6 string Banjo recommendations?

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by vilk, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Hi all. If this should be somewhere by all means move it!

    So, I've never been one much for acoustic guitars, especially steel string. I think they sound great, but I don't like playing them, not really.

    Having said that, I would like something for around the house to diddy around on. Something that doesn't need power--just pick it up and play it and then set it back a moment later. It's also better to have an acoustic instrument than an electric if it ever comes to sing-alongs, at least in my opinion.

    Anyhow, I saw a video for Taylor Swift, and I see her playing a 6 string banjo, just power chording away. I never knew that a 6 string banjo could be played the same as a guitar! I figured it was tuned upside down and weird-ways like normal banjos that I do not know how to play.

    But in light of that I apparently already know how to play the 6 string banjo, I think I would like to get one. It would fill the role of giving me a new instrument to try, and also to have an acoustic instrument in the home.

    I could always just put the 6 sting banjo in open tuning and then I could play it like a traditional 4/5 string banjo... right?


    OK, so, this post is kinda jumping all over the place. Can anyone tell me: What am I looking for in a good banjo?
    Any entry level, 6 string banjo recommendations?
    Can you flatpick them at all? or do I need to learn to use banjo picks?
    Banjo banjo banjo?
     
  2. TankJon666

    TankJon666 SS.org Regular

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    Yeah the 6 string banjo is pretty much designed for guitar players who want the banjo sound without having to relearn a new instrument. They don't quite sound exactly like a banjo but it's close enough. I play a regular open G tuned 5 string Deering Goodtime banjo and based on the quality of it I'd highly recommend the Deering 6 string banjo. You can play it how you want, fingers, claw hammer, 3 finger rolls, picks whatever you want. I'd highly recommend giving a standard banjo a go though. It's really not hard to pickup. Difficult to master but so is everything!
     
  3. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    Play one for a month or so and your fingers will strengthen up. :fawk::cool:

    Having said that, the Deering 6 string banjo is probably the standard 6 string banjo, though there are probably less expensive models out there, too.
     
  4. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    My fingers would be better to have some more strength, but that's not why I don't like them. It's more that they're bulky, and I'm just generally disinterested by them. At least, for now.

    But the thing is, I am interested in banjos, ever since I learned Capillarian Crest by Mastodon and heard that Brent Hinds writes those hybrid picking solos because of his background playing banjo, it kind of makes me think I'd like to play that hybrid picking section on a real [not real because its 6 string] banjo. And then like, branch out from there with my own kind of Mastodon bridge section hybrid picking banjo music.

    and I am interested in learning a real 5 string banjo, I guess, but I am also looking forward to the novelty of playing rock songs but they sound like banjo music. I'll instantly be able to play the "folk version" of any song just by arpeggiating the picking and playing it on a banjo. In my imagination, this is how things will be.
     
  5. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    I use pseudofrailing on 6-string banjo, in order to get that high drone string. Without some technique to make it sound like a banjo, it won't have that style-centric sound.

    I use a Fred Kelley Freedom Pick on the middle finger of my picking hand, and a Propik Delrin-bladed, metal-banded thumb pick. The thumb plays the melody on the downstroke, and then the middle finger pulls up on the high string on the returning upstroke for that drone/pop.

    On the plus side, you can either tune open or use standard tuning. I capo so that my high string is at the right pitch for my chosen drone note.

    I had someone accuse me of cheating after coming to see how I was playing something which would be impossible on the standard open-G-tuned bluegrass banjo. "Oh... you're playing a six-string!"

    "But you wondered how I was playing it on a standard banjo with a drone string, right? So it sounded like a banjo, just not as limited as they normally are, right?"

    "Yeah, but it's still cheating!"

    "How is it cheating if your banjo just isn't capable of what mine can do?"

    *laugh*
     
  6. JSanta

    JSanta SS.org Regular

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    I jumped right in and got a 5 string resonator Gold Tone and couldn't be happier. I've been focusing more on learning Bach stuff rather than traditional bluegrass, but forcing myself to use the traditional 3 finger technique has really helped my overall technique. Really fun instruments. The drone string was a mind-f**k for the first few weeks, but I've gotten used to it now.
     
  7. MajorTom

    MajorTom Supreme Being

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    Gretsch make a very very nice six string banjo that they sell for stupid cheap money, it really punches extremely far above is price range I'm pretty sure it is the one Taylor Swift used, it's at the top of my to buy list for the next time my girlfriend/wife is away, so I can sneak it into the house with out her catching me and teasing and laughing at me.
     
  8. Andrew May

    Andrew May SS.org Regular

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    Banjo is pretty versatile if you use your imagination. I play a budget Ashbury 5 string, it's nearly baritone guitar scale(!) but you can get longer still. I've tuned in fifths with a high drone. I like it so much I've done the same on a cheap electric guitar (still at experimental stage). I can't get on with finger pics so I generally play finger style, after getting used to playing steel strings finger style it's actually quite transferable to electric guitar. :)
     

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