Gettin' back into Banjo

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by duceditor, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    73
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Back in the early `70s, raising a then young and impressionable son, Jan and I decided to leave the world of rock entirely and, as the expression was back then, "went folk."

    I sold my late fifties Tele and used my Guild Starfire V as a trade for an acoustic guitar. Then, not much later, I purchased a very inexpensive (and not especially fine) 5 string banjo from Sears.

    It was fun. Jan on her Fender acoustic 12 string, me on the banjo, my son at first on an auto harp, and (occasionally) my dad joining in on upright bass.

    Yes, it was fun. But in truth I was never very good. Banjos more than most instruments -- well, at least the style of banjo music I wished to play -- required speed, and speed has never been one of my gifts.

    I sold that banjo at some time in the distant past, keeping for just an occasional strumming, a four string Tenor banjo to this day.

    I some weeks ago now reviewed a guitalele for Donner, then one of their mandolins, then more recently with Jan's help, their new digital piano.

    Last week I got a corporate "thank you" that kindly offered me any other instrument or gear in their growing catalog, and looking through that my eyes settled on this:


    Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 11.12.51 AM.png


    Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 11.12.29 AM.png Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 11.24.00 AM.png



    It is due to arrive Thursday. -Sort'a serendipitous as it is my birthday.

    Based on my experience with those other Donner-badged instruments, and those photos (and description), I expect this to be a pretty nice instrument. But I have to admit to being a bit nervous about trying to get back into playing it.

    Jan used to love my banjo playing (Yes, she is always kind) ;) so she is excited about my taking it up again. And Jan being Jan she started digging around for songs to get me started.

    Here's one such suggestion she forwarded to me...



    Any banjo pickers here?

    If so suggestions for a good starting place will be very much appreciated!

    -don
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
    Shaytan, SquierTap, mb doug and 4 others like this.
  2. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    90
    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    Primarily a blue grass instrument, it can be used in other genres as well..
    I bought one twenty some years ago with the intention of learning some blue grass..total failure..
    Sold it with zero regrets..
    Good luck and have fun Don..
     
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  3. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    I never noticed before but Played slowly it sounds like a instrument from asia..
     
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  4. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    73
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I think that is a koto (or, using its Chinese name, a zheng). And you are right! It is tonally similar. :)

    -don
     
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  5. blackspider57

    blackspider57 Squier-holic

    Age:
    62
    Mar 11, 2017
    Great Falls Montana
    Happy early Birthday!
    Banjo like all musical instruments can be used in many ways. I always liked the subtle color it added to Neil Youngs "Old Man".

     
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  6. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    73
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    That's something Jan has long told me. To think how I might use it, not just how it is typically used.

    Good example there. Thanks! :)

    -don
     
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  7. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    73
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    @blackspider57 , your vid led me directly to this one. How perfect!




    -don
     
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  8. Caddy

    Caddy Dr. Squier

    Age:
    72
    Nov 29, 2010
    Indiana
    I have played banjo for nearly forty years now. Bought a used made in Korea Washburn back in the days when I was playing mandolin in my bluegrass band. When we played one of my originals, that I had come up with at home playing my banjo, the banjo player and I would switch instruments and I played that one song (once in a while I would also play Foggy Mountain Breakdown at shows). I have great fun playing banjo. One song we did back then was a bluegrass arrangement of Ricky Nelson's 'Hello Mary Lou' which actually sounded good as such. The crowds always loved it.

    Banjo is a really fun instrument to play. Jerry Garcia was a very good banjo player and once in an interview said that playing banjo was the most fun he had ever had playing music.

    There are only four basic picking patterns, the forward roll, reverse roll, forward-reverse roll and the mixed roll. Actually, if you get the first two down you can play a lot of music.

    As with anything they take practice but after a while they become second nature, Start learning them slowly and you will gradually increase your speed. You will find that after some time that it is easier to play them fast rather than slow. It may sound like a banjo player is playing very fast, but actually by using the thumb and two fingers in a pattern it sounds as though you are playing much faster than you actually are. Much faster than just using one pick on guitar or mandolin.
     
  9. RetiredNSquired

    RetiredNSquired Squier-holic

    Age:
    64
    Jun 20, 2018
    Canton, Ga
    If you want different, check out Bela Fleck. His work with the Flecktones, and especially Strength in Numbers is amazing. SiN was a kind of acoustic Americana super-group, and the one album was fantastic. Many moons ago (I was 22 or 23), my roommate had an old no name 5 string, and the Earl Scruggs banjo book. I sat down with it, taught my self the Scruggs roll, and actually managed to learn Foggy Mtn Breakdown, just as a learning excersize. Never took it any further, but it was a fun side-trip!
     
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  10. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    73
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Thanks all!

    Maybe, just maybe I can get this rolling.

    :)

    -don
     
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  11. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    90
    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    I figured Caddy would jump in here..He's been there, done that..
     
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  12. Caddy

    Caddy Dr. Squier

    Age:
    72
    Nov 29, 2010
    Indiana
    Rolling (as in rolls) is the key word!
     
  13. BuddyLee

    BuddyLee Squier-Meister

    385
    Aug 30, 2019
    Liberty SC
    I have wanted a banjo for decades. I have even dreamt that I owned a banjo. :D

    I grew up with a Supro Lap Steel and an 75th Anniversary Dobro to pick on. I think I would take to a 4 string like a duck to water. 5 string is cool too though.
     
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  14. Caddy

    Caddy Dr. Squier

    Age:
    72
    Nov 29, 2010
    Indiana
    Only thing is that the tenor (4 string) banjo tunes just like my tenor guitar CGDA so you just have to learn new chord fingerings. But it's really no big deal. I play five-string banjo, mandolin, guitar, ukes and fiddle and tenor guitar. Only the mandolin and fiddle have the same tuning. But since each feels so different I never get confused as to which fingerings and chord shapes to use.
     
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  15. CVSteve

    CVSteve Squier-Nut

    Age:
    65
    610
    Dec 28, 2017
    Texas
    Here Don, pay attention to this guy. You will be glad if you do.
     
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  16. Big tuna

    Big tuna Squier-holic

    May 6, 2014
    east Tn
    I played one for 20 years like my fiddle never was great but liked it. Get your Bella Fleck on and enjoy!
     
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  17. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Squier-holic

    Jul 4, 2012
    manhattan
    I gotta learn me a little banjo one of these days. Have fun!
     
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  18. Roccobagadonuts

    Roccobagadonuts Dr. Squier

    Sep 8, 2010
    Remulak
    I don't think im ever gonna have the time to relearn a fretboard. The 6 string guitar banjo tho. That could work...


     
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  19. Hugh

    Hugh Squier-Nut

    659
    Dec 15, 2009
    USA
    Good luck with it !

    I will be buying the banjo in the spring when my retirement checks start coming in.

    I know I want an open back, and possibly a fretless. I'm not into Bluegrass banjo at all but more of the old-time style.



     
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  20. MinorKey

    MinorKey Squier-Nut

    Age:
    52
    777
    Jun 14, 2012
    Darlington UK
    Very nice. I fancy a banjolele a la George Formby
     
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