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What Banjo Do You Play?

GUEST,Chip A. 09 Apr 02 - 11:38 AM
mooman 09 Apr 02 - 11:49 AM
Steve Latimer 09 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM
Steve Latimer 09 Apr 02 - 12:01 PM
X 09 Apr 02 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Les B. 09 Apr 02 - 12:36 PM
Uncle_DaveO 09 Apr 02 - 12:46 PM
Jimmy C 09 Apr 02 - 01:03 PM
Rick Fielding 09 Apr 02 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,Chip A. 09 Apr 02 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,Bluebeard at work 09 Apr 02 - 05:58 PM
Charcloth 09 Apr 02 - 10:28 PM
Lynn 09 Apr 02 - 10:39 PM
GutBucketeer 09 Apr 02 - 10:58 PM
Coyote Breath 09 Apr 02 - 11:12 PM
Lonesome Gillette 10 Apr 02 - 12:00 AM
Coyote Breath 10 Apr 02 - 12:31 AM
Auxiris 10 Apr 02 - 02:24 AM
Mooh 10 Apr 02 - 05:03 AM
BanjoRay 10 Apr 02 - 08:05 AM
John P 10 Apr 02 - 08:09 AM
Jon Freeman 10 Apr 02 - 08:20 AM
RangerSteve 10 Apr 02 - 08:30 AM
Uncle Jaque 10 Apr 02 - 09:29 AM
Charley Noble 10 Apr 02 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Russ 10 Apr 02 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,Chip A. 10 Apr 02 - 10:49 AM
X 10 Apr 02 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Russ 10 Apr 02 - 01:15 PM
Steve Latimer 10 Apr 02 - 02:13 PM
Mark Ross 10 Apr 02 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Chip A. 10 Apr 02 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Chip A. 10 Apr 02 - 03:00 PM
Mooh 10 Apr 02 - 03:21 PM
X 10 Apr 02 - 04:09 PM
BlueSage 11 Apr 02 - 03:09 AM
Steve Latimer 11 Apr 02 - 10:10 AM
Art Thieme 13 Apr 02 - 06:14 PM
greg stephens 13 Apr 02 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Spot (GUEST) 14 Apr 02 - 09:47 AM
X 14 Apr 02 - 12:13 PM
lardingo 14 Apr 02 - 01:51 PM
Orpheum 15 Apr 02 - 11:19 AM
X 15 Apr 02 - 11:34 AM
Mark Clark 15 Apr 02 - 12:09 PM
Steve Latimer 15 Apr 02 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Mark Ross, on the road 15 Apr 02 - 12:28 PM
Steve Latimer 15 Apr 02 - 12:40 PM
Mark Clark 15 Apr 02 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Bob 15 Apr 02 - 01:24 PM
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Subject: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 11:38 AM

I play a Bart Reiter internal resonator with a Bacon type tone ring. My "fakin' bacon". I keep thinking I'd like to have a big resonator/heavy tone ring type for greater volume. Maybe an old paramount...... I love my Reiter, though.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: mooman
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 11:49 AM

Lyon and Healy short-scale tenor, Chicago circa 1925, with fixed "plate type" resonator. Simple tone ring and maple pot and neck.

Mine is not an especially loud banjo but is very sweet sounding which is what I like about it.

Best regards,

mooman


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 12:01 PM

Sorry, I hit the wrong button.

I have an Aria Pro 5-String. It's basically a Masterclone, Heavy Tone Ring, Resonator, Tree of Liefe inlay. I bought it recently through the Mudcat Auction, it belonged to Charcloth before who replaced it with an open back which suits the style of music that he plays better than the Aria, which is basically a Bluegrass Banjo. I love the sound of it. I didn't realize how much until I picked up my old Aluminium Pot Mansfield the other day. There is no comparison between the two.

