Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

298
Banjo Lovers Online


Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Apr 16, 2024 - 12:27:05 AM
likes this
42 posts since 4/14/2024

Hi all!

Im 61 and started the banjo around 7-8 months ago and have been reading posts on this site for the last 3-4 months..learned a LOT from you all. Been playing on a $300 POS but will be upgrading soon..yay! Learning has been slow but as I said Im 61 and dealing with a head injury from a motorcycle accident a few years back..playing the banjo besides being awesome in and of itself has actually been some great rehab for my brain. When I first started I couldn't practice for more than 15-20 minutes a day before the brain fog set in and my brains turned to pudding...now Im up to an hour, hour and a half. Im practicing out of Ross Nickersons "Fundamentals of the 5 String Banjo" and have been studying out of his "Banjo Ecyclopedia". My ultimate goal is to do some "busking" around the college campus and coffee shops and volunteer at some nursing homes and hospices when I retire in  a few years. I am focusing on all of the skills necessary to play any song I want but haven't really started working on any of the songs yet... with the exception of Boil Dem Cabbage Down. He has you do it with just chords and rolls..the cool thing is that you learn how to do it with a FWD roll, Scruggs roll, and a FWD/BWD roll..its great practice for learning to switch chords with different rolls. Just recently started practicing the most common chord progressions in G. This leads me to my first question..with the "F", "D" and barre shapes as well as their minor and 7th positions why do beginning books even have you learn 2 or 3 finger chords? Why not just learn the F's, D's and barres? Sorry, probably a dumbass question I just don't get it. Also he says that if you tune a couple of strings differently you can play in C or D. Do the F, D and barre forms still work when you do that? And if so, how do they change? I also don't understand what an "inversion" is/means?

Second question...I have been listening and looking at literally dozens and dozens of banjos to upgrade to and have settled on 2. The Recording King rk r20 or the rk r76. Obviously the the 76 sounds a bit better but to my (untrained) eyes and ears the RK's look and sound the closest to the old pre-war Gibson's played by Scruggs et al. in the 40's and 50's than any other banjo Ive listened to (no offense to any Deering, Huber, Hatfield, etc owners). So what I would like to know is what is it about the 76, besides the sound, that makes it 3x the price of the 20? In the pictures/videos they look pretty close except the 76 has more inlay on the head. I don't just want to learn to play the banjo with tabs and such I want to understand everything about it..construction, woods, music theory, history etc..know what I mean?

Third, as there are a LOT of experienced pickers here can anyone tell me what, if any, strings/frets are most often used for slides, hammer-ons, and pulloffs? As I said I am focusing on just skills right now but in the beg. book I am learning from there is just a 2-3 slide, a 2-0 pull off both on the 3rd string and a 0-2 hammer-on on the 4th string incorporating them with a alternate thumb roll. I would really like to incorporate the most commonly seen ones in BG music into my daily practice routine.

Lastly, I want to sincerely apologize to any of you who have actually read this far for rambling on and this post being so damn long. I just don't have anyone else to ask or talk to about banjo...(my gf's eyes glaze over after about 5 minutes of me babbling on about the banjo).

Any and all replies are greatly appreciated,

Patrick (old guy learning the banjo)

Apr 16, 2024 - 1:35:42 AM
likes this

709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

Hi all!

