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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Plectrum or Tenor?

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Wurzel - Posted - 02/06/2007:  22:00:04

Hi there everyone...whilst not being a total begginger on the banjo...I have been consistently confused by it for the last 6 years...
I started playing and Irish-tuned Tenor playing irish tunes, whilst I found this good for learning scales I started playing in a Russian folk influenced punk band that required a lot of chord work not really conducive to the irish tuning (moving up and down the neck a lot) From here I started enjoying the banjo sounds of Trad. Jazz, I figured a re-tuning and re-learning was in order.
So I tuned Plectrum for a seemed to be easier for chord and rhythm work...but have now recently turned to tenor finding it had the same benifits,but also seemed to be less confusing as I was already used to playing in fifths.

So after searching locally for a good teacher/group to play with i was informed that he only taught plectrum tuning and that it was the way to go for the kind of music I was wanting to find out more about.And as banjo teachers are thin on the ground here...

Im still in early days of learning the Tenor it would be no great loss to revert to Plectrum.Just interested to hear from you all on your thoughts and pros and cons of Plectrum vs Tenor tunings for playing a wide variety of styles (as I have seemed to accumulated tastes for)?

Your help would be much appreciated.

scotty22 - Posted - 02/07/2007:  01:24:59

I myself am trying to decide which instruments to take to a jam/performance next week. I'm pretty much settled on taking two tenors: one tuned CGDA and the other GDAE (and a fiddle). I'm leaving my 5-string--which I sometimes play plectrum style--and my mandolin, et al. at home. For me, the tenor has become a primary instrument for a couple of reasons: while I've only had a tenor for about nine months (actually, I have about six of them now...but that's another story), it seems to be about the most versatile--not only for different styles, but it allows me to play either straight tenor or "Irish"tenor, etc. I can do much of what I use the mandolin and fiddle for, and it lends particular flavor and volume to large ensembles. Of course, I'm still in the "honeymoon period," but it seems like a very expressive and versatile instrument. As far as tenor versus plectrum, for me, 5ths is pretty efficient.

jerryd - Posted - 02/07/2007:  14:45:48

Hey guys,
I'm also fairly new to the plectrum style and also have had the same kinds of questions. One possible answer is to use a 19 fret tenor. These can be tuned either to plectrum, or GDAE, and even CGDA with the use of a capo (at the second or third fret for scale length.) Seems like one banjo can satisify all of your needs with only slight differences in sound. Eventhough I have a plectrum with a full 22 fret neck, I would now use a 19 fret neck for this very reason. The shorter neck, eventhough its only 3 frets, provides a brighter sound (excluding differences in setup) which I like.


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