Before taking a road trip, it is a good idea to have a destination in mind, determine the best route to get there, what the gas will cost, what food stops you need to make (my favorite part), what sights you might want to see along the way and how much money it will cost for all of that. Buying your first “professional” or “step up” banjo will make more sense if you “map out” your wants and needs.
Determining “Your Sound”
As there are many styles of banjo music, there are even more kinds of banjo sound which is determined partly by the banjo and partly by the player. We will talk in general terms today about banjo sounds, and address the specific styles of banjos in specific styles of music in a future article.
Ask yourself some basic questions:
Of all the questions we receive about banjos, what is the best beginner banjo has to be one of the most common. Find out now.
Eating at a new exotic restaurant is fun, but it can be sometimes be a bit confusing to know which entrée you will like the best! Choosing your first banjo or choosing one that best suits the kind of music you want to play can sometimes be that confusing!
Many folks think that there are just 5-string and 4-string banjos. Well, that is “sort of right” but within those choices there are also a number of scale lengths to choose from.
While you should never be limited by your instrument in choice of music, there are certain scales that work better for various kinds of music and it is this we will be discussing today.
A common question that we get regarding our banjo ukuleles is “since tenor uke and the concert uke are tuned the same, what is the difference?” The Goodtime concert banjo ukulele has a scale length of 14 ¾ inches. The three ply Maple rim is 11 inches in diameter. The Goodtime tenor banjo ukulele has a scale length of 17 inches and has a larger diameter three ply Maple rim of 12 inches.
Both the concert uke and the tenor uke have 17 frets. Both use Aquila super nylgut strings. Both are tuned G, C, E, A. (Listed from 4th to 1st string)
When the Goodtime banjo was first introduced, it was the only banjo in the price range that had a hard wood rim. The rim was a multi-ply rim of maple and birch, and created a sweet, rich, and bright sounding banjo. It quickly became the recommended choice of banjo teachers to their students.
Deering could have rested on the laurels of this success, kept the banjo exactly as it was and it would have continued to be the best and most popular banjo available at the price point. But, when Deering discovered the fabulous tone of the
About six months ago, we shipped a new, Tenbrooks Legacy banjo to a store and I recently received a call from the customer who ordered it, where he proceeded to tell me how he loved his banjo. What stood out in the conversation was when he said, “I can play faster on this banjo than any of my other banjos.”
While I have heard this comment over the many years since the introduction of the Tenbrooks banjos, I haven’t ever written about why this happens with so many players.
Speed is generally enhanced by two factors: responsiveness to the picking fingers and the lightest touch possible when fretting.
When I give tours here at the factory, I ask our visitors to think of the banjo as a “giant lollipop” because many of them are not banjo players…but we have all eaten our fair share of lollipops.
The neck of the banjo is the “stick” of a lollipop and the pot assembly is the “round, candy portion.” This is not meant to explain FUNCTION, just help with orientation. And like a lollipop, fun with a banjo will last all the way down to the last “lick.” This week’s article is meant to help orient and identify, not explain the function, of the parts of the banjo to make past and future articles more easily understood.