Im 61 and started the banjo around 7-8 months ago and have been reading posts on this site for the last 3-4 months..learned a LOT from you all. Been playing on a $300 POS but will be upgrading soon..yay! Learning has been slow but as I said Im 61 and dealing with a head injury from a motorcycle accident a few years back..playing the banjo besides being awesome in and of itself has actually been some great rehab for my brain. When I first started I couldn't practice for more than 15-20 minutes a day before the brain fog set in and my brains turned to pudding...now Im up to an hour, hour and a half. Im practicing out of Ross Nickersons "Fundamentals of the 5 String Banjo" and have been studying out of his "Banjo Ecyclopedia". My ultimate goal is to do some "busking" around the college campus and coffee shops and volunteer at some nursing homes and hospices when I retire in  a few years. I am focusing on all of the skills necessary to play any song I want but haven't really started working on any of the songs yet... with the exception of Boil Dem Cabbage Down. He has you do it with just chords and rolls..the cool thing is that you learn how to do it with a FWD roll, Scruggs roll, and a FWD/BWD roll..its great practice for learning to switch chords with different rolls. Just recently started practicing the most common chord progressions in G. This leads me to my first question..with the "F", "D" and barre shapes as well as their minor and 7th positions why do beginning books even have you learn 2 or 3 finger chords? Why not just learn the F's, D's and barres? Sorry, probably a dumbass question I just don't get it. Also he says that if you tune a couple of strings differently you can play in C or D. Do the F, D and barre forms still work when you do that? And if so, how do they change? I also don't understand what an "inversion" is/means?

Second question...I have been listening and looking at literally dozens and dozens of banjos to upgrade to and have settled on 2. The Recording King rk r20 or the rk r76. Obviously the the 76 sounds a bit better but to my (untrained) eyes and ears the RK's look and sound the closest to the old pre-war Gibson's played by Scruggs et al. in the 40's and 50's than any other banjo Ive listened to (no offense to any Deering, Huber, Hatfield, etc owners). So what I would like to know is what is it about the 76, besides the sound, that makes it 3x the price of the 20? In the pictures/videos they look pretty close except the 76 has more inlay on the head. I don't just want to learn to play the banjo with tabs and such I want to understand everything about it..construction, woods, music theory, history etc..know what I mean?

Third, as there are a LOT of experienced pickers here can anyone tell me what, if any, strings/frets are most often used for slides, hammer-ons, and pulloffs? As I said I am focusing on just skills right now but in the beg. book I am learning from there is just a 2-3 slide, a 2-0 pull off both on the 3rd string and a 0-2 hammer-on on the 4th string incorporating them with a alternate thumb roll. I would really like to incorporate the most commonly seen ones in BG music into my daily practice routine.

Lastly, I want to sincerely apologize to any of you who have actually read this far for rambling on and this post being so damn long. I just don't have anyone else to ask or talk to about banjo...(my gf's eyes glaze over after about 5 minutes of me babbling on about the banjo).

Any and all replies are greatly appreciated,

Patrick (old guy learning the banjo)


Hi Patrick, 

Here's the good news, I started learning banjo at 61 and at 77 I am still learning.

I'll try to answer some of your questions but you'll forgive me if I can't address everything. 

So why do we need 3, 2 & 1 finger chords as well as the full for finger chords. They are easier and faster to make. As you build your knowledge & skill level all this fundamental stuff your struggling to remember will become Childs play.  As you study make sure you include some chord theory. Just remember a chord is made up of three notes. Some of these notes can be open some may be closed (Fretted) When you learn to play up-the-neck you'll find you mostly play using three finger chords.

If you re-tune your banjo to D or Drop C you do have to fret your banjo strings differently because the notes you want to play are in a different position. Don't 'FRET' about it too much (pun intended) it's not as difficult to find the notes as you think. So to answer your question . No you don't use you F & D Shapes like you do in G tuning but you will use the Bar Chord. This goes back yo your previous question on why the need to learn 3, 2 & 1 finger chords. Just keep in mind a chord is made up of three notes. The notes may be open or closed.

So   an "inversion" is just another way of saying F D or Bar chord. 

Check out this video's these guys explain things much better than I can

Slides, Hammer Ons and Pull Offs can be played on all 5 strings. But mostly on the first 4 strings. My advice is not to get too overwhelmed just take things at your own pace. Your going to make a lot of mistakes we all do. Learn from them and move on.

