Saturday, April 17, 2021

Banjitar Improvisation #2 in E Minor

 This is from a practice session today. My wife says at the end, “That was good. Did you make it up?” I figured I should keep it then!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Gibson Banjitar at the American Banjo Museum

 Here is a fun video that shows a cool banjitar from Gibson, presented by the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City. It belonged to the comedy team Homer and Jethro back in the 1960s. It has a Gibson L-5 guitar neck on it and is strung with flatwound strings. The video is around 26 minutes long, but I set it to begin at the 15-minute mark, when the host shows the Gibson. The whole video is worth watching. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Picks or not to picks, that is the question...

As I'm exploring the banjitar, I am having to decide whether or not to use fingerpicks or not. For many years, as a guitarist, particularly as a 12-string guitarist doing Leo Kottke-style material, I used plastic/nylon picks. I used Dunlops and Nationals for a couple of decades, then I discovered the Alaska Pik brand. These are different kinds of picks that go over the fingernail, leaving the pad of the fingers exposed to feel the strings. I have favored these picks for the past 20 years or so.

Now with the banjitar, using light, electric guitar strings for a more banjoesque tone, I decided to try out the metal picks used by many 5-string banjoists. I liked the sound, but not the feel of the picks on my fingers. Oddly, even though I have used fingerpicks for over forty years, my fingers got tangled up with these. Even more odd, I find I like the sound of bare fingers best of all so far. For just sitting around the house, using no picks seems to work best, but I have to practice with the picks because any live performance is going to work better with them. The thing is, I play live so rarely anymore, it might not make a difference.

What's your preference as a banjitarist? Picks? No picks? If you use picks, what material do you like? Plastic, nylon, acrylic, brass, nickel, stainless steel? Let me know in the comments.