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Jun 17, 2021 - 1:02:31 PM
361 posts since 10/8/2018

I'm a longtime fan of the early Duke Ellington Orchestra's "jungle sound", especially wonderful playing of his brass section...

I have always dreamed that there is some way to create a banjo mute that would give the same raspy overdriven sound that Arthur Whetsol's trumpet Harmon mute makes.

youtube.com/watch?v=BVe1vYhTB_M

If there is anybody out there with ideas for how to create such a banjo mute, I'd sure like to hear them!

Thanks,

Will

Jun 17, 2021 - 1:16:33 PM

860 posts since 5/31/2004

Will, that sound is more than just the mute. He's also using growl which is gotten by humming as he's playing.

Jun 17, 2021 - 2:17:18 PM

2659 posts since 3/30/2008

I don't think any type of mute will create this sound acoustically. However, a banjo w/ a pick-up run through a sound processor may give you something close .

Jun 18, 2021 - 1:18:11 AM

CGDA

Italy

2095 posts since 1/4/2009

A banjo will never get the effects of a wind instrument, but there is already a mute that can do this a bit: it's the B&D"soft pedal".

Jun 18, 2021 - 5:45:05 AM
likes this

361 posts since 10/8/2018

Yeah, Marco, my B & D Sultana III banjo has a soft pedal, and I love it.

But I have always longed for something raspier... more kazoo-like...

Edited by - guitarbanjoman on 06/18/2021 05:45:35

Jun 18, 2021 - 8:16:34 AM

8722 posts since 8/28/2013

You may be able to put in some "kazoo-like" sound by picking and strumming as close to the bridge as possible while the banjo is muted. Playing near the bridge emphasizes some of the higher, harsher, overtones.

To aid in the final sound, some slides or string bending should help. The Harmon mute does seem to add a bit of a wavering to some of the notes.

Jun 18, 2021 - 10:23:39 AM

361 posts since 10/8/2018

What do you guys think about about some snare-drum-like wires underneath the banjo head?

Would that make it sound raspier?

Jun 18, 2021 - 1:43:35 PM

8722 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by guitarbanjoman

What do you guys think about about some snare-drum-like wires underneath the banjo head?

Would that make it sound raspier?


I think it would just sound likesomething was rattling.

Jun 18, 2021 - 3:34:17 PM

361 posts since 10/8/2018

yeah, George I kinda thought the same thing... hmmmm

What if you could make a banjo bridge out of little pieces of broken glass?

Or use a metal bridge with a metal lip jutting out under the strings about a quarter of an inch, sloped slightly downward... like a sitar bridge?

Jun 18, 2021 - 5:36:50 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2649 posts since 3/10/2008

Somewhere I have an adjustable mute, maybe made by Elton, that clips onto the strings below the bridge. It is a collapsed metal tune with a thumb bolt through the middle of it going into a threaded thin flat metal "stick"--very lightweight. If I put the mute just right against the bridge, the banjo would make a rattling sound when I picked it. It is great for playing old rock songs.

Jun 18, 2021 - 7:26:05 PM

8722 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by guitarbanjoman

yeah, George I kinda thought the same thing... hmmmm

What if you could make a banjo bridge out of little pieces of broken glass?

Or use a metal bridge with a metal lip jutting out under the strings about a quarter of an inch, sloped slightly downward... like a sitar bridge?


The problem I can see with any modifications to bridges is that you'd be hard pressed to play a passage within a tune without the mute. You can't just pop the mute on or off; it's always going to be there unless you stop and take several minutes to undo everything and set up the banjo again.

Have you tried picking close to the bridge while muting? I've tried it and got a nice effect.  The sound was basically muted, but with an edge or harsh quality, unlike the usual sound produced by a mute. 

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