Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

323
Banjo Lovers Online


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

Page: 1  2   3   Next Page   Last Page (3) 

Jun 16, 2019 - 10:31:22 AM
likes this
128 posts since 1/28/2013

I have noticed in the last 2 or 3 years that many players and builders also, are moving away from that in your face, loud, snap and popping, Holy Grail Pre-War tone, that has always been the Gold Standard of the Banjo World. Heads are getting looser, strings heavier, bridges thicker, wood armrests are replacing metal ones, picks made with hi-tech plastics and treated metals are being "invented", and some builders are redesigning their banjos and tone rings, searching for a unique sound, and players are in tunings other than G or G#. Fleck has a set up that defines the Modern Sound of a banjo. He said he has painstakingly set about about doing this. I heard he tunes to F, he said he ditched the metal armrest, changed head tension, did something to the tailpiece, and he also plays almost everything in F.


Jun 16, 2019 - 10:45:50 AM

1738 posts since 12/31/2005

John Hartford did the same thing, which also has inspired Alison Brown and her new Julia Bella banjo. I don't know that it is a trend affecting traditional bluegrass. It's another branch of the tree. Also, lower tunings for some vocal accompaniment works better. But, again, I'm not sure if we're seeing traditional bluegrass players switch over.

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 06/16/2019 10:46:23

Jun 16, 2019 - 10:53:01 AM
like this

352 posts since 5/19/2018

I don’t really get “that searching for that pre-war sound”

I have always set up my banjos for maximum playability and tone. Each banjo is unique and has a unique sound to it, so why would I try and alter that sound and make it something it isn’t.

I must be doing something right as folks who play any of my instruments usually complement them on their sound and how easy they are to play. I would have to say, none of them sound like Earls, but then again, I don’t play like Earl. 45 years into this and at this point I play...well...like, me.

Set up correctly any banjo will sing. Let it sing with its own voice.

Jun 16, 2019 - 11:46:54 AM
like this

Alex Z

USA

3538 posts since 12/7/2006

C'mon.  Y'all have to admit that the first time you heard "Flint Hill Special" on the Foggy Mountain Banjo album that shivers went up and down your spine.  smiley

I wouldn't describe that sound in derogatory terms.  

There are other sounds, too, and they can sound good.

Jun 16, 2019 - 1:04:34 PM

128 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

C'mon.  Y'all have to admit that the first time you heard "Flint Hill Special" on the Foggy Mountain Banjo album that shivers went up and down your spine.  smiley

I wouldn't describe that sound in derogatory terms.  

There are other sounds, too, and they can sound good.


Yeah, for certain songs and styles, you need a certain banjo with the tone for that style.  Jens Krugar uses his Deering because of the sound he wants for his Classical style and songs. Same with Hartford. Fleck took that $75,000 plus pre-War and altered it to get his preferred sound. You did'nt see this happening 30 years ago. There seems to be a Modern Sound that is being promoted lately. And don't forget Tony Furtado with all that duct tape on the head and tail piece. I don't know what you call that.

Jun 16, 2019 - 1:40:29 PM
like this

Mooooo

USA

6895 posts since 8/20/2016

Don't follow the trend, it will be replaced with another lame one tomorrow.

Jun 16, 2019 - 2:25:09 PM
like this

352 posts since 5/19/2018

Avoid the trends.

If you go back to the original recordings of the early performers, they all had a unique sound. They all also weren’t shaving bridges, looking for skin heads with goat hair on them or cutting rims, ect.ect.

They had instruments and they played them. What B Fleck is doing is no concern of mine. He is in a class all his own. If someone were to take Belas exact own personal instrument and play a piece of music exactly as BF plays it, it would should completely different. Nuance, touch, tone, these things make players unique.

I love old instruments, always have, but if I owned a K Creed banjo or a pre- War Granada, I’m not going to sound like Kyle or Earle, I may get close, but they are their own masters.

I am seeing some, what I would call strange trends in contemporary instruments. Aged patina, huge heads, thick skins. But that is my opinion. Can’t say it’s right or wrong.

Bottom line is at this point in time, pretty much any instrument or sound you desire is available from the many many very talented builders out there.

Work with the ground work that others have put down, but try to seek your own sound.

Jun 16, 2019 - 2:45:33 PM

1662 posts since 10/17/2013

No such thing as “pre-war” tone or “pre-war” sound. Your prewar Gibson may sound really great, but it does not have “prewar” tone. It just produces banjo sounds that are extremely abundant in richness and volume and “juiciness.” 