Apr 16, 2024 - 2:41:44 AM

42 posts since 4/14/2024

Hey Fred,
thanks for that...I'm trying to study music theory as it relates to the banjo and that made a few things click for me.
Appreciate the response

Apr 16, 2024 - 3:57:13 AM
likes this

709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

Hey Fred,
thanks for that...I'm trying to study music theory as it relates to the banjo and that made a few things click for me.
Appreciate the response


Hi Patrick

BanjoBen has an in depth music theory course on his website but he also takes every opportunity to explain the theory behind each banjo lesson when he is teaching so as your not overwhelmed. 

You mentioned playing in C this is a sample of a lesson Ben has on his site with guest banjo player Jim Britton.  If you slow down the video you get a sense of the left hand fingering.

 

Apr 16, 2024 - 4:00:09 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

CeeBeeBanjo

Canada

10 posts since 2/2/2022

hi Patrick,
61 must be the magic age, as I also started then, 2+ years ago, studying with a local master.

As for inversions, etc, here's a link to a useful piece I rely on, found in BHO archives: hangoutstorage.com/banjohangou...62013.pdf . This explanation really clicked for me as to how the shapes work, knowing where your root note is, etc.

As for common slides and hammer-ons, you could add practice of the slides that will get you to the note of the next higher string, which can be used to lead in to or emphasize that note: 4th string = 2-5 slide; 3rd string = 2-4 slide. (2nd string is more often a 2-3 hammer-on, I think). Try picking the adjacent (note-matching) string as you finish the slide. At some point you'll also want to practice the 2-3 hammer-on (and 3-2 pull-off) on the 3rd string, for tag licks.

Another random tip: sign up for a camp this summer, one that's beginner-friendly. There you will find "your peeps" who also obsess about the 5-string - we are many! - and you can make banjo friends to keep in touch with afterwards by Zoom or whatever. (Summer camp for adults is the best thing ever!)

happy picking!
Connie

Apr 16, 2024 - 4:43:32 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30101 posts since 8/3/2003

Good advice already, so I'll just add.....

4-finger chords are not necessary all the time. Sometimes a partial chord (2 or 3 finger) works well and leaves one finger available to fret another string. When playing vamping backup, some use the 4 finger chords, some 3 finger chords. It's a personal decision.

As far as opinions as to what banjo is best, that also is a personal decision. What sounds good to me may not sound good to you. Buy the best banjo you can afford. The better built the banjo, the easier it will be to fret, tune and play in general.

As far as "frills" go, you can play them or not. Music is not written in stone and you can add slides, hammers, etc., or leave them out. Slides can be played on about any string, however, 4th 3rd and 2nd string and most common. Same with hammer ons and pull offs.

Lastly, you'll learn faster with fewer bad habits if you can find a good banjo teacher. Someone who can show you how to do whatever you're having problems with and can critique your picking. If you can't find/afford a live teacher, there are several on-line instructors that will help you via Zoom or whatever outlet you use. If that won't work, then what you're doing will help you learn.

Apr 16, 2024 - 5:51:30 AM
like this

BobbyE

USA

3501 posts since 11/29/2007

I will leave it to others to address some of your questions but will offer this bit of advice. As a beginner you don't know what you don't know. As you learn you begin to know what you don't know. As you continue and recognize what you don't know, you discover ways to learn what you don't know. Some of your questions, though legitimate, IMO, is a reflection of your getting ahead of yourself with areas that you don't yet know. If you will stick to one teacher, Nickerson's books, and learn what you can understand, these other questions will begin to answer themselves as you go. You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. Learning to play the banjo, and areas regarding its construction, will take some time. Don't get ahead of yourself. Enjoy the ride and good luck.