It's interesting how much easier the Aria is to play than the Mansfield. The tone and action are just so much better that you don't have to work nearly as hard to get the sound out of it. Perhaps one day I'll get an old Mastertone, but I suspect that will be a long way down the road.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: X
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 12:31 PM

I play the "M" word banjos. I have two. One's a 1937 Gibson RB-12. ALL orginal except the tuners, (I have them in a box) the head and strings. It's been refretted a time or two. The other one is a 1972 RB-250. It has a Cathy 12 tonering on a Bill Sullivan rim. It's my working banjo. With the Cathy 12 ring and the Sullivan rim believe it or not, it sounds ALMOST and I do say almost like an old RB-3. If I lost the RB-12 I would cry so it stays at home. If I lost the RB-250, it would hurt but I don't think I would cry over it.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 12:36 PM

A Gold Star 5-string archtop with resonator. I got it slightly used about 15 years ago for a good price. I like the tone, and the way it plays up the neck. Before that I played a $60 no-name beater from a pawn shop -- what a piece of junk. But I learned my first tunes on it.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 12:46 PM

After learning for a period of time with a pawnshop junker, I had Mike Ramsey, of Chanterelle Banjos, build me a Ramsey Special. It's an eleven-inch open-back pot, blonde curly maple, with bubinga trim and ebony fingerboard, scooped, Fiberskyn head, and with one custom inlay, which I'm about to tell you a long story about. Have patience.

When my Beautiful Wife and I were four-month newlyweds, 38 years ago, I had an extreme rush job at work, with the result to be delivered next morning. I called the B.W. and told her not to wait up; I'd be home maybe at two o'clock. She wasn't thrilled, but that was life.

Lo and behold, the NEXT day, in the same context, I had another rush order, bigger this time, for next-morning delivery. "Dorrie, I'm going to be down here again tonight till all hours. Don't know when I'll be home." I did in fact get home and fall into bed at four o'clock, for about three hours sleep.

That got rid of that special-order situation. I said with a grin to my four-month bride, "I hope you didn't think there was another woman." "Well, the thought HAD crossed my mind!"

I spent a lot of late hours (not usually as extreme as that example) and weekend hours in the office over the following 36 years, and my wife and I developed a mythical "other woman" to explain it. My "mistress" at the office was Olga, a statuesque and bosomy blonde Swedish masseuse type with braids coiled around her head.

When I retired a few years ago and took up the banjo, my wife said, "I suppose you've just got ANOTHER mistress!" And so when I showed her my new custom-built Ramsey Special, there at the twelfth fret was the inlaid name, OLGA!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Jimmy C
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 01:03 PM

I play a Framus plectrum most of the time. It has a good solid banjo sound. I also have a Bacon Blue Ribbon Tenor (circa 1896), a real joy to play, very soft and melodious.. The Framus I could live without but to lose the Bacon would cause severe depression.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 01:35 PM

Huge banjo fan here. Had many (and oh how I wished I'd hung on to a couple of them.....coulda bought a new house for what they'd be worth today)

Started off with a "melmac" Harmony, went to a Vega F-W 5, and then found a neat turn of the century Cole's 'Eclipse'. Got a 1923 Deluxe Vegaphone and had it converted to a five string, and played that for years. In the eighties I had a Six String Deering built for me, that apparently is owned now by someone in The Bare Naked Ladies (haven't seen it on an album cover so I'm not sure)

In the early eighties I started to get very impressed with the Ibanez Mastertone copies, and have owned three of them since then....great banjos at very little money. Really good to travel with, 'cause if anything bad happens, it's not like having to replace a Mastertone.

Currently I've got two Ibanez five strings from the seventies....one converted to a frailing banjo and tuned down to E, and one set up for bluegrass. Oh...and one little teeny Vega Banjo Uke.

Had a few tenors as well, the best of which was an old Orpheum.....but I just never got into the tenor tuning on a serious basis....maybe I will someday.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 02:41 PM

One of my favorite old banjoes was home made with a 6" p.v.c. pipe to stretch the hide over. I delivered my (now 25 years old) daughter in the back bedroom and within the hour she heard her first banjo music played on that old 5 string. Now she's talking about learning the fiddle. I also had a Fender open back which played like a dream! I'd love to have that one back!


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Bluebeard at work
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 05:58 PM

I have a Bart Reiter "Special" that I love ! 11" pot and rolled brass tone ring. Maple and rosewood. That man makes fine banjos.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Charcloth
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 10:28 PM

Saga SS10 & Ramsey Chanterelle standard. Love them both for that old Timey sound. I'm glad Steve Latimer has my old Aria. I ain't no bluregrass musician ya know.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Lynn
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 10:39 PM

David - GREAT STORY!!! And God bless you both for keeping it all together and IN PERSPECTIVE!!!

