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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Is Banjo dead?


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NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/12/2023:  21:02:28


I had edited my original post earlier, but after seeing some of the comments, I'm just going to lay it out there again, so I digress: 

 



The current market of 4 string banjos would be an indication of it being true. 

 



I don't see this forum as active as it used to be, yes, I used to be a member once upon a time. 

 



The current offerings on the used markets are not what they used to be. Mostly Silver Bell No1's, Vegaphones, and Paramonf Style A's. 

 



I remember just only 3 years ago, there used to be a plethora of No4 and higher, VegaVoxes, Epiphone Deluxes, high end OMEs, and of course banjos by Renee Karnes. 

 



The reality that I've seen as I've bought a lot of these banjos, is that a lot of the old guard is passing away, so either their families are selling their banjos to local music stores, trashing them, or refusing to sell them because their dad/grandpa told them they were worth way more money than they are. 

 



The stories I heard about the 70s, 80s, and 90s from my mentor, who was Perry Bechtel's protege told a different story than current state of affairs involving 4 string banjo. 

 



There used to be many 'Banjoramas' in additional to FIGA/AllFrets. 

 



As I said previously, the only time I see any bands with 4 string banjo, is at a retirement home. 

 



I mean, I live in Los Angeles where the 1920s are immortalized and very few of these folks even know what a plectrum banjo is. They enjoy it when I play it, but it's more of a novelty to them than an instrument that is considered necessary.



I know it's not a pleasant conversation to have, but the reality right now is that 4 string banjos are often not talked about, most aren't interested in the music that is played on them, and the cost of them has diminished significantly. 

 



I bought an all original Ne Plus Ultra No6 plectrum earlier this year for $5000.00 and the guy who sold it to me was so grateful to get it because he couldn't sell it.



Heck, a friend of mine just lost money on an OME Grand Artist Tenor by about 35% because no one wanted it. Even the music store he bought it from refused to even trade him out of it because they can't sell banjos at the moment, and their main business is banjos, and I'd almost promise every member of the 4 string collective of this forum has at least almost bought a banjo from them if not followed through with the purchase.



The writing is on the wall, and no comments about 'you're wrong' will change what's happening right now. I know it's unpleasant because we'd hate to think all of the years promoting the 4 string banjo ended up where you can't even give away a $15,000.00 OME, but we've arrived. 

 



I say all of this because I don't want it to be this way. What's the next step? I'd think it would be to introduce more young people to the 4 string banjos and maybe show them how to play a more contemporary style alongside them playing and learning the traditional ways, because of course they're important. 

 



 


Edited by - NePlusUltraNo6 on 01/13/2023 08:11:40

tdennis - Posted - 01/12/2023:  21:15:49


Your entire spiel is false.

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/12/2023:  22:05:01


Show me how. Prove me wrong.

davidppp - Posted - 01/12/2023:  22:34:52


jackryansullivan : In the past month, I sold a top-of-the-line Huber, two Bacon ff Professionals and a Chuck Lee (and also a Martin D12-35). They sold quickly, and all but one were to people substantially younger than I am. If you're interested, there's still a really fine Chuck Lee tubaphone for sale in the BHO classifieds. I donated a couple of low-end 5-strings to a youth program in South Carolina that has more kids signing up than they ever imagined. Admittedly, I'm old. I'm just thinning out a more-than-my-share collection.

I could rattle off a long list of great young banjo players.

Maybe the problem is typical plectrum banjo music. ;)

doryman - Posted - 01/12/2023:  22:53:03


Jack, you must be living in the wrong place. Live and well here. You're vibe attracts your tribe!

the-fish - Posted - 01/13/2023:  00:10:31


2nd post and this

Move along

mike gregory - Posted - 01/13/2023:  02:53:40


quote:

Originally posted by tdennis

Your entire spiel is false.






I consider myself reasonably fluent in what Americans call "English", and am quite confused.



The OP's "entire spiel" seems to consist of two short phrases:



"Is the banjo dead? Except not."



In my perception, the OP seems to be asking if the banjo is dead, and then answering his own question in the negative, as if to claim the banjo is NOT dead.



