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Aug 23, 2022 - 9:38:17 AM
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Players Union Member

bilmur

USA

59 posts since 10/25/2007

Hi Everybody

I'm looking for a solid body electric 5-string banjo like the ones Blue Star guitar made: 5-string neck with a scaled-down Telecaster body. Blue Star made an Otis Taylor model with 2 pickups and sold through Elderly. Elderly says they no longer deal with Blue Star and the Blue Star website seems dead. Any thoughts, ideas or revelations are most welcome.

Thanks,
Bilmur

Aug 23, 2022 - 10:32:34 AM

1328 posts since 11/9/2012

It might be cheaper to convert a resonator banjo to electric. I have done it before. The key is a head mute that puts a lot of pressure under the bridge, leveraged with a mount on the rods. It completly mutes the head. And I cut two holes in the head and mounted rail humbucker guitar pickups right thru the head mounted on the rods. Next the bridge needs sanding down to compensate. Add guitar effects and you are all set. It worked for me back in the 90s. I named this Heavy Metal Banjo, and I think it sounded better than most solid body electrics. It really worked for me in the past and I plan on building another one soon. For whatever reason it sounded the best with the resonator off.

I hope you could follow that.

Good luck.

Edited by - Toothless in Kentucky on 08/23/2022 10:34:01

Aug 23, 2022 - 11:34:49 AM

9 posts since 1/5/2012

I've been wondering about buying one of these, if our currency in the UK is ever worth anything again! tranjo.com/tranjocaster.php

Aug 23, 2022 - 12:15:25 PM
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110 posts since 2/25/2020

Nechville comet is a solid body electric, but it’s just shaped like a normal banjo. Still worth looking at!

Aug 23, 2022 - 12:15:50 PM

13690 posts since 6/2/2008

Another approach would be to install an electric pickup (such as a Kavanjo head) on a resonator banjo and then fill the inside with rigid foam.

Aug 23, 2022 - 12:39 PM
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1442 posts since 1/9/2012
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What about an actual Tele (or Tele clone) strung with banjo strings and a RR spike for the 5th string?

I couldn't find a picture of the type of solid body you described. There are two possibilities, and they sound quite different. A solid body with a banjo head and bridge (like the Deering Crossfire) will have a lot of banjo sound coming out of the magnetic pickups because of what the head does to the strings. A totally solid body with a typical electric guitar pickup with sound like an electric guitar.

Edited by - davidppp on 08/23/2022 12:46:40

Aug 23, 2022 - 12:57:34 PM
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1328 posts since 11/9/2012

quote:
Originally posted by paulbishop

I've been wondering about buying one of these, if our currency in the UK is ever worth anything again! tranjo.com/tranjocaster.php


That looks like Boog's bussines. He used to post electric banjo posts here on BHO almost daily.

Aug 23, 2022 - 2:30:18 PM
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Players Union Member

BEEFUS

USA

530 posts since 10/11/2006

Hi, it's BEEFUS, and I am an electric banjo picker. I face the same issue. I thought I would share my solution.
Short answer - there are not great off-the-shelf options available for solid body electric banjos.
The Nechville Comet looks cool as heck, but it is a lot of money.
I have an electric guitar that I hacked a banjo neck on to. It is OK.
My current electric banjo, though, is a Gold Tone EB-5 with modifications. It's not a solid-body but I haven't had feedback issues, even on large stages with loud amps. It's also a very sturdy and well-built instrument for only about 600 bucks.
I took out the pickup that came with it (it was really poor) and put in an active EMG humbucker. I had to enlarge the pickup hole, and route out a cavity for a battery pack. Also swapped tailpiece for a Kershner, and the just-OK pegs for Steinbergers.

Had it for six months now, it works very well. I recommend the EB-5, it's about the best you can do right now without spending a ton.
 


Aug 23, 2022 - 2:50:12 PM

Jbo1

USA

1187 posts since 5/19/2007

I, too, would recommend the EB-5. I agree the pickup seems a bit weak, but I haven't tried to raise it closer to the strings or replace it yet. The one mod I did make was to attach an arm rest since the hoop tended to cut into my wrist.

With some eq you can make it sound reasonably like a banjo, and you can also make it sound very electric. I got mine used for around $400 from a small guitar shop that didn't want a banjo ruining their reputation. Good luck in your search.