When doing my recording in 95 I purchased a Kalamazoo tenor banjo with a natural skin head. Played it like a tenor for the recording. Then that fall I fell (jumped, actually) and broke my ankle, laying me up for a month or more. I retuned the banjo to CGCG and developed an absurd flailing technique which seemed to work for some old time tunes. Still play it that way.

I learned later the war-time Gibsons were given the Kalamazoo name because they couldn't get the quality of materials they wanted. More puzzling is the bridge, which has "SS Stewart" stamped on it. Thought it was a ship (!!!) until I discovered the old banjo manufacturer by that name.

It's loud. In a good auditorium I have to back off from the mike to keep from overpowereing the audience.

Gotta go.

Lynn


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 10:58 PM

Wow! I am amazed at the number of 4 string players here! In the last year I have gravitated toward my Bruno 18 fret (one hangs over the head)open back tenor and my banjo uke's. I tune the tenor like a baritone uke.

I still have my 5 strings and will get back to clawhammer eventually, but I kept wanting to figure out how to do all that rythmic strumming I heard on the Double Decker String Band, the Dallas String band, the Horseflies and other more jug/jazz old-time. The answer was use a tenor!

JAB Gutbucketeer.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 11:12 PM

Hmmm I too am amazed at the number of 4 stringers. Do you folks play Irish or Dixie or ...what? I'd truly like to know.

I play a Saga (a kit which I built about 1974 and have modified considerably) and an Alvarez which started life as a bluegrass sort of banjo but modified THAT too and I am giving serious consideration to a Reiter fretless which has been hanging around at a local "folk" music store for over a year. It needs a home and keeps looking at me with such an expression of longing that I am inclined to give it a home. As you might guess, I don't play bluegrass, I'm stuck back in the 19th century with maximum modernity pegged around 1932. I don't dare thing about the banjoes I have had and wished I had kept because I don't think that tears are good for a computer keyboard.

CB


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Lonesome Gillette
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 12:00 AM

I have a Bart Reiter "Special" that I love ! 11" pot and rolled brass tone ring. Maple and rosewood. That man makes fine banjos.

(I didn't need to change a word, thanks bluebeard)

Hey Chip A, how do you like the internal resonator setup? how does it compare to a regular openback.

I also play bluegrass on a Deering Mapleblossom. It's a good solid middle of the road bluegrass banjo in serious need of a fret job.

I made a 5-string with a 20" head, you can see Pete Wernik playing it on the Mugwumps website, I don't know the link address but it's a funny photo. That banjo makes anyone who plays it look like a little kid.

Another one I have is a wierd 3 string african banjo with a snake skin head. The frets on it are a good 1/2" high, really! They are more like fret "blades". Great for bending the strings.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 12:31 AM

Was that 20" head once a Bodhran? Just kidding. I'd love to see that African banjo. I'll bet that the frets are high just for the purpose of string bending. It would give the musician additional tones by varying finger pressure.

CB


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Auxiris
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 02:24 AM

I have an Ome Single X 5-string open-back banjo which I was fortunate enough to get my hands on at a good price because it has a chip or two off the back of the head. Just another case of being in the right place at the right time, once again. Apparently Ome doesn't make the Single X anymore; they've replaced it with another model these days. It isn't a fancy banjo, only dot inlays on a rosewood fretboard and the pot is laminated, but it has a wonderfully sweet sound and I wouldn't trade it for another, however carved and and dripping with abalone.

cheers,

Aux


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 05:03 AM

Once had an Orpheum No.1. tenor banjo on a long term loan. Fabulous banjo! Wish I knew what happened to it. Today the only banjo I've got is a decent Washburn 5 string, but I dream of banjo heaven.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 08:05 AM

I now play clawhammer on a Lo Gordon D2 (Dwight Diller model) banjo with rosewood rim and tonering and a stripey maple neck - sounds like dark organic chocolate. I also have a Deering Sierra that I have a very long term plan to learn Scruggs picking on -but don't count on it! Before the Lo Gordon, I used it with the resonator off and stuffed the head with a sponge for Old Time - the flange left a groove in my leg.

My oldest current banjo is an El Cheapo Korean made Gremlin aluminium bodied banjo, which actually doesn't sound too bad - I glued some foam sleeping pad round the inside of the rim to remove some of the hollow aluminium overtones it used to have. The action is easily adjustable, unlike most banjos, and I can quickly take the neck off to put it into my luggage for taking it on holiday.