I should like to have the OP expand on his original spiel, so as to clarify the inent of the message.



 

Wobba - Posted - 01/13/2023:  04:05:32


I'm in my 70s but know more banjo players in their 20s and 30s than in my age group. And when they play gigs, a ton of other young people show and pay money to hear. I've been in coffee shops where the barrista spies me carrying a banjo and right off asks me what I think of Roscoe Holcomb or Lee Sexton, or if I play Round Peak or some other style. Not what you would expect to hear fly out of the mouth of young people. So, there's a whole new generation that enjoy and are carrying on Old Time music, particularly with the banjo. You can find many of them posting videos on Instagram.

KCJones - Posted - 01/13/2023:  05:28:06


Banjo certainly isn't dead. Banjo is thriving. Particularly old-timey clawhammer type banjo styles. Bluegrass is trailing behind the old timey stuff but it also still has a reasonable following. From an builder/buyer standpoint, we're in a golden age of affordable high quality banjos being made, arguably the best it has ever been in the entire history of banjo.



But we are in the "4-string jazz, etc..." subforum. Can't say I've ever seen a band with a 4-string banjo, and I don't know anyone that plays one either. 


Edited by - KCJones on 01/13/2023 05:30:54

jdeluke137 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  06:56:42


quote:

Originally posted by mike gregory

quote:

Originally posted by tdennis

Your entire spiel is false.






I consider myself reasonably fluent in what Americans call "English", and am quite confused.



The OP's "entire spiel" seems to consist of two short phrases:



"Is the banjo dead? Except not."



In my perception, the OP seems to be asking if the banjo is dead, and then answering his own question in the negative, as if to claim the banjo is NOT dead.



I should like to have the OP expand on his original spiel, so as to clarify the inent of the message.



 






His original post was longer.  He edited it.  It said something about nicer banjos not being sold and people not learning to play.  Just a bunch of garbage really.  I'm not sure what his purpose was.

Mad Hornet - Posted - 01/13/2023:  07:01:10


seems to be the opposite around here. I was at a jam the other night there were literally 8 banjos, 2 guitars, a dobro, a bass, and a mandolin. Kinda ridiculous ratio but there were some really good banjo pickers there, and mostly in their 20's and 30's.

FredFlintstone - Posted - 01/13/2023:  07:49:35


Yep , for a long time ............

apnews.com/article/c8e5cb251b8...d257ce924

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  07:55:54


quote:

Originally posted by the-fish

2nd post and this



Move along






Lol. Yeah, that's the spirit. 

RioStat - Posted - 01/13/2023:  07:59:34


quote:

Originally posted by Mad Hornet

seems to be the opposite around here. I was at a jam the other night there were literally 8 banjos, 2 guitars, a dobro, a bass, and a mandolin. Kinda ridiculous ratio but there were some really good banjo pickers there, and mostly in their 20's and 30's.






Anthony / Mad Hornet...where is this jam you went to ? Me and my buddies are always up for new jams



What do you consider "central Ohio"....I'm in Akron (Northeast Ohio)

tdennis - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:00:33


The original post was a long 10-12 sentence paragraph with grandiose declarations, & apocalyptic statements about the death of the banjo. (to paraphrase, ..no one is buying good banjos. ..no one is taking lessons. ..no one is playing banjo. clubs, jamming & festivals are closing.
By editing & eliminating the entire spiel this thread has been rendered incoherent. (Nice trick).

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:12:50


quote:

Originally posted by jdeluke137

quote:

Originally posted by mike gregory

quote:

Originally posted by tdennis

Your entire spiel is false.






I consider myself reasonably fluent in what Americans call "English", and am quite confused.



The OP's "entire spiel" seems to consist of two short phrases:



"Is the banjo dead? Except not."



In my perception, the OP seems to be asking if the banjo is dead, and then answering his own question in the negative, as if to claim the banjo is NOT dead.



I should like to have the OP expand on his original spiel, so as to clarify the inent of the message.



 






His original post was longer.  He edited it.  It said something about nicer banjos not being sold and people not learning to play.  Just a bunch of garbage really.  I'm not sure what his purpose was.






