anyone had any luck? something around $500 would be ideal....
I agree. The chord shapes are no harder than learning an alternate tuning. The challenge with banjo is the right hand. 4-5 or 6 strings doesn't matter if you can't get the right hand technique down. (I speak from experience)My version of "go all out" would be to get a five string banjo and learn Scruggs/Keith/Reno styles. I'd vote for investing more time (practice, hard work) over investing more money, if we're talking starting from scratch.
That said, the six string does have its share of devotees and enthusiasts, and it can be the right choice, depending on what you're looking to do. Six string banjo is all over modern country music; for example, you can hear it on Taylor Swift records, and Keith Urban is a fan. Lots of session players have some sort of banjo in their arsenal, lots of six strings included here. A session player buddy of mine in Los Angeles tells me that a lot of "scoring for banjo" at studio dates is more about getting in the sound of the instrument than about traditional rolls and such. And as far as "old school" traditional cats, Norman Blake plays six string banjo.
But if you want to play traditional Scruggs rolls and such, the five string is the way to fly.
I may be preaching to the choir and wasting bandwidth here. It's just that I often see guitar players get off on the wrong foot with this.
I'd be looking at a can o' worms trying to mic' my acoustic five string at the noisy bars and clubs I work. So I use this Gold Tone electric at shows:
This is true. I've never heard a six-string banjo that I thought sounded very good across all the strings (acoustic banjo; I don't have any experience with electric banjos).the problem with 6-string banjo is the frequency range!
banjos sound "good", as in loud, crisp and "banjo-y", in a pretty narrow band of notes, which a guitar's A and especially low E pretty much fall outside. those strings just end up being much more quiet and "plunky" than the rest.
one cheat is to sort-of "nashville tune" it, throwing on an octave string for the low E and maybe even the A. this puts those notes back up in the range where the head can project them properly.
Well said. Really the best answer is the one you gave, which is 'What kind of music do you want to play?' I still think a 5-string is the most versatile instrument though.If I were posting a thread toward the target of spending money for an instrument, I'd want to hear various points of view first. Differing points of view is what has occurred here. There's nothing to get upset about. Threads like this one pop up quite frequently, and when they're fairly open ended, some five string comments are nearly inevitable. I've seen the original posters for threads like this wind up choosing six string, five string, and four string banjos after weighing the pros and cons. I've just seen so many guitar players get a six string and then get frustrated trying to play Beverly Hillbillies or such.
Certainly the banjo was around before Earl Scruggs. As for bluegrass music, I enjoy it but am far from a maniacal fan. As a music teacher I work with standards of the bluegrass repertoire a lot with banjo and mandolin students. But at the moment I'm not playing any bluegrass music per se when I play banjo or mandolin live. Nontheless, my feeling is that not including some bluegrass in one's studies of these instruments is to miss a very large chunk of education.
There are many other types of banjo playing that have not been discussed here, including clawhammer and frailing, as well as tenor banjo stylings and cultural considerations such as the rich Irish tradition.
It's not difficult to tell from my previous post that I prefer the five string. I'm one of those guys that years ago posted a thread about which banjo to get, although not at this particular forum. After weighing many opinions I got a five. I did attempt to toss in some perspective here from a different point of view in my previous post, but perhaps I failed miserably. Old Crowe Medicine Show is another act that utilizes six string banjo, and I believe Glen Campbell has used it as well.
i'll buy that! it may mostly be a matter of cheap 6-string banjos not handling the low strings worth a damn, especially if the head is not so big; it's been a long time, but i remember a friend's custom-ordered deering 6 sounding pretty damn good all over.The bigger the head, the better. My Gold Tone has an 11" head and it doesn't have near the bass that the 12" head model has. The Gold Tone is the best of the less expensive choices, but if you can afford it, get a Deering. An old (or new) Vega or Gibson would be great if you can find one in good condition.
All the other cheap guitjos just don't cut it in my opinion.