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Aug 18, 2022 - 10:39:18 AM
358 posts since 3/29/2012

Hi guys. I’ve been thinking about getting a Gibson tenor because my trusty Ome is just too darn heavy. (It weighs in at 16 to 18 pounds.) From what I see online, a Gibson tb250 weighs between 9 and 11 pounds. Is it possible to get the same quality of tone on a Gibson (for jazz?)

I love the sound and playability of the Ome but it’s just so hard to deal with the weight. I even use a bass guitar strap strap to try and alleviate the heaviness. If not the Gibson, maybe you can recommend a really good tenor banjo that isn’t too heavy.

Aug 18, 2022 - 11:24:51 AM

Omeboy

USA

3252 posts since 6/27/2013

If you have to stand to play, you can use a "fanny pack" belt to rest your Ome on while still using the bass strap. The fanny pack will transfer most of the weight to your hips as opposed to your shoulders and spine. You use the fanny pack like a shelf and sling combined.  You might also remove your resonator to lose a little more weight.

Edited by - Omeboy on 08/18/2022 11:26:04

Aug 18, 2022 - 12:12:30 PM
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4591 posts since 5/29/2011
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Don't expect a TB250 to be that much lighter than your OME. It will feel just as heavy in about fifteen minutes. Will you be able to get the same sound quality out of a Gibson? It will be just as good, but it will be a little different. Banjos can be set up and adjusted for different sounds and you may be surprised how much range of tone is possible.
If you want a pretty light weight Gibson, you could look into some of the old hoop-style models. They have a remarkably good sound to not have a full weight tone ring. Old TB100s and TB00s can usually be found under $1500. Pre-Mastertone Gibson tenor banjos can usually be found even cheaper because they are not really collector's items. But you want a player, not a collectible. That opens up your options.

Aug 18, 2022 - 3:18:59 PM

1971 posts since 5/19/2018

I find that the older I get, no matter what banjo I play, they all weigh exactly the same after about 40 minutes. Your shoulder will know zero difference between your old Ome and any level of Mastertone.



Your best bet, if you are into early jazz and the like, would be as mentioned , a good quality Gibson TB-100. Nice, light, well made and if set up right, will cut just as well as full tone ring instrument. The 00’s tend to be a little light on the sound and projection due to the thinner rim and zero tone ring, but I do love the sound of my 37 RB00, and even with a skin head, it does the job as needed. If you use a Mike, no issues with projection at all and they ha e a nice clean sound. But that being said, I don’t think you could find a lighter tenor than a 00. You could probably keep one on your shoulder all day and not notice it.

Aug 18, 2022 - 5:46:28 PM

10017 posts since 8/28/2013

Had a TB100 for a time. I hated it--it was just bout 1000 times too harsh for my liking. Neve played an Ome.

I think maybe you should look at a Gibson in person to find out whether it works for you; every banjo is different, and to me, weifght doesn't mean much when one gets to ten pounds--they are all too heavy.

I would also check other makes, like Vega, Paramount, Epiphone, and B & D. they are all great banjos, just different, and that gives you more choices. (these are all heavy ,though.

Another option would be to have a banjo custom made. There are loads of builders who could probably make a nice instrument with lighter weight parts--aluminum instead of brass or steel, maybe a hardwood tone ring.

If I were choosing a banjo, I would not stick with only two brands.

Aug 19, 2022 - 12:12:05 AM

banjopaolo

Italy

1651 posts since 11/6/2008

I own a wonderful prewar Gibson tb3, I love it but never play live with it just because it’s too heavy!

As a lighter Banjo I use an open back instrument, a Scorpion Banjo crafted here in italy by Silvio Ferretti, it has a wooden tone ring so it’s lightweight... the sound is very good and reminds me the of Eddy Davis

Edited by - banjopaolo on 08/19/2022 00:12:56

Aug 19, 2022 - 1:41:26 AM

17 posts since 5/7/2008

Hello,
Whether weight is an issue or not, I would recommend a Vegaphone (probably 10-11lbs). You'll get a lovely one for half the price of a TB-3, and sound wise it will knock the Gibson out of the ballpark.

Aug 21, 2022 - 3:00:16 PM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Omeboy

If you have to stand to play, you can use a "fanny pack" belt to rest your Ome on while still using the bass strap...


That's something I never would have thought of. Thanks!

Aug 21, 2022 - 3:01:49 PM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Culloden

Don't expect a TB250 to be that much lighter than your OME. It will feel just as heavy in about fifteen minutes…
If you want a pretty light weight Gibson, you could look into some of the old hoop-style models…


Yes, I am looking into some of those. thanks

Aug 21, 2022 - 3:12:44 PM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

Does anyone know when Gibson switched to the larger "medium jumbo" frets? On their guitars it was around 1960.

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Aug 21, 2022 - 3:17:23 PM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

Lots of good ideas here. Thanks to:

  • Alvin Conder
  • G Edward Porgie
  • Banjo Paolo
  • Findajo
Aug 21, 2022 - 5:03:03 PM

4591 posts since 5/29/2011
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Muskrat

Does anyone know when Gibson switched to the larger "medium jumbo" frets? On their guitars it was around 1960.


I believe they started using those frets on banjos about the same time. An old RB100 with low, wide frets sure is easy to play.

Aug 23, 2022 - 3:27:04 PM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

Okay, thanks. One final question. I noticed some of the TB00, 100 and 150 banjos are archtop. Any preference there? I guess the difference is pretty subtle.

Aug 25, 2022 - 1:43:24 PM

10017 posts since 8/28/2013

Those archtop models differ in the diameter of the metal hoop from the flat head versions. I'm sure some can hear a difference. Other than that, I believe the rest of the banjo is the same, no matter the hoop size.

From my experiences, I wouldn't own a Gibson tenor. They may be fine for five-string players, but the ones I've played and heard have been, in my opinion, horrible. That includes the Mastertones.

Aug 26, 2022 - 3:00:48 AM
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5122 posts since 4/7/2008

A few months ago I switched from a very heavy banjo (19 fret Deering Maple Blossom resonator banjo) that I had for a very long time to a very light one (Ome 17 fret open back banjo). The weight off of my shoulder is nice, but what is much nicer is how this Ome’s sound and feel reflect the current state of my playing. My playing has gone through some changes in the last couple of years, and the sound of the Deering didn’t match what I was doing. This Ome banjo matches what I’m doing much better. Yo me, the matching of the instrument to the player’s style is the most important thing.

Aug 26, 2022 - 4:31:03 PM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

Compass56: "The weight off of my shoulder is nice, but what is much nicer is how this Ome’s sound and feel reflect the current state of my playing."


Yes, I agree. That would be the ultimate decider for any musical instrument. I do feel that my Ode/Ome is the right matchup for my style of play and I will keep it for recording purposes. But there are those other times where I would sacrifice the perfect match for ergonomic comfort.

Aug 27, 2022 - 12:50:33 AM

Muskrat

USA

358 posts since 3/29/2012

This probably doesn't change any of your suggestions, but I just realized my tenor is an Ode not an Ome.

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