Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

464
Banjo Lovers Online


Your favorite resonator banjo for clawhammer and setup secrets?

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Jul 25, 2020 - 6:50:34 AM
likes this
11 posts since 3/15/2020

What is your favorite resonator banjo for clawhammer and 2 finger picking and do you have a secret setup or do you just play the same setup as you would for bluegrass?

Jul 25, 2020 - 8:29:21 AM
like this

1079 posts since 5/19/2018

Without question, my Gibson RB-1.

This particular instrument is an all original five string, all original right down to the bridge. I posted about this instrument on the collectors corner some while ago.

The set up is exactly the same as how the original owner set it up some 90+ odd years ago. I assumed she playednclassic style as the sheet music that came with the banjo was as such.

That being said, I really would have no problem playing this banjo in a Bluegrass jam.

I attribute a lot of the sound to the skin head and the original two foot Grover bridge.

This instrument has an incredible balance, tone and a perfect neck. Goes seamlessly from clawhammer, frailing or whatever it is called now to fingerpicking.

I am blessed to have a few incredible instruments, but this one is pretty much my go to instrument.

Jul 25, 2020 - 8:48:58 AM
like this

1721 posts since 4/10/2005

----The now-discontinued Recording King RK-R25 Madison, classic 3-ply rim, bluegrass resonator banjo that is a "woody" with no tone ring.  The big guitar dealers were blowing them out for around $300/350-ish a few years ago and a bunch of us had a field day when word got out here at the BH.  (This is a fabulous banjo that was very reasonably priced at its original $700 point.)  It is great for bluegrass and oldtime picking as well.     ("Woody" resonator banjos are fab for clawhammer, from the Stelling Afton Star to the Ome North Star to the Deering Goodtime resonator banjos with no tone rings.)

---A contemporary Kel Kroydon/AMB Style 2 copy in walnut with full MOT fingerboard and rolled brass ring.   Gorgeous, super-comfortable walnut neck by the late Robin Smith/Heartland Banjo Co.    I stumbled across this banjo and a Kel Kroydon Style 11 copy  (with the blue neck, also rolled-brass ring) on Ebay about 7 years ago.  Apparently they were generously donated to a banjo camp and put up on Ebay to raise camp scholarship money.     One auction round came and went, and no one bid on the Style 2 walnut, which is the one I was drooling over.  Next round, no one bid, and in the last 5 minutes I was the sole bidder, lucky me!     This banjo is also wonderful for both clawhammer and picking.

Setup: I like a .656 bridge on resonator banjos, .10s on first and fifth, lighter on the inside strings, like the Crowe set.     Woody and rolled-brass  resonator banjos being used for clawhammer can sound great with Renaissance/Elite heads, and with skin heads.

Edited by - ceemonster on 07/25/2020 09:03:47

Jul 25, 2020 - 8:54:01 AM
likes this

11 posts since 3/15/2020

perfect info please keep it coming

Jul 25, 2020 - 9:04:13 AM
like this

drjack

Canada

234 posts since 2/21/2004

1929 Gibson TB 1 with Second Life Banjo repro neck. I always go back to it.

Jul 25, 2020 - 9:32:20 AM
like this
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

834 posts since 10/15/2019

I recently picked up a RK R30. Being tube and plate, I could take off the flange and go to pure open back if I want. Sort of bought it with that idea in mind. But I might not. Been tinkering with setup, and so far no matter what I do to it I like the sound better with the resonator than without.

I still like my open backs loud and clear, all kinds of snap, crackle, and pop. "Woody and Plunky" does nothing for me.

I have 5 other open backs, so it's not like I need a 6th. One resonator banjo in the house won't hurt me none.

Jul 25, 2020 - 10:10:38 AM
like this

2395 posts since 12/11/2008

I also have an RB-1 from 1929, but it's been messed with. Some BGer put a flat head tone ring in it at some point and the tailpiece, bridge and position markers were also redone. Yet, it still has a pre-war, or dare I say pre-BG sound! So I cannot claim it to be an "authentic" RB-1 as with @Alvin Conder.

I use light strings these days with the exception of the 4th, because of better base response. I never drop-tune this banjo; I use a heavy strung open back for that. This banjo retains it's sound while capoed.

