Since the banjo easily overpowers the average human voice, what's the preferred method for reducing the overall volume of the instrument? Without resorting to microphones for the voice, and while using a pick to strum chords, how do you quiet the banjo for acoustic sessions?
When I play, I practically yell. That, or you can simply arpeggiate chords. The Pogues do this quite well in several of their songs. Arpeggiating the chords will keep the song going, but it is harder to do this and sing. In lieu of all this, you could try damping the strings with your right hand.
From your other threads it looks like you play a tenor banjo. If you want to decrease the volume, stuff a towel between the head and the dowel stick/co-ordinator rods and just play chords with your thumb. You could also learn to use better diagphram support and sing louder <G>
I don't think that the chords produced by a tenor banjo are as interesting sounding for accompaniment since there is such a wide spacing in between notes. Guitar tuning or five string tuning (plectrum C tuning) is much better in that respect. Another way to deal with this problem is to use two or three string chords or power chords.
Thanks for the advice everyone! I've tried several of these ideas. I tried the felt pick from my uke but didn't like the 'feel' on steel strings. I put my fiddle mute on, but it's a little clunky to work with. Thiinner picks worked pretty well, as did strumming nearer the neck. I put three layers of card stock under the bridge feet and that seems to be just the ticket. If I could find a thin sheet of rubber it might even be better. I'm after the 'gaslight era' sound. Not really jazz, not Dixieland, but an unsustained chunky sound. Thanks again everyone!