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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:10 pm 
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I recently loaned one of my 6-string banjos to a lead guitarist who can play rings around me in almost every way. I thought he might figure out what it was good for. And he did. He adapted several of his guitar styles to it, and took it to any number of venues, only to have the folks there including band mates and "friends" say "why didn't you bring a REAL banjo?" He has since returned it.

I didn't know he was getting such grief, or I would have given him the answer for his "friends": "Six-string banjo has been around almost fifty years LONGER than Bluegrass. Don't talk to me about 'authenticity.'"

I just wrote two articles about 4-string guitars, which were made by Gibson, Martin, etc. to the same standards as their six-string guitars and marketed to jazz banjo players who wanted to double on guitar. "Tenor" and "Plectrum" guitars had the same tunings, number of frets, etc., as the tenor and plectrum banjos of their day. Most banjo players who migrated to 4-string guitars played them exactly the way they played their jazz banjos. For a while they far outnumbered the 6-string jazz guitarists. In fact, you could make a case that the tenor banjo rage of 1910-1925 was the direct ancestor of "jazz guitar" as we know it. Yet, when 6-string guitar players see a real 4-string guitar (not the oversized ukuleles that some importers are making), they do NOT say, "Why didn't you bring a REAL guitar?" They tend to say "Cool, can I try it?" If you told them it was "really a banjo," they would look at you as if you were stupid. And rightfully so. It's made like a guitar; it looks like a guitar; it sounds like a guitar; it IS a guitar.

So why do six-string banjo players let people who only know one tiny part of the musical universe bully them into saying, "It's really a guitar" at every opportunity. Sorry, a 4-string guitar is still a guitar, even if it's tuned EADG. And a 6-string banjo is still a banjo, even if it's tuned EBGDAE.

On the other hand, Mark Twain once said you should "never argue with an idiot. People watching might not be able to tell which is which."


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:20 pm 
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I've recently been practicing both 5- and 6- string banjo a lot and was thinking that I've got as far as I can on the 6-string banjo I own (an electric Dean whose action isn't as good as, say, the average $200 Washburn guitar). So I started shopping online for a 6-string banjo that would be as playable as my 6-string guitars OR my 5-string banjos. I saw a Gold-Tone 6-string banjo that looked very promising. Then I noticed that they actually call the thing a "Banjitar" in their marketing materials. Whatever a "Banjitar" is, I'm not interested. I want a 6-string banjo from somebody who knows they're selling banjos. So, keep looking . . . .


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:24 pm 
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P.S. They need to tell Keith Urban to "bring a real banjo."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiBinM-f-Pk

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Plus his backup guy plays it on "Sweet Thing." Sounds like a banjo to me, though it's not as loud in this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgCdd0Db_fM


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:18 am 
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BTW, Urban is playing a Deering Boston (B-6 for short) in the video above. It has a very bright sound and a lot of volume for the price. That said, Deering makes even better 6-strings. I have one now, albeit an old one that needed a lot of work to get back to its original appearance and potential - an old Deluxe (D-6) model. Like the Boston that Keith is playing in the video above, it has a full-length banjo neck and professional features, such as dual coordinator rods, planetary tuners, fat frets, and a neck to die for. Unlike the Boston, it includes a separate Tone ring and solid cast/milled resonator flange. It's also heavy, but no heavier than the average top-of-the line Bluegrass banjo. I would almost dare anyone to tell me to bring a "real banjo."


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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.

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    - 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.



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