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My upstairs neighbor complains every time I play

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Mar 26, 2020 - 1:48:12 PM

181 posts since 11/21/2015

Your reply is very childish..
You do not know the laws at all... not supporting the player or complainer but we do not know all the facts yet we always notch about the plaintiff... maybe he is playing to loud? Maybe not...
Maybe the banjo player has poor hearing and maybe the complainer has sensitive ears... we do not know...
We should suggest real life solutions and not bs recommendations like yours... learn from strelnieks... much better than yours... and by the way it is not the plaintiffs problem... you seem to not be the brightest bulb on this matter...

Mar 26, 2020 - 1:59:52 PM

34 posts since 7/1/2010

I vote for writing him a letter. Explain what playing banjo does for you, after years of not being able to play, how important it is, especially right now with sheltering in place preventing you from practicing elsewhere. Tell him you are looking for harmony and is there a compromise that would allow you to practice, perhaps at a different time of day that would make it more bare-able for him? Could you order him a few pair of earplugs to help him endure the amount of time you practice? Would it help him out if you put TV on, then YOU wear the sound cancelling headset and he hears less banjo and more StarWars?

You're asking for a compromise. Can he find it in his heart to forgive you an hour of banjo if you accommodate him in making it as low impact as possible? Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to get people to realize you're not playing the banjo to drive them crazy. If he feels like you're trying to find middle ground, maybe he can get a little more tolerant.

Sheltering in place is hard on everyone. We don't know his end of it.
We're the lucky ones. We get some unexpected practice time doing something that delights us. Sounds like he doesn't, which may be fueling his pissy state further.

Mar 26, 2020 - 2:14:42 PM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

Thanks for the insight

Mar 26, 2020 - 2:19:31 PM
like this

9 posts since 7/2/2017

I'd put my Banjo down for a while and take up something less distracting, maybe bagpipes.

Mar 26, 2020 - 2:20:09 PM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

Folks i was just looking for advice on muting, room sound proofing, and an electric banjo with earphone attachment. So please chill. Its time to end this exchange thanks for the support.
Any feedback on the music I posted or interest in focal dystonia recovery are more than welcome.

Mar 26, 2020 - 2:22:33 PM

181 posts since 11/21/2015

Thanks, I agree...

Mar 26, 2020 - 2:33:11 PM
Players Union Member

Chris Meakin


2910 posts since 5/15/2011

An electric banjo (Deering Crossfire?) with decent and comfortable headphones (Sennheiser?) is probably an option that will take the stress levels down to zero for you. (I would certainly find it stressful if I knew a neighbour was going to complain every time I played).

I wear Sennheiser HD 25-II headphones at work pretty much all day - going on for seven years now. I think "over ear" headphones would be far better than "in-ear" ear plugs. You can have the volume very low and still hear what's coming through the headphones, and hear your partner calling out or the phone ringing, etc.

Good luck.

Mar 26, 2020 - 4:40:47 PM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

Thanks Chris will check it out.

Mar 26, 2020 - 5:56:57 PM

105 posts since 4/30/2015

Originally posted by craan
Originally posted by stanleytone

If he ain't complaining ,you ain't playing loud enough!

Loud TV produces no objection from the police upstairs  because its is unconsciously  integrated into the everyday, normalized  urban American soundscape like a car alarm. The banjo remains irrevocably alien and culturally intrusive particularly when playing 200 year old music from the Appalachians. Once when staying at my girlfirend's  summer place in Saluda North Carolina  near Madison County back in the 70s, I was playing on the porch almost all afternoon. At some point a pickup full of neighbhors drove up with some sweet corn as a present and settled in to hear me pick. That was the reception banjo brought me then and there. Same thing happened camping out on a beach in Greece.  Here in NYC its the police I get.


Ahhh, Saluda. I used to love hiking down there, by those waterfalls, a long time ago. Sadly I don't visit the NC/SC/TN/GA mountains often anymore. They remind me too much of divorce!

Mar 26, 2020 - 6:53:50 PM

8 posts since 4/10/2007

You pay rent! You play banjo! Follow the rules, you win. Report landlord if not following rules.

Mar 26, 2020 - 7:56:48 PM

181 posts since 11/21/2015

Wrong, you are not above the legal system...

Mar 26, 2020 - 10:56:16 PM
likes this

32 posts since 4/15/2019

Voight writes “You are not above the legal system”
Well, I wouldn’t be the first banjo player to place himself snd his music outside the law.Historically associated with the outlawing of African drums and music under slavery, murder ballads, moonshine, rounders and illicit cross-racial cultural exchange in apartheid Dixie, the banjo was never really a law abiding instrument. Along with fiddle it could be considered the devil’s instrument.

