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Aug 3, 2021 - 2:38:52 PM
95 posts since 12/9/2007

I refurbished a slingerland 20ish tenor,,strung it for irish and have been playing for a year. can capoing get the frets closer or will it wreck the tone. Thanks

Aug 3, 2021 - 3:31:46 PM

868 posts since 2/19/2012

I've never done it, but if you capo at the second fret or so, and want to continue playing in GDAE, you're going to have to detune by a whole step, meaning the strings will be floppy. If you just want to capo up and play in higher pitches, have at it. Octave mandolin/bouzouki players do it all the time.

Aug 3, 2021 - 5:05:47 PM

DSmoke

USA

1044 posts since 11/30/2015

Unless you refurbished one of the upper-end Slingerlands it probably already has a shorter scale, 21"ish. I can't imagine you would need to capo those for closer frets. Maybe you just need a little more time with a tenor banjo to get used to a longer scale? Maybe give us a little more info, what banjo and scale length, what's the setup, head, strings, bridge, tailpiece? Why do you want such a a short scale? We're a helpful bunch here.

Aug 3, 2021 - 5:32:24 PM

8893 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DSmoke

Unless you refurbished one of the upper-end Slingerlands it probably already has a shorter scale, 21"ish. I can't imagine you would need to capo those for closer frets. Maybe you just need a little more time with a tenor banjo to get used to a longer scale? Maybe give us a little more info, what banjo and scale length, what's the setup, head, strings, bridge, tailpiece? Why do you want such a a short scale? We're a helpful bunch here.


He states it's a 19 fret tenor, and even a Slingerland 19 fret model would most likely have a scale length longer than 21 inches (I'd guess 22-22 1/2 inches).

If a person is used to a mandolin or even a 17 fret tenor, that could seem a bit of a stretch. Ditto for a person with small hands.

I doubt if the tone would be wrecked with a capo. People capo instruments all the time with no real tonal issues. It's Capoing is no different than playing barre chords up the neck.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 08/03/2021 17:35:25

Aug 3, 2021 - 5:56:01 PM

DSmoke

USA

1044 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by DSmoke

Unless you refurbished one of the upper-end Slingerlands it probably already has a shorter scale, 21"ish. I can't imagine you would need to capo those for closer frets. Maybe you just need a little more time with a tenor banjo to get used to a longer scale? Maybe give us a little more info, what banjo and scale length, what's the setup, head, strings, bridge, tailpiece? Why do you want such a a short scale? We're a helpful bunch here.


He states it's a 19 fret tenor, and even a Slingerland 19 fret model would most likely have a scale length longer than 21 inches (I'd guess 22-22 1/2 inches).

If a person is used to a mandolin or even a 17 fret tenor, that could seem a bit of a stretch. Ditto for a person with small hands.

I doubt if the tone would be wrecked with a capo. People capo instruments all the time with no real tonal issues. It's Capoing is no different than playing barre chords up the neck.


Oops, I missed the 19 fret part in the title, more likely forgot after reading the post.  You're correct, the 19 fret Slingerlands I've had have been 22.5".  

I would just like to point out that there are 100's, if not 1000's of kids in Ireland learning on 19 fret 22" plus scale banjos.  Please help eliminate the myth that people with small hands can't play a banjo with a longer scale.  It's not accurate.  I believe you are the person here who also does a lot of work on pianos.  Do they make pianos for people with small hands?  I have no clue but seems like a good comparison.

Aug 3, 2021 - 6:42:26 PM

8893 posts since 8/28/2013

Kids are a bit more flexible than some adults, but you are correct in saying that small hands can be overcome.

We do not know why the O.P. wishes for shorter fret distances, nor whether he has some difficulties with stretches due to some physical issue, so it;s probably overstepping on both our parts to say he can or can't make the reach on a 19 fret banjo. (Disclaimer: I have switched to a 17 fret tenor because although I can still make most the stretches, they have become way more difficult over the years.)

As far as the piano is concerned, there are no key size alternatives, but it's also true that some people have given up on playing due to the distances one's hand sometimes needs to cover (as I've aged, I myself can no longer make some of the stretchess I once could) and although there are ways to get around the "stretch," issue, it makes playing more difficult, particulary when arthritis begins to creep in. I can only imagine that even though some kids do learn to play 19 fret banjos, that others give up, switch to 17 fret models, or capo at first, playing tunes further up the neck until their hands get bigger. I also believe that an older person with a bit of stiffness and inflexibility from a life of repetitive work such as hammering nails, typing, or pulling cable, might have difficulties making certain reaches.

At least with a banjo (unlike the piano) there are options. In reading other forums, it's plain to see a trend toward shorter scales for "old time" banjos. It seems that not everyone wishes to make difficult stretches, and I see no reason why anyone should be questioned or critiqued because he wants to make playing a little easier.

Aug 4, 2021 - 5:08:27 AM

DSmoke

USA

1044 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

 I see no reason why anyone should be questioned or critiqued because he wants to make playing a little easier.


Because I feel it's my job to educate people and make sure they get the best banjo for them and their money.  People often come to me thinking they want or need a short scale tenor for Irish playing.  This is because time and time again people are misinformed about why.  The neck is very important to the overall tone of the banjo, and many people are very unhappy with the G string on the shorter scale.  Not to mention correct intonation on the short scale is often much more difficult. The longer scale plays easier and sound better.

Of course, there are valid reasons, my reply was to your comment about small hands.

Aug 4, 2021 - 7:45:19 AM

8893 posts since 8/28/2013

My response was to say that small hands can, in fact, make playing more difficult for some people. I never claimed small hands made it impossible to play a longer scale.

I do agree that a 19 fret banjo is generally a better choice for all the reasons you state. The "G" string is certainly tricky due to the need for a heavier gauge string to keep up the tension, and too heavy a string is usually too stiff to produce good tone. Intonation of that "G" can be affected for the same reason.

I am not certain why people tend to be misled about Irish tuned banjos, but I think it's more than just the "small hands" argument. I also still think perhaps the O.P. doesn't need to be "educated." He's obviously trying a 19 fret tenor, and for whatever reason, finds it too difficult to play.

Aug 4, 2021 - 5:30:10 PM

4109 posts since 12/3/2008

quote:
Originally posted by certified male

I refurbished a slingerland 20ish tenor,,strung it for irish and have been playing for a year. can capoing get the frets closer or will it wreck the tone. Thanks


Since by now you've undoubtedly already tried it, what do you think? If you like it, and want to keep GDAE pitch, you can always string it with heavier gauges and tune down 2 frets open. I was able to solve my intonation problems with the 4th string by using a wound nylon string, which not only dialed in the intonation - when nothing else would - but improved the overall tone of the instrument. I was so impressed that I proceeded to replace the other strings with nylon, and never looked back. 

Aug 9, 2021 - 12:54:21 PM
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95 posts since 12/9/2007

I do have arthritis in my left hand but can play fast enough for me. I also can make the reaches but get a little "scared" when I speed up a little. The G string does sound twangy but I have read that is the nature of the beast. I often capo my 5 string but of course that is a different game altogether. Thanks for the comments, it helps a lot. I really enjoy Irish but come away with a headache from concentrating so hard...

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