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Help: Irish Tenor Banjo

UB Ed 25 Jul 02 - 06:37 PM
greg stephens 25 Jul 02 - 06:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jul 02 - 07:27 PM
david@the house of Death 26 Jul 02 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Claymore 26 Jul 02 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Claymore 26 Jul 02 - 11:58 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Jul 02 - 12:20 PM
Art Thieme 27 Jul 02 - 12:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Jul 02 - 05:23 AM
mooman 27 Jul 02 - 06:16 AM
UB Ed 29 Jul 02 - 08:17 PM
GUEST,guitarfixer 03 Aug 02 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,Nancy 03 Aug 02 - 11:46 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 03 Aug 02 - 03:20 PM
John MacKenzie 03 Aug 02 - 03:58 PM
dick greenhaus 03 Aug 02 - 04:35 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 03 Aug 02 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,Gurney 04 Aug 02 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 04 Aug 02 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,spannerintheworks! 04 Aug 02 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,spannerintheworksoopz 04 Aug 02 - 02:05 PM
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Subject: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: UB Ed
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 06:37 PM

Greetings!

I was talking with folks here in Richmond, VA. and the subject of Irish Tenor banjos came up. Apparently these are four stringed instruments and somehow differ from other banjos.

We looked at Elderlys and they had these instruments ranging from $400 to $600 American.

So, I'd appreciate any information you 'Catters may have on said instrument, as well as advice on purchasing one (ie, is a $400 one worth playing).

Thanks in advance.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 06:45 PM

Justh like any other 4-string banjo, but geenerally tuned GDAE to match fiddle fingering (octave below).Some use other tuning but that's the standard.Dont know US prices, sorry.Good luck, dont mind banjo jokes .At least youre not buying a bodhran.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 07:27 PM

A Bodhran with a handle.

But a great instrument when played well. This page in the online Hobgoblin catalogue explains a bit about them; and it's a great place to find one, and see what's available and how much the cost.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: david@the house of Death
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 08:40 AM

I've just bought a tenor banjo from e bay .com it cost me $97.00 and is an excellent banjo, there are plenty more on this site.

David


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 11:39 AM


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 11:58 AM

Sorry about the above message - lighting strike...

A pretty good tenor banjo can be had from Gold Tone for around $400 'merican. Several friends of mine in and around the DC area play them, and all appear satisfied. Be advised that there is a long neck version which is simply called a tenor banjo, and the shorter necked version which is commonly called the Irish Tenor banjo, both which can be strung either as the tenor strings of a guitar (DGBE) or as the tunings listed above. The longer necked one tends to be stummed across all the strings as well as picked in a Dixieland style, while the Irish tenor seems to be mostly picked.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 12:20 PM

They explain about things like that on that Hobgoblin link I gave.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 12:26 AM

Any Irish tenor who's worth his salt and has a half-way decent voice, can play any kind of banjo he wants to play. Five-string, 8-string, 2-string---whatever. As big as they usually are, they might find an upright bass or a tuba more to their liking.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 05:23 AM

But it's a real pain singing while you're playing a tuba. That takes real pro.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: mooman
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 06:16 AM

As a player of a short-scale tenor myself (a 1925 Lyon and Healy fixed-resonator type), I'd recommend you look at a vintage intrument like a Lyon & Healy/Wasburn, Slingerland, Vega, Abbott, John Grey, Regal, Gretsch or something in that style. All of these makers made good, playable, reasonably inexpensive tenors. At the upper end of your price range you might find something like an Oriole (Gibson) or Lange.

Elderly and others (including some suppliers in Europe) often have a good range of such instruments, either in original condition or with some sympathetic restoration.

Claymore mentioned Gold Tone (of Florida) and these are certainly worth considering in your price range also. There are also some good European makers like Tom Cussens (Clareen) in Galway and John Hullah in Norfolk, England (available through Sully's Banjos, Halshaw Music) but their basic instruments might be a little over your budget

Hope this is of some help.

Best regards,

mooman


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: UB Ed
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 08:17 PM

Many thanks all. I've been in Boston the last four days and was out of posting range. I'll be checking the links. We're thinking of gifting a friend of ours with one and none of us know a whole lot (so far)!

I'll be checking for the Goldtone...