Fixed it for you, and I can assure you it isn't garbage. 

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:15:22


quote:

Originally posted by tdennis

The original post was a long 10-12 sentence paragraph with grandiose declarations, & apocalyptic statements about the death of the banjo. (to paraphrase, ..no one is buying good banjos. ..no one is taking lessons. ..no one is playing banjo. clubs, jamming & festivals are closing.

By editing & eliminating the entire spiel this thread has been rendered incoherent. (Nice trick).






Hi there, I expounded even more for you in te original post now. I wish it were as simple as it being a trick that the 4 string banjo is going to pot but we could save it with a few lazy comments like 'Your entire spiel is false' but alas, it doesn't work that way. 

 



Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away. 

 



Hell, I'm glad I offended you, at least you care about the 4 string banjo. 

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:16:27


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

Banjo certainly isn't dead. Banjo is thriving. Particularly old-timey clawhammer type banjo styles. Bluegrass is trailing behind the old timey stuff but it also still has a reasonable following. From an builder/buyer standpoint, we're in a golden age of affordable high quality banjos being made, arguably the best it has ever been in the entire history of banjo.



But we are in the "4-string jazz, etc..." subforum. Can't say I've ever seen a band with a 4-string banjo, and I don't know anyone that plays one either. 






We're in the 4 string forum, and my post is specifically for it. 

GrahamHawker - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:23:07


I think there are still plenty of Irish folk tenor players. Perhaps the jazz side is not doing so well.What seems to be the case when keeping an eye on the used market is that tenors don't seem to sell well except perhaps some of the expensive vintage instruments to collectors.

haildixon - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:28:46


yes. 4-string banjo is functionally almost non-existent except mostly in the minds of old men who sell banjos to each other and tell each other banjo stories and declare it's a thriving... hobby? career? past-time? I mean, some people make careers out of being contortionists and ventriloquists, but are those career tracks really thriving? unless you're idiot-savant level amazing, there's only about 3 cities in the world you can make a living playing 4-string banjo, and that's assuming you also play guitar because you're gonna need to pick up every other gig you can find.

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:33:58


quote:

Originally posted by haildixon

yes. 4-string banjo is functionally almost non-existent except mostly in the minds of old men who sell banjos to each other and tell each other banjo stories and declare it's a thriving... hobby? career? past-time? I mean, some people make careers out of being contortionists and ventriloquists, but are those career tracks really thriving? unless you're idiot-savant level amazing, there's only about 3 cities in the world you can make a living playing 4-string banjo, and that's assuming you also play guitar because you're gonna need to pick up every other gig you can find.






Finally, someone who's actually accepting that there is a major problem. 

haildixon - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:39:29


I don't really even see it as a problem. I mean, we're the ones that decided to pick up an instrument whose heyday was literally 100yrs ago. There's probably a harpsichord forum somewhere having this same discussion and guys named Otto and Ludwig are going "HARPSICHORD IS THRIVING!!! IT VILL NEVER DIE!"



This form is literally the largest group of banjoists online and I used to be a big contributor here, but haven't posted in a pretty long while. I log in and in the last 6 months in this forum theres like 7 posts? and i just see basically the same names here I've always seen talking about the same things. I'm not knocking anyones hobby, I love it, but come on. 


Edited by - haildixon on 01/13/2023 08:42:46

NotABanjoYoda - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:42:43


I think the confusion here is generational. Young people in musicians circles still know about and are very interested in banjo PLAYING. But not collecting. They tend to trade up not buy and keep. They arent interested or generally capable of buying expensive jewels but the minimal purchase which still does the job.

But of course the 4 string is still less popular than the 5.

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:48:34


quote:

Originally posted by haildixon

I don't really even see it as a problem. I mean, we're the ones that decided to pick up an instrument whose heyday was literally 100yrs ago. There's probably a harpsichord forum somewhere having this same discussion and guys named Otto and Ludwig are going "HARPSICHORD IS THRIVING!!! IT VILL NEVER DIE!"



This form is literally the largest group of banjoists online and I used to be a big contributor here, but haven't posted in a pretty long while. I log in and in the last 6 months in this forum theres like 7 posts? and i just see basically the same names here I've always seen talking about the same things. I'm not knocking anyones hobby, I love it, but come on. 