The Lo Gordon is the only one I play in sessions though!

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: John P
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 08:09 AM

Bart Reiter "Whyte Lady"


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 08:20 AM

Kildare 17 fret tenor - a masterclone style - one of Sully's

Dulcetta 19 fret tenor (not played it in ages though and it's on loan to someone).

Belltone Mandolin-banjo.

Jon


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: RangerSteve
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 08:30 AM

My main banjo is a Deering copy of a Vega Little Wonder. I keep a miniature Saga (17 frets) next to my computer to play when some sites are slow in down-loading.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 09:29 AM

It seems that CB and I are among a small minority of really antiquarian pickers.

My first 5-string was inherited from an elder Brother who used to pal around with one of the Shaw Brothers, but quickly found out that music was not to be his calling and the Sears & Sawbuck el-cheapo was handed down for me to noodle with, which I have been doing for the past 35 years or more without really achieving any particular virtuosity of note... but it certainly is an interesting instrument and a lot of fun once one figures out how to tune the bloody thing up.
The original friction pegs, being a constant source of frustration, were replaced by tuning machines salvaged from an old busted guitar, and that helped considerably. I used to sling it over my shoulder and tear around New Hampshire on a motorcycle with it, took it to Florida for a Winter's hotel employment at Pompano Beach, and when I answered my Country's call in 1967 and was stationed in South Korea the following year Mom packed it up in a box of popcorn and shipped it over so that I could annoy my Barracksmates with it. Somewhere along the line it picked up the name "Old Traveller" (no relation to General Robert E. Lee's Horse) for obvious reasons.

After settling down in Maine, I was perusing a Portland Music Shop which specialized in used, off-the-wall instruments and happened upon a Vega "Folkmaster" 5-pinger standing in the corner covered with dust. For some reason the neck had gotten screwed on twisted a little, causing the bass string to "buzz" on the lower frets. Being a bit of a Yankee Tinkerer, that did not seem to be an insurmountable problem, and when it was offered for $150 with the case, along home it went. A little wooden shim under the bass side of the bridge compensated for the twisted neck, and we have been getting along just fine ever since. Since Aunt Ma'thah (Mrs. Uncle Jaque)deplores banjo music almost as much as she does the kazoo, all banjoing (and pipe - smoking) is relegated to the outdoors.

After the Vega came to live with us, "Old Traveller" was not forgotten; I had taken up a longstanding dream of Civil War Reenacting, and was desireous of a period "Minstrel" banjo, having learned that they were considerably more popular than guitars at the time, and much of the music of the era was written for them.
Now Mr. George Wunderlich makes some fine replica period banjoes, but I was hard pressed to raise the price of one.. so down to the shop went Ol' Traveller. What emerged is probably not anything that would pass a purists muster, but it is close enough for me to practice the "stroke" period style on, and give a general idea of what the period banjoes sounded like. The neck was replaced with a hard maple fretless version with black walnut tuning pegs, and the plastic head was replaced with a slab of bass - drum natural skin. I don't know how many of you-all have hooped and mounted a natural banjo head before, but I'm here to tell you that it is an interesting procedure indeed! Thankfully our Drum Major guided and assisted, or I never would have gotten it on the 11" pot ("real" Minstrel banjoes usually ran anywhere from 12" to 14" or so pots.).
Then we rigged her up with gut strings from Boston Catlines, and away we went - and now it certainly is an interesting proposition, and a lot of fun to boot.
I have even taken to tuning the Vega down to the old "Low Bass" Minstrel tuning (about Ab, or 2 1/2 steps below modern "Bluegrass" tuning) as it suits my voice better.

Someday I hope to build a really authentic Civil - War period 5-string, but for now we are well enough rigged, I reckon.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 10:36 AM

I would certainly add my compliments to the banjo work of Bart Reiter, whose banjo may be purchased from Elderly Instruments of Lansing, MI.