Ed


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,guitarfixer
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 12:08 AM

We sometimes sell the GoldTone Irish tenor. It is a good instrument, but often the neck joint at the pot needs to be re-cut for a better fit. This translates to better sound. If you get one, take it to a good banjo repair shop for evaluation and setup. Beware of internet auctions. Yesterday a customer brought in a fake Gibson mandolin. The label was a Xerox of a real label, but it didn't help the mando sound any good. It was a $50 instrument he paid $1,000(US) for. He's stopping payment on the check.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,Nancy
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 11:46 AM

Hi, I'm a fiddler in Calif. who wanted to give a 4-string Irish Tenor Banjo a try, but hardly anyone here had even heard of them. So I did a little research and bought an inexpensive Gold Tone.....I love it! Try this

site:http://www.thebanjostore.com/item.jhtml?UCIDs=955086%7C969696&PRID=865210

It's $299.00 at this site and when I bought it, there was free shipping. I had found another one just like it on other sites and music stores and they asked $400.00 for the same instrument. You'll have a blast playing it (especially if you already play the fiddle or mandolin, voila! you can already play!). There are other banjos there too, look for the Irish Tenor Cripple Creek Model. If you want, you can spend more money on another banjo later when you decide if it's a fun instrument for you.

Enjoy

PS Don't know where you are, but I spend ALOT of time explaining why I don't have 5-strings on my banjo:)


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 03:20 PM

Ah yes. The fate of a "4-string banjo in 5-string banjo territory". I have an old no-name open-back tenor known affectionately as "That Thing", from all the bluegrassers asking, "What in the hell is that thing?".

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 03:58 PM

As played by the blessed Oliver Plunkett?


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 04:35 PM

As far as I can tell, the term "Irish Tenor Banjo" is something like "Irish Didgeredoo" or "Irish Tuba". When the 5-string banjo first lost its fifth string (yes, the 5-string came first), it was called a "plectrum" banjo--long neck, but better suited to playing with jazz bands because it didn't have that drone. When it was shortened to make it louder, and to permit more-sophisticated chording, it became a "tenor banjo". I guess it becopmes an "Irish Tenor Banjo" if you play Irish music on it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 05:33 PM

I think that the term "Irish Tenor Banjo" specifically indicates one tuned GDAE whereas the "conventional" tuning is CGDA (an octave below the viola}. Raising the tuning a fifth brightened the sound up, making it more of a melody instrument. Prior to this Irish innovation, the tenor banjo was used mostly for chordal accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,Gurney
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 05:29 AM

As a Scottish folksinger once said... "While we were playing music, the Americans were inventing drone strings".. Mind you, the Jocks had already invented drone pipes. I know an Irish performer who uses a 5-string banjo with the drone string and peg removed. He plays along very well. Worth a try, as there would be no commitment. G.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 07:48 AM

bee-dubya-all: the "irish tuning"GDAE is a fourth below standard CGDA, not a fifth above.


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,spannerintheworks!
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 01:56 PM

I have both been playing a 5 string for ever and growing up in an Irish trad home so here is what I do, cheap cheeful and a giggle especially if one happens to transform in a Bluegrass jam!

I tune the B string up to D, the D up to E. Now to get most of the rest of the notes available in GDAE I tune the low D down to C.

Capo on the second fret OR if you have an older Banjo you may low tune it to start, then capo to the fret yeilding DAEF# tuning.

The 5th String is tuned up to A.

Why this tuning is better suited to and easier needs little explanation since Irish trad is most often set for the Tin Whistle, lowest note D, and highest note in high parts maxes out at B'.

The beauty of it is that one uses the F# string for these higher notes thus not ever having to reach for that irriating B'.

Since the action will be affected by this new setup I found using a Calfskin head to be the best solution, also and surprisingly it sounds FAR better for early Bluegrass picking as well. The only drawback is that on occasion I have to fiddle with the tension to get good bounce in Plectrum style.

I do not play Jazz or Classical so I have no idea what that would be like.

Strings can be a pain here, I have used 'Vega' Lights for ever and tried but did not like the Medium gauge but again that is individual taste. The local store here sells these sets by C F Martin & Co for around seven bucks.

Chording can be an new learning experience for those into this kind of thing but I found it easy and intuitive to construct Major - Minor and a couple of Modal for singing to.

The moral of this posting is that with a little care and preparation a student can adapt a 5 String to Irish Tenor use with very little expense, and as any yard sale shopper knows 5 strings are not that rare these days, in fact ther's a surplus of them out here at this time. I just now wonder if this is result of the false idea that one MUST use a regular 4 string to play Irish trad in the Tenor Plectrum style?

A word of good advice from one knowing the pain of doing it wrong! From day use a Tutor such as Sully's Irish Trad for Banjo. Why? The direction of Picking is not simply UP then DOWN on the next note. It sometimes goes two notes in the same direction for effect and it is this that makes the style so intoxicating. If I say that every time one crosses to the next string going down towards the floor - ie up in pitch - then the pick must follow the last Down with another Down I may be misleading the reader; however there are lots of tunes that do just that!


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Subject: RE: Help: Irish Tenor Banjo
From: GUEST,spannerintheworksoopz
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 02:05 PM

I forgot to add that I have always used a Thumbpick to play Irish Trad in the Tenor style on the 5 String - but I use a regular Flatpick on the Guitar. It feels easier to control attack angle and my hand does not tire as fast as it does with the Flatpick. Again this way saves the Student buying more stuff.


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