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For guitarists who love the banjo sound and play 6-string banjos.
Latest Activity: Apr 2
Started by henry b Oct 26, 2010.
Just thought I'd pass on a list of performers I've collected who play or have played 6-string banjo and would welcome feedback on others and information on these.
PLAYERS OF 6-STRING BANJO: Now and then
Johnny St. Cyr played in King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band with Lois Armstrong (1923)
Sam and Kirk McGee
Papa Charles Jackson
Rev. Gary Davis
wow! What a nice write up J.D. Thank so much for the time put in letting us know how you have selected certain guage strings for certain string locations. Thanks also for providing the info on bridge selection and amp choice.
It also struck a chord when you mentioned getting over the flack that we get from the purist banjo players, but you tend to ignore it when exploring the history of players of the 6- string banjo. Too many to mention and I just saw Keith Urban playing a 6-string banjo during a major network music show last month. When you note Harvey Reid, Harry Manx and Bela Fleck played the instrument the "guilt felling" does go away. For those who worry, ask yourself why Dean, Gold Tone, Derring and other major banjo makers continue to make them? Not to give it another thought and enjoy the sound.
Since I started this site, I have really enjoyed the feedback from all of you The mass of information has got to improve all our playing. Some of you have been professionally playing the 6-string banjo for many years and we value your imput. Please tell your friends to write in and tell us about your experience with this wonderful instrument.
Thanks for starting this. Ever since I started playing folk music as part of my income back in the late seventies, I've used a 6-string banjo. Back then, your choices were pretty limited. I decided to make one out of some raw laminated cylinders that I got from a guy who worked for a drum and cymbal company (forgot the name). I scavenged the neck off a crushed Kay acoustic guitar, bought the hardware and cobbled together something that worked for state park gigs. It wouldn't fool a real banjo player for more than 5 seconds but it worked for me.
And then, I think it was 2004, that I bought a slightly-used Gold Tone out of Titusville, FL (when they still made them in Titusville), and it's been drop-dead awesome! When you play an instrument like this, you sometimes feel that you're not being true to your music somehow and those little purist guilt feelings start pecking at the back of your consciousness. But after hearing Harvey Reid play one in concert, I thought, "Ok, this certainly legitimizes the 6-string banjo." Since then, I've not worried about it. Musical enjoyment is the thing.
But I unknowingly strung it like my Martin guitar, with medium-gauge phosphor-bronze strings. It took about 3 years or so, but the cast banjo tailpiece eventually bent and separated in two parts and I had to get it replaced. Gold Tone sent a replacement and since then I string it like this: 1st- 0.13; 2nd-0.17; 3rd-0.26; 4th-0.36; 5th-0.20; 6th-0.13. That arrangement has really worked well and it's gotta take a load of tension off the tailpiece.
I'm a die-hard flatpicker - always have been and too old to change now. So I alternate with some cross-picking and strumming to make it sound a little like a banjo roll. Doing that with a capo on the 7th can make a credible banjo sound, fooling some of the people some of the time. But like I said, it wouldn't fool a real 5-string player. Then I got to thinking that the power strumming I do to simulate the 4-string sound, may have put further tension on the tailpiece to where it eventually couldn't handle it. Gold Tone seems to manufacture a pretty hefty piece of hardware back there but it has its limits.
There are a couple of questions that I had. Thought some of you 6-string banjo guys could take a poke at them...
1.) I bought a Pick Up the World bridge pickup for it in case I'd ever need the extra amplification. It works pretty well through my Crate CA-60 but would anybody out there suggest a pre-amp for what I've got? There have been times when I've needed to run it through a PA system and needed some kind of pre-amplification.
2.) Also, a plectrum banjo-playing buddy of mine recommended that I get the stock Gold Tone bridge replaced with one that has a strip of bone running on top, under the strings. He claims that the bone really adds clarity and loudness (as if it needed to be louder acoustically!). Anybody ever heard of that?
Thanks for the discussion group, really enlightening and encouraging.
Nice job on the banjo. Thanks for contributing to the instrument world. With the Tele neck it is probably nice to finger. What strings did you settle on?
here is my latest creation. the combo rim/tone ring is made from 3/16 stainless stee/ much like the b6 derring, i made this 1/4 of an inch deeper (this adds a bit of bass) than the dering. it is a motified telecaster neck. i have one more in progress, I mostly build banjos and do upright bass reapir, but I was cleaning out my shop and thought this would be kinda fun to make.
I have listed this one on ebay and craiglist (nashville)SDC13122.JPG, SDC13124.JPG, SDC13125.JPG, SDC13126.JPG
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