What difference is there between a 11 inch and a 12 inch banjo, assuming that all the other parts are the same?
The 12 inch pot tends to have a deeper sound
I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist...
I can't tell a big difference in the sound of mine, but for me the 12" banjos I have are more comfortable to play; not sure why that is.
I'm not sure it's a huge difference - a 12 inch head can be deeper, boomier maybe. Clawhammer players tend to favour a warm, woody sound and tend to prefer a 12 inch whereas the sound for bluegrass is focused and brighter and mostly always an 11 inch head.
Edited by - hobogal on 08/03/2020 11:53:07
Bill Rogers (Moderator)
I’m not sure I’d lump clawhammr players like that....I like the snap and punch I get from 11” banjos. I think 12” tend to be a bit “tubbier.” Personally, I’m more physically comfortable with 11” banjos. So it’s an individual thing. You need to actually play them to get an understanding of the different physical feel.
If you include in the scale the smaller pot Vegas (<11"), standard 11", bigger pot Vegas (>11"/<12"), standard 12", and the cello banjos, then I think you would hear a pretty clear progression of tighter clarity with more volume at the smaller end of the scale and a broader range of mid-tones and perhaps lower volume as you go up the scale.
I really like the smaller pot Vegas for upbeat jangly tunes and the larger pots for nylon strings and somewhat darker tunes in the mid-lower range. I really think the sweet spot for that range is the bigger pot Vegas, which produce such a nice range of tones up and down the neck. To date, I have only built banjos in the standard 11/12" range, but I intend to develop some banjos more on the in-between 11/12" size moving forward. My next project is actually a bacon style internal resonator banjo in that size range.
12": maybe boomier -- but with the highs still all there; a bit louder?
Not sure the highs are quite the same in both sizes. My experience is the 12 will have highs but the highs tend to be brighter and sparklier in the 11. On an 11 the individual melody notes seem to stand out in a more focused and indivdual way. But there is a "surround-sound" feel to the tone of a 12.
I can't remember who coined this comparison, I think I read it as attributed to one of the banjo makers--to wit, that in acoustic guitar terms, the 11 tone will be analagous to that of a parlor guitar, while the 12 will be comparable to that of a dreadnought.
I got to try an 11" and 12" Rickard Maple Ridge banjo side by side when I was buying my first nice banjo. I liked them both and they were both comfortable under my arm. Online videos of the 12" was what got me in the door of the shop. As others have said, the 12" was a bit deeper sounding and quite pleasant, but the 11" was more focused. I ended up buying the 11".
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