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Old 05-07-2020, 06:37 AM
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rlgph rlgph is offline
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Default Re-entrant Tuning for 6-string Banjo?

I have replaced and tuned strings 5 & 6 on one of my guitars an octave higher. I like the tuning a lot for many songs that i play using finger patterns. (I also tried the 4th string an octave higher, but didn't like it quite as well, though it also was interesting.)

Anyway, i was wondering how it might sound on a banjitar (6-string banjo) -- whether it would give it more of a banjo's "twang". Anyone tried it? If so, what did you think?
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Old 05-07-2020, 08:08 AM
bkepler bkepler is offline
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I think that would sound interesting and while it might get you closer to a traditional banjo sound, keep in mind that it is not only that string being reentrant, but being a drone. So if youíre still fretting it like you would while playing the guitar, youíll lose that drone quality. Keep in mind too that youíd want to go 2 octaves up, not just one like a uke.

Iíve played some 1800s 6-stringers that werenít in guitar-form. They were still built like a modern 5-stringer, but with an additional lower string. You could go for that sound by just replacing the 6th string with something super light that you could maybe tune up to a high G, then tune the rest of the strings in an open tuning (Spanish, maybe?) so you could play it more like a banjo.
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Old 05-07-2020, 08:38 AM
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I'm not thinking in terms of trying to sound like a traditional 5-string banjo. Though i've not played one, i think of a banjitar as a different instrument. Were i to spend the money, my intention would be to play it using Travis style finger picking as i do on my re-entrantly tuned guitar, for folk or folk-inspired songs. I'm just wondering how that style would work for me with a banjo-like twang. Alternating bass, but not really bass. The re-entrant tuning has the property that most major chords