I'm a professional bass player from Germany playing 5-string banjo in my free time.
Right now I want to try out a 4-string (main goal would be accompanying a 20's or so style jazz band).
My 5-string is a Deering Goodtime Special that costed me about 600 € some time ago and I'm really happy with it. Unfortunately I can't spend that much now, looking for something in the range of 300-350.
Do you have any shopping advice, what to look out for, preferably on used instruments?
For example, what do you think abut this one:
It's a 70s Aria I think.
Banjos are rather rare here, so I'd be happy about any thoughts, maybe there is also some decent new instruments you know of in my price range.
My question is, if you're already familiar with the five string tuning, why aren't you looking at a plectrum instead of a tenor? The only difference between your 5-string and a plectrum is the missing 5th string and tuning the low D down to C for a tuning of C G B D. And keep in mind the great plectrum artists who have each blazed their own trails in traditional jazz: Perry Bechtel, Eddie Peabody, Buddy Wachter, Scotty Plummer, Lee Floyd, Doug Mattocks, Brad Roth, and Ken Aoki to name a few. If you're interested in some plectrum instruction, I can point you in that direction.
I'm not sure I'd recommend a bottle cap even if it is from the 1970s. Unless you're a genius when it comes to set up. However I can suggest something better. It is left handed so would need the strings put on the other way round and the side dots would be missing. It will come setup and they will do the strings if you want.
It's not fantastic but it is from a time when Tanglewood had their name of OK beginner banjos. It has a multiply maple rim and rolled brass tone ring. It needs a better tailpiece which Eagle Music could do as well - a Waverley would be fine. And it will stop me buying it. I don't really need it.
Or wait for something better to come up second hand.
Edited by - GrahamHawker on 06/02/2020 05:01:20
I am also a 5-string player who's recently switching to plectrum. What I'm doing is just taking the 5th string off the bridge to disable it and tuning to CGBD. It's working fine for me so far - the only awkward thing is the 5th string peg. I'm putting off buying another banjo.
Anybody else doing this or have any comments re - pros/cons with this approach?
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