Dale's photo go in? Tenor? Plectrum? Thanks for your views.


Parker135 - Posted - 03/12/2021:  16:49:35


I vote tenor since it has 20 frets to the edge of the rim. Really a guess on my part. Curious to hear from others.


Edited by - Parker135 on 03/12/2021 16:49:56

reelyjb - Posted - 03/12/2021:  17:32:42


I was going to say it looked like a long scale tenor to me, but then I found this photo of her with what appears to be the same banjo and it certainly looks like a plectrum to me.



 

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/12/2021:  18:34:31


It's definitely 20 frets to the pot.

I was hoping her hand position might show something, but from what I see in John B's other linked pictures, her hand appears to be a shape that can be used on either tenor or plectrum. One of those pictures does show her with a 4 string guitar, but again the photo clarity is not good enough to tell exactly what it is.

Her banjo looks like a B & D, and I do know that they made some oddballs (extended fingerboards, extra frets) and maybe these banjos could be used for weither tenor or plectrum.

Perhaps Polle Flaunoe could shed some light on what, exactly, this banjo is, or at least what B & D might have intended it for.

sethb - Posted - 03/12/2021:  18:48:02


What an interesting question and an interesting banjo! 



I counted 22 frets total, but that includes two or three dicey ones beyond the edge of the pot, where the fretboard tapers off.  It would also help to know what the scale of the neck is.  The spaces between the frets look somewhat larger than a standard tenor, but not as large as I would expect for a plectrum, either.  I do recall that there is/was such a thing as a tenor/plectrum banjo, with a neck scale around 25" (about the same as many guitar necks, ironically).  Perhaps that's what this is.     



But from the overall look of the banjo, especially with the pearloid fingerboard and that tapered end of the fretboad, I'm going to go with tenor.  SETH

Parker135 - Posted - 03/12/2021:  18:55:12


Maybe if we knew what tuning she's in it would help. Any serious tenor or plectrum chord players who can recognize what chord she's playing? Maybe that would tell us a tuning. What a funny thing to try to puzzle out.

beezaboy - Posted - 03/12/2021:  19:23:40


I've attached a better Fern Dale scan perhaps. The second photo is Shorty Brier billed as "King of the Banjo". I have Shorty Brier in my plectrum Banjo album


Emiel - Posted - 03/13/2021:  00:45:32


Maybe it's a similar concept as the Gibson plectrum-tenor banjo. From earnestbanjo.com:



'In January 1929, Gibson hailed “a triumph of banjo discovery” with a new model it described as “two banjos in one”; with a fingerboard of twenty frets, as opposed to the twenty-two frets of the plectrum or nineteen frets of the tenor, Gibson’s new banjo could be tuned and played either as a plectrum or a tenor. […] Gibson dubbed the new model the “Royal P-T” and promised that it would “set the banjoist ten years ahead at a single stride.'




Edited by - Emiel on 03/13/2021 00:58:26

Bill Rogers - Posted - 03/13/2021:  01:02:56


A banjo player named after a town?? Different.



en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferndale,_California

vintagetenor - Posted - 03/13/2021:  02:55:21


Sure, Bill. Such was the case with Portland Hoffa (Fred Allen's wife) and her siblings. I guess show business folks always thought differently than the rest of society.

Ryk - Posted - 03/13/2021:  04:22:15


Simple John ... Just put her on the cover of both!
Ryk

sethb - Posted - 03/13/2021:  04:55:50


quote:

Originally posted by Emiel

Maybe it's a similar concept as the Gibson plectrum-tenor banjo. From earnestbanjo.com:



'In January 1929, Gibson hailed “a triumph of banjo discovery” with a new model it described as “two banjos in one”; with a fingerboard of twenty frets, as opposed to the twenty-two frets of the plectrum or nineteen frets of the tenor, Gibson’s new banjo could be tuned and played either as a plectrum or a tenor. […] Gibson dubbed the new model the “Royal P-T” and promised that it would “set the banjoist ten years ahead at a single stride.'








The OME company also sells a tenor-plectrum model: omebanjos.com/banjos/other/tenor-plectrum/



The neck scale is much closer to a tenor than a plectrum.   SETH


Edited by - sethb on 03/13/2021 04:56:18

Emiel - Posted - 03/13/2021:  05:00:15


John will have to create a third album with pictures of banjoists playing plectrum-tenor banjos. It will probably remain a thin album.

beezaboy - Posted - 03/13/2021:  09:42:25


Emiel - Definitely no third album! Even if it would be very thin as you say.
Okay. Thanks all for pitching in with your assessments.
As pointed out, Fern"s and Shorty's banjos are probably tenor/plectrum banjos.
But, since both have 22+ frets I've decided to put Fern Dale in the Plectrum Album with Shorty Brier. Thankfully there are no 4-string banjo police so I'm safe on that score.

Andrew Roblin - Posted - 03/13/2021:  11:26:54


In the 1920s, Bacon & Day made a good number of tenor banjos with extended fingerboards--just as this appears to be.

majesty - Posted - 03/13/2021:  13:41:43


There are several photos of Fern Dale on the internet. One photo shows her playing a tenor guitar. Her fingers show a tenor banjo chord.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/13/2021:  14:10:48


I noted a photo of her playing a 4 string guitar earlier, but the photo I saw did not show well enough to determine plectrum or tenor guitar.

I tend to believe she was a tenor player, but sometimes chord formations are tricky todetermine, and there are some formations that work on either banjo type, even though they form different chords. (From what I see, though, she played a lot with a country band, and probably used mostly the usual formations and not some of the odd flat jazz chords that might be formed by using a tenor banjo formation on a plectrum, or vice versa.

I checked Youtube earlier, but could fing no examples of her playing, which could shed more light on what she played. Perhaps ther is a recording somewhere of one of the bands she played in with enough banjo work to figure it out.

mike gregory - Posted - 03/13/2021:  14:34:49


quote:

Originally posted by beezaboy

Emiel - Definitely no third album! Even if it would be very thin as you say.

Okay. Thanks all for pitching in with your assessments.

As pointed out, Fern"s and Shorty's banjos are probably tenor/plectrum banjos.

But, since both have 22+ frets I've decided to put Fern Dale in the Plectrum Album with Shorty Brier. Thankfully there are no 4-string banjo police so I'm safe on that score..






There are FIVE string banjo police!



 


Omeboy - Posted - 03/13/2021:  15:50:04


I'm surprised that nobody has posted this video yet.  Her chord voicings make it pretty clear as to which instrument she's playing:



mediaburn.org/video/vanishing-...nterview/

Ryk - Posted - 03/13/2021:  17:44:30


From the archives: " An interesting fact about Fern: She apparently was immune from BAS; she owned and played one banjo all her life -- a 1931 B&D Montana #3 tenor that her father gave her when she went into showbiz."
Ryk

Parker135 - Posted - 03/13/2021:  19:25:50


Well, there you go.

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