The one and only time that a prewar banjo could be truly producing “prewar tone” is before WWII. Not afterwards, which in all logic, should be labeled “postwar” tone. You will not run across any prewar Mastertones that sound exactly as they did fresh from the factory. They might sound very similar, but not identical. The sought-after “Prewar” tone in prewar Gibson Mastertones only came after Scruggs, Crowe, and others played the strings off their Gibsons countless times. What if Fisher Hendley had never played #9584-3 and had kept it in the case, from the day he purchased it? We might not be crazy about “prewar” tone then. That banjo, which was the flame that set the prewar stick of dynamite off, might have been forgotten but for Snuffy Scruggs and Earl Jenkins...I mean Snuffy Jenkins and Earl Scruggs.

Earl most singlehandedly was crucial in developing the prewar following. Bill Emerson practically copies Earl’s banjo on the multi-banjo rendition of Foggy Mountain Breakdown, which featured Earl, J.D., Bill Emerson, Randy Scruggs, and others. 

JD Crowe’s “Banger” has a ton of juiciness and is very “fat” in respect to the richness of tone. Look up “JD Crowe Shuckin’ the Corn,” and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Jun 16, 2019 - 3:11:55 PM

1662 posts since 10/17/2013

As for altering prewar tone, go for it, it’s your banjo. Nobody says you have to sound exactly like Earl.

Jun 16, 2019 - 4:13:41 PM

128 posts since 1/28/2013

I find it ironic that Fleck has an actual 1930, flathead Gibson, $100,000 banjo, that one particular, well known Tennessee Builder has advertised (and a couple of others have also) that his modern banjos are closest to in tone, build and playability, due to scientific tests that have been done in developing the materials he uses, in order to match the exact banjo that Fleck had before he altered it. Even right down to refusing to make anything wider than that narrow 1 3/16ths "Vintage Gibson" neck. And here Fleck has taken the banjo, and changed all of that. The tone of his banjo in that video, and other videos he has done, is not the tone of a typical, unaltered 1930 Gibson 75, Granada, or any other Gibson flathead banjo of that era.

Edited by - jan dupree on 06/16/2019 16:20:54

Jun 16, 2019 - 5:15:49 PM

rcc56

USA

2123 posts since 2/20/2016

I don't think he made any permanent alterations to the banjo. He just loosened the head a little and swapped out the armrest. I would guess the original armrest is still in his possession.

In short, he set up his banjo to suit his needs and preferences. There's nothing very unusual about that . . .

Jun 16, 2019 - 6:18:30 PM

2094 posts since 9/12/2016

Bela made his mark I have no desire to imitate his taste nor ability to imitate it. Eddy,Raymond ,Don ,Allen and others were already there blazing trails,when Bela ascended to stardom. Finding great musical tones and ideas in new places has always been a mainstay for some great players

Jun 16, 2019 - 8:48:51 PM

778 posts since 6/3/2013

Rob McCoury has also gravitated toward the same sound.

Jun 17, 2019 - 4:36:39 AM

phb

Germany

1874 posts since 11/8/2010

Fleck's banjo in that video sounds to me very much like mine with a mute on (except for the playing, of course). Very long sustain and little attack. It's probably good for his music but not so much for bluegrass.

Jun 17, 2019 - 4:58:32 AM
like this

69415 posts since 5/9/2007
Online Now

There are many,many ways to set up a banjo.
I don't look to others for the tone I like.

Jun 17, 2019 - 8:48:25 AM
likes this

2172 posts since 9/13/2018

If I may Steve... you mentioned that you look for the audience approval if a tune sounds ok, in tune etc. does that no longer apply? I would think you’d want all the input you can get to make sure every sounds ok. That’s just me though

Bruce

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:19:10 AM
likes this

778 posts since 6/3/2013

quote:
Originally posted by phb

Fleck's banjo in that video sounds to me very much like mine with a mute on (except for the playing, of course). Very long sustain and little attack. It's probably good for his music but not so much for bluegrass.


Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Some builders now are making new banjos that sound like that.

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:23:29 AM

778 posts since 6/3/2013

I'm trying to imagine what that song would sound like if Earl would have recorded it in the 50's on his Granada. But, I'm sure Fleck played it on his Gibson with the original sound, and didn't like it. But, what actually is happening is, the music historically associated with 5 string banjo is evolving, and the banjo has to evolve with it.