Bobby

Apr 16, 2024 - 6:18:20 AM

42 posts since 4/14/2024

Hey all! Wow! thanks so much for the help/responses.
Fred: I have seen quite a few of BanjoBens videos and for some reason his teaching style just doesn't click for me. Ive been pretty happy with Ross Nickersons books/videos because for whatever reason the way he explains things makes sense out of all of this...absolutely no offense to BB..he is obviously a great teacher and has turned out hundreds if not thousands a great students with his teaching style.
Connie: that handout is pure gold! Cant quite wrap my head around all of it yet but I will..very logical and orderly way of learning the chords and fretboard..love it!
Sherry: as I said, after an exhaustive search I found that I like the Recording King banjos...they just sound like...well..to my ear anyways..what a banjo is supposed to sound like...what I wanted to know is what is it about an RK 76 that makes it 3x more expensive/better than an RK 20? Why is one a "beginner" banjo and the other is considered a "professional" banjo?
BobbyE: I know, Im still just really excited to be learning this and being in this place..believe me..I am taking it slow..dont have much of a choice..just looking for a preview of coming attractions, as it were..want to fully understand everything Im learning.

Once again, thank you all for your help/responses

Edited by - Patrick1962 on 04/16/2024 06:24:02

Apr 16, 2024 - 6:28:11 AM

709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

Hey all! Wow! thanks so much for the help/responses.
Fred: I have seen quite a few of BanjoBens videos and for some reason his teaching style just doesn't click for me. Ive been pretty happy with Ross Nickersons books/videos because for whatever reason the way he explains things makes sense out of all of this...absolutely no offense to BB..he is obviously a great teacher and has turned out hundreds if not thousands a great students with his teaching style.
Connie: that handout is pure gold! Cant quite wrap my head around all of it yet but I will..very logical and orderly way of learning the chords and fretboard..love it!
Sherry: as I said, after an exhaustive search I found that I like the Recording King banjos...they just sound like...well..to my ear anyways..what a banjo is supposed to sound like...what I wanted to know is what is it about an RK 76 that makes it 3x more expensive/better than an RK 20? Why is one a "beginner" banjo and the other is considered a "professional" banjo?
BobbyE: I know, Im still just really excited to be learning this and being in this place..believe me..I am taking it slow..dont have much of a choice..just looking for a preview of coming attractions, as it were..want to fully understand everything Im learning.

Once again, thank you all for your help/responses


No problems Patrick, go with what works for you. 

Apr 16, 2024 - 7:01:17 AM
likes this

leehar

USA

323 posts since 2/18/2018

You have gotten some great advice on chords, practice and progress. Your question about the two RK model banjos is a good one. I think the main difference, from what I’ve read here on the Hangout, is the 20 is not actually built by RK and does not have a cast bronze tone ring. The rim is probably made of multiple plys. The 76 has a 3 lb bronze tone ring and a 3 ply maple rim. This gives you the depth and volume you need to be heard in a bluegrass setting.
If you are seriously considering the 76 I believe you ought to also check out the Gold Tone OB-3 and the Gold Star GF100 banjos. They are comparable in quality and price. I got my GF100FE from Ross Nickerson. If you look at his demos of that model he is playing my banjo! He told me he wanted to create some demos with it before he shipped it to me. It is a fantastic banjo.

Apr 16, 2024 - 7:06:20 AM
like this

4827 posts since 3/28/2008

You might also look into the RK-35 and RK-36. They're not as fancy as the RK-76, but every bit as stageworthy.

Good luck!

Apr 16, 2024 - 7:15:42 AM
likes this

79648 posts since 5/9/2007

Find time to regularly play with a guitar player.
Many questions are answered in the doing of it.

Apr 16, 2024 - 7:57:05 AM
likes this

42 posts since 4/14/2024

Leehar: yeah, those are the kinds of things I was wondering about... why is a 3 ply rim better than a multiple ply rim? etc. I have already checked out all of the Gold Tones and Gold Stars you mentioned plus a few more. I did my homework looking and listening to literally dozens of different banjos from Gold Tone, Gold Star, Deering, Huber, and Hatfield to name a few. Cant explain it, I just really like that RK 76 even though I know that technically many of those others are supposed to be better the 76 sounds and looks like, to me anyways, what Scruggs et al were playing back in the 40's, 50's, and 60's.
Ira: I did look at the 36, but I really don't care much for the "flying eagle/seagull" inlay design. I know, kind of a silly reason and if they did have the "hearts/flowers" design on the 36 that would be the one I would probably go for. I dont know about the rest of you all but $1800 for the 76 is a decent size chunk of change.
Steve: actually I will be playing with a guitar player before too long. My GF's daughter has been learning the guitar and we plan on playing together after we both learn a few songs.
Thanks again all!

