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Aug 10, 2022 - 3:04:25 PM
9 posts since 9/14/2015

Hi Everyone,
To suit my singing range, I very often capo on the 5th fret (with a 5th string spike on10). So often in fact that I wondered why I don't just cut the head off and short the neck 5 frets…
Of course I won't (couldn't) do that, but it made me wonder whether a short neck banjo would be what I need to be playing? I know nothing about them but it seems to make sense.
Grateful for any thoughts/advice.
Cheers
Chris

Aug 10, 2022 - 3:35:45 PM

mbanza

USA

2515 posts since 9/16/2007

If, by capoing at the fifth, you are playing in C, why not tune to open C (gCGCE)? Give it a try, you'll like it.

Aug 10, 2022 - 4:01:43 PM

9 posts since 9/14/2015

Thanks for that thought, mbanza.
What I was trying to get at was that I'd like the whole pitch of the banjo to be raised, not just playing in a different key. The capo on 5 really suits my singing range.
But perhaps I have missed something? My music theory is limited...

Aug 10, 2022 - 6:29:20 PM
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6156 posts since 3/11/2006

Assuming that you are tuned to gDGBD and then capoing at the fifth fret, you are in the key of C.    The tuning mbanza suggests is a C tuning and lends itself naturally to playing in C.  The fingering will be different than gDGBD capo5 though.  The advantage to mbanza's suggestion is that your banjo will sound like a banjo rather than a set of windchimes. wink

Using alternate tunings is a way of life in old-time banjo-playing.  Other possibilities for the key of C are gCGCD and gCGBD.

Aug 10, 2022 - 6:41:27 PM
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1904 posts since 2/9/2007

What you're looking for is a banjeaurine (banjorine), IOW a 5-stringer scaled to tune a fourth above standard pitch. They're out there...

Aug 10, 2022 - 8:27:37 PM
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Kimerer

USA

1000 posts since 2/17/2006

I have a Saga SS10P Pony Banjo that I bought from Elderly in 2017. It is a C-scale banjo, so the scale length is exactly what you are looking for. The Saga banjos are made in China now. I have not seen them available new for a while, but you might find a used one. I paid $380 for it back then, and it is a decent openback banjo.

Aug 11, 2022 - 4:27:31 AM

4225 posts since 4/29/2012

You may be using the "C shapes" at the 5th fret and therefore playing in the key of F. Not straightforward on a standard length banjo. So it may be that what you want is a long neck banjo tuned or capoed up a semitone.

Aug 11, 2022 - 4:46:07 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27729 posts since 8/3/2003

I sing/play in the key of C all the time for the same reason: it fits my voice. Nothing wrong with what you're doing. Your regular 5-string resonator type banjo will capo up that far and sound okay (at least mine does). You don't really need a different kind of banjo, just use what you've got.

As said above, you can use the C chords to play down the neck in C but if that's too low for your voice, then you probably won't be happy with it.

I don't know about you, but I sing in most major keys, so I'm liable to be singing anywhere from open G to E and either capo up or use the key chords, so a smaller/shorter banjo wouldn't work for me.

Aug 11, 2022 - 5:56:43 AM
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Helix

USA

15846 posts since 8/30/2006

I agree with Sherry, just use what you have.

In more than a decade, I think yours is the only reference to using a spike at the 10th.

Our friend Shelba likes to play in Bb, but at the jams, nobody knows what that is, but she can't sing in C anymore
So I use my "Shelba" spike at the 8th. I use 7,8,9,10,12 & 14.

I play out and jam with others all the time. I play a longneck, so it gives one a short, long, A scale and C scale in the same neck, I don't mind the extra lumber when I'm playing duets with the mandolin player in C, D or E.

Fun? It gets better.

Aug 11, 2022 - 6:25:58 AM

4461 posts since 10/13/2005

Use the "Q" to the left of this page, type in "short scale banjo' or "Saga 10P banjo" and you'll get a lot of info. I have a Saga 10P tuned to open C and also a Stone banjo with Aquila Minstrel strings on it and lowered down to the key of D# to suit the pitch of my voice while preserving the very useful standard G key fingering. The open C tuning above is OK but it primarily works for the not-too-many songs that does't go below the C note of the 4th string. Good Luck! banjered

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Aug 11, 2022 - 9:00:44 AM

Kimerer

USA

1000 posts since 2/17/2006

I tune my Saga Pony banjo to either a high base C, or a low base F.

The high bass, open chord, tuning is C G C E G, and when I use the traditional "open G" chord fingerings, I am playing in the key of C.

The low bass tuning drops the 4th string one full step to F, making the tuning C F C E G. When I use the traditional "low bass C" chord fingerings, I am playing in the key of F. The low bass note will give you that one extra low note required by some tunes.

To play the banjo in the key of G, I capo the four strings at the second fret, and put my Banjo Highway 5th string capo on the 5th string at the 7th fret. That steps up the F tuning of the banjo to G tuning. Using the traditional "low bass C" chord fingerings I am now playing in the key of G, octave.

It works out pretty nicely.

Aug 11, 2022 - 10:34:40 AM

9 posts since 9/14/2015

Thanks everyone, lots of good ideas for me to ponder over - and new banjos to check out! :)
Cheers
Chris

Aug 11, 2022 - 12:08:58 PM

6156 posts since 3/11/2006

Yes, as above:  If you're going to get a C-scale banjo or a banjorine, you might just as well capo5 on the banjo you have. 
Of course you can use your "dilemma" to justify a banjo purchase!

Aug 11, 2022 - 6:53:06 PM

6156 posts since 3/11/2006

P.S.  Especially if you are singing old-time or traditional songs, give gCGCD a try- it is a beautiful tuning.  You are especially fortunate if it naturally suits your vocal range.

P.S.S.  Beautiful woodcarving!

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