My first old time 5-string was a Fairbanks & Cole, followed by my current favorite a S.S. Stewart Orchestra model 2 from around the early 1890's. I still haven't found another banjo which compares favorably to the mellow sound that I get from this Stewart but I'm still looking around; I've been refurbishing another S.S.Stewart, a Special Thoroughbred with an unusual copper plated pot and brass hardware accessories, which is nice enough but not better in terms of tone.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 10:46 AM

Mike Ramsey Bacon, George Wunderlich Boucher skinhead with gut strings, Clifford Essex skinhead with nylon strings.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 10:49 AM

Lonesome Gillette,

I like the internal resonator fine. This is the only banjo I've had with a Bacon style tone ring. I pick the thing in a drop thumb, 2 finger style and it works real well. I'm not sure how much, if any, projection the resonator gives. When I play in a large jam I do wish it was a little louder. The fit and general quality of this banjo is excellent and I'd recommend Reiter banjoes to anyone.

Chip A.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: X
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 12:44 PM

Oh come on!! Am I the only guy out there that plays old Mastertones? Come on bluegrassers, what do you pick?


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 01:15 PM

Banjoest,
All the bluegrassers are over on Banjo-L.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 02:13 PM

Russ,

There are Bluegrassers here too, just with much smaller budgets than Banjoest's. I don't thinkt that there is one of us here who isn't drooling over his '37 RB-12. Heck, I think my 2000 car is worth less than that though.

One day.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 02:22 PM

I'm an old-timey banjo player, but my preference is the 1927 Mastertone Archtop with a repro neck(which has been busted a few times). Strung with heavy strings(12, 14, 16, 26, 11)I don't have to make use of a mic for the most part.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 02:53 PM

Not a bluegrasser but I'd love to have a mastertone! Will Keys, one of my banjo heroes has a big old LOUD Paramount. If you're not having to pull the strings off the thing to be heard, you can focus more on tone and accent.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 03:00 PM

I should have added in the last post that I don't wear picks. Also, clawhammer pickers can get a lot more volume than finger pickers. The old timers in my area (mostly gone now) tended to be 2 finger pickers rather than frailers. Those who didn't have a big resonator banjo would have if they could have. In fact, the weight of their banjo was a matter of pride.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 03:21 PM

Someone suggested to me once that wanting a guitjo was kinda like being the banjo player among banjo players...like, one who banjo players look down on. I was humiliated, but I still want a Deering guitjo.

I'm not coming back to this thread! I got drool on my shirt...

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: X
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 04:09 PM

Hey Steve:

I got the 37' back in 68' in an Albuquerque, New Mexico pawn shop. The owner of the pawn shop had the banjo in the store for five years and he wanted to "get that damn banjo out of here." I got it for under $1,000 and I was unhappy with it at first. I didn't like the "simple" inlay, the peghead wasn't fiddle cut and because of the funny looking tension hoop. I goes to show, you never can tell.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: BlueSage
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 03:09 AM

I'm impressed by all of the players using Bart Reiter banjos! Anyone else using long necks?

My banjos:

Bart Reiter - open back.

Vega "Seeger" long neck (make by Deering).

Stelling Staghorn - my bluegrass ax.

S. S. Stewart banjerine (spelling?) - strung with nylon strings.

.....Mike


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 10:10 AM

Banjoest,

That's quite a story. Imagine not liking it. I'm surprised that even back then and the fact that he wanted to get rid of it that it was still around $1,000. Of course in todays market...


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 Apr 02 - 06:14 PM

Ah, nostalgia !

Art


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Apr 02 - 06:27 PM

I play an old(1920's?? I know nothing) John Gray tenor banjo with a gorgeous islamic pattern brass back.Skin head, nuisance in wet cold placesin winter but electric fire and hairdriers help. Friction pegs, but what the hell its old. Tunes traditional tenor CGDA...capo on 2nd fret for most Brit/Irish type stuff, take the capo off if I find myself in brassy/jazzy company. Did a bit of fingerpicking on it on my latest record for the first time, was well received. Might develop that.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Spot (GUEST)
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 09:47 AM

Cant believe only one of you guys play a Stelling!! I bought a Bellflower after being disillusioned with trying out at least half a dozen Mastertones. For me it blows away everything else......!! Just wish it wasn't so b****y heavy!! Regards to all


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: X
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 12:13 PM

Stellings are fine banjos! If I didn't have "my" banjo at the time Geoff started making them I think I would have got one. But you know? Stellings are loud but the tone is a bit shallow for me. That's not saying it's bad, just a bit shallow FOR ME. I don't think you can beat the tone and timber of an OLD Mastertone. They all may not be loud but oh how sweet.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: lardingo
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 01:51 PM

I have played a Stelling Starflower since the 70's. I have #76. I actually prefer the sound of the old Mastertones, but I'm too cheap to buy one.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Orpheum
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 11:19 AM

I just picked up a long neck Gibson RB175 recently (from John Bernunzio). I traded an old Fairbanks-Cole and Buckbee for it. I love the lightweight old ones, but wanted something modern I could play without worrying much about. I'd love a Reiter or Ramsey (or some such) but the Gibson was available and affordable.