I usually don't play with picks, but I will grudgingly put them on when a really loud fiddler is playing, or at a noisy public session. Here is a medley of two Missouri fiddle tunes common to our state. I play backup in a finger picking style on the first, and play the second one in my knock down style. (I have purged the term "clawhammer" from my musical lexicon; it only now exists regarding the arsenal in my tool belt. Thank you).

https://youtu.be/rYzZQF1QLT8

  

Jul 25, 2020 - 10:29:18 AM
like this

2395 posts since 12/11/2008


This not my by banjo. It belonged to a guy named Moran Lee Boggs who willed it to another guy named Mike Seeger. To my ear, archtop banjos usually have a harsh sound, but Dock usually tuned his banjo below standard pitch, used a calfskin head, played heavy Black Diamond strings featuring a wound third string, and did not use picks. This set up says a lot!

The result, as you will hear is pure magic. This priceless up close footage of Mike playing Docks 1928 Gibson Mastertone. The tune is Davenport in F tuning.

https://youtu.be/IP5cRGl6LpE
 

Jul 25, 2020 - 10:54:05 AM
like this

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Don Huber


This not my by banjo. It belonged to a guy named Moran Lee Boggs who willed it to another guy named Mike Seeger. To my ear, archtop banjos usually have a harsh sound, but Dock usually tuned his banjo below standard pitch, used a calfskin head, played heavy Black Diamond strings featuring a wound third string, and did not use picks. This set up says a lot!

The result, as you will hear is pure magic. This priceless up close footage of Mike playing Docks 1928 Gibson Mastertone. The tune is Davenport in F tuning.

https://youtu.be/IP5cRGl6LpE
 


I was going to say something about archtops. I prefer them to flathead rings and are great for old time. Doc's shadow looms large over folks like me who employ a mixed picking style sans picks. They favour a lighter touch. 

I used to have an old Gold Star archtop that I regret selling. It is the only resonator banjo I really liked. 

I would say that, judging by the photos on the Field Recorders' Collective, many old time players used resonator banjos. It seems like common characteristics include a skinhead and a brass or ball bearing ring. 

Of course there are plenty of exceptions...

Edited by - Tweelo on 07/25/2020 10:54:43

Jul 25, 2020 - 11:04:08 AM
like this

2395 posts since 12/11/2008

I appreciate your comments regarding archtop banjos. I think you are spot on commenting about a "light touch" requirement. You are also certainly correct about how common resonator archtop banjos were with the elders and they did, almost always, sound great. I also like your term "mixed picking", a term I've long felt was appropriate for so many of us who play OT, but don't really adhere to a compartmentalized style. Thanks for chiming in!

Jul 25, 2020 - 12:01:54 PM
like this

1079 posts since 5/19/2018

I’ll have to go a second on the Archtops.

Perfect for Knockdown, frailing, clawhammer, whatever it is and finger style.

I was a Bluegrass guy decades and decades ago but somehow gravitated to Uncle Dave and Doc Boggs among others.

I just have always really loved Gibson’s.

The old guys on 78’s to me always seemed to grab a Gibson when they got to be “hitting the big-time” and recording. At least it looked that way to me from the old photos. A Gibson with a resonator.

I do have a number of open backs, but my players are all resonator Gibson’s. When i started to really get into collecting, it was Gibson’s I focused on.

Jul 25, 2020 - 12:14:27 PM
like this

RG

USA

3049 posts since 8/7/2008

My '74 mahogany Ome X with tone ring added ( I don't know by who). Bought it as a basket case out of Texas tears ago and fully restored it, my go to for anything old-time...


Jul 25, 2020 - 1:50:02 PM
like this

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23956 posts since 6/25/2005

For me it’s less the banjo than the setup. I use an all-maple bridge and a heavier string set than I would for bluegrass. That said, Gibson ball-bearings are excellent for clawhammer because they need less tweaking to avoid excessive sustain.

Jul 25, 2020 - 3:50:36 PM
likes this

2395 posts since 12/11/2008

@RG...I love your restored Kay resonator banjo as well!

Jul 26, 2020 - 1:16:52 PM
like this

RG

USA

3049 posts since 8/7/2008

Thanks Don. The big three right here in my opinion...


 

Jul 26, 2020 - 3:21:07 PM
like this

1324 posts since 11/15/2010

For me, it's my 1959 Vega Professional with Tubaphone tone ring.  The set-up is a 5/8-inch bridge and tight head.  It took me a while, however, to grow to like it for clawhammer. I had to get a little more gentle with my right hand, but once I figured that out, I was set. It's the first resonator banjo that I've had that sounds good with clawhammer playing. 

Edited by - Joe Connor on 07/26/2020 15:22:55

Jul 26, 2020 - 5:50:55 PM
like this

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

quote:
Originally posted by RG

Thanks Don. The big three right here in my opinion...


