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Showing posts from March, 2021

A Visit to the Banjo Museum

During spring break 2021, I dragged my poor, wife along to the National Banjo  Museum in Oklahoma City. It was a fun day for me and I'm glad my sweetie came along with me. I'll post some pictures here. Note that there WAS a six-string banjitar in the collection, so I reckon that makes it "officially" a banjo. Enjoy the pics.

Baptists and Banjos

Have you ever run into one of those hardcore Baptists who can only see the world their way? There's nothing you can say or do to get them to recognize that someone else could, at least theoretically, have reason to believe differently. They just can't see it. Never mind that the Catholics were there about a thousand years before them. There just can't be any other way than theirs. That is what I would compare most five-string banjo players when it comes to the banjitar. Never mind that there were banjos around, some with four strings and some with six strings long before Bluegrass music became a thing in the 1940s. You can't get them to even consider answering a question if it might lead someone into banjitar "apostasy." I recently joined a banjo forum on the MeWe social network. I asked a question about fingerpick gauges that work best, just to solicit some advice. Now, fingerpicks are not new to me, but I have used them on guitar for forty-odd years. In that

Shopping for a banjitar? What are the differences?

The banjitar is growing in popularity. During the pandemic, a lot of people decided to learn a stringed instrument and, perhaps, some guitar players began to explore some other options. There are a lot of videos on YouTube of various product demonstrations, but few people actually talk about the differences between the various models. I'm fortunate to have three banjitars in my collection. Each one of them is constructed somewhat differently and those differences influence the sound quite a bit. In this video, I present an open-back banjitar, and two closed back models. One of the closed-back models had a cast aluminum pot/rim while the other has a traditional wooden rim with no tone ring. I also demonstrate how different tunings and string configurations can give you some cool, creative options. Before you buy a banjitar, you should watch this video to see what appeals to you most.

Banjitars, Strings, and Tunings

Most banjitars come from the factory strung with standard light-gauge acoustic guitar strings. That's really not the best choice for sound. Of course, sound and tone is a subjective things, but overall, most banjitars sound kind of "plonky" with light-gauge guitar strings. If you look at the gauges of regular banjo strings, they are usually made out of nickel-steel alloy and they are fairly light. Only a couple of strings are wound, depending on the gauge you buy. The lowest string on a five-string banjo is the low D, which is tuned the same as the guitar's fourth string. That means that a guitar has two more strings and goes just two notes shy of an octaves below a banjo. That extra, low octave is what turns off a lot of people when it comes to the banjitar.  To make the banjitar sound, well, more banjo-like, it's a pretty common thing to play around with string gauges. Players can get pretty creative, which is a good thing. Playing the banjitar means you're