Edited by - dupreejan on 06/17/2019 09:40:49

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:39:22 AM
likes this

Alex Z

USA

3538 posts since 12/7/2006

Recording has a lot to do with the sound, plus Mr. Fleck is certainly able to get different tones out of the instrument.

The "Gibson sound" in the olden days had a particular bit of hollowness to it.  Wouldn't call it "tubby" at all.  But just a little more air around the tones, while still being sweet and ringing up high.

Check this out:  same player, same banjo:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cI3EZGUwm8

What a player!  Perfectly in time, even tone, complementary to the song, smooth--smooth.  smiley

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:47:23 AM

2094 posts since 9/12/2016

I play towards the bridge a lot with 11s to 24 or 25 ..My fingers and pick bends don't like the uneven tension next to the bridge. In medium tempo or slower I like the legato (sustain} away from the bridge. I think this also helps getting dynamics even for me ,especially with melodics. Been doing it for years Bela did not influence me . I am not some follower in a pack he is leading.This is my view ,I don't say anyone else should adopt it.
I agree that the best way to crank out Earl is his position,but that is not where my meager talent found a home.
As far as masterclones built different for a new sound ,I kinda doubt it on masterclones ,the usual change outs would be used on them.The things we always argue about ha ha.
Guys like nechville get radical though
As far as effects they seem to do much better on my baritone banjo that I built in 2010

Edited by - Tractor1 on 06/17/2019 09:48:05

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:50:54 AM

778 posts since 6/3/2013

It also sounds like he is playing tuned to G, and he probably tightened up the head too. That's probably gets him the bulk of what he looks for in a particular song. He does other stuff to banjo also, at one point he was playing with Keith Tuners on all 4 strings for added weight, and he said that when he replaced the metal armrest with the wooden one, he got a better tone he wanted. I also heard he "tampers with the tail piece".

Edited by - dupreejan on 06/17/2019 09:51:45

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:51:46 AM
likes this

2094 posts since 9/12/2016

Not to mention tube amps and analog vs digital Alex

 

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:59:10 AM

778 posts since 6/3/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Tractor1

I play towards the bridge a lot with 11s to 24 or 25 ..My fingers and pick bends don't like the uneven tension next to the bridge. In medium tempo or slower I like the legato (sustain} away from the bridge. I think this also helps getting dynamics even for me ,especially with melodics. Been doing it for years Bela did not influence me . I am not some follower in a pack he is leading.This is my view ,I don't say anyone else should adopt it.
I agree that the best way to crank out Earl is his position,but that is not where my meager talent found a home.
As far as masterclones built different for a new sound ,I kinda doubt it on masterclones ,the usual change outs would be used on them.The things we always argue about ha ha.
Guys like nechville get radical though
As far as effects they seem to do much better on my baritone banjo that I built in 2010


I like playing toward the fingerboard also. With the Huber I have, the strings were so close to the head that it was hard to do without the picks sometimes hitting the head. When I replaced the neck with a wider one, I had it installed with the neck raised above the head, now it's no problem. 

Jun 17, 2019 - 10:01:59 AM

2094 posts since 9/12/2016

good Idea on raising the neck,I always wondered why on that ha ha.
nice topic

Jun 17, 2019 - 10:31:06 AM
likes this

69415 posts since 5/9/2007
Online Now

I didn't say I look for audience approval,Bruce.
I look for fiddle player's approval,though to make sure I have the tune right.

I know the thing's in tune because my banjo stays in tune for long periods of time once I lock down the Keith tuners and have zero binding in the nut and bridge slots.
If I like what I'm playing I simply trust the audience will,too but I also know I can't please everyone....I can live with that just fine.

Jun 17, 2019 - 11:18:30 AM

Alex Z

USA

3538 posts since 12/7/2006

In both the "Big Country" link and the "Girl in Tennessee" link, the tunes are in G and Mr. Fleck is tuned to G.

Recording electronics are hugely different, as noted.  There's no possibility that Mr. Scruggs's banjo actually sounded like the recording on the F&S "Little Girl in Tennessee" -- just listen to Mr. Flatt's voice.  That's not how a human voice sounds, let alone Lester Flatt.  And so the banjo is just as distorted from reality.

Our brains process the cues and information and turn it into something explainable -- "That's Lester Flatt singing."  and "That's how Earl's banjo sounded."

Page: 1  2   3   Next Page   Last Page (3) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.65625