Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Discussion Forum

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: All Other Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Irish Banjo Website

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:

mikeyes - Posted - 01/21/2007:  19:38:54

I've just started a personal website that includes a section on the Irish tenor banjo. Take a look and tell me what you think.

If you have any questions or would like to see some aspect of the Irish tenor banjo that is not on my site, let me know. (There is plenty that is not on the site, believe me. It is a work in progress.)

Check out

Mike Keyes

lquinlan - Posted - 01/21/2007:  22:56:10

Good job with the website Mikekeyes. I am just starting out on the Irish Tenor. Your articles on the banjosessions have been a great help, but 2 months is a long time to wait for a lesson. So the website is a welcome addition to the articles. Thanks for all the help.

tenor Q

Scarecrow - Posted - 01/22/2007:  03:28:41

Excellent site, Mike. Clear layout, no clutter, really useful for tenor players.
Your site's on my Favourites list, and it belongs on countless others.
Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge.


"Music is...a gesture of friendship..." - Malcolm Arnold.

Edited by - Scarecrow on 01/28/2007 05:02:06

jamesl - Posted - 01/22/2007:  03:50:47

I just bought a tenor banjo and i know nothin much about em so I'll be a regular visitor, it's been added to my favourites.anything at all you can put on there for a beginner would be great.I've been learnin the 5 string for
a few months and thought i'd get a tenor for a bit of a change.thanks for sharin your knowledge.

"forget wat ya mum said keep pickin at it "jim"

Tom Hanway - Posted - 01/22/2007:  16:32:30

Great site Mike. Thanks for the tunes. I have to go back and get rid of years of clutter on my site -- after seeing what you've done. Dead-on.

I was watching Gerry O'Connor last night (video), and I had forgotten how ragtime-influenced his style is (at times) with the cross-picking. We saw him on Saturday night at the Point in Dublin (Sharon Shannon Big Band), doing support for Willie Nelson.
He was on fire and the star of the whole concert (except for Willie).

Denise and I are leaving shortly for a trad session in Ballymahon, Co. Longford, with members of Rig the Jig, a band which has two fine banjo players, Jimmy Flanagan (who "moonlights" as a school principal in nearby Lanesboro) and Johnny Duffy (telephone technician and double-agent for Eircom). These guys are fantastic players.

The craic is mighty whenever this crew assembles. On the uilleann pipes is the wonderfully droll Noel Carberry, who comes from a long line of Longford pipers. Noel and I sometimes gig together as a duo, for laughs. It's not a traditional pairing, but we have a lot of fun with the O'Carolan tunes and old hornpipes that many younger players seem to have forgotten (or missed out on).

I need to go back and check out your writings in Mel Bay's Banjo Sessions - I only got to peruse the third part, so I need to go back and dig in. Great writing - very informative. Thank you. I love Stack of Wheat!


tom clunie - Posted - 01/23/2007:  00:40:19

Your section on triplets has driven me nuts for quite a while. I am still trying to get in my mind exactly what a triplet is in the first place. All I know is that it is a fast embellishment but is it down-up-down or up-down-up depending on what is before or after. Or is it something entirely different. All your so called "examples" just lead me to "save this file" but I am damned if I can open them or get them to show me anything. Gerry O'Conner was equally vague in his book on just what a triplet is. You guys just assume that all of us here in banjo land can go down to the local pub and have someone show us, but I don'r have that opportunity and I have been wondering what the hell you have been talking about for YEARS! Everytime I try to ask you or someone else via internet just what a triplet is they send me to unuseable web sites that I can't access...and the years keep going by. If I sound frustrated it is because I am. So thank you for what you have contributed so far, but...WHAT THE HELL IS A TRIPLET??? TC

mikeyes - Posted - 01/23/2007:  13:07:21


If you have quicktime, you can get Roger Landes' lesson on triplets. I will try to convert these files to .wmv files for you and put them on the site.

Basically a "triplet" (I prefer "treble" to distiguish it from a musical triplet) is a half note-half note-full note, usually a 1/16, 1/16, 1/8 (think du-du-dah) note that takes the place of a quarter note that happens so fast that it is hard to show at speed. I never sould figure it out until I was shown how by Gerry O'Connor in a workshop. Even then, I was trying to anchor my little finger on the head a-la-five string until he showed me how to use my right hand. As it turned out, the right hand stroke is the same as a mandolin right hand stroke, i.e. not anchored (although it might reference on the head or bridge.) I will try to do another video this weekend for you.

I understand your frustration, it is hard to produce the treble at first unless you are shown by someone who has gone through the same frustration and not just picked it up naturally. I think if it as just like trying to learn geometry, there must be a gene for it or something :']

You can download quicktime at

Mike Keyes

diarmaid - Posted - 01/23/2007:  15:03:40

good stuff mike!!

mikeyes - Posted - 01/24/2007:  13:16:51

I uploaded a conversion of the Roger Landes teaching triplets video. I don't know if it works as I have a linux based system so if someone would try it for me, I'd appreciate it.

