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Sep 3, 2021 - 3:09:39 PM
35 posts since 7/1/2010

Most of us play in G, A, C, and D (as in double c/d). If you have the luxury of having two banjos for gigs, do you keep one for G and C and the other one for A and D, or do you keep one for G and A and the other one for C and D? I'd like to minimize the time I spend tuning between tunes. Many thanks in advance to whoever weighs in.

Sep 3, 2021 - 3:21:48 PM

3243 posts since 10/17/2009

For actual gigs, most times we try to arrange the sets so single banjo re-tunes in a bit of logical order, generally just one string, plus fifth if needed; and capo. With practice can re-tune very quickly.

Sometimes have two banjos, as mentioned G and C; and use a capo.

Sep 3, 2021 - 3:48:02 PM
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312 posts since 4/10/2018

Retuning is a good skill to develop. I have three banjos but only bring one.

Sep 3, 2021 - 4:31:57 PM
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dbrooks

USA

4122 posts since 3/11/2004
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I have several banjo but only take one to play at weekly contra dances (which have been suspended for 18 months). We play two tunes for each dance, often with a key change. I believe that I can retune as quickly as I could switch banjos (I do wear a strap even though we are sitting).

David

Sep 3, 2021 - 6:53:48 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

25217 posts since 6/25/2005

I play old time, which favors A and D, so when I play a gig with two banjos, one’s either tuned up two frets or capoed at 2. I hardly ever use double-C, so my retuning is mostly confined to changing the 4th string—which is quick and easy.  That said, I'd still favor keeping one banjo two frets up  even using double-C, because I find retuning less of a pain than capoing--but that's a personal choice.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 09/03/2021 18:57:24

Sep 4, 2021 - 2:13:30 AM

Bill H

USA

1728 posts since 11/7/2010

I take two banjos to jams--one in standard G and one capoed to aDADE. For Sawmill tuning I can retune one string on either banjo.

Sep 4, 2021 - 6:54:44 AM

3819 posts since 4/29/2012

One banjo, a capo and a 7th fret spike is all I need. The other dozen banjos stay home.

Sep 4, 2021 - 8:01:06 AM
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hbick2

USA

442 posts since 6/26/2004

I play in a six-piece string band (that includes a clarinet) and our stuff is all over the place. I carry two banjos with me, one open and one capoed at 2. I use a lot of tunings, but I have found it easier to retune without taking the capo on and off. That seems to throw things off a lot more.

I used to carry three banjos because we play some stuff that requires me to strum (with my fingers, not with a pick). We occasionally lapse into Western Swing. Mine are all 5-strings, so I just took the 5th string off of one and played it like a plectrum. Then I had an idea. I already had a railroad spike at the seventh fret. I added one near the end of the fretboard so that, when I put the 5th string under both of them, it took it completely out of the way.

Sep 4, 2021 - 10:10:01 AM
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17 posts since 7/5/2021

quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD

One banjo, a capo and a 7th fret spike is all I need. The other dozen banjos stay home.


This and a tuner.

Sep 4, 2021 - 1:17:13 PM

186 posts since 10/26/2018
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One for G/A and one for C/D is how the Banjo in our contra band does it. Sets flow in a way to minimize tuning, with the tunes clustered in groups of the same key. Ex: A remove capo to G, tune a couple of strings to C tunes capo to D tunes retune to A finish in G.

Edited by - WVDreamin on 09/04/2021 13:32:42

Sep 4, 2021 - 3:55:03 PM
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7247 posts since 11/4/2005

For some time now I have been playing banjos with a semi-fretless neck, so capoing is fundamentally out of the question. For a long time, I would bring two banjos, the first a Tubaphone with a standard scale neck, which I used for C, D, and G, and the other is a short=scale Paramount, which I use for A. When I play in D, I am using Open D tuning (aDF#AD), so I am actually tuning down to D, not up. I tried tuning the Tubaphone up to A, but that chokes off the tone, and I tried tuning the short-scale Paramount down, but when I do that it rattles like crazy. So when going to a jam, I generally took them both. A few years ago I had put together a short scale 10 1/2" Vega Whyte Laydie that sounds the same, tone wise, in all four keys, but I haven't been able to get the overall tone out of that banjo that I think is in there. Still, it's now the banjo I tend to take if I going out to a jam session. But my three close Covid jam pals and I have come up with a new solution we're are going to try out at the next opportunity. Since the two fiddlers play almost all of their A tunes in Cross A tuning (AEae), they are going to play them in Cross G instead (GDgd), so I can stay in whatever G tuning I am using. We'll see how that works.

Sep 4, 2021 - 6:33:50 PM

3243 posts since 10/17/2009

Don brings up other considerations with owning many instruments and having to make choices what to take to a gig (or festival).

Choosing having 2 banjos that mostly sound and play same, so just for tuning convenience.... or 2 banjos more for other qualities and character (maybe tuning/key go along with it)?

I prefer having diverse options, not just tuning, but tone, color, playability or some other character of instruments like fretless, pot size, tone ring, resonator, nut width, nylon strung. For some folks (ep if have lot's of banjos), each banjo brings it's unique quality best for the song/tune. Sometimes see some performers with 4 banjos on stage.

-----------

Applies to guitar players as well, besides various tunings might use... wood, size, strings; different qualities. Related aspect choices, my group has multi-instrumentalists, tenor banjo, banjo uke, guitar banjo, mandolin, fiddle... so have to factor if wanting to bring those, and how much diversity do we need to bring, or maybe compromise? Other instruments is a factor why often might only bring one banjo and just retune.

No universal best answer for everyone. Great to have those options for best sound, or tuning convenience; and I used to bring a lot of instruments, but can realize is sometimes more hassle to deal with more than one or two instruments; and can live with compromises.

Edited by - banjoak on 09/04/2021 18:36:30

Sep 7, 2021 - 10:50:47 AM

22 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by hbick2

I just took the 5th string off of one and played it like a plectrum. Then I had an idea. I already had a railroad spike at the seventh fret. I added one near the end of the fretboard so that, when I put the 5th string under both of them, it took it completely out of the way.


 

Can you clarify, are you strumming over the neck in this case?  Or is there some way to railroad spike it out of the way so you can strum over the head?

Sep 8, 2021 - 7:59:10 AM

hbick2

USA

442 posts since 6/26/2004

I just got back in town. Let me send you a picture later today and you can decide for yourself. Harry

Sep 8, 2021 - 10:28:46 AM

hbick2

USA

442 posts since 6/26/2004

Here are a couple of photos. Photo 1 is the railroad spike at the end of the fingerboard. Photo 2 is a view of the 5th string depressed below the level of the others. I keep my action pretty high, so that helps. Also, I don't use a pick, I use the ends of my 1st, middle and 3rd fingers to strum, so to speak. I don't use this often, mostly on Western Swing numbers. Hope this helps. Harry


Sep 10, 2021 - 10:11:49 AM

22 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by hbick2

Here are a couple of photos.


 

Thanks.  I just might try this on my goodtime.  I figure half the reason to own a banjo like that is not being afraid of experimentation :)

Sep 11, 2021 - 6:24:42 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

20409 posts since 6/30/2015
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At our weekly slow jam I bring 2 banjos and 2 capos. One banjo tuned to open G and the other Double C capoed at second fret. Since the jam is mostly beginners there is no planned set and a tune can go from G to D to A as it moves from person to person. This saves me from holding things up while I re-tune.

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