Mar 27, 2020 - 12:41:54 AM

1517 posts since 11/17/2018

Originally posted by craan

Unfortunately he complains to building management who send security guards to knock on my door.

I would let building management handle the issue.

If you become an adversary, you could be setting yourself up for an eviction.

Mar 27, 2020 - 3:35:51 AM

14 posts since 4/8/2019

Just listened to the two pieces on youtube……
You can be my neighbour anytime

Mar 27, 2020 - 5:02:33 AM
Players Union Member



11077 posts since 6/30/2015
Online Now

I find that Mike's Mute really quiets my banjo a lot. That, combined with other suggestions, like stuffing the banjo, acoustic foam, baffling ventilation system, building a "playing space" like in a closet etc. I would find it really hard to believe that Mike's Mute alone would be heard in the apartment above. I use it at night in my home which is very open.

Mar 27, 2020 - 8:40:24 AM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

Since no one seems to have noticed i have opened a new topic. The banjo as outlaw instrument. Many thanks for all the support on the noise complaints.

Mar 28, 2020 - 8:06:27 AM

1 posts since 2/19/2020

Try playing without the 5th G string. It can be penetrating. Use 4th string insteadok because D is the 5th of G.

Mar 29, 2020 - 5:53:56 AM



8758 posts since 10/5/2006
Online Now

Originally posted by Strelnieks

Here in Germany, matches the stereotype I guess, there are laws that regulate this. Rules for particular apartments can vary, but the law allows for amateur musicians to play for certain amount of time per day (I think it is an hour, but it might be more). There was a recent court case about it on the news. Professionals, who need to practice much more, are probably expected to have a professional place to practice. But this law gives guidance on the kid's clarinet or piano lessons, stuff like that.

Seems like the law on noise nuisance in Germany takes into consideration both parties reasonable expectations and is intelligent, even-handed and fair. 

Your neighbour is unreasonable if he expects you not to play at acoustic volume at all and enjoy the normal use of your home. Similarly you are unreasonable in a closely shared space if you play too long knowing the neighbour feels his enjoyment of his home is diminished.

My first instinct would be a friendly conversation with your neighbour. Ask specifically what is unreasonable to him and show willing to compromise. Is he elderly? Offer to help him in some way; take out his recycling or in the current lock-down bring in some food supplies for him.

Or maybe he just doesn’t get on with folks and has a history of antagonising and falling out with his neighbours? That’s rarer, but if he’s like that you’ll just have to shrug and know you did your best. And realise it’s nothing you are doing.

Hope it works out amicably for you.

Edited by - m06 on 03/29/2020 05:54:57

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:02:38 AM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

The German law is classist. Presupposes a certain income level and discriminates against poor immigrant communities if you are expected to have a studio.

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:39:08 AM

185 posts since 4/10/2018

I did not realise you live in Germany, a country I live and often travel to. I am of part German heritage. But now I see the problem you are having. I am afraid there is no solution! Except perhaps the are often electric banjo and headphones! German neighbors are often intractable and always believe they are in the right.

Apr 3, 2020 - 10:07:17 AM

135 posts since 4/19/2011

As Kea Plumb Picker said: Those examples of the music you play are great! Makes me wish I had another apartment nearby so you could "bother" me!

I've never experienced anything but good responses to my playing. So sorry for what you are going through.

That is what you get for playing an "outlaw" instrument. Hmmm, maybe you should take up the zither? Glockenspiel?

Apr 3, 2020 - 12:36:46 PM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

A banjo slide-on mute positioned over two metal paper clips that are attached to the right and left sides of the bart veerman extra thin bridge, a wedge between the the neck post and the head inside the pot and a towel stuffed inside the pot seems to do the trick. I used the paper clips on the bridge of my cittern. They don't make mutes for them. Does a mandolin mute exist?

Wacko instrument suggestions seems to be a pattern on this list- I have been told to get bagpipes, drum kits, etc as solutions-reverse psychology.. I hope all on this list are in social distancing at home; I suspect not with the advice to me to procure wacko instruments with which to aggress on my neighbor who was probably traumatized by the film. Deliverance as a child and should have our pity.. I should slop him those Charlie Brown cartoons on the banjo under his door:.

Apr 3, 2020 - 2:01:08 PM



813 posts since 11/26/2012

When I lived in an apartment (I was playing guitar at the time, not a banjo), an electric guitar with headphones was the only peaceable solution.

Apr 4, 2020 - 9:20:30 AM
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Jim Yates


6650 posts since 2/21/2007

Apr 4, 2020 - 9:47:31 AM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

Exactly. Every time I start to play within the mandated hours he starts to move furniture around and dropping things on the floor.

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