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It's Either Got It Or It Doesn't

Posted by banjoez on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

like this

Banjo players spend a lot of time tweaking their instruments. We try different bridges, heads, strings, tailpieces, tone rings, etc. etc. hoping to find that missing ingredient to turn it into a hoss. After playing this game for many years I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that, in general, a banjo either's got it or it doesn't. The good ones have something special from the start that the others don't.

Waiting for it to "play in" is usually wishful thinking and who wants to spend months or years waiting for a banjo to come around when there are banjos that are already there.

That's why I don't spend a lot of time doing major tinkering anymore beyond a proper setup and finding the right bridge. If you cover all the setup basics you can tell pretty quickly if a banjo's "got it" or not. There are some fundamental characteristics that will be there on a good banjo that will not be present on an average or mediocre banjo. 

Yes, there is some voodoo, magic, mystery or just plain luck involved that no one can explain but some banjos got it and some just don't. No need to get too technical.

6 comments on “It's Either Got It Or It Doesn't”

5strings3picks1banjo Says:
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @1:46:53 PM

That is the best comment I've read for a long time. As much as I love the challenge of waking up or opening a banjo to it's full potential, I think your right Joe.
Luck? Yes again as every wood grain and pore is its own energy. Take a high end bridge like Snuffy, You may have 3 bridges the same but perform differently same is for necks, rims, resonators.
The other factor is our brain. Remove that and we will have less to complain about.

KD Banjer Says:
Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @8:57:37 AM

Thank you for sharing your experience and insights, Joe. I have had a similar experience with musical instruments in general.

banjoez Says:
Monday, July 24, 2017 @8:20:04 AM


jellowaydan Says:
Monday, July 31, 2017 @9:25:38 AM

You are correct..It's true a bad set-up can kill a good banjo, there is still something you can here that warrants the time to do a full set-up to see if it has really got it! I've played several original flatheads, as well as conversions, and they either got it or they don't.

banjoez Says:
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @8:28:29 AM

You got it!

Oldtwanger Says:
Monday, August 29, 2022 @7:44:06 AM

"It's Either Got It Or It Doesn't"

That's exactly what Earl Scruggs said decades ago.

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