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  #1  
Old 03-01-2019, 02:59 PM
wguitar wguitar is offline
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Default String Recommendations for Guitjo Banjitar

Hi,

What is the most common name for this instrument (banjo body & 6-string guitar neck) -- Guitjo or Banjitar or Other?

Also, would appreciate any thoughts / recommendations on best strings to use.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2019, 03:44 PM
PeterM PeterM is offline
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Umm..6 string banjo?
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Old 03-01-2019, 04:28 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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W, as you've seen, the nomenclature on this particular instrument can vary quite a bit. Since it happens to be an instrument that I've played since 1981, my own preference is for the term "guitar-banjo," which clearly indicates that it's got both guitar and banjo aspects. Since it's the banjo pot that determines the tone and attack characteristics of the instrument, calling it a guitar-banjo works for me. It's got a guitar-style neck on a banjo pot.

The one I've owned and used for twenty years now is a Deering B6:



1999 Deering B6 guitar-banjo

I also own a mandolin-banjo, which has - you guessed it - a mandolin-style neck on a banjo pot.

Mine is a Gibson Mastertone mandolin-banjo, which is the same size as this one but doesn't have the fancier fingerboard inlays:



Gibson Mastertone mandolin-banjo

My mandolin-banjo is one of the few instruments I own that I've given a name to - I call it "Stubby."

Regarding string selection for the guitar-banjo (and also mandolin-banjo,) what I have found is that with these banjo hybrid instruments the gauge is more important than the string alloy or brand. I like the tone of John Pearse phosphor bronze strings on my Deering slightly more than any other strings, but it truly doesn't matter as much as it does on acoustic guitars.

Because of that I tend to choose strings for both of my banjo mutants based on the strings' longevity rather than tone. This means I've often kept the guitar-banjo strung with Elixirs. I'm not usually a fan of how Elixirs sound on my wooden guitars, but on the guitar-banjo they sound good and last a long time. In the past few years I've been putting nickel strings on the guitar-banjo instead, either John Pearse Pure Nickels or D'Addario Nickel-Bronze. Those last a long time, too.

String gauge makes a major difference in the tone on these instruments. The Deering guitar-banjos ship from the factory with extra lights. Those are a bit too wispy for me. I've tried using mediums, but never for very long - the instrument sounds stifled with them, very thuddy and choked-sounding.

As a result I use light gauge strings on both my Deering B6 and my Gibson mandolin-banjo, lighter gauges on both than I use on my regular guitars and mandolins.

So my recommendation is that you go no higher than light gauge on any guitar-banjo you might end up owning. That seems to work the best.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 03-01-2019, 04:32 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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I've always thought "guitar banjo" was the most logical - same pattern as the others:

tenor banjo
plectrum banjo
5-string banjo
guitar banjo
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Old 03-01-2019, 05:35 PM
wguitar wguitar is offline
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THANKS Wade ! As always, you've been most helpful.
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Old 03-01-2019, 06:22 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Glad to be of some assistance.


whm
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Old 03-01-2019, 07:00 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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D'Addario EXL115W on my '93 Deering D-6...
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:47 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Like Wade I sometimes play a 6 string guitjo and an 8 string banjolin. The banjolin is built by someone unknown and marketed by William C. Stahl from the early 1930's, with a dowel-neck. I needed to shim the neck, redrill the dowel, replace the bridge and some hardware to bring it back to life. I use light (.008) phosphor-bronze strings by Newtone on it, as I don't want too much tension on something that old. The sound is great; I prefer the phosphor bronze strings over the nickel ones I've tried.

My guit-jo was inherited from my duo partner when he died. Its pretty cheapo, Davison brand. It has a single coordinating rod from the neck to the pot. I had to tweak the setup to get the action and intonation right. I currently use medium guitar strings, phosphor bronze, but I switched the low E and A to tune an octave higher to get that banjo reentrant tuning sound. I'm going to try monel strings on it next change.
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:39 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Today is the last Sunday before Lent begins, and at my Episcopal church in Anchorage it’s our custom to hold a “Dixieland Mass” before we head into the solemnity of the Lenten season. We get a trumpeter and a clarinetist to come join us for the day, and we play all the music in Dixieland style.

Most of the musicians in the worship group I lead besides me are serious, gigging jazz musicians, and so we actually play the music in a credible, authentic way.

Instead of bringing an acoustic guitar and my usual mandolin to this service, I use my guitar-banjo and mandolin-banjo. They definitely give me the correct sound for Dixieland music, and both are accurate for the period.

Another nice aspect of using these banjo mutants for this music is that even with several other loud instruments (piano, trumpet, clarinet, drum set, electric bass, National resonator guitar and tambourine) the guitar-banjo and mandolin-banjo were both perfectly audible, and I was able to lead the singers and other musicians effortlessly.

These hybrid banjos DO cut through...

Naturally, my good friend the bassplayer (who I’ve gigged with for more than 30 years now) had to give me some grief:

“Have you got a permit for those banjos?”

I explained that, yes, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Banjos had inspected the instruments, written down their serial numbers and issued me the appropriate licenses. I’m courthouse legal with both of them, even though in the wrong hands banjos ARE weapons of mass destruction.....

Anyway, it was a lot of fun playing gospel music Dixieland style for the service today, and it’s stylistically correct for the music, too. My guitar-banjo and mandolin-banjo have paid for themselves many times over with the joy they’ve brought me and my friends and fellow parishioners.


Wade Hampton “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In!” Miller
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:50 AM
zeeway zeeway is offline
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I have always been intrigued by the banjo sound, and tried to play one for a while, but my head had a problem keeping straight the chording differences with guitar. So, I took a guitar neck and bolted it to a banjo pot, thinking that would be the solution, but the sound was really bad. So there is some magic there, perhaps a bigger pot, or something else that eluded me. But if I find a Deering guitar banjo for a reasonable price, I will likely try it again.
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:39 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Angie, the secret is in the compensated bridge that Greg Deering came up with. The biggest problem with guitar-banjos historically has been severe intonation problems, but the bridge Greg Deering developed corrects that.


whm
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:36 AM
Edgar Poe Edgar Poe is offline
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The one I had a few years back, was sold by the name Banjitar. It plays just like a guitar, but sounds very similar to a Banjo.
I sold it, just couldn't warm up to it.

Ed
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:18 PM
PHJim PHJim is offline
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My brother owns one and has it tuned to Nashville tuning, using the high octave strings from a 12-string set.
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