Again, I agree with you. It's just a shame that I can. 

KCJones - Posted - 01/13/2023:  08:55:50


I love 4-string banjos, especially vintage ones. They're a great platform for conversion to 5-string. And those old dry necks make great kindling. devil



Jokes aside, unless we see a modern Earl Scruggs or Pete Seeger come along and play the 4-string in a pop music setting, or a Hollywood movie where the main character plays 4-string banjo, I don't see how it's going to survive as anything more than a very small niche hobby. Because from what I can tell, that's what drives the wax/wane of popularity of these types of things. 

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  09:00:58


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

I love 4-string banjos, especially vintage ones. They're a great platform for conversion to 5-string. And those old dry necks make great kindling. devil



Jokes aside, unless we see a modern Earl Scruggs or Pete Seeger come along and play the 4-string in a pop music setting, or a Hollywood movie where the main character plays 4-string banjo, I don't see how it's going to survive as anything more than a very small niche hobby. Because from what I can tell, that's what drives the wax/wane of popularity of these types of things. 






5 string isn't far behind. Less and less are selling each day. 

NotABanjoYoda - Posted - 01/13/2023:  09:02:48


If the litmus is making a living playing, well thats supply and demand. There are far more musicians and groups where I live than there ever was. Used to comp an easy living playing but now its my weekend spare change...weddings pay good. Venue owners are less picky....which drives down gig pay. Sometimes expect you to work on tips.

Im new to bho, but my take is there are more college educated boomers who are passionate about banjos than full time gigging musicians. Was it different 20 years ago here?

Slogo - Posted - 01/13/2023:  09:27:00


I haven't seen the un-edited opening post. But I did recently buy a nice 4 string, which I was able to put on a 5 string neck and still save money. So in part I do understand what Jack is saying.

hobogal - Posted - 01/13/2023:  09:31:38


We need more content - wouldn't it be great if there was something like a 'True Fire' video course for absolute beginners by a top player like Cynthia Sayer or Don Vappie...
I got interested in jazz tenor banjo through this forum - it was very active at one point with Eddy Davis, Tony Lombardo and David Cavage frequently posting and Eddy did a lot of videos (as did Jack Ray who seems to have disappeared). I have to say, I almost gave-up as got stuck trying to figure things out on my own but then had lessons with Steve Caddick and it kept me going. I do think if people are interested in learning they can struggle to find learning material to keep progressing...there is SO much more lesson content available for bluegrass, oldtime clawhammer 5string and Irish tenor banjo but less so for plectrum and tenor 'jazz/blues/other styles.'

mike gregory - Posted - 01/13/2023:  09:56:27


quote:

Originally posted by jdeluke137

quote:

Originally posted by mike gregory

quote:

Originally posted by tdennis

Your entire spiel is false.






I consider myself reasonably fluent in what Americans call "English", and am quite confused.



The OP's "entire spiel" seems to consist of two short phrases:



"Is the banjo dead? Except not."



In my perception, the OP seems to be asking if the banjo is dead, and then answering his own question in the negative, as if to claim the banjo is NOT dead.



I should like to have the OP expand on his original spiel, so as to clarify the inent of the message.



 






His original post was longer.  He edited it.  It said something about nicer banjos not being sold and people not learning to play.  Just a bunch of garbage really.  I'm not sure what his purpose was.






I sit corrected.



I have now seen the LONG post, and need no further explanation.



Thank you both.



I am being hired to do a presentation on banjo BUILDING, for a bunch of 9 to 12 year old schoolkids.



Since none of them are REQUIRED to attend, I would count this as a  fairly big CLUE that young people are interested in banjo.



 

mandobanjolibrarian - Posted - 01/13/2023:  10:02:14


Google "hasty generalization fallacy." Not to mention that "dead" seems a bit hyperbolic, even if the OP is correct that overall sales have decreased.


Edited by - mandobanjolibrarian on 01/13/2023 10:06:40

haildixon - Posted - 01/13/2023:  10:11:34


unless the kids hired you, this is a fairly big clue that the adult in charge is interested in banjos, and we all know that adults know exactly what the kids are into.




