Educate me about Banjitars please.

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by doc, May 21, 2015.

  1. doc

    doc Member

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    I'm curious about Banjitars - basically banjos with guitar necks and 6 strings. I've never played one. What gauge strings can they use? Who makes the best ones? I'm thinking they might be cool for playing ragtime and for use for Baroque classical pieces to sound kind of like a harpsichord. Is the Gold Tone BT 2000 about the best mass market version? Anyone out there making custom versions of these? Any bits of useful trivia for us guitarists thinking about trying one?
     
  2. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    No I will not.


    get a banjo if you want that sound, it's no more difficult to play than an alternate tuning on guitar.


    JMO
     
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  3. MrAstro

    MrAstro Member

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    I mostly agree with @bob-i. A lot of the banjo's character comes from the banjo tuning with the drone string. It's not a tuning that is good to emulate on a guitar with normal gauge strings because of the tensions. I have a Deering 5 string banjo that I muck around with sometimes - I am a guitar player though.

    The only bit I half disagree with is the 'no more difficult' part :) If you are playing bluegrass style, the speed of the banjo rolls some of the good banjo players pump out is blistering. Actually it will make you a better guitar player I think. Alright maybe not more difficult - but different.

    It helped me with some of the Chet Atkins guitar tunes I like playing - he uses pseudo banjo rolls and triplets.
     
  4. doc

    doc Member

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    Thanks for the input so far. I'm not interested in trying to emulate a banjo and looking for a shortcut, I'm interested in playing guitar with some banjo like tonality, attack/decay and volume. After looking at the options, maybe the Recording King version is another good contender.
     
  5. Stratburst70

    Stratburst70 Member

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    Six-string banjo has been around for over a century (Johnny St. Cyr used one with King Oliver, and Duke Ellington's banjo player used one on recordings); it was overshadowed by the 5-string but only recently came to prominence after Deering reissued it.

    Here are Keith Urban's thoughts on the Deering 6-string banjo: "you don’t get the low E- and A-string notes on a regular banjo. I think it is a tougher, bolder sound, which I find works better with a strong rhythmic foundation."

    I'd say your best bet is to look at Deering (if you have the $$$), or Goldtone.
     
  6. Davo17

    Davo17 Member

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    I can tell you that you get funny looks playing devo on them. (girl you want) :p

    I bet it would sound cool with some spacey effects.
     
  7. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    They are more like a guitar with a banjo body than a banjo with a guitar neck. Dr. Eugene Chadbourne, who is also an excellent banjo player, sometimes plays a guitar with a banjo body.
     
  8. OlAndrew

    OlAndrew Member

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    If you want to play Baroque, hunt out one of those old birch wood Stella 12 strings and string it with La Bella Silk and Steel, tuned up to concert 'E'. A portable folk harpsichord, to be sure, and beautiful for classical music. They're a bit thin upon the ground, but not very expensive once found. I've got one I need to put a truss rod in.
     
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  9. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    All I know is do not get a Dean. Pickup one up on a whim years ago and I could not keep it in tune. I am a banjitar fan. I do not have the time in life to learn the banjo. They are great to add a layer to a recording. Go for it, and from what I have played, the GT is pretty solid.
     
  10. rongtr

    rongtr Member

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    I have a Gold Tone Banjitar that I use in a number of various ways-to get a 4-string rhythm sound for 30's style jazz (also in many musicals-I do some pit orchestra work), capo'd pretty high and playing on the treble strings to get a quasi-5 string sound, and as Keith Urban was describing to give another texture using the bottom strings. I use D'Addario XL 110W (with, I believe, a wound .018 third string) as my string set.
     
  11. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

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    Not if you are going to whack at it with a pick but if you going to play Scrugg's style or clawhammer there is a steep learning curve, especially 3 finger bluegrass style.
     
  12. Quarter

    Quarter Member

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    On the subject of banjitars, you might enjoy checking out some Baskery, 3 sisters from Sweden

    .
     
  13. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Wow, Tom. That was brilliant.

    Thanks for posting.
     
  14. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Member

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    They are exactly like a banjo except without all the things that make a banjo a great and amazing instrument. That's how I think of them.

    Not everything needs to be filtered through the lens of the guitar. A banjo is a banjo.
     
  15. Jay K

    Jay K Member

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    I have a Deering D6, which is one of the better banjitars available; it was a bit of an extravagance but I got it at a very good price so went ahead with the purchase.

    I can't say I use it very much but that reflects largely that I have way too many guitars I like playing more. I do notice the string tension results in the strings kind of "biting" my fingers. If I get serious about playing it I'll probably need to develop a new type of callous to make playing it more comfortable for me.

    Although I don't own one, I suspect a Gold Tone would be fine at a lower price.
     
  16. urizen

    urizen Gold Supporting Member

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    DAMN, blood harmonies and solid drivin' are a fine thang!
     
  17. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

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    I own a Goldtone Dojo: banjo neck with a dobro body with electronics.
    OP, go for a 5 string, embrace the open G tuning.
    It will open up new musical horizons for you.
     
  18. Jdstrat

    Jdstrat Supporting Member

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    I picked up a used "Savannah" banjitar at Guitar Center a couple years ago. It's fun to put on some finger picks and noodle around. I add a lot of hammer-ons and pull offs to my normal finger picking patterns, and I treat the high E as a drone.

    If you use a pick, a light weight flexible one brings out the bright plinky banjo tone best, and keeps the lower strings from sounding overly bassy.
     

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