Apr 16, 2024 - 8:33:02 AM

3495 posts since 4/19/2008
Online Now

Apr 16, 2024 - 9:01:10 AM

BobbyE

USA

3501 posts since 11/29/2007

>>Leehar: yeah, those are the kinds of things I was wondering about... why is a 3 ply rim better than a multiple ply rim? etc.<<

There is less glue in a three ply rim than in a multi-ply. Wood transfers vibrations better than glue that holds the plies together. And that is assuming the wood plies are the same wood in both rims and not some plywood stuff in some rims that would consist of more glue than wood.

Bobby

Apr 16, 2024 - 9:50:40 AM

15219 posts since 6/2/2008

The current version of the RK-20, with the same headstock as the RK-35/36 "Madison" series banjos, is built in-house by Recording King. It is no longer a contract-made re-badge. As a result, it has certain improvements, including RK's US-threaded hardware and a Presto tailpiece, instead of the Waverly that usually arrives from Chinese factories strung up incorrectly.

The current RK-20 also is a brown color with plain resonator back, not the reddish with concentric rings. It's a great student banjo.

Patrick: You've received other good answers on the significant differences between the RK-Elite-75 and RK-20. Before settling on the RK-75, be aware that it has a longer "scale length" (distance from nut to bridge) than most banjos: 27-3/8 inches vs the typical 26-3/8 or 26-1/4.  This increases the distance between frets, which can be more comfortable up high but possibly a stretch down low (in first few frets). Or you may not feel it at all.

For the same money as a new RK-Elite, you can get the highly regarded Gold Star GF-100, available in various Gibson-copy inlays, same as the RK. Their GF-100-JD is a close to exact copy of the banjo played by JD Crowe on the Bluegrass Album Band record. That banjo was owned by the founder of Saga Music, in San Francisco, near where the album was recorded in 1981. The banjo was thoroughly measured and the parts duplicated as precisely as possible.

The Gold Tone OB-3 "Twanger" -- designed by the team at Banjo Ben's General Store -- is inspired by that same banjo, but isn't the same level of duplication, and to the best of my awareness was produced without JD's involvement.

So those are the top three banjos running about $1800-$2000 new that you could be looking at.

The Recording King RK-35 (matte, maple) and 36 (gloss, mahogany) has the exact same "pot" (body) as the RK-75 (rim, tone ring, flange, hardware) but costs about $500 less thanks to economies in the other parts and who knows what else. It's probably the most frequently recommended banjo for someone wanting a serious professional quality instrument without a large investment. I prefer the gloss mahogany of the 36, but plenty of people like the matte finish maple of the 35. A redesign not too many years ago darkened the color to even out the appearance of the maple and that's been an improvement in my opinion.

Apr 16, 2024 - 11:05:22 AM
likes this

15219 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

. . . why do beginning books even have you learn 2 or 3 finger chords? Why not just learn the F's, D's and barres?


Because most of the time when you're playing a tune, you don't need all the notes on all the strings. Why fret a string you're not going to play?

For example, if you don't pick the 4th string in a particular measure why fret its notes in a 4-string version of the current chord? If the current chord is C and the measure doesn't call for the low E on 4th string, you can fret just the notes on 1st and 2nd strings and make all the music required for that measure.

I can't describe all the musical situations in which only "partial" chords are fretted, but the reason for fretting only partials is always the same: the other notes aren't currently needed.

That being said, since I can make 4-finger chords pretty quickly (and so will you, probably soon) I often find myself making full chords even though I know I don't need them. After 52 years of playing (started in 1972 at 21), my left hand sometimes has a mind of its own. The only advantage of doing this is if I hit an unintended string, the note will still fit.

