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Real (5 string) banjo players


Real (5 string) banjo players

A group to promote and discuss the use of the 5 string banjo and it's different tunings

Location: Brampton, ON, Canada
Members: 26
Latest Activity: May 18

Discussion Forum

Deering Goodtime Banjo

I am thinking seriously of getting a Goodtime banjo and was surprised to see they offer so many models nowadays. After reading about them at the Deering site, I am still left with questions. Their…Continue

Tags: Banjo, Goodtime, Deering

Started by Michael S. Jackson Aug 17, 2013.

Earl Scruggs

MARCH 29, 2012 Dear Diary – I awoke a bit earlier than usual today because it is my birthday. Not that I look forward to getting older, now that I have significantly fewer Winters in front of me than…Continue

Tags: Gibson, bluegrass, banjo, Scruggs, Earl

Started by Michael S. Jackson May 9, 2012.

Porchlight Sessions

I hope you will bear with me for a moment. There is a new documentary underway entitled, "Porchlight Sessions" which delves into the history and development of bluegrass and the instruments used.…Continue

Tags: mandolin, fiddle, bluegrass, porchlight, banjo

Started by Michael S. Jackson Apr 2, 2012.

Tablature 3 Replies

I have been doing some research on tab and thought I'd share a bit of it and ask for your input on something I read.As you know, tab has been around a long time and it works well for fretted…Continue

Tags: social, tablature, tab

Started by Michael S. Jackson. Last reply by susi Lawson Nov 30, 2011.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Robert Williamson on May 18, 2015 at 1:53pm

Well, I don't have a banjo. I do have a Martin double-capoed to emulate a 5 string banjo

I modified the banjo emulation capoing from picture above. I moved Flexi-Capo to 14th fret, highest it can go on the Martin and added a capo at 4th fret.

Why am i doing this you may ask?. So that when I am trying banjos I won't look like a complete idiot trying to remember chord shapes learned and forgotten since 70's. I'd like to go in with a couple quick tunes under my belt. Wierdly, the first that fell under my fingers as i relearned Open G chords shapes, was Donovan's Colours! I never realized he did country :)

What am I looking for? No idea, Geared 5th string tuning for sure. Deering style headstock, resonator now or after market. Not particular about brand. as long as it didn't come out of a box of cereal.


Comment by Michael S. Jackson on March 29, 2012 at 10:19am

I'm sure that, by now, you have heard of Earl's passing. For me, although we've known for a while that Earl was getting up there, as I wrote to a friend this morning, it was a shock to wake up on my birthday, turn on the computer and find out that he has "walked the spirit path."

There was a link in the news report to the article Steve Martin wrote about Earl last January - great article; you should read it if possible.

I will play my old Granada today in Earl's memory and dedicate it all to him. I normally play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" when someone significant to me passes away. Today I will dedicate everything I play and I intend to try to recall everything I know. I can't think of a better way to remember Earl.

Sad, sad day but Earl lived a very full life and the world is better for his having been among us.

Rest in peace, Uncle Earl.


Comment by Michael S. Jackson on March 3, 2012 at 10:42am

Will do.

Like you, I recently got back into it and intended on being more technical. I even went so far as to read several articles on practicing and drafted up some graphs and logs to keep track of what I was doing, what to practice, etc.

All that seemed to go out the window as the other thing you mentioned took over and I just began playing for the fun of it! Lately I have been toying with the idea of making a list of everything I used to play and either playing them or, in some cases, relearning them.

Sure is fun! You got a great banjo there.

Comment by Brent Faloon on March 3, 2012 at 10:11am

I will indeed Michael. Preliminary indications are that the banjo is much better than I am :P Looking in the rearview mirror reveals that it has been more than 25 years since I have owned a banjo and this bicycle definitly has some rust that needs to be removed before I can 'get right back on'. My intent is to approach my relearning process from a more technical aspect than I may have as a younger and more impatient man...that said, the darn things are just so much FUN that I can't believe I waited this long to get back to it. As to sounds GOOD, the gentleman that I purchased it from is a decent player and I listened to it for quite a spell before I test drove it. Fit and finish are good as well and I am about as excited as I get to explore the possibilties...stay tuned. BF

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on March 3, 2012 at 8:44am

That's good news! Please submit a full report when you get a chance (in between playing).

Comment by Brent Faloon on March 3, 2012 at 6:48am

Well...I dun didit. I have acquired a Recording King Rk-35 Madison from a  private owner/collector who was thinning the herd. I am well pleased so far though of course when my finger are placing words here they are not making music so...carry on :)  Brent


Comment by Brent Faloon on February 26, 2012 at 2:09pm

Thank You  Michael. BF

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on February 26, 2012 at 10:06am

Brent - I had to give some lectures yesterday (about 12 hours worth) so I am late getting back to you.

I have a high respect for Recording King banjos (and guitars). Greg Rich (who used to design for Gibson) designs these and he adheres to the old pre-war specs and materials. When I cautioned about a decent set up, I had Recording King specifically in mind. They have the required components and are inherently capable of great sound. Things such as tailpiece, bridge, strings, etc. can be changed later on to suit your taste, but a basic set up by the seller should tell you what you need to know. The problem is, it's difficult to judge a banjo who's head is so limp that you can press it 1/4" or so, improperly intonated (bridge position), and strings so high you can bungee jump off of them.

I really dislike referring you to another site for more information, because it's bad form to do so in this site, but at you can read about a lot of banjo stuff and lately, on the Recording King Group, there have been quite a few posts on the RK-35. If you want to read about set-up on these (or any banjo), you can look up my home page (bohonkie) to see exactly how I set up my RK, the tailpiece I used, the strings, and the bridge (Snuffy Smith - hard to find now that he's gone but I've heard there are still a couple of places who have some). I also have a pre-war Granada you can read about and how my RK compares to that (excellent, by the way).

Good luck with your search. A lot of this is taste, of course, and playability is different from sound. Regarding sound, to me, if the banjo has that "...nice plunky sound" as Pete Seeger's daughter used to say, it's not a bluegrass banjo. If one displays some of the characteristics of the sound you hear on the Beverly Hillbillies... that's it. Clear, bright but with a good bass response on the low D string. Real presence and clarity in the higher register.... You get the idea.

If you're looking for a good sound, the RKs, Deerings, Pruchas, etc. will all give it to you. Gold Tone and Gold Star can be a hit or miss proposition and sometimes have manufacturing problems (though they are good at fixing them quickly). It's worth a few hundred more to get the sound you want.

I absolutely love banjos and will help in any way I can. All will work out well!


Comment by Brent Faloon on February 26, 2012 at 9:46am

Jim, thanks for the input. I hear what you are saying re: Gibson/Epiphone quality control and unfortunatly in my neck of the woods it is practically impossible to test drive and compare multiple copies of the same I said I *do* have serious reservations with the Epi because most likely I would only be able to lay hands on no more than two at one time for comparison.

Comment by Jim Handsfield on February 26, 2012 at 9:24am

Brent, last summer at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, NE, a couple of the bluegrass bands had banjo players using RK banjos and they sounded pretty good.  I've never played one so I can't address that.  I'd stay away from Epiphone banjos - Guitar Center has stopped carrying Epi instruments because of their overall poor quality.  Gibson quality control has always been iffy - one will be an absolute jewel and the next (the same model) can be a dud.  The good ones may be the best; the duds aren't worth squat.  If you're thinking about a Gibson, make sure you play it and listen to someone else play it before you plunk down your cash.


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