I am being hired to do a presentation on banjo BUILDING, for a bunch of 9 to 12 year old schoolkids.

Since none of them are REQUIRED to attend, I would count this as a  fairly big CLUE that young people are interested in banjo.


Joel Hooks - Posted - 01/13/2023:  10:14:31


Consider that most boomers who play plectra banjos (tenor and plectrum) do so mainly because of a little phenomena that was known as "Shakey's Pizza" or "Your Father's Mustache" and all the imitations.



The concept= a 1960s pizza parlor featuring musicians playing 1920s banjos while singing 1890s songs all wearing Disney's idea of barbershop quartet outfits topped by a styrofoam hat.



That seems like a lot of fun, but it ain't making a comeback.


Edited by - Joel Hooks on 01/13/2023 10:15:03

hobogal - Posted - 01/13/2023:  10:15:44


I appreciate the efforts of people like John Mumford who are posting free lesson videos for plectrum banjo and also choosing a variety of tunes. Jack Ray has also put out a lot of free lesson material for budding jazz tenor banjo players.
Keep on posting and someone is going to watch your video and go 'I want to learn that' - it did it for me. If we're worried about the health of the 4string banjo, we need to actively promote it.

haildixon - Posted - 01/13/2023:  10:18:56


Other insights by 4-string banjo enthusiasts:




  • "Kids are really into model rockets! If they werent, would I have a model rocket collection that my grandkids ask questions about?"

  • "HO-scale trains are making a comeback!"

  • "licorice is a great treat!"

cebracher - Posted - 01/13/2023:  10:41:30


Jack, you know I value your insights and we've had some good exchanges on Facebook and such, but I think I see things in a different way.

As for buying and selling banjos, especially the higher end ones, I guess I see similarities to the collector car market and other specialized collectibles (i.e. fossils, antique furniture, etc.) that are NOT commodities like coins, gems, vintage art, or even vintage firearms which have been fairly stable or more consistent in price.

Yes, demand is down, so banjos are not worth what they used to be. Plus, there are more banjo players (and potential collectors) leaving the marketplace (i.e. death, old age, bad health, marriage/kids, etc.) than are entering the marketplace and that's simply because there is now access to more musical choices than ever.

If you want to blame anything, blame the Internet for expanding the viewpoints and horizons of the average musician who are far less myopic when it comes to what they can or cannot do or own.

I can still remember when Ebay was brand new in the 1990s and initially just the worlds biggest flea market. People were putting up for sale stuff that they just didn't want to deal with, but knew had value and wanted to get a few bucks for.

I was working as an IT person in Hollywood, first Hanna-Barbera Studios and later Warner Bros., and I could not believe the things that were being put up for sale on Ebay in terms of technology. Ebay and Internet truly commoditized computer parts and negated the regional or geographic value of just about anything. Things were no longer as "rare or unusual" simply because someone 100s or 1000s of miles away had never heard of it.

The effects of COVID notwithstanding, I think that the banjo world has been going through something similar, but in far slower motion.

Just like American muscle cars that were selling for close to a US$1 million or more and getting shipped to collectors in Europe or Japan a decade ago, banjo values are on the decline, but like many things its cyclical.

Will it bounce back, probably. But by how much is anyone's guess.

Then again, it could take something simple like a movie tune as popular as "Dueling Banjos" was back in the 1970s to spur on a resurgence of interest. Or, maybe the banjo equivalent to when Presidential candidate Bill Clinton played saxophone on the "Arsenio Hall Show" to trigger a wave of new players and students.

Basically we need someone like a 'Tiger Woods' to do for banjo what he did for golf when he rose to fame, OR, the banjo equivalent to movies like "Avatar" or "Titanic" and THEN you'll see kids ASKING to play banjo.

Dangit, where's a Kermit the Frog or a Muppet blockbuster when you need one.... LOL :)

That said, I think people like Don Vappie and Tyler Jackson or even Buddy Wachter should be household names OUTSIDE of the banjo community, but they aren't because there is so much competition for the attention of minds, eyeballs, and ears all across the planet and the Internet makes that possible and creates that hurdle.