Aug 23, 2022 - 3:07:30 PM

2005 posts since 1/28/2013

The more solid you make the pot,causing a reduction in the air chamber, the less of a banjo sound you will get, and the more guitar sound you will have. Packing it with foam and installing a pickup, will give you the best results as far as keeping a resemblance to a banjo.

Aug 23, 2022 - 3:11:25 PM

2005 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by BEEFUS

Hi, it's BEEFUS, and I am an electric banjo picker. I face the same issue. I thought I would share my solution.
Short answer - there are not great off-the-shelf options available for solid body electric banjos.
The Nechville Comet looks cool as heck, but it is a lot of money.
I have an electric guitar that I hacked a banjo neck on to. It is OK.
My current electric banjo, though, is a Gold Tone EB-5 with modifications. It's not a solid-body but I haven't had feedback issues, even on large stages with loud amps. It's also a very sturdy and well-built instrument for only about 600 bucks.
I took out the pickup that came with it (it was really poor) and put in an active EMG humbucker. I had to enlarge the pickup hole, and route out a cavity for a battery pack. Also swapped tailpiece for a Kershner, and the just-OK pegs for Steinbergers.

Had it for six months now, it works very well. I recommend the EB-5, it's about the best you can do right now without spending a ton.
 


https://youtu.be/NveROUVsnvs  Here is one, it sounds close to an accoustic.

Aug 23, 2022 - 3:25:18 PM
Players Union Member

BEEFUS

USA

530 posts since 10/11/2006

Yeah, I went for the electric sound but you can get a good-ish amplified banjo sound out of the EB-5. One problem is that you can't tighten or adjust that pre-tensioned head. I would have liked to be able to get different tones with different head tensions. You see two adjustable brackets there -- I can testify that they don't do anything for the head tension.

Aug 23, 2022 - 5:00:07 PM
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12417 posts since 10/27/2006

Doug Dillard is playing Peter Tork's solid body Rickenbacker, said to be one of four or five made, on this track written by Michael Martin Murphy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXhw4N7uhBY

On this remastered track, you can really hear it popping from the Left speaker.

This is from the 2014 Banjo Exhibition at the Museum of Making Music. No one at Rickenbacker seems to know if this was the actual banjo from the recording or not. The two long necks to the left are mine.


 

Aug 23, 2022 - 8:41:45 PM

182 posts since 8/31/2015

I went the route of modifying a tele style guitar to be a guitar/banjo. I installed a railroad spike on the fifth fret of the low E string like David suggested. If I want to play it as a guitar, I string it up normal and forget the spike (the fingerboard is scalloped, it doesn't get in the way of my fingers, especially under a big low E string). I simply have to swap the low E for a plain string to match the high E and use the spike, tune to open G and voila, it's a banjo-guitar tuned to gGDGBD! I also replaced the B string tuner with a Schaller de-tuner for more banjo-y goodness. This instrument also has a scalloped fingerboard, monster jumbo frets, speed neck, and brass nut. It's a shred machine, sounds awesome, and is a ton of fun to play in either configuration!
-TD

Aug 24, 2022 - 5:11:28 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

16074 posts since 8/30/2006

Like this?  Here's the neck solution.

The first Cavanjo I installed and played through my `10" Peavey.  No stuffing necessary.  I couldn't get it to feedback,  I just increased my neighbors' understanding of an amplified banjo.  

You are only asking about solid body.  Which is great.

I look at a few factors like WEIGHT, SOUND SYSTEM, AND ACTUAL BANJO SOUND PRODUCED.

(aside)  Those banjos look like they are being held captive like Taxidermy of a songbird   The Dillards were truly progressive and advancing both the form and content of bluegrass music, IMO 

Nothing else to add.  Good luck.


 

Edited by - Helix on 08/24/2022 05:26:04

Aug 24, 2022 - 8:49:14 AM
Players Union Member

bilmur

USA

59 posts since 10/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by BEEFUS

Hi, it's BEEFUS, and I am an electric banjo picker. I face the same issue. I thought I would share my solution.
Had it for six months now, it works very well. I recommend the EB-5, it's about the best you can do right now without spending a ton.

Thanks for the useful, detailed answer and the pictures. The GoldTone looks like the way to head. I understand why you replaced parts including the pickup. I run the signal through so many pedals that anything that gives a clean signal will do.
 


