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Nechville??? Professional players

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Aug 17, 2022 - 11:20:31 AM
1002 posts since 2/21/2011

Why don’t you see more professional players playing Nechvilles?

Aug 17, 2022 - 11:28:55 AM
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KCJones

USA

1778 posts since 8/30/2012

Tone

Aug 17, 2022 - 11:39:06 AM
Players Union Member

Foote

USA

600 posts since 3/25/2009

About 10 years ago, I saw Dennis Caplinger of Bluegrass Etc. at a festival at Plymouth, CA and he was playing a Nechville. I was a big fan of his playing but was shocked at how bad his banjo sounded through the PA. A very dead, dull tone. This was my first contact with Nechvilles and over the weekend I heard 3 or 4 more at jams at the festival and noticed all had very different tones. I came away with a negative attitude about Nechvilles. Since then I've changed my opinion, having heard several that sounded good. But I don't think I've seen another pro playing one.

Aug 17, 2022 - 11:56:19 AM
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47 posts since 1/17/2006

Billy Failing

Aug 17, 2022 - 12:57:32 PM
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427 posts since 11/9/2021

A feller showed up at our weekly jam session last night with a Nechville. "A very dead, dull tone" was exactly what it sounded like.

Aug 17, 2022 - 1:03:19 PM

2363 posts since 1/4/2009

what style are you looking for pros that play? traditional bluegrass artists arent like to play anything but old gibson or old gibson inspired banjos for bluegrass. But there are a lot of artists that play nechville banjos, ive seen Noam Plinky and Bela Fleck play nechvilles. Theres more listed on the nechville site: https://www.nechville.com/artists

Aug 17, 2022 - 1:11:09 PM

banjoy

USA

10428 posts since 7/1/2006

Alison Brown used to perform on Nechvilles all the time, even recorded some of her albums on Nechvilles.

Bill Frailing only performs with hi Nechville as fas as I can tell.

Dennis Caplinger (RIP)

Bela Fleck owns one or two, I've seen him perform with a Nechville before but not often

Steve Martin owns at least one custom made Nechville, and he performs with it from time to time.

Noam Pilkney will perform with a Nechville from time to time.

I see Eddie Collings on that link posted above.

There's really no tone issue. Not sure what folks mean by that. These things can be set up to sound like an old flathead if that's what you want. Probably the most adaptable banjo in regards to pulling different colors and tones, all depending on setup.

Aug 17, 2022 - 1:13:17 PM
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1965 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Foote

About 10 years ago, I saw Dennis Caplinger of Bluegrass Etc. at a festival at Plymouth, CA and he was playing a Nechville. I was a big fan of his playing but was shocked at how bad his banjo sounded through the PA. A very dead, dull tone. This was my first contact with Nechvilles and over the weekend I heard 3 or 4 more at jams at the festival and noticed all had very different tones. I came away with a negative attitude about Nechvilles. Since then I've changed my opinion, having heard several that sounded good. But I don't think I've seen another pro playing one.


The tone was a result of his set up. That's the tone he wanted. There are professional Players with $75,000 Pre-war Gibsons that are set up to produce the same sound. The crack and pop in your face tone of the 60's and 70's is undesirable today in many Professional Bluegrass Bands. 

Edited by - jan dupree on 08/17/2022 13:14:54

Aug 17, 2022 - 1:21:29 PM
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2973 posts since 1/16/2013

Check out Matt Menefee (Google)...an absolute monster player with his Nechville. Here's 3 recent Nechville's at the shop. They are fantastic banjos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmmKTZVIgTs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVcpPMidc1k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzVvHPef6IE

Aug 17, 2022 - 2:03:16 PM
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5476 posts since 8/31/2006

Not a real fan here but not an expert either. Played about ten of them in az years back. Everyone of them was different sounding , fit finish was top notch, but not a one I would buy I’ve always thought they are over rated and over priced

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Aug 17, 2022 - 2:44:54 PM
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rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

It takes a bit of guts, in my experience, to crank the Nechville head up to 90 pounds. It seems like something has got to break, but it doesn't. I have a couple of them; they are my wife's favorite banjo. One open back, one resonator, both with the cast aluminum frame. There are so many things you can do to adjust the tone and sound on the Nechville that it is really up to the person setting it up to decide what he wants to have. I replaced the steel balls in the open back I have primarily to remove some weight for my wife, and replaced them with wooden balls. The tone and sound softened, and we liked it better. I sent a set to Tom; he liked them, but I feel sure he has so many choices for setup that this was just one in a long line of choices. I'm in the process of putting together another open back Nechville, and am figuring out what I want to do with the tone ring and what you might call the rim, the inner ring on the other side of the balls from the tone ring. All these things affect the tone and sound. I backed off the tension of the head on the open back to 85 pounds, and like the sound better than when it is 90. I don't think there is another banjo that has the flexibility of set-up that the Nechville does, but as has been pointed out, it is really a matter of taste, and in my opinion, running through all the possible set-ups to get what you like best. I have a couple of Gibsons, and understand why people like them, as the tone is broader than the Nechville, at least on one of them I have.