Lately, when I've talked to people about starting my banjo program within the music department at my old elementary school, I've been saying things like how the banjo is one of (if not THE) greatest musical contributions of the African-American community to the entire world and to just about every genre of music.

Somebody has figured out how to use a banjo in just about every musical way (good, bad, and/or humorous) since the banjo's Modern Manufacture era as I refer to it (the 1920's and forward) from Joplin's ragtime pieces arranged for orchestras to Gershwin's original score of "Rhapsody in Blue" which included a 4-string banjo to Harry Reser and Eddie Peabody just being amazing to Pete Seeger to "Dueling Banjos" in the 1970s to Dexys Midnight Runners and "Come On Eileen" in the 1980s and more recently Mumford & Sons.

And thank goodness for the animation industry, cause they LOVE banjo music. I just recently discovered this peppy tune...
youtube.com/watch?v=Aofahau1cE0
Plus I don't think that our illustrious Bela Fleck has met a banjo tune he couldn't "modernize" or put some new kind of spin on.

This conversation reminds me that I need to finally upload the Peninsula Banjo Band's entire catalog of recordings to a service like Spotify so that their algorithm can hopefully introduce the music (from the era of the BIG banjo bands) to a new audience. And personally I couldn't care where in the world it is as long as there are still people tapping their toes and stomping their feet to 80+ 4-string banjos hammering out "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" or "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise".

The banjo is not dead, it's just evolving like everything else, but at its own pace.

Chris

KCJones - Posted - 01/13/2023:  11:21:13


quote:

Originally posted by jackryansullivan

quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

I love 4-string banjos, especially vintage ones. They're a great platform for conversion to 5-string. And those old dry necks make great kindling. devil






5 string isn't far behind. Less and less are selling each day. 






Obviously we don't have any numbers, and can only go by incomplete anecdotal evidence, but judging by the success of companies like Deering, Recording King, and Gold Tone, who continue to expand their 5-string product lineups and market share, and the dozens of boutique builders that make a living selling 5-string banjos, and the participation levels of 5-string related community groups (both online and IRL), I have my doubts that 5-string sales are waning. There are contemporary bluegrass bands that are, right now, selling out 30,000+ capacity arenas, and scalped tickets for some of these groups are pushing $200/each. 5-string banjo players still win Grammy awards. 



I'll admit ignorance and I'm willing to be educated, but I don't see any companies expanding their 4 string lineup. I've never once seen a 4-string banjo in a live music setting, let alone in a sold out arena, and I'm unaware of any 4-string banjo centered events or community groups in the Midwest. When was the last time a 4-string player won a Grammy? I know tenor banjo is sometimes featured in Irish music, but it's not really part of that tradition and I think it's a stretch to say that an Irish folk festival or concert is a 'banjo event'. As far as I can tell, the only thing driving sales of 4-string banjos is the 5-string conversion market. I think you're right that it's dying, and unless there's a seismic shift in pop culture, it will continue on that trajectory.



The question is this: What does the 4-string community do about it? Is it possible for a small group of enthusiasts to grow a niche hobby to the point that it is self-sustaining and popular? I'm not so sure if it is. I think for that to happen, you need funding, organization, promotions, events, and media pushes. You need a Hollywood movie or top40 pop music band to highlight that niche hobby for the masses. For something to be sustainable, you need more than enthusiasts to participate. You need the average layman with only a passing interest in the topic to know about it. That's the only reason 5-string is still popular. It's not because of the enthusiasts, it's because of pop culture. The 4-string banjo simply does not exist in modern pop culture. 


Edited by - KCJones on 01/13/2023 11:29:14

hobogal - Posted - 01/13/2023:  11:50:22


May be it doesn't exist in pop culture but the tenor banjo is a played in popular folk bands like JigJam and We Banjo 3 and other fusion-folk bands like Topette. The single-string Celtic style generally appears to be growing in popularity and lots of lesson material out there; BanjoHeads group on Facebook is very active....I guess more going on in the folk genre.


