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Jul 23, 2021 - 8:12:34 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

25156 posts since 6/25/2005

Posters periodically ask if you can play old-time banjo on a resonator instrument. Of course you can. Here’s a fine example from Clifton Hicks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-4rku2ms20

Jul 23, 2021 - 11:35:38 PM
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Foote

USA

518 posts since 3/25/2009

I remember seeing the Carolina Chocolate Drops early on and Rhiannon Giddens was playing clawhammer on a resonator banjo.

Jul 24, 2021 - 7:50:32 AM

366 posts since 11/29/2012
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Ola Belle Reed and Cathy Barton Para...

Jul 24, 2021 - 7:54:11 AM
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R Buck

USA

2978 posts since 9/5/2006

Wade Ward and Andy Boarman both played resonator models.

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:08:13 AM
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csacwp

USA

2913 posts since 1/15/2014

Dock Boggs, Buell Kazee ...

Edited by - csacwp on 07/24/2021 08:09:53

Jul 24, 2021 - 10:11:57 AM
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TopoG

USA

124 posts since 7/5/2011

Grandpa Jones and Stringbean...

Jul 24, 2021 - 10:23:54 AM
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janolov

Sweden

41187 posts since 3/7/2006

It is the banjoist that makes it, not the banjo.

Jul 24, 2021 - 10:28:13 AM
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1808 posts since 7/4/2009

I think Don Borchelt created this image. Speaks for itself.

As I once heard Mike Seeger say, there are no rules to the banjo.


Edited by - UncleClawhammer on 07/24/2021 10:29:11

Jul 24, 2021 - 9:08:46 PM
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557 posts since 2/5/2014

And I play 3 finger bluegrass on an open back banjo…

Jul 25, 2021 - 3:42:05 AM

Bill H

USA

1707 posts since 11/7/2010

I have migrated to resonator banjos for old time playing. Some banjos just don't feel complete without the resonator, like my Vega-Martin VIP which sounds great for old time.

Jul 26, 2021 - 11:34:25 AM
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8260 posts since 3/17/2005

The open back only myth seems to have begun with the Great Folk Scare. Lots and lots of the dead guys payed resonator banjos and lots of the alive guys still do.

Jul 26, 2021 - 11:37:36 AM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

11515 posts since 2/22/2007
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Resonator, yes, but notice that Clifton's banjo does not have the typical resonator sound. That one is not set up for a bright Bluegrass style tone.

Jul 26, 2021 - 4:01:42 PM
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6013 posts since 3/11/2006

I remember R.D. Lunceford playing clawhammer on a Harmony "Reso-Tone" banjo w/bakelite resonator about 1969.
He wanted to remove it but his Dad wouldn't let him.

Jul 26, 2021 - 4:33:25 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

25156 posts since 6/25/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjo bill-e

Resonator, yes, but notice that Clifton's banjo does not have the typical resonator sound. That one is not set up for a bright Bluegrass style tone.


I think "typical bluegrass sound" is more exact. There is no typical resonator sound. It's a matter of setup amd the banjo itself. There are many resonator banjos besides Gibson Mastertones and iclones thereof. Your last sentence fits with my point. 

Jul 26, 2021 - 4:45:11 PM
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7234 posts since 11/4/2005

quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

I remember R.D. Lunceford playing clawhammer on a Harmony "Reso-Tone" banjo w/bakelite resonator about 1969.
He wanted to remove it but his Dad wouldn't let him.


His Dad was a wise man.  Those old bakelite Harmonies were surprisingly good banjos, especially for beginners.  They didn't have a lot of volume, but the tone was clear and very responsive to hammers, pull-offs and slides, as long as the original set up was respected and maintained.  As soon as the banjo was altered, e.g. with a maple and ebony 3 foot bridge, the positive attributes evaporated.

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/26/2021 16:46:09

Jul 26, 2021 - 9:31:57 PM
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Paul R

Canada

14918 posts since 1/28/2010

My Liberty hardware banjo, set up for CH. And it's an arch top.

As often said, one benefit of a resonator is that it keeps all those brackets and nuts from digging into your lap.


 

Jul 27, 2021 - 8:31:36 PM
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6013 posts since 3/11/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Don Borchelt
 

His Dad was a wise man.  


Yep, and the older I've gotten, the more I realize how wise he was, and not just about banjos either!

Jul 29, 2021 - 11:30:14 PM

1827 posts since 4/10/2005

Resonator "woodies" with just the wood rim or a wood tone ring, and no metal tone ring or hoop, make fantastic oldtime banjos. Including the resonator Goodtimes. I was one of the lucky BH-ers who nabbed a Rich-RK-era Recording King RK-25 Madison, their woody resonator banjo with 3-ply rim, maple neck, and other classic Style 1 specs, when they were discontinued and the big box stores blew them out at more than half off for around $300-ish. Wonderful banjo for CH and other oldtime styles. Bluegrass sounds great on it as well.

Jul 30, 2021 - 7:26:21 AM
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8260 posts since 3/17/2005

The poor, much maligned resonator takes the blame for "bluegrass" tone, or "bright" tone. In fact, the resonator has much to do with projection and very little to do with tone. Lots of resonator banjos have bluegrass style tone rings which provide the tone people blame on the resonator.

Jul 30, 2021 - 8:57 AM
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1575 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by chip arnold

The poor, much maligned resonator takes the blame for "bluegrass" tone, or "bright" tone. In fact, the resonator has much to do with projection and very little to do with tone. Lots of resonator banjos have bluegrass style tone rings which provide the tone people blame on the resonator.


Some years back I got to hang out with Mark Johnson at a camp where we were both teaching. He was packing two of his custom Deering "clawgrass" openbacks, and also a flathead Gibson which he used for picking Scruggs style.  He, of course, knew very well how to get the sounds he wanted out of all of them.  

He let me knock a tune on one of those Deerings, and in my hands, that thing sounded tinkly, metallic, nails-on-a-chalkboard bright, with a dynamic range that started at a little too loud and went up from there.

"Let me try that Gibson?", says I.  Bluegrass setup and all, it didn't take me long to find some good oldtime sond in that one...

Jul 30, 2021 - 10:48:25 AM

8260 posts since 3/17/2005

Dan Gellert, I had the same experience with his bluegrass banjo. picking it with what J. Roy Stalcup called nekkid fingers, it could produce a lovely round tone.

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