Let's talk about the history and music of the American Heartland

Visit our Sister Sites
CreekDontRise.com Home Page Visit our sister site, School of the Rock
Visit our Classic Train Songs Page
A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.
 

It is currently Mon May 27, 2024 6:40 pm


To ask any question about the content on this site please use our Site Contact Page.

To sign up for this discussion forum, please use our Forum Signup Page.

Either way, we'll be very glad to hear from you - Paul Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for this discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Short-Scale Banjos
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:22 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 1004
I've been using a GoodTime base model as my travel banjo for some time, but I've been looking at alternatives that would be even easier to take backpacking or on airplanes.

Mostly I looked at backless banjos or banjos that you wouldn't mind leaving the back off of anyway. In that category, there's one clear leader under $800. (And it's closer to $400.)

Most of banjos I looked into were "A-Scale" banjos, with 23"-24" scale lengths and nineteen frets. Generally they're about 4" shorter overall than full size banjos. That may not sound like much, but it could be the difference between catching on every overhead branch on the trail and not. Or fitting into an overhead bin or not.

One that's even shorter, with a ~19" scale length is worth looking into if you're going to do real backpacking. I'm disappointed that it is made in China and costs more than the American made banjo that beats it out for quality, etc., though. Still, if portability is critical, it's a good honorable mention.

I overlooked about a dozen cheaper Chinese models, because I'm familiar with those brands' full-sized and 6-string banjos and not impressed.

Also, I was focused on travelability, so I bypassed the high-end A-scale banjos, with tone rings, etc. If you're a short-armed person or a child prodigy, who wants to play a "real" bluegrass banjo, they ARE available in A-scale versions.

A summary of what I found is here:

http://riverboatmusic.com/banjos/five_s ... parlor.htm


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Short-Scale Banjos
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:49 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 1004
Okay, so I was intrigued by the Gold-Tone CC-Mini, the Chinese-built 5-string with the ~19" scale and 8" head. I thought maybe it would be a good companion for Martin Backpacker. It certainly gets better reviews than the "Plucky," which seems to be a Banjo-Uke with a fifth string. The CC-Mini also seems to have better quality control than the Plucky (always an issue with Chinese-built instruments).

Wouldn't it be great if I could find or make a case that would hold both the CC-mini and the Backpacker? That way I wouldn't have to decide between banjo an guitar when I go on trips. (And maybe my Soprano Sax? I'd have the three major "food groups" of my music with me at all times. Okay, that's just silly.)

Still I didn't have $400+ laying around, and if I did, I wouldn't spend it on a Chinese travel banjo that was going to spend its life on beaches or in airplane overheads. So I checked around to find a steep discount or a used one. I found one online that the guy wanted too much for IMHO. From the photo it had a resonator, but I thought maybe it was just an older model. So I bid about 30% less than he was selling it for and got it. It arrived Friday, and I was confused that the little thing should come in such a large box.

Turns out it wasn't a CC-Mini at all, it is a CC-Traveler, which is an A-scale banjo with a bolt-on resonator. No resonator flange, I'm afraid and guitar-style tuners, but a brass tone ring and TWO coordinating rods. So you COULD Bluegrass seriously on this little beast if you wanted to.

Maybe that was why the guy was asking "too much" for it. Ooops.

It is relatively fancy-looking in the Gold-Tone midrange vibe. But it is much heavier than my GoodTime. Technically, it's up-scale from the GoodTime Parlor Banjo, Deering's entry-level A-scale. It's certainly more expensive. But weighing that much more, plus having a resonator make the banjo 2" wider sort of reduces the "travelability" I was looking for.

A conundrum - I got a better, but a different banjo than I was looking for. Fine, I'll check it out, take it through its paces, figure out what it's good for, and report on the site. And then if I am still convinced that the extra weight and bulk of the thing defeat the purpose of a travel banjo (THEIR name for it, not mine), I'll probably find it a good home.

More later. :-)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Short-Scale Banjos
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:01 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 1004
Still on about the Gold-Tone CC-Traveler banjo I got by accident. I took the back off; it does have a tone ring and two coordinating rods. Head is a little loose, but didn't have time to fix. Started trying to tune it, including setting the bridge where it needs to be for intonation purposes. Felt like it REALLY needed a compensated bridge. Then looking closely, I realized that it HAD a compensated bridge - it was just installed backwards.

Action is a little high. No fret buzz, though, so I may have some adjustment room. The neck is about 1mm concave, so when I have time I'll pull the neck back a tad. Unfortunately, the strings are as close at fret 19 as they are at the nut, which means they'll be laying on the fretboard if I pull it back more than a hair's breadth. Oh that's right, the head could stand to be tightened, and that will help a little. After I got the bridge adjusted for correct intonation, it was at a pretty steep angle, with the low D and high G end closest to the tailpiece. On one of my Dean banjos, that's always a sign that the head needs tightened, so that's another sign I need to get out the wrenches.

So here's where the amateur sleuth comes in. Did this go on the market because someone bought it mail-order and didn't know how to set it up? The Gold-Tone materials say they set them up in the shop, but this one will need a little more tweaking than a "ready-to-play" banjo should. Yes, I could make the assumption that the thing has got out of adjustment while it was sitting around, but that still doesn't explain the bridge being installed backwards. My guess is that I got a "steal" on this thing because the person who first bought it didn't like the way it played (for several reasons) and never bothered to take it to a good shop to see if they could make it right for him/her. Moral, don't buy a Chinese banjo unless you know how to set it up or know someone who does.

That said, it will be a dandy little player with a little tweaking. It has a sweet sound as it is. I'm half tempted to take the resonator off and use it as my travel banjo for a while just to see how it works that way. But it is really in "show-room" condition, and I don't want to bang it up too bad before I sell it, which I probably will.

Playing it is like playing my full-length banjos capoed at the second fret. Easy for root position chords, takes a little rethinking when I have to go up the neck.

If I had actually ordered this banjo because I wanted this particular subset of features, I'd be delighted with it. :-)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron




To ask any question about the content on this site please use our Site Contact Page.

To sign up for this discussion forum, please use our Forum Signup Page.


Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you enjoy your music and figure out how to make enjoyable music for those around you as well.

And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for the Creek Don't Rise discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel.



All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Paul D. Race. All rights reserved.

Note: Creek Don't Rise (tm) is Paul Race's name for his resources supporting the history and
music of the North American Heartland as well as additional kinds of acoustic and traditional music.

Creek Dont' Rise(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising
program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.



Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
- Music -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. The Independent Christian Musician. Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village.
Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Building temporary and permanent railroads with big model trains Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments



Click to trains that commemorate your team!

Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group