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Aug 21, 2019 - 12:28:58 AM
3 posts since 8/15/2019

While I wait the 2-3 weeks for my Goldtone GT-500 to be ready to be picked up, I've been considering potential modifications to make it play like a 5 string. I've had this idea for years, because as a guitarist, I struggle to wrap my brain around the shape of the neck, the number of strings, and so on of a typical 5-string. My plan is to remove either the low E or the A string and replace it with another high e string tuned to d. I would then install railroad spikes on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, etc frets to both have the option to have the high g string, as well as have options to play in lower keys. eADGBe certainly seems interesting. However, I'm not sure what would be the better string to remove. The low E seems the most obvious, you just have an extra string on your neck, but my thought is to potentially remove the A and have the high g where it would normally be on a 5 string banjo, so that it feels mostly the same. I could then tune the low E to D and have a string an octave lower than what is usually considered the lowest string on a 5 string. Of course, this complicates chords quite a bit.

What tends to be the most common version of such a conversion and what do you all think would be the smarter thing to do? There's always the option of a lower high string, too. I remember the guitarist for Acoustic Eidolon doing something similar with his 7 string guitar, where he would have a high g (or whatever he tuned it to) then have a few more strings on the bass side of the neck that go up or down, I don't remember which. I suppose the idea then would be dgDGBd

Aug 21, 2019 - 3:18:08 AM
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945 posts since 2/4/2013

I have one banjo guitar with the E string replaced with a high G (using what was 10 gauge E string). It's risky as first time I tried the sting broke. The bass strings don't seem to sound good. I replaced the A with a lighter wound A and that is OK now. Spikes are a good idea. The A string is tuned down to G. There are proper 6 string banjos where the additional bass string is tuned to G.

I don't see the point of replacing both the E and A string unless you want to try out Nashville tuning. But you should experiment. Instead of high G, tune it to E. Sometime use mainly guitar tuning, sometimes use banjo tuning.

Aug 21, 2019 - 5:41:50 AM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14382 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by DizzleFrizzle

While I wait the 2-3 weeks for my Goldtone GT-500 to be ready to be picked up, I've been considering potential modifications to make it play like a 5 string. I've had this idea for years, because as a guitarist, I struggle to wrap my brain around the shape of the neck, the number of strings, and so on of a typical 5-string. My plan is to remove either the low E or the A string and replace it with another high e string tuned to d. I would then install railroad spikes on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, etc frets to both have the option to have the high g string, as well as have options to play in lower keys. eADGBe certainly seems interesting. However, I'm not sure what would be the better string to remove. The low E seems the most obvious, you just have an extra string on your neck, but my thought is to potentially remove the A and have the high g where it would normally be on a 5 string banjo, so that it feels mostly the same. I could then tune the low E to D and have a string an octave lower than what is usually considered the lowest string on a 5 string. Of course, this complicates chords quite a bit.

What tends to be the most common version of such a conversion and what do you all think would be the smarter thing to do? There's always the option of a lower high string, too. I remember the guitarist for Acoustic Eidolon doing something similar with his 7 string guitar, where he would have a high g (or whatever he tuned it to) then have a few more strings on the bass side of the neck that go up or down, I don't remember which. I suppose the idea then would be dgDGBd


Hi David,

It depends a bit on exactly what feel you're going after, but the only way to truly emulate banjo is with the high string on the outside as that is where your thumb will land if you're pursuing clawhammer simulation.  Re-entrant tuning is part of what gives banjo its unique flavor, so placing the high G further inward will relegate your form to be more like simple fingerpicked guitar style.

You could keep your guitar "stock" and do emulation by modifying your technique.  There are a bunch of guitar players who choose that path such as Steve Baughman, Molly Tuttle, or Al Pettiway to name a few.  Pettiway probably hits the closest simulation with capoing and dropped D tuning to have identical notes available.  Here's an example:

Aug 21, 2019 - 5:58:02 AM
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52175 posts since 12/14/2005

I bought a 6-string banjo, replaced the 5th with a 2nd and the 6th with a first, so as to be able to play guitar chords, with a HIGH note on the thumb strike.

Sounds about what I hoped it would.

 Sound file attached.


Edited by - mike gregory on 08/21/2019 06:00:52

Aug 21, 2019 - 10:09:20 AM

869 posts since 1/9/2012

Your banjo will come with a bridge chosen to go with guitar-weight strings and played mostly in guitar finger-style. I once saw a video clip with Taj Mahal playing a Goldtone 6 that was designed with as re-entrant high 6th. If you go that route, consider using a lighter bridge than what they provide. Heavier makes the sound quieter and more mellow, with more sustain. As a first guess, I suggest trying thinning a 6-string banjo bridge down to the thickness of your favorite 5-string bridge. That will still be heavier than the 5. If you hear the difference, you might consider going further -- down to the actual weight of the 5.

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