Nov 22, 2022 - 4:24:33 PM

12 posts since 3/2/2016

quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

What about an actual Tele (or Tele clone) strung with banjo strings and a RR spike for the 5th string?

I couldn't find a picture of the type of solid body you described. There are two possibilities, and they sound quite different. A solid body with a banjo head and bridge (like the Deering Crossfire) will have a lot of banjo sound coming out of the magnetic pickups because of what the head does to the strings. A totally solid body with a typical electric guitar pickup with sound like an electric guitar.

-----
I've tried this and the problem is that the dot markers are different for guitar than banjo.  I don't care about the 5th string, my goal is to play it like a guitar but use my knowledge of the banjo neck. It kills me because I love my tele, can retune the first string to a D, but that darn dot...
All of the videos of people playing electric banjo sound goofy to me -- they are playing it like a banjo ;) and it doesn't translate.  I want to play it like a guitar.

Maybe I should just figure out an alternate way to dot that 9th fret.

Edited by - jpallen on 11/22/2022 16:28:47

Nov 23, 2022 - 10:16:15 AM

1878 posts since 2/28/2003

quote:
Originally posted by jan dupree
quote:
Originally posted by BEEFUS

Hi, it's BEEFUS, and I am an electric banjo picker. I face the same issue. I thought I would share my solution.
Short answer - there are not great off-the-shelf options available for solid body electric banjos.
The Nechville Comet looks cool as heck, but it is a lot of money.
I have an electric guitar that I hacked a banjo neck on to. It is OK.
My current electric banjo, though, is a Gold Tone EB-5 with modifications. It's not a solid-body but I haven't had feedback issues, even on large stages with loud amps. It's also a very sturdy and well-built instrument for only about 600 bucks.
I took out the pickup that came with it (it was really poor) and put in an active EMG humbucker. I had to enlarge the pickup hole, and route out a cavity for a battery pack. Also swapped tailpiece for a Kershner, and the just-OK pegs for Steinbergers.

Had it for six months now, it works very well. I recommend the EB-5, it's about the best you can do right now without spending a ton.
 


https://youtu.be/NveROUVsnvs  Here is one, it sounds close to an accoustic.


The banjo in the video is not a Goldtone, it's a Nechville with a Turbo Module swapped in for the head/tonering.

Nov 23, 2022 - 11:18:21 AM
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12417 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by jpallen
quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

What about an actual Tele (or Tele clone) strung with banjo strings and a RR spike for the 5th string?

I couldn't find a picture of the type of solid body you described. There are two possibilities, and they sound quite different. A solid body with a banjo head and bridge (like the Deering Crossfire) will have a lot of banjo sound coming out of the magnetic pickups because of what the head does to the strings. A totally solid body with a typical electric guitar pickup with sound like an electric guitar.

-----
I've tried this and the problem is that the dot markers are different for guitar than banjo.  I don't care about the 5th string, my goal is to play it like a guitar but use my knowledge of the banjo neck. It kills me because I love my tele, can retune the first string to a D, but that darn dot...
All of the videos of people playing electric banjo sound goofy to me -- they are playing it like a banjo ;) and it doesn't translate.  I want to play it like a guitar.

Maybe I should just figure out an alternate way to dot that 9th fret.


Easy peasy. Any neck or freatboard maker can supply you with a blank board.

MOP, MOTS and shell overlays are readily available. These are extremely thin and stick to your fretboard and the side of the neck so that you can place dot and side markers where you like.

Nov 24, 2022 - 6:15:53 AM

12 posts since 3/2/2016

good idea, thanks!

Nov 28, 2022 - 7:33:19 PM

1837 posts since 9/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by bilmur

Hi Everybody

I'm looking for a solid body electric 5-string banjo like the ones Blue Star guitar made: 5-string neck with a scaled-down Telecaster body. Blue Star made an Otis Taylor model with 2 pickups and sold through Elderly. Elderly says they no longer deal with Blue Star and the Blue Star website seems dead. Any thoughts, ideas or revelations are most welcome.

Thanks,
Bilmur


Is this something your looking for ?   click the link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7YcrOS8J4k  

I bought this Telebanjo from Sean Ray from the BHO classifieds back in 2012. The link is the demo video he posted in the classifieds when selling. It's a Stew Mac Telecaster kit with the neck cut down to a 5 string. Had lots of fun with it over the years !

Brian

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