Maybe it comes from habit, since we do frequently make 4-finger chords for backup, and in real-life playing situations we spend far more time playing backup than lead. So we come by the tendency to make 4-finger chords honestly.

But I think it's bad form, because using all four fingers to fret un-needed notes leaves no finger available to fret nearby non-chord notes, which is something you'll be doing lots of in the future. That's another big reason for 2- and 3-note partials. You'll discover this when you learn Sally Goodin' or the up-the-neck verse to Foggy Mountain Breakdown. You can't play those if all four fingers are holding chords.

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

I also don't understand what an "inversion" is/means?


An inversion is a chord (typically the three notes called a "triad") stacked in a different order and specifically with a different note on the bottom. The order of the remaining two notes doesn't matter.

It takes a little bit of theory to explain. I'll try to keep it minimal. Sorry if I don't succeed.

Every chord (we'll stick to major and minor) is a three-note/triad consisting of a "root" note ("one") and notes at the third and fifth "intervals" (musical distance) above it. The third determines whether the chord is major or minor. We won't detour into major and minor thirds today.

In their root form, chords are built (some people say "spelled") by starting on the root note (the "one" note), then skipping notes until you have three. For example, to build a G chord, start with G, skip A, use B, skip C, and use D. You have G-B-D.  The notes are 1-3-5 starting on G. Since the interval from G to B is a major third, this is the G major triad or chord. (There are more rules for this, such as using only the notes in a chosen scale or key. But we can skip that for now and just build this chord out of context, since the notes work.)

On the banjo, if you play only strings 3-2-1 (GBD), you're playing the root position G triad, since G (root) is the lowest note.

These three notes are always a G Major chord, regardless of their order. Which means B-D-G, B-G-D, D-G-B, D-B-G and G-D-B  are all G major.  The only difference is the versions with B or D as the lowest note are different "inversions."

When the third is at the bottom (taking the place of the root) that's "first inversion." In the case of G major, that means putting the B on bottom.

When the fifth is at the bottom, that's "second inversion." In the case of G major, that means D on the bottom

So . . . the barre, "F" and "D" shapes are different inversions of major triads (chords) because they put different notes on the bottom. That's it and that's all.

I think the only reason for you to know the meaning of "inversion" at this stage is that since you've already been introduced to the concept of playing the same named chord in different shapes in different locations on the fingerboard, you might as well know the musical term for what those are.

I'm not sure there's much more reason to know the meaning of inversion.

Good luck.

Apr 16, 2024 - 11:08:30 AM
likes this

3785 posts since 4/5/2006

Patrick1962: The total of the questions you are asking comes under the heading TMI, Too Much Information! Guaranteed to turn your brain to mush within minutes. Best to print & save for future reference. One foot at a time.

During the '60's, written instruction on BG banjo was next to non-existent. Most thought of anything coming from a 5-string banjo as low class hillbilly garbage. In fact, the term Bluegrass had yet to catch on as a style of music. There were a few odd TV shows featuring what, at the time, was simply referred to as country music. Hardly anyone stocked recordings of it, either. Unless you lived in Appalachia, Kentucky, or Tennessee, good luck finding anyone who actually played this stuff, let alone had any working knowledge of music theory. At 20 something, anyone twice your age is old.

So here I am, in Los Angeles, California with a pawn shop special, long neck 5-string resonator banjo, looking for someone to show me how to play it like the guy sometimes on the Andy Griffith show. Walt Beeman played Ragtime banjo accompaniment to upright piano & sing along music at Shakey's Pizza. Although he had difficulty comprehending anyone wanting to learn to play an instrument of questionable capability, he agreed to take me on. After two years study under Walt, I had the fundamentals down, music theory 101, along with half a dozen songs, & the Scruggs book. Armed with an antique S.S. Stewart (upgraded?) banjo, I struck out for a BG Festival for the first time.