Also I have added a setup page.

Mike Keyes

first string - Posted - 01/26/2007:  15:46:11

Very nice site Mike. I'll certainly be returning to it.

vrteach - Posted - 01/29/2007:  15:08:55

Great, I'm glad I stopped by to look at this.

What are the scale lengths (bridge to nut) on the 17 and 19 fret tenors?


mikeyes - Posted - 01/29/2007:  15:58:20


The scale lengths vary quite a bit depending on the manufacturer but ballpark figures are 19" for 17 fret and 22" for 19 fret give or take a little. I have seen 17 fret banjos as short as 16" but you get into string gage problems there.

Mike Keyes

Tom Banjo - Posted - 01/30/2007:  11:25:49

Thanks for the site, Mike. According to UPS, my first tenor banjo is "out for delivery," so I should get it this afternoon. I'm sure I'll be checking the site frequently.


jerryd - Posted - 02/04/2007:  22:50:06

Tom Clunie, I am a plectrum player and after reading this post, the most direct answer to your question is; just what you've already said, "down-up-down or up-down-up depending on what is before or after ." Unless I'm wrong, and somebody please correct me if I am, both UP, Down, UP & Down, UP, Down are triplets. Sometimes they are used by themselves, one or the other, and sometimes they are used in conjunction with each other depending on what comes before and after the triplet, and also depending on what your playing style is. In this case your the boss, and it's up to you to decide whats correct. The half, half, whole note thing is correct, but only if you have some idea in your head as to what the hand movements are. Now that you know the correct movements, practice them some and then go to some of the suggested websites and listen to how they are supposed to be played and how they sound when played correctly. You might want to check out , click on "site index," this website is really helpful with this kind of stuff.
Hope this is helpful.

Edited by - jerryd on 02/04/2007 23:00:27

mikeyes - Posted - 02/05/2007:  11:59:30


The triplet in Irish music has a specific ornamental use and is mostly used starting on the down stroke. Not that it can't be done on the up stroke, but it sounds a little different that way and most ITM banjo players use the down stroke.

There was a long discussion of this at the Roger Landes workshop in Dallas last October. The method he and Mick Moloney (to name a few) use is very difficult if you start with the up stroke. This is a very quick ornament, much quicker than the triplets usually seen in jazz or Dixieland, especially the chorded triplets but the idea is similar. There are usually two methods cited, the one that you use and the "McTwist" finger aided triplet. I have a video of that on in the Roger Landes interview.

Mike Keyes

jerryd - Posted - 02/06/2007:  05:13:44

Yes Mike, advice well taken. I'm certainly no expert on the triplets, just learning a lot of this stuff myself. No disrespect intended for sure. However, I do think I can identify with his question about triplets. It sounded to me as if he were asking "How do I play a triplet?" The methods I referenced probably only apply to plectrum playing which is why I made sure to state that fact early in my response. I myself usualy start a triplet with the down-stroke, but in certain situations starting one with an up-stroke will provide an interesting sound to help during an improv. of an otherwise familiar tune. Plectrrum playing relies a lot on improv and I'm not sure about Irish playing.


jerryd - Posted - 02/06/2007:  05:54:57

Mike, I checked out your link and find it interesting. I think I've heard of that style used in banjo playing referred to as single string triplets. A lot easier on a tenor than a plectrum for sure. A plectrum banjos string length makes those type of triplets a bit more difficult at the lower frets, the upper frets are less of a problem. However, I think most of the plectrum triplets you'll hear will be chordal triplets. It might be kind of interesting to combine the two, just to hear the results?


mikeyes - Posted - 02/10/2007:  12:47:17

I just uploaded some MP3s of the tunes to my tune list that I have on my website. Tuttle's Reel and Galway Hornpipe/Kitty's Wedding. Hope you enjoy them.

Mike Keyes

molloy - Posted - 02/11/2007:  12:25:56

great site mike, always enjoy your imput/advice on any forum i encounter you on, though i've cursed you many a time for introducing me to the musical priest . on your recommendation i'm awaiting two custom bridge's from bart,very much looking forward to trying them out, and what a nice fellow he is to deal with. all the best, lawrence.

mikeyes - Posted - 02/18/2007:  12:22:45

I've uploaded two more tunes from the web site to the hangout: Jenny Picking Cockles and Paddy Ryan's Dream. Sheet music is on the site.


You will love Bart's bridges.

Mike Keyes

diarmaid - Posted - 02/21/2007:  22:17:00

was just checkin the bridge section on your website, did you try a grover(ish) dimensioned 2 feet bridge shape made from all bone with maybe maple or ebony feet to stop it rippin the skin? i reckon it would give a real sharp sound..and a good way to get rid of an old soup shin bone. anyway great site-keep it goin!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories