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Looking to get started not sure where to

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Jul 11, 2019 - 7:50 AM
2 posts since 7/11/2019

Hey all,

I'm as new as they come to the world of Banjos. I'm really excited to get started not sure where to start I know I really want to play more celtic stuff but at the same time dont want to be limited. Should I focus on the 4 string tenor to start since thats where my interests lies or is there another option? Really like the Deering tenor good time 2 is kind of what I'm looking at getting.

Thanks for all the help, looking forward to getting to be part of the community.

Jul 11, 2019 - 8:08:32 AM

1851 posts since 5/2/2012

First of all, welcome to the Hangout. Celtic music can be played on the 5 string as well, but a tenor would be a good place to start. Probably more instructional help for playing Celtic music for tenor as well. The reviews section on this site is under the "More" tab on the left side of this page, so you can read reviews written by members when looking at specific banjos. Tenors come in 19 and 17 fret versions, and you can find threads here by searching and find out opinions on both. Used banjos can get you more banjo for the money -- check out the "marketplace" tab on the left side of the page.

Edited by - thisoldman on 07/11/2019 08:09:33

Jul 11, 2019 - 8:41:51 AM

10513 posts since 2/12/2011

Goodtime 2 or Goodtime Special is a good choice. I think you would have more fun learning bluegrass on a 5 string.

Jul 11, 2019 - 9:32:47 AM

hoodoo

Canada

486 posts since 10/6/2017

quote:
Originally posted by revdrj76

Hey all,

I'm as new as they come to the world of Banjos. I'm really excited to get started not sure where to start I know I really want to play more celtic stuff but at the same time dont want to be limited. Should I focus on the 4 string tenor to start since thats where my interests lies or is there another option? Really like the Deering tenor good time 2 is kind of what I'm looking at getting.

Thanks for all the help, looking forward to getting to be part of the community.


If your desire is to play Irish music, I would go for a tenor banjo. That being said, perhaps you could let you us know if its a particular artist or album or something that led you to the banjo. That could help the rest of us guide you towards your firsrt purchase

Jul 11, 2019 - 10:00:58 AM

2 posts since 7/11/2019

Well I've been looking at general celtic music with eventually getting into the celtic punk music (Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly) I know that is a long ways down the road tell I can play at that level.  I really enjoy Irish folk like the Dubliners and what not.
quote:
Originally posted by hoodoo
quote:
Originally posted by revdrj76

Hey all,

I'm as new as they come to the world of Banjos. I'm really excited to get started not sure where to start I know I really want to play more celtic stuff but at the same time dont want to be limited. Should I focus on the 4 string tenor to start since thats where my interests lies or is there another option? Really like the Deering tenor good time 2 is kind of what I'm looking at getting.

Thanks for all the help, looking forward to getting to be part of the community.


If your desire is to play Irish music, I would go for a tenor banjo. That being said, perhaps you could let you us know if its a particular artist or album or something that led you to the banjo. That could help the rest of us guide you towards your firsrt purchase


Jul 11, 2019 - 12:48:39 PM
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4477 posts since 3/6/2006

quote:
Originally posted by kmwaters

Goodtime 2 or Goodtime Special is a good choice. I think you would have more fun learning bluegrass on a 5 string.


I disagree about the "have more fun learning bluegrass on a five string." He said he wants to learn Celtic therefore a tenor seems the logical choice. It's a big banjo world out there. If I were the OP, I'd look for a 20's tenor in good shape, as for around $700-$1000 you can find nice 20's Vega Tubaphones, Little Wonders, or Paramounts and B&D's for not a lot more than a Goodtime, and certainly a lot more banjo.

Jul 11, 2019 - 1:18:29 PM

130 posts since 4/11/2019

Get a four string off the market place for less than $550, get the Bud Orr Mandolin Anthology book, lots of nice tunes in tablature.

Get a tuner and a few different kinds of picks.

Say goodbye to everyone you know and love for about two years and you problem will either be solved or just beginning.

Jul 11, 2019 - 3:07:44 PM
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12026 posts since 10/30/2008

Hard to beat a Goodtime for a beginner banjo -- they are well known and mostly respected, and when you've advanced enough you'll find it easy to resell. Do you the opportunity to buy a used one?

Good luck, get picking!

Jul 11, 2019 - 3:18:24 PM
Players Union Member

Helix1

USA

332 posts since 4/17/2019

IMO you don't need rice krispies, you need real nourishment. I can see it in what you write. If you are playing in a group, you want to be able to PROJECT more than a few feet away. Some of us jam with all the major brands and models, we see what doesn't and what does work. Buy enough banjo to grow with.

We have Great used banjos here, in your budget. Phone pawn shops in your area and see what they might have.

A regular shortneck 5-string can have the 5th string/and or tuner removed, then you use a clamp called a capo to shorten the playing area a little and you can play either 17 or 19 fret Celtic music with ease. But it gives you room to grow with the music and not limit you to what only the banjo can play.

Jul 11, 2019 - 6:37:21 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22109 posts since 6/25/2005

Before you decide on a banjo type, listen to some of the Irish tunes by Tom Hanway on the five-string. If you think you might want to play bluegrass banjo down the road, beginning with Celtic style fingerpicking will mean an easier transition to bluegrass. 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eQrGtOZ7rlU

https://www.banjohangout.org/my/Tom+Hanway

[Go to his media page and scroll down for his three Irish Tune postings  ]

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 07/11/2019 18:40:41

Jul 12, 2019 - 7:38:31 AM

543 posts since 2/19/2012

Welcome, Dan. After five years of clawhammer lessons, which I really enjoyed, I decided I wanted to try some Irish tunes. That can be done clawhammer style, including 6/8 timing, but it's not exactly natural. I also considered getting into three-finger style and learned (and was advised by a very accomplished player and author of a three-finger style Irish music book) that I'd need to develop some real proficiency with three finger style before getting into Irish.

So I tried a tenor banjo and took to it immediately. It's really fun, and there is a ton of music and teaching aids available. I started with the Online Academy of Irish Music and have recently worked through most of Enda Scahill's (from We Banjos 3) Irish Tutor Vol 1. I've even gotten back into reading standard music notation again since the tuning remains set at GDAE.

I advise getting a decent tenor banjo and jumping in. Whether 17 or 19 frets, it doesn't really matter. I have both. If you're coming from mandolin, 17 fret might be easier since you can use very similar fingering. At this point, if you have smaller hands, go for 17. If larger, go for 19, which may have slightly better intonation. That's a level of detail that really doesn't matter all that much at this point.

Be careful about picking up one of the many old tenors out there. If you like to tinker, great. But if you want to play, be careful. I suggest contacting Bob Smakula of Smakula Fretted Instruments if you're leaning toward vintage. You can be sure of a playable instrument. At the other end of the beginner's line, you might check on a Gold Tone AC-4 or something similar.

Good Luck!
Parker

Jul 12, 2019 - 7:49:48 AM

543 posts since 2/19/2012

By the way, I started with a 17 fret Deering Goodtime that I bought used. Mine had unfortunately been strung up with heavy strings and had a bit too much forward bow. I've remedied that by now; long story, fun project. Just be sure to get one with a straight neck. Hold down a strung at the 1st and 17th frets and see how much clearance there is under the middle of the string. Look for something like 1/64". They have very few problems with the necks, especially on something as short as a tenor, but things happen sometimes.

Jul 12, 2019 - 12:38:07 PM

81 posts since 4/10/2018

Vintage banjos are terrific, but I advise making certain there are functional tuners on the banjo. Also, Ken Perlman is an example of a clawhammer player (an excellent one at that) who plays Celtic music on a five string banjo. I would spend some time listening to various playing styles on Youtube, as well as listening to different banjos (tenor and 5 string). Of course, you could always buy both . . . !!

Jul 12, 2019 - 5:36:08 PM
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1126 posts since 2/9/2007

If you want to play Celtic tunes in a way which actually fits in with the style, get a short-scale tenor banjo. Offhand, I can't think of anyone besides Ken Perlman who I've heard do that really well clawhammering a 5-stringer!  AFAIK, he was already an accomplished melodic clawhammer player when he went to Prince Edward Island and spent a lot of time with the local fiddlers (who play in a real old-time Scottish style), which inspired him to learn to play WITH them.  

There is a well-developed tradition of Celtic music on tenor banjo, mandolin, and related instruments which are tuned in fifths and played with a plectrum.  "Don't try to re-invent the wheel" is generally a good rule to follow.  Ken's case is an exception to that rule, but it has worked because both he and his situation are/were exceptional.

If you get going on the tenor banjo, you'll probably want to get a mandolin and an octave mandolin as well. And a 5-string banjo and a guitar, too....  It's a bad habit once it gets hold of you.

Jul 13, 2019 - 6:44:15 AM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14266 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by revdrj76

Hey all,

I'm as new as they come to the world of Banjos. I'm really excited to get started not sure where to start I know I really want to play more celtic stuff but at the same time dont want to be limited. Should I focus on the 4 string tenor to start since thats where my interests lies or is there another option? Really like the Deering tenor good time 2 is kind of what I'm looking at getting.

Thanks for all the help, looking forward to getting to be part of the community.


It sounds like you're best served by going with the recent "tradition" of using a tenor banjo tuned to GDAE.  You should check the forums for suggested scale lengths and string guage suggestions for GDAE tuning.  "Floppy String Syndrome" is an often-heard complaint for the G string but that can be somewhat reduced with proper scale length and string guage selection.

As an exercise is expanding your options you might enjoy perusing Daniel Hester's Youtube channel.  Daniel plays many tunes of Celtic origin on a 5 string Jon Peterson Proffitt-style mountain banjo to great effect:

Daniel Hester's Youtube channel

I've built a few "Irish Tenors" and posted a topic which has a linked pdf of a construction plan for a pretty usable design.  The drawing has string suggestions included on it.

Irish Tenor Banjo

Edited by - rudy on 07/13/2019 06:56:44

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