I was shocked, completely taken aback by the discovery of a whole new world. Not only were these long haired hippies well versed in Bluegrass, they were all playing expensive pre-war Gibson banjos! All of this within an hour's drive from home! I found a lonesome tree under which to sulk & play what I could all by my lonesome.  Soon, I was joined by another novice banjo player. Roger & I exchanged phone numbers & started getting together occasionally. Thanks to Roger, Roy called one day wanting to get together & pick. Roy knew his way around the block. Not only did he play banjo, guitar, & sing, his banjo was a gold-plated Gibson Mastertone, equipped with Scruggs tuners! I learned a lot about BG, music, picking technique, & instruments, just by association, with Roy, & dozens of other accomplished Bluegrass musicians. I'm still learning, although it makes much more sense now.

Find someone who knows their way around the block to pick with. Doing so flattens the learning curve considerably, & it's a rather steep curve.

Edited by - monstertone on 04/16/2024 11:22:30

Apr 16, 2024 - 11:36:30 AM
like this

62066 posts since 12/14/2005

And when you're ready for a better banjo, remember that right here on the Hangout, people who LOVE banjos will oftimes put a nice banjo on the Marketplace, at a decent price.

Apr 16, 2024 - 3:50:17 PM
likes this

3357 posts since 5/2/2012

Many things contribute to the cost of a banjo. Quality of the hardware, the tone ring, type of wood, pot construction, the amount of labor/handwork, cosmetic things (figure of wood, inlays, etc.), overhead, not to mention the cost of the tools and machinery it can take to build a banjo. That helps explain why one banjo costs costs 3x as much as another. The tone you seem to be listening for (pre-war Gibson) is a mix of the banjo itself, the way it is set up, and the magic of the player. Your goals are to play for and with others. Most ordinary people won't know or appreciate the difference between the sound of your current POS banjo and a Gibson or good Gibson "copy"..but you will. You have lots of good choices in the $1000-2000 range, both new and used. So take your time and choose wisely. This next purchase may well be the last banjo you buy, so get that banjo that speaks to you. Welcome to the HO, by the way.

Apr 16, 2024 - 6:49:06 PM

42 posts since 4/14/2024

Ok then...wow...feeling a little overwhelmed...didn't expect everyone to be so helpful. Answered my questions and even answered questions I hadn't even thought of but probably would have eventually.
Ken: thanks for the info on 2, 3, and 4 finger chording and inversions..makes perfect sense. Also thanks for the info on the RK 20...one thing I still don't understand is why, with all of the improvements you mentioned with the new 20's, why are they still considered a "beginner" or "student" banjo?
JD: I have been doing exactly as you suggested...been saving all kinds of stuff for future reference...and with the help of so many people here I am finally wrapping my head around basic music theory as it relates to the banjo..although I cant practice for more than an hour or so I can still read up on different aspects of banjo theory and practice...I actually enjoy doing that. As for finding someone to play with..well...although I'm not good enough for that yet I do plan on going to a local jam that's done every Sunday afternoon and just listen and learn how jams are done..its kinda difficult for me to be around large groups of people but will definitely be good for me.
Once again, thanks to everybody for being so helpful

Apr 16, 2024 - 8:41 PM

15219 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

... thanks for the info on the RK 20...one thing I still don't understand is why, with all of the improvements you mentioned with the new 20's, why are they still considered a "beginner" or "student" banjo?


Reasonable question.

With its thin wood rim and lightweight hoop-style tone ring, the RK-20 is not capable of the range of tones one can get from a banjo with 3-ply rim and approximate 3-pound bronze alloy tone ring.  It lacks the volume and clarity of the professional grade banjos mentioned earlier. It's fine for learning on because it's built to be playable. And sure you could take it to a jam or some gigs, but it's limited.

Still, it's probably better than what you're playing now, so if you don't want to spend more, you could get an RK-20 to serve you until you really need something better.

Apr 16, 2024 - 10:03 PM

42 posts since 4/14/2024

Thanks Ken...so..tone rings...Ive heard of hoop, bell brass cast, and JLS...what can you tell me about tone rings? I mean, yeah, they obviously have something to do with the tone, but how exactly does that work?