For a tenor I use a lovely Orpheum 2 and occasionally a Vega F. Orpheums are neat because they are good but undervalued instruments. I also have an Orpheum 1, mandolin banjo, but there is only so much time in a day.

David


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: X
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 11:34 AM

lardingo:

You must have gotten your Stelling when he was on Kenwood Dr. in Spring Valley, CA.

Get this, Geoff liked to have cook-outs in his back yard and he didn't use charcoal, he used banjo necks and resonators. We would go and get our hotdog and the barbecue would be full of Stellings. All this hard wood, $1,000's of Stellings going up in smoke cooking weeners. A mandolin playing buddy of mine saved a resonator from the fire and made a clock out of it. Man,thoses were the days.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 12:09 PM

Sadly, my answer to the subject question is “none.”

I do, however, own a very nice banjo, it just doesn't get out of its case very often. Typically, I take it out on the back deck which overlooks a wooded revine on the first spring day that's warm enough to sit out and play. This year, that happened yesterday. I had a great time and was remeinded of what a nice banjo it is.

My banjo was hand-built in 1971 by then luthier Jan Michael. He made it to my specifications. It's basically an archtop Mastertone with a very fast laminated neck and a fiddle shaped peg head. Much of the hardware, tone rim, tuning pegs, are Stuart McDonald—except for the Scruggs-Keith tuners—although the resonator flange and brackets are from Gibson. The pearl inlay is a butterfly motif featuring inlaid inlays on the peghead and stylized butterly patterns on the fretboard. The wood is native Iowa black walnut nicely figured and tastefully inlaid.

Someone once remarked that I could really make that banjo talk. “Really, what does it say?” someone else asked. “Take your hands off me!” was the reply.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 12:22 PM

What is the difference in sound and playability of the archtop? I know I've never played one and have never seen one in the flesh. What purpose did (do?) the ball bearings serve?


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Mark Ross, on the road
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 12:28 PM

The ball bearings were, supposedly, to compensate for changes in the tension of the skin head. My '27 archtop has a brighter clearer sound, not quite as deep as the flathead.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 12:40 PM

Thanks Mark, I forget that Banjos once had skin heads. They must have been a royal pain to keep tight with temperature and Humidity changes.


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 01:09 PM

The archtops tend to have a brighter sound than the flattops do. In his article “The Earl Scruggs Gibson Banjo,” Doug Hutchens wrote:

The tonering in the early Scruggs model banjos was indeed a Stewart-MacDonald ring. The problem with those banjos was with the setup! The Stewart-MacDonald tonering is an excellent ring, and I'd still rather have it than most on the market today. Some banjo "critics" didn't like the Stewart-MacDonald ring. I've found one thing in my 30 or so years in dealing with banjo parts and the players. Banjo players always want whatever they can't get. There is a mystique about trying to get something that others cannot attain. And when Stewart-MacDonald rings were readily available, many thought they can't be any good. Any one could order them. (A side bar to that. Does anyone know who made the tonering for Stewart-McDonald for several years? I'll leave that for speculation, but you'll be pleasantly surprised.) (Steve Ryan, also in Ohio as is Stewart-Macdonald. - ed.)

My tone ring, complete with the correct spelling of Stewart-MacDonald, is pictured here on their site. As you can see, it's not a ball bearing tone ring. It is, as Bruce Phillips might say, good though. My banjo seems considerably heavier than most other bluegrass banjos.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: What Banjo Do You Play?
From: GUEST,Bob
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 01:24 PM

I play a Wunder 5 string minstrel banjo with a tacked head. I love the sound especially for Blues sounds and old time. Cool overtones and great sustain! I have several recordings of others who use these banjos, I think they are making a real comeback.


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