Aug 17, 2022 - 4:53:52 PM

1002 posts since 2/21/2011

If it hasn’t already been stated I have a hunch that tradition is a huge factor in Gibsons and other “conventional” bluegrass banjos dominating.

Aug 17, 2022 - 5:36:07 PM
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timacn

USA

608 posts since 7/30/2004

I agree about the tradition factor. Nechville banjos, resonator, open back, electric are extremely well made, great sounding instruments. I played several at the (outstanding) Turtle Hill Banjo Shop side by side with some old Gibsons. The Nechvilles lost nothing in the comparison. I'm sure there were banjo to banjo differences between and among brands, but they all sounded great. You can quantify "different," but "better" is relative. Stellings, Deerings, Odes, Omes, Fenders, etc. etc. all make/made great bluegrass banjos and my guess is that some of them sound/sounded better than Gibsons to some people. Remember the Ibanez Artist and Gold Star v Gibson debates? Many people thought those instruments were better than Gibson Mastertones at the time. I think it's similar to what you see in the pop guitar world. "If you wanna be a rock n' roll star," you pretty much will probably hit the stage with "Gibson" or "Fender" on your guitar's headstock. I would guess that most Bluegrass banjo masters pretty much perform on flathead (not archtop) Gibsons. Maybe it's time for a blindfold 'taste test." Same song, same picks, same strings, same picker. (...and I'm only SORT of kidding around here.)

Aug 17, 2022 - 6:57:21 PM

145 posts since 10/5/2019

Noam used a nechville before he got his RB7 for a while

Aug 18, 2022 - 5:58:21 AM

375 posts since 4/26/2007

I'd wager a guess that the slightly wider fingerboard and radiused neck may scare a lot of players off. Because, tone-wise they can be set up to sound a myriad of different ways, almost like having five banjos in one.

And that's before you consider the interchangeable tone rings that can be swapped out in minutes. Not having the correct "sound" shouldn't be a factor in not playing one. Those Nechville heads/flanges can be tightened up to more tension that a Mastertone/masterclone.

Oh, and the fact that they do look drastically different. Well, at least several of their models do. That probably scares many would-be players away, I'm certain. Especially in a musical genre rooted in so much tradition; believe me I know looks matter, I get it. Just as an example, anything other than an F-style mandolin looks odd to me in a bluegrass setting, lol.

But I think that's part of what makes Nechvilles stand out.

Edited by - HuberTone on 08/18/2022 05:59:48

Aug 18, 2022 - 6:32:14 AM
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banjoy

USA

10428 posts since 7/1/2006

Since I own and love my Nechville I guess this thread has rattled around my head (well, not much more up there to rattle around LOL!!) and it occurred to me...

... that the question posed of why more professionals are not playing Nechvilles, could be interchangeable with the same asked of Stellings, Deerings ... Pruchas ... and Hubers ...

And it occurs to me that each of these well-known top-shelf brands (and many others to be sure) all address niche markets within a niche market. One can produce only so-many thousands of banjos I guess. I can think of a few pros who play the brands I just listed ... doesn't Alan Munde play Stellings, and I know for sure I've seen Eddie Adcock perform over the years with a Stelling ... I think Tony Trishka and Jens Kruger both use Deerings ... I think Alison Brown moved on to a Prucha after using her Nechville for years ... you get the idea.

My point being, they're all great brands in their own (and sometimes unique) ways and to me they all have a place in banjo world (obviously!). And pros do use and rely on them from time to time.

At least, that's how I see it, but as far as Nechvilles, I'm (unapologetically) biased for sure :)

Edited by - banjoy on 08/18/2022 06:38:19

Aug 18, 2022 - 7:50:47 AM

1965 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Since I own and love my Nechville I guess this thread has rattled around my head (well, not much more up there to rattle around LOL!!) and it occurred to me...

... that the question posed of why more professionals are not playing Nechvilles, could be interchangeable with the same asked of Stellings, Deerings ... Pruchas ... and Hubers ...

And it occurs to me that each of these well-known top-shelf brands (and many others to be sure) all address niche markets within a niche market. One can produce only so-many thousands of banjos I guess. I can think of a few pros who play the brands I just listed ... doesn't Alan Munde play Stellings, and I know for sure I've seen Eddie Adcock perform over the years with a Stelling ... I think Tony Trishka and Jens Kruger both use Deerings ... I think Alison Brown moved on to a Prucha after using her Nechville for years ... you get the idea.

My point being, they're all great brands in their own (and sometimes unique) ways and to me they all have a place in banjo world (obviously!). And pros do use and rely on them from time to time.

At least, that's how I see it, but as far as Nechvilles, I'm (unapologetically) biased for sure :)


Bella Fleck and Ross Nickerson play Goldtones. 

Aug 18, 2022 - 7:58:02 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

1695 posts since 8/9/2019

All these folks own and play several banjos.

Aug 19, 2022 - 6:27:42 PM

Bill H

USA

1971 posts since 11/7/2010

I play my Nechville down at the NH Farm Museum every year on children's day and the chickens always do a lively strut. I am fascinated by the clarity and range of tone. Billy Failing sure gets some great sounds out of his. But I'm with Frank, I own two Nechvilles and have become very biased.

