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Jan 7, 2020 - 5:49:43 PM
37 posts since 2/7/2014

Several Gold Tone 5 string cello banjos have made themselves available to me. The question is; do I need one these things? I have a history of buying oddball instruments; guitar banjo, 5 string guitar, mandola, gourd banjo, etc. Some I've kept, most I've let go.

I play mostly old time and Celtic. Very proficient on guitar, open back, mandolin, and mandola.

Is the Cello banjo any more than just a flirtation to any of you?

Jan 7, 2020 - 6:25:28 PM
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2089 posts since 12/31/2005
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Only buy one if you like having fun. They are a blast to play. Slow finger picking and clawhammer both work great. Nice, mellow tone. Great for sitting around and noodling. I find mine very relaxing.

Jan 7, 2020 - 6:25:43 PM
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6851 posts since 8/28/2013
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My personal opinion is that they sound kind of crappy as a solo instrument, but I've heard them used effectively in ensembles.

Bear in mind that that's just MY opinion, and others will surely disagree.

Jan 7, 2020 - 6:30:59 PM
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488 posts since 8/14/2018
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For instance, like this:

youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY

Jan 7, 2020 - 7:19:16 PM

lanemb

USA

103 posts since 3/11/2018

Thought I might want one until picked one up and just didn’t like the sound or how it played. Want cured!

Jan 7, 2020 - 8:32:28 PM
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9360 posts since 2/22/2007

I strung my 12" Ramsey with Nylgut Minstrels and tune it to C and D (Open G dropped 2.5/3.5 steps). I prefer the tone over the Cello Banjos that I've heard. I play it Two Finger, without picks.

Edited by - banjo bill-e on 01/07/2020 20:33:54

Jan 7, 2020 - 8:33:18 PM

11298 posts since 4/15/2012

The human heart is about the size of a fist. Of course a cello banjo wouldn't fit!

All kidding aside, I had a chance to play one for a while at a ukulele fextival in northern Virginia, and I think it produced a warm, full sound as a melody instrument. Not so good for jazz strumming or for clawhammer, though: ihe tone was just too flabby for chords.

Jan 7, 2020 - 8:51:37 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23208 posts since 6/25/2005

I have a 13” Charles Waldman. He also make 12” ones. I changed the string set a bit and tuned it up to minstrel tuning range. I really like it. Deep and thunky, a real change from the Essex I usually play. Don’t play it a lot, but it’s a nice change of pace. I would not have bought a Gold Tone though. That’s a matter of taste. Chuck’s banjo is light weight, thin wood shell; not fancy, but elegantly made. Gryphon, and I think, Elderly, carry them. But the Gold Tone is likely cheaper.

Jan 7, 2020 - 9:08:25 PM
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6413 posts since 6/27/2009
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I enjoy mine, sometimes solo, sometimes accompaniment as in Hillside. Forgive my over-enthusiasm. :)


Edited by - JanetB on 01/07/2020 21:11:41

Jan 8, 2020 - 5:27:06 AM

1528 posts since 6/2/2010

quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen

For instance, like this:

youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY


Mac - I think the youtube video you posted shows an old 1920's Gibson banjo not a recent Goldtone.

Jan 8, 2020 - 6:33:19 AM

6851 posts since 8/28/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by maneckep
quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen

For instance, like this:

youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY


Mac - I think the youtube video you posted shows an old 1920's Gibson banjo not a recent Goldtone.


The Goldtones I've seen look a lot like the old Gibsons. They have utilized Gibson's headstock shape from the trapdoor era.

Jan 8, 2020 - 6:38:33 AM
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2089 posts since 12/31/2005
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quote:
Originally posted by JanetB

I enjoy mine, sometimes solo, sometimes accompaniment as in Hillside. Forgive my over-enthusiasm. :)


If you listen to that and don't want one, then you don't want one.  Great display of the instrument's best qualities.

Jan 8, 2020 - 9:07:49 AM

10764 posts since 4/23/2004

quote:
Originally posted by clawgrasser

Several Gold Tone 5 string cello banjos have made themselves available to me. The question is; do I need one these things? I have a history of buying oddball instruments; guitar banjo, 5 string guitar, mandola, gourd banjo, etc. Some I've kept, most I've let go.

I play mostly old time and Celtic. Very proficient on guitar, open back, mandolin, and mandola.

Is the Cello banjo any more than just a flirtation to any of you?


I would say that you might be better off with the 4-string version. I'm a 5-string CB player (original 1895 S.S. Stewart) and Miz Diane will have to sell it after I'm dead.

Jan 8, 2020 - 9:21:21 AM
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53865 posts since 12/14/2005

If you can physically try one out, you will KNOW if you like the sound and feel.

But, if you're in the BAS habit ( which should not be considered a BAD habit), just buy one, relax with it, pick with some friends, and if you don't really like it, re-sell it, and if it goes for less than you paid, consider the price difference as a combination of Instrument Rental AND Tuition in the School Of Life.

