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Banjo versus TV week 126: Make an electric banjolele, maybe?

Posted by jrjenks on Friday, October 1, 2010

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 7/25/2010 through 7/31/2010. Weekly. Ha! If it's so weekly, then why is J.R. in catch-up mode, starting each post with a catsup bottle for every week he's fallen behind, huh?

1 week behind2 weeks behind3 weeks behind4 weeks behind5 weeks behind6 weeks behind7 weeks behind8 weeks behind
Banjo 726 hrs, TV 702 hours

I've been knocking around a few ideas for building banjo-like instruments. I'm not sure where or whether the Remo Practice Pad...

Remo Practice Pad

...will fit into my plans, but for $19.09 (at Amazon), I figured I'd order one up and see if I could do something with it. It's tunable. It takes a standard Remo timpani head. I'm sure I'll find something to do with it.

Maybe I'll combine it with a Mahalo Solid Top Banjo-shaped Ukulele...

($48.99 from Amazon) to make that uke into a more banjolele-like instrument. And who knows? Maybe I'll replace that Remo timpani head with a Muffle Head...

Pearl Muffle Head

...from Pearl ($5.25 plus shipping from Steve Weiss Music) and a K&K Hot Spot Pickup...

K & K Hot Spot Pickup with Internal Jack

...(which can be gotten on eBay for around $30) to give me an electric banjolele (for around $100).

That'd be cool.

Things I learned at this week's banjo lesson:

David suggested that I could improve my chord inversion and chord change skills by learning the song Theme Time, which was written by Bill Emerson and became a big song for Jimmy Martin. Here's how Jimmy does it:

I found some good online resources for this song:

Also in the last week:

  • I spent a chunk of time setting up my banjo practice area — The Fortress of Banjotude. This is a project I'd started more than a year ago and which is only now starting to come together. I should write a post about what I've done.
  • I heard a good song: The Money Doesn't Matter by Jimmy Hall from his CD Rendezvous with the Blues. I'm able to provide those details because I snapped this photo of my Sirius radio...

    ...when I heard the song.

    I often hear a song that interests me, so I've developed a few ways of noting them for later review. Without getting into a big thing about my GTD approach, here are some of the ways I take notes on songs:
    • I punch the speed dial on my iPhone and Jott myself a Toodledo To-Do item.
    • If the song info is displayed on something I use my iPhone to snap a picture, like I did for The Money Doesn't Matter, above, or like I did when I heard Chick Willis sing 1,2,3,4,5 Shots of Whiskey on a music cable channel.

    • I record myself a note with the Olympus WS-311M Digital Voice Recorder that I carry in my pocket. The WS-311M is a handy little recorder that snaps apart for easy USB access to your audio files.

      Olympus WS-311M Digital Voice Recorder Olympus WS-311M Digital Voice Recorder, showing USB connection

      This technique has the added advantage of letting me record a snippet of the song for later identification.
    • For songs that I don't recognized I'll see if my iPhone's MusicID app can identify the song. If it can, I snap a screen shot, like this one...

      ...that I snapped that time I heard Julia Lee singing I Didn't Like It The First Time from Snatch & Grab It: The Essential Julia Lee.

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

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