I don't know are what anyone thinks, I dig those Kay/Stromberg-Voisonet fiver strings. 

Jul 26, 2020 - 7:39:59 PM
like this

RG

USA

3049 posts since 8/7/2008

They're highly underrated when set up right, a GREAT old-time sound, although the necks are NARROW...

Jul 27, 2020 - 4:51:19 AM
like this

carlb

USA

2150 posts since 12/16/2007

Do internal resonator banjos count in this posting? Bacon and modern imitations and Yosco.

Jul 27, 2020 - 6:42:34 AM
likes this

2395 posts since 12/11/2008

I would love to see/hear some videos of you people playing you resonator banjos. Aaron Jonah Lewis even plays an older Bacon banjo with nylon string for his sparkling Classic Banjo music. I wasn't at work, I'd post a video.

I'd also enjoy it if people posted videos/sound clips they enjoy of other OT pickers, past and present playing resonator banjos. My fingerstyle playing is informed by listening to OT players such as Doc Walsh and Charlie Poole; my overhand picking by Matokier Slaughter, Ola Belle Reed and others with a "mixed" style.

Jul 27, 2020 - 8:39:54 AM
likes this

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

Here's me playing a walnut banjo with a shallow walnut resonator and tubaphone ring. Zach Hoyt built the banjo to my specs. I made the resonator using an old Bacon flange. Typically, I play it with the resonator off.

I do some three finger, frailing, and a mixed style in the short video. I like the tubaphone ring a lot. The banjo is not stuffed, has a fibreskin head, and slightly deeper pot. There is a Kershner tailpiece. I also thin my bridges a bit. Aside from that, I can't think of many other important set-up considerations. 

Speaking of those Bacon internal resonators, I do have an old one. Honestly, I don't think it's much different in sound than an openback, but there's just something about them.

youtu.be/VNGoMsYC9LY

Edited by - Tweelo on 07/27/2020 08:46:36

Jul 27, 2020 - 12:19:19 PM
like this

94 posts since 3/21/2005

I have an old Bacon Belmont [Gretsch made about 1960/61] resonator banjo. Its a lot like the Deering bluegrass wonder- no tone ring a all. Woody all the way. It really dosen't hold up in a bluegrass jam but clawhammer/frailing/Grandpa Jones it does really well. I had it set up for clawhammer playing by Bob Smacula from Elkins, WV [great job and service]. It's 100% orig. [except for new tuners [the old ones had to be replaced last year.] Frosted 5 star head. It has been a lot of fun- on the front porch/parking lot/etc.

Jul 27, 2020 - 12:51:08 PM
likes this

RG

USA

3049 posts since 8/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by kimmattis123

I have an old Bacon Belmont [Gretsch made about 1960/61] resonator banjo. Its a lot like the Deering bluegrass wonder- no tone ring a all. Woody all the way. It really dosen't hold up in a bluegrass jam but clawhammer/frailing/Grandpa Jones it does really well. I had it set up for clawhammer playing by Bob Smacula from Elkins, WV [great job and service]. It's 100% orig. [except for new tuners [the old ones had to be replaced last year.] Frosted 5 star head. It has been a lot of fun- on the front porch/parking lot/etc.


Those Bacon Belmont's are GREAT old-time sounding banjos!

Jul 27, 2020 - 1:03:38 PM

RG

USA

3049 posts since 8/7/2008

As far as setup, medium goatskin heads (I buy my skins from Elderly and roll my own flesh hoops from 1/8" square brass stock, have for years.  Elderly's skins are the best I've run across, don't know whee they're sourced from), thick two foot un-topped maple bridge by David Cunningham, GHS PF160 bronze wound medium strings with the third replaced with a stainless round .018 and the fifth string changed to an .011, and a heavy style tailpiece with moderate down pressure on the bridge. Here's some sound files from an old TOTW and a photo of the Cunningham bridge.  Have to admit, I am a big fan of Wade Ward and have usually setup my banjos to sound accordingly...


Edited by - RG on 07/27/2020 13:09:32

Jul 27, 2020 - 2:42:08 PM
likes this

Tweelo

USA

177 posts since 4/14/2014

Reading everyone's posts has me thinking about exploring a two foot bridge. I use them for my classic banjos, but not my steel strung banjos.

Jul 27, 2020 - 3:26:33 PM

RG

USA

3049 posts since 8/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Tweelo

Reading everyone's posts has me thinking about exploring a two foot bridge. I use them for my classic banjos, but not my steel strung banjos.


Get 'em thick and I think you'll like the sound...

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.359375