Jan 8, 2020 - 3:29:37 PM

rmcdow

USA

806 posts since 11/8/2014

I have a fretless CEB5 that I enjoy playing harmony on with my fiancé. I am not that good of a player, she is much better, and I enjoy playing harmony. With a regular 5 string, the harmony is always higher than the melody, at least the way I play it. With the cello banjo, I can play the harmony lower, and more in the background, because the tuning is an octave lower. For me flatwound strings are a must on the cello banjo. With the big strings and big head, the string noise is pretty distracting when the regular round wire wound stings are on the cello banjo.

Jan 8, 2020 - 9:09:40 PM
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116 posts since 1/2/2019

Janet B, your original Clear Water is a lovely tune. I really enjoyed your playing on your cello banjo.

Jan 9, 2020 - 7:32:07 AM

5051 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

My personal opinion is that they sound kind of crappy as a solo instrument, but I've heard them used effectively in ensembles.

Bear in mind that that's just MY opinion, and others will surely disagree.


The Gold Tone, 5th string added Tenor Cello banjos are nothing like the Cello banjos made in the classic era as far as tone and power.

They scales are too short and in my opinion the rims are too small.  The short strings cause for a floppy action.

The few times I have heard people try to play these as a clawhammer solo instruments were very uncomfortable to my hearing.  Something about the octave low chords really bothered me and I had to move away from it.

In their proper place, playing divided counterpoint accompaniment (usually the root with a regular banjo playing the chord), the original pattern classic era cello banjos are fantastic and offer a rumbling bottom end to the high regular banjo tone.

The Gold Tone version would likely fill the same role in a group composed of all tenor banjos (if it was tuned as a tenor but an octave lower).

Jan 9, 2020 - 7:42:53 AM
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1482 posts since 2/12/2009

I stood and watched a guy play one and, he was a decent player however, I was bored after about five minutes or less with the droning sound it made, others may like them though.

Jan 9, 2020 - 8:19:07 AM
Players Union Member

Judith511

Canada

194 posts since 10/22/2017

quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen

For instance, like this:

youtube.com/watch?v=q0fIdFx3pbY


Oh my this woman is amazing I Love the sound of her music. 

Jan 9, 2020 - 9:52:40 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

I produced a construction plan for a cello banjo that I developed for one of my friends to use as a guide for construction who also builds and plays his own instruments.  (I posted it here on Banjo Hangout a while back.)

My friend has made 5 cello banjos currently and just did a solo set at our local hootenanny and was well received.  He tends to do more melodic pieces with the cello banjo and his opening piece was Bach's Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring.  Not a bad tune to introduce the audience to the lower, dulcet register presented by the cello banjo!  wink

We did this quick demo when he had just completed the first one:

Edited by - rudy on 01/09/2020 10:01:23

Jan 9, 2020 - 10:04:18 AM

6851 posts since 8/28/2013
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

My personal opinion is that they sound kind of crappy as a solo instrument, but I've heard them used effectively in ensembles.

Bear in mind that that's just MY opinion, and others will surely disagree.


The Gold Tone, 5th string added Tenor Cello banjos are nothing like the Cello banjos made in the classic era as far as tone and power.

They scales are too short and in my opinion the rims are too small.  The short strings cause for a floppy action.

The few times I have heard people try to play these as a clawhammer solo instruments were very uncomfortable to my hearing.  Something about the octave low chords really bothered me and I had to move away from it.

In their proper place, playing divided counterpoint accompaniment (usually the root with a regular banjo playing the chord), the original pattern classic era cello banjos are fantastic and offer a rumbling bottom end to the high regular banjo tone.

The Gold Tone version would likely fill the same role in a group composed of all tenor banjos (if it was tuned as a tenor but an octave lower).

 

 


I totally agree with you on the Gold Tone CBs. I've read the specs, and can't imagine getting much out of them tone-wise. The ones I've heard have a rather flabby sound, which of course is due to a too-short string length and small head. One could conceivably bolster the thickness of the string sto gain tension, but that would just cause a harsh and thud-like sound because they'd be too stiff at such short lengths. 

I find some of the same issues to be true of modern banjo-guitars. The heads are too small and the heavy strings needed to get any tension on the low notes are just too stiff to offer much in the way of tonal clarity. 

Jan 10, 2020 - 6:57:49 AM
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hoodoo

Canada

657 posts since 10/6/2017

Mary Z Cox also plays one : youtu.be/b_6FnIimZHA

Jan 15, 2020 - 11:25:49 AM
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4589 posts since 2/24/2004

My 5 string cello is a delight —but a little high maintanence .  The cello at my house is newly outfitted in a spanking new 14” black velvet head for the start of the decade !  And I think it records pretty good too . It was getting envious of the black heads on my baritone ML-1 & my John Hartford . 

This might be a great time to pick up a neglected cello & spruce it up for the new decade . Got its head from Bob Smakula in West Virginia & think he ordered

more than mine .

www.maryzcox.com


Jan 15, 2020 - 11:33:01 AM

4589 posts since 2/24/2004

Jan 15, 2020 - 11:37:48 AM
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4589 posts since 2/24/2004

Jan 15, 2020 - 8:17:42 PM
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116 posts since 1/2/2019

Mary Z. - Your cello banjo sounds great!

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