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Oct 13, 2020 - 8:17:34 PM
2220 posts since 9/25/2006

I’ve had a few practices with some guys who do rock covers—Brown Eyed Girl, Frefalling, etc. We will be playing bars and loud places so I’m going to amplify the banjo. I have many options there but some of the guys suggested getting an electric banjo. I resist this because I don’t want the banjo to sound like an electric guitar. I’d rather amplify the acoustic tone and perhaps color it a little. But, I dont’ know where the banjo should fit in such a band as I’ve never ventured this far before. Any suggestions?

Oct 14, 2020 - 2:38:01 AM

Bill H

USA

1422 posts since 11/7/2010

The first time I remember hearing banjo in a rock setting was in Buffalo Springfield's Hello Mr. Soul. You are right about maintaining the acoustic sound, the voice of the banjo should be distinct. Years ago I was visiting with a friend who was managing an old inn and he let a young rock band practice in the ballroom. There was a lap dulcimer player who was incredible. He had a pickup on his lad dulcimer and played these amazing rock leads. We jammed later and the kid added a really interesting take on the old time tunes that I was playing. He took Little Rabbit to a new place. Banjo in a rock band should make for an interesting mix.

Oct 14, 2020 - 6:12:20 AM

KCJones

USA

969 posts since 8/30/2012

Ask Barry Waldrep, he knows. He's on BHO but I'm not sure what his handle is.

My band likes to do rock covers. Usually I just try to stay out of the way, and add color and accents to the song at the end of each measure. There doesn't have to be a banjo break in every song. Lots of single string.

Oct 14, 2020 - 6:29:04 AM
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56052 posts since 12/14/2005

I have asked Mr. Waldrep to look at this page and offer his opiniopn.

Just trying to be helpful.

Oct 14, 2020 - 7:12:21 AM
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heavy5

USA

1365 posts since 11/3/2016

In its case

Oct 14, 2020 - 1:23:21 PM
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dirigible

Canada

45 posts since 3/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by heavy5

In its case


Clever, but not fair, I reckon. I think the key is to not pretend that rock is bluegrass.

Oct 14, 2020 - 1:42:54 PM
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1885 posts since 3/29/2008

Good question.

From my experience playing with a few different bands, I think there are two main ways I fit the banjo in to a rock setting.

1) You use the banjo to add a "bluegrass layer" in to the song. I think the best example of something like this would be "take it easy" by the Eagles. This basically involves playing as if you we're playing bluegrass, and if the song is correct it'll add an unfamiliar but interesting dynamic. The main issue with this is that it can get old very quickly... If you were to do a whole gig like this, the novelty will have worn off by the time you've player three songs, and it might be more irritating than interesting.

2) Playing the banjo as if it were an electric guitar. This involves a lot more single-string / melodic playing / chords, and very little rolling in the background. The idea is to add the bluesy fills and riffs that would normally be played on an electric guitar, but to give them the twang of the banjo. You'll have to compensate for the lack of sustain that the banjo affords compared with the guitar. When I do stuff like this (I use an acoustic mic on a Huber) I like to really turn down most of the treble, and turn up the mids and bass. It still sounds like an acoustic banjo, but you won't be sounding like Scruggs!

Oct 14, 2020 - 1:48:25 PM

785 posts since 11/27/2005

I highly recommend the EMG ACB pickup.
I get no feedback, even at higher volumes.
It sounds like your banjo, just louder.
Or, like me, you can stomp the effects pedals to play Pink Floyd, Allman Brothers, etc.

With a chorus effect, I see my role as filling out the chord sound, like a keyboard.
Too much fun!
Our last gig was in March. Sure do miss it.

Edited by - Mike Rowe on 10/14/2020 13:50:47

Oct 14, 2020 - 8:45:23 PM
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409 posts since 7/28/2016

I played with a couple of guys that did rock covers. Mostly I found myself playing "rhythm". I also noticed, and so did a lot of other people, that you couldn't hear me very well. I bought one of those Piezo pickups and a cheap Fender amp and brought it to our next gig. Some people said it was the best I had sounded. The leader of the band told me to leave it home next time !!! I never played with them again. Moral of the story....try to find out what they're looking for.

Oct 14, 2020 - 9:53:16 PM

21 posts since 10/12/2018

If you are looking at buying something, I suggest taking a look at a Deering Boston. They don't really have a bluegrass tone, but they are loud, clear, and easily recorded/amplified.

Oct 15, 2020 - 5:26:04 AM
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Helix

USA

13098 posts since 8/30/2006

Note the same number of beats per minute in various songs. That's how I weld up with the Cranberries.

Not rock: Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin' , Squeezebox by the WHO, he's playing guitar on a banjo. NOPe.

You have open G tuning, there are lots of power chords available to bring over from guitar.

Bernie Leadon is still one of the best. It wasn't easy for him.

I think you can get great wooden tone with the right setup. Just because a banjo rim is steel and weighs a ton doesn't produce quality that wasn't available when it was brought to market. We want tuna that taste good.


Oct 15, 2020 - 3:17:26 PM

2220 posts since 9/25/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

Note the same number of beats per minute in various songs. That's how I weld up with the Cranberries.

Not rock: Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin' , Squeezebox by the WHO, he's playing guitar on a banjo. NOPe.

You have open G tuning, there are lots of power chords available to bring over from guitar.

Bernie Leadon is still one of the best. It wasn't easy for him.

I think you can get great wooden tone with the right setup. Just because a banjo rim is steel and weighs a ton doesn't produce quality that wasn't available when it was brought to market. We want tuna that taste good.


I'm using my Helix longneck for this group and couldn't be anymore pleased with the woody tone I'm getting--the little raw brass hoop adds just enough "metallic" to the sound to make it the perfect banjo for this endeavor.  I just ordered my Hatfield-Jones pickup (I like a nice acoustic tone), I'm going to plug into my acoustic amp and then experiment with some pedals.  This should be fun.  

Oct 15, 2020 - 5:35 PM

1370 posts since 6/18/2003

This video demonstrates and discusses some good ideas for backup banjo for acoustic rock-ish music: https://youtu.be/UBkWXsLfJUc

Edited by - RyanHerr on 10/15/2020 17:35:26

Oct 15, 2020 - 5:41:54 PM

1370 posts since 6/18/2003

Also AB Junior has lots of great rock banjo videos on his BHO media page.

Oct 16, 2020 - 4:59:09 AM

Helix

USA

13098 posts since 8/30/2006

It's already fun, this is the best of the hangout.

RyanHerr: That's just the right information. My sister lives in Normal

Oct 20, 2020 - 5:26:14 AM

9 posts since 3/30/2018

My first 6 string banjo was a Dean Backwoods. I added a piezo pickup which worked well. The problem was that there was no volume control except at the amp. I now play a Gold Tone GT 500 with a built in humbucker and volume control. This works much better.

As far as playing with a rock band...Hmmm...It might be a good idea to not feature the banjo on every song. When you play, lay back a bit but make sure you can still be heard. I don't play in a band, but in a group setting with a lot of acoustic guitars I like to finger pick in a Travis style. I usually don't use a flat pick...

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