Aug 19, 2022 - 11:25:54 PM
Players Union Member

rvrose

USA

888 posts since 6/29/2007

I agree about the traditional Gibson bias in bluegrass. I've been playing 30+ years. I have a prewar Gibson TB3 conversion, Deering Calico, and Stelling Golden Cross. As far as bluegrass quality sound, I would rank them in the reverse order that I listed. Best to good. The Deering and Stelling are close, but part as you go up the neck.

Aug 22, 2022 - 11:45:29 AM

11165 posts since 6/17/2003

Branding. Some people just want a Gibson like their hero played. Their mind won't be changed, nor does it have to be. That being said, it's all about setup as long as the components are quality.  I thought the same thing about how a Nechville sounded until I got one... then two.  Can't beat them for versatility and ease of playing or maintenance. To each their own. 

Aug 22, 2022 - 2:57:38 PM
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klgera

USA

539 posts since 12/3/2004

I remember talking to an older banjo player, he told me that he liked that “Gibson sound” I asked him to explain it, he couldn’t. The sound came with the Gibson on the peg head. Nechvilles are great banjos, but they don’t say Gibson on the peg head, so they can’t be as good, right?

Aug 27, 2022 - 2:39:13 AM

worth

USA

27 posts since 1/30/2008

Many bluegrass musicians care deeply about tradition, and with good reason. Nechville is the total opposite of that. I think that’s why more modern banjo players (Menefee, Bela, Noam, Failing) gravitate to Nechville than traditional players. The playability of Nechville is great and the ease of setup is great. I think they have great tone too but mine at least is not as loud as my other banjos. I play through a pickup anyway and do a lot of non-bluegrass music, so it’s been my primary instrument for gigs forever (plus with the wood/hoop combo ring it’s lighter/easier on my back). I think it’s a great option for anyone who is traveling a lot because setup is so easy, but my at least is not my go to for jams or playing mic’d when I want more volume. Love the fingerboard with radiused neck and tunneled fifth string, but if I was in a group that played in suits and cowboy hats with my strap over one shoulder it would definitely look out of place.

Aug 27, 2022 - 5:41:29 AM
Players Union Member

rbfour5

USA

1167 posts since 11/9/2010

David Johnston of Yonder Mountain String Band tours with his Nechville, and has for years. He also owns a Granada and has said they are two different animals. The Nechville works for YMSBs progressive style and sound.

Aug 27, 2022 - 10:39:49 AM

12833 posts since 6/30/2020

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow

It takes a bit of guts, in my experience, to crank the Nechville head up to 90 pounds. It seems like something has got to break, but it doesn't. I have a couple of them; they are my wife's favorite banjo. One open back, one resonator, both with the cast aluminum frame. There are so many things you can do to adjust the tone and sound on the Nechville that it is really up to the person setting it up to decide what he wants to have. I replaced the steel balls in the open back I have primarily to remove some weight for my wife, and replaced them with wooden balls. The tone and sound softened, and we liked it better. I sent a set to Tom; he liked them, but I feel sure he has so many choices for setup that this was just one in a long line of choices. I'm in the process of putting together another open back Nechville, and am figuring out what I want to do with the tone ring and what you might call the rim, the inner ring on the other side of the balls from the tone ring. All these things affect the tone and sound. I backed off the tension of the head on the open back to 85 pounds, and like the sound better than when it is 90. I don't think there is another banjo that has the flexibility of set-up that the Nechville does, but as has been pointed out, it is really a matter of taste, and in my opinion, running through all the possible set-ups to get what you like best. I have a couple of Gibsons, and understand why people like them, as the tone is broader than the Nechville, at least on one of them I have.


Although they don't necessarily fit the Bill Monroe image and are frowned upon by many Bluegrass purists, as mentioned above, it doesn't change the fact that Nechville banjos are the most versatile instruments with the easiest playing, most comfortable radiused necks availabile in the industry. While you don't see Nechville banjos on stage every day there are plenty of folks from professionals, on down that own them and play them on a regular basis.  

Im also a huge fan of Nechville banjos and have an Aries with the lightweight Hybrid tone ring and Renaissance head, and a Classic Deluxe with a full weight bronze tone ring and frosted head. Drum dial setting at 92 with GHS PF-175 Sonny Osborne medium light strings. Each banjo wears a different gauge G string than what was supplied (I customize string gauges for each of my instruments) with the GHS string set and each banjo has a slightly different weight Nechville Enterprise bridge. I truely love the ability to easily customize Nechville instruments just as we all seem to like messing with any banjo we own.

Nechville recommends setting the head tension to 92-93 on the drum dial as described in the Nechville link below. 
https://nechville.com/nechvilleBlog2/

Aug 27, 2022 - 10:57:21 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

349 posts since 12/6/2021

I saw the group Monroeville a few days ago. Their banjo player played a Nechville and it sounded pretty dang good to me. These guys are, as young as they are, true professionals and one of the tightest country/bluegrass bands I have heard in a long time. They play regularly in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and many other places.
Robert

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