Edited by - hobogal on 01/13/2023 11:51:13

majesty - Posted - 01/13/2023:  12:22:26


I'm not sure what the original poster is complaining about. You choose to play a rare instrument, in an age of deafening loud electric guitars with screaming vocals that are now in popularity, so you are not in vogue.
The population of the USA has increased three times since 1927, so the old banjos seem to be few and far between. Yes, the 5 string players have converted old tenors which reduced the numbers as well.
Tenor players only play in retirement homes, you said. Yes, that is because they can't play, and don't want to put in the time to learn the instrument properly. It will take years to become an accomplished player. Many tenor players say they love the sound of the instrument, but just enjoy banging away on it.
Today's great tenor players will not use this forum to teach, because there will be few takers.
Just enjoy the instrument, like the fellows who re-build Ford Model T's.
Remarks from an old tenor player, who did quite well. So see, there is ONE tenor player still around.

KCJones - Posted - 01/13/2023:  12:32:31


majesty The funny thing is, we're not even in an age of "deafening loud electric guitars with screaming vocals" anymore.

That was 30+ years ago.

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  13:13:09


quote:

Originally posted by majesty

I'm not sure what the original poster is complaining about. You choose to play a rare instrument, in an age of deafening loud electric guitars with screaming vocals that are now in popularity, so you are not in vogue.

The population of the USA has increased three times since 1927, so the old banjos seem to be few and far between. Yes, the 5 string players have converted old tenors which reduced the numbers as well.

Tenor players only play in retirement homes, you said. Yes, that is because they can't play, and don't want to put in the time to learn the instrument properly. It will take years to become an accomplished player. Many tenor players say they love the sound of the instrument, but just enjoy banging away on it.

Today's great tenor players will not use this forum to teach, because there will be few takers.

Just enjoy the instrument, like the fellows who re-build Ford Model T's.

Remarks from an old tenor player, who did quite well. So see, there is ONE tenor player still around.






Your response is lazy. Sorry, but I totally disagree with your sentiments. 'Accept it for what is' is what you're saying, and that's lazy. 

 



no, I won't. 

dannyburke1 - Posted - 01/13/2023:  13:39:25


There is the contemporary 4 string banjo group on Facebook which has a good amount of engagement.

Alvin Conder - Posted - 01/13/2023:  14:06:29


I tend to disagree. On some levels.

Been playing for over 1/2 century. So a little background to go on.

I don’t see any 4 string or plectrum players doing Dixieland or jazz anymore. What i do see is a number of really talented 4 string, young players doing Irish and some traditional folk tunes using 4 string banjos. So I would not say they the 4 string banjo is dying, it’s just the focus of the music being played on it has changed.

As for the five string banjo, there are probably more 5 string players now than has ever existed. Bluegrass, old time, folk, rock. I’m seeing and hearing more banjo in music than I can ever recall hearing in the past. A lot of it is being done by young folks. Way under 30 in age, so I would say that the 5 string banjo is safe at least for another generation.

As for buying and selling instruments...well the truth is there are only so many of us out there that can buy the high end stuff. Most of the serious collectors out there are getting up in years and are now downsizing collections. That makes for some opportunities for younger collectors, except it seems that there are no real young collectors out there. Be it for banjos, guitars, cars, guns art or whatever, young people just do not collect things.

I’ll relate a story. I have a very very talented Niece. Guitar. Goes to the top music school in the country. A year or so ago, I bought her a top of the line custom electric. One of a kind great instrument. Plays the heck out of it. I was sitting with her the other day and I mentioned if you want another guitar, I’ll get you one, whatever you want within reasonable terms of an players instrument. Her response was, “What would I do with another guitar? I would just have to worry about it. “ zero interest in having an instrument arsenal. Zero interest in even having another guitar. In talking to her contemporaries, they really have minimal interest in owning things. Very interesting perspective that does not bode well for future instrument/collectible sellers.

NotABanjoYoda - Posted - 01/13/2023:  14:32:20


Alvin Conder They do collect things, just not your things.



Yu Gi Oh, pokemon, warcraft, video games on steam, 3d printer cads, and other things important to them from when they were young, just like every generation.



There are a few things that have survived multiple generations such as starwars.