Apr 16, 2024 - 10:51:31 PM

15219 posts since 6/2/2008

JLS is a maker/brand of tone rings. Not a different type or category.

For the rest, that's a big question. I'll find some links.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 04/16/2024 22:51:54

Apr 17, 2024 - 6:28:30 AM
likes this

3357 posts since 5/2/2012

Tone rings, worthy of a thread of its own.... here is an old thread about that very subject, which Ken (Old Hickory) contributed to. He'll find you some links.   Design, material (steel, aluminum, brass,  even wood) and manufacturing seem to be the factors in making a tone ring.  Cost can range from somewhere around $50  to hundreds of dollars.  My first banjo (open back) has what I call a tone hoop rather than a "real" tone ring, although in the specs of the banjo they call it a ring.  i have a vintage Fender Leo with what I consider a mystery metal tone ring (but still a "real" ring)  I have another banjo with a cast brass tone ring...huge difference in tone.     

Edited by - thisoldman on 04/17/2024 06:43:18

Apr 17, 2024 - 6:39:38 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17513 posts since 8/30/2006

many people are unaware how good a banjo player Old Hickory is.

You knocked on all the right doors, Patrick, welcome to the hangout. It's a garden here, we grow while the river flows.
I'm 78 this year, way too young for this.
I build my own banjos and play them on stage. I'm a recording King dealer and have privileges with various suppliers, I have a 45 member user group.

I also do rim changeouts because I have a trademarked rim.

This means I've seen all the major brands here in my shop for change, set up and personal specs. I know who don't wear no "Yes I do's."

The last RK -R20 I did now sports a Black Walnut rim the with same rolled flatbar tone ring. Not all grain alignments work the same.
I got to see an early R20 where shortcuts were discovered like pocket knife and blue tape.
I reported such to Greg Rich at Recording King/Music Link. He said he would be changing factories the following year and he did so.

I also have a stack of real crappy imported rims. They barely even have a knock note or tap tone. Some say tap tone doesn't matter, they are wrong.

The old Vega rims are highly regarded 7-plys.

IF you can find an R-35, you may have to look around, The used market here is just great.  Ask why it's for sale. 

It's a game of miles and inches. Each person has their own ears. I haven't heard two players want the same set up, strings, etc.

Rolled brass roundstock is still adequate with the right pair of hands. drop fit
Rolled brass flatbar is placed on a ledge that contacts the back and bottom of the flatbar so, much greater surface area like the RK-R20 and my personal banjos that I jam and perform with.
Next up would be the Tub-A-Phones and Whyte Laydies which play bluegrass just fine once you get past the Prejudice County Line.
Next and unheard mostly is the Cup-O-Phones (User group here)
The bronze crowd adds 3 pounds , but you have to have the right metallurgy for the Standard Gibson tone ring fit.
Recording King got a tone ring scan to 6 million dots per inch,
You get attack, sustain and decay on each banjo and setup. All three vary and provide mostly enough variation from old time to progressive bluegrass by young brained people of various ages.

I volunteer at www.fiddlersdream.org in Phoenix.  Come visit us, Ross Nickerson has performed 3 times, Mean Mary thrice also.  The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs were here recently.  It's an acoustic romp, no PA, Tomorrow and each Thursday night is open stage.

Fids gives us a fine format for hearing every kind of banjo on stage from Gourds to high-powered dragsters, Longneck Odes playing grass of blue and Parlor SS Stewarts crankin' the claw.

The best sounding rims in my opinion have had the time to mature and vintage in the hands of someone else, Initial design with just a 3-ply rim isn't always the best all around performer,  so buy used if you can.  Note  Johnnycake White's banjo building seminar at Fid's last year. 

We can help you here with set up questions and you can learn to do your own.  

Banjo is therapy because it is a verb, just keep swimming.  We will encourage you from afar.


Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Banjo Hangout. All Rights Reserved.





Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.3125