Any Banjo Players Here?

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Our son’s 17th birthday is coming up and he has mentioned a few times that he’d like to learn banjo. He’s become a pretty accomplished guitarist and is into folk, Americana, old-school country, etc. and has a couple of 6-strings and a 12-string. I’ve been a bassist my entire life, but have never tried playing banjo and have no idea where to begin, what to look for, how much to spend, etc. So, I’m looking for any advice on choosing a banjo, any specific recommendations, and thoughts on good training resources and exercises.

Also, I’ll add that he’s a kid who doesn’t ask for much and always takes it pretty seriously when he gets a new instrument (or photography gear, his other passion). So, we never buy him the cheapest “beginner” gear. My approach is always to buy him something decent (within reason, of course) that he can grow into.
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Those things are heavy. That's all I know.
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Did you go to banjo.com? Seems like it might be worth looking through. I'd like
to have one myself, being part Hillbilly and all. :tu:


https://banjo.com/banjo-blog/

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What sort of banjo for what sort of music is a useful question...

At Irish sessions and ceilidhs I play a 4-string tenor resonator with a plectrum.

For a Barndance and Americana sessions I play an open back 5-string clawhammer style.

If you want to play Bluegrass Scruggs-style finger and thumb picked rolls you probably want a resonator 5-string for the volume and presence.

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Building off what TobyB said, my advice would be to have your son do some research on the difference between bluegrass and clawhammer styles and try to settle on one to start. If he's going to do the Scruggs-style bluegrass thing, then yeah, a 5-string with a resonator is the way to go to start. If he's more interested in clawhammer, then an open-back 5-string banjo is another option. Beyond that, I wouldn't be of much more help. I tried learning banjo a few years ago, doing the clawhammer thing. Didn't stick with it long enough to get good.

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Sorry.....couldn't resist.

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I play a 6 string banjo also called banjitar. It is tuned like a guitar so there is no learning curve. Just remember to avoid strumming full chords. Flat picking and finger picking sounds great.

However, don't expect to be taken seriously showing up with a banjitar at a traditional session.

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i "play" the bass badly
my guess is that i can "play" the banjo too
ah böwakawa poussé poussé

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mountainmaster wrote: Mon May 20, 2024 5:22 am

However, don't expect to be taken seriously showing up with a banjitar at a traditional session.
What about if you turned up with a Variax?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuyuPiCiBJY

:hihi:

One would imagine...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36211789

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Wow, I just now realized that there were replies!
TobyB wrote: Sun May 19, 2024 9:54 am What sort of banjo for what sort of music is a useful question...

For a Barndance and Americana sessions I play an open back 5-string clawhammer style.

If you want to play Bluegrass Scruggs-style finger and thumb picked rolls you probably want a resonator 5-string for the volume and presence.
Funkybot's Evil Twin wrote: Sun May 19, 2024 1:20 pm Building off what TobyB said, my advice would be to have your son do some research on the difference between bluegrass and clawhammer styles and try to settle on one to start. If he's going to do the Scruggs-style bluegrass thing, then yeah, a 5-string with a resonator is the way to go to start. If he's more interested in clawhammer, then an open-back 5-string banjo is another option. Beyond that, I wouldn't be of much more help. I tried learning banjo a few years ago, doing the clawhammer thing. Didn't stick with it long enough to get good.
Good advice! These are the two types I have been looking at - 5-strings and particularly the bluegrass style with a resonator. I'm not sure that my son even knows which one he'd prefer, but based on the style of music he enjoys, I'm thinking he'd lean toward bluegrass. We were going to surprise him with it, but at this point, he knows he's getting one so I'll have him check out bluegrass vs. clawhammer and see which one he prefers. I'm not so sure he'll love the idea of using fingerpicks, but we'll see...
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I have been a banjo player for almost 15 years now. Lifetime bassist also.
My number one beginner recomendation.
Gold Tone. Made in china set up in USA by folk that have owned and run the business for decades. Fantasic service and communication.
The midline stuff...$300 to 500 are great value and hold their value well when time to move on......I never did....I play my Gold Tone to this day havent run across anything under 5000 I like more....seriously.
I have lived in tropical to arrid climates....I have never needed to adjust the truss rod. Super stable.

I have...Gibson, Martin and Musicman stuff. My Gold tone sits proudly among them.
We jumped the fence because it was a fence not be cause the grass was greener.
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Scruggs-style Bluegrass is a very specific technique and sound ... and my impression is that it takes a lot of work to be reasonably good. We'll worth pursuing if that's your thing.

Clawhammer can be just a demanding, especially if you are going to learn a dozen different tunings, to play triplets and jigs, etc ... BUT ... like learning the basic open chords and strumming a 6-string, you can relatively quickly become accomplished to accompany others or your own voice?

And you can always play Bluegrass rolls on an open-back ...

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