Edited by - NotABanjoYoda on 01/13/2023 14:32:52

mike gregory - Posted - 01/13/2023:  14:45:57


quote:

Originally posted by haildixon

unless the kids hired you, this is a fairly big clue that the adult in charge is interested in banjos, and we all know that adults know exactly what the kids are into.




I am being hired to do a presentation on banjo BUILDING, for a bunch of 9 to 12 year old schoolkids.

Since none of them are REQUIRED to attend, I would count this as a  fairly big CLUE that young people are interested in banjo.







It is an after-school club, different projects every month.



And how it came to be MY turn is this:



The school and the Senior Center had this thing where one of us oldies would volunteer to read and respond to a letter from one of the kids.



My kid asked me what my hobbies were, and I told him I made banjos, and he might ask his teacher if I could show up at the school and talk about it.



His teacher  asked the kids in the activities club (different projects every month) if they would like to try building a primitive banjo.



Enough of them are interested, that I got the gig.



 

Bill Rogers - Posted - 01/13/2023:  18:06:38


The question may be better asked about the state of 1920s jazz, let alone the 4-string banjos used in it. Our local dixieland band plays monthly at the Eagles, and is available for hire.... Based on the posted pix, it's not at all a young group. Does have a banjo (or did 4 years ago). Cynthia Sayer is working, but he schedule is not exactly full. The pandemic undoubtedly whacked performers, festivals and bands. Any recovery will take another couple of years, I'd guess. So are 4-string banjos "dead?" No, but the music isn't healthy.



Five-stringers and the musical styles that feature them are doing fine. So is Irish Trad, with its tenor banjos played very differently.



So " banjo" is far from dead, but not all forms of it are equally healthy.


Edited by - Bill Rogers on 01/13/2023 18:09:08

NePlusUltraNo6 - Posted - 01/14/2023:  00:29:25


quote:

Originally posted by dannyburke1

There is the contemporary 4 string banjo group on Facebook which has a good amount of engagement.






Thinking about what you just said. That group is 'contemporary' 



 



That's not something that a young person would name a group, much less use Facebook. I do, but I'm an old person, even at 33, I feel like an old guy. The world is soon passing me by. 

 



We use words like 'contemporary' because we accept that the instrument is not. 

CJ0tto - Posted - 01/14/2023:  12:27:27


I notice the term "Younger Banjo players" appearing many times in this thread. As one of those younger banjo players, (18) personally I don't really care for four string plectrum banjo, but I love 5 string. Honestly I could probably count on my fingers the amount of songs featuring a four string banjo I have ever heard in my life, and I have only ever held one (or for that matter even seen one personally I think) once in my life. I am sure it is a great instrument, and no offense to those of you who still do play it, but I am just putting in my two cents as one of those "younger banjo players" who was referenced.  Also, I have seen at least one person in this chat making a comment to the affect that young people today like music with "Deafening electric instruments and screaming vocals" or something to that affect. I don't think people understand that that was like 40 years ago. Have you ever listened to modern pop music? I am not a fan at all, but if you listen to it, it is nothing like what was popular back 40 years ago in the 80s.  In fact, a recent study showed that only 15% of people aged 18-24 said that Rock music was their favorite genre of music.  As a young person, I absolutely detest the rock music that was popular way back then. 



Just my thoughts, take them for what they are worth. 


Edited by - CJ0tto on 01/14/2023 12:37:38

jan dupree - Posted - 01/14/2023:  14:07:51


quote:

Originally posted by GrahamHawker

I think there are still plenty of Irish folk tenor players. Perhaps the jazz side is not doing so well.What seems to be the case when keeping an eye on the used market is that tenors don't seem to sell well except perhaps some of the expensive vintage instruments to collectors.






Irish style is becoming more popular in the U.S. but players are using 5 strings for Irish music. It's even starting to happen in the UK. (10) Five String Banjo Lesson - "Willie Coleman's" - YouTube 


Edited by - jan dupree on 01/14/2023 14:18:07

jan dupree - Posted - 01/14/2023:  14:21:52


Here is a top Player in the UK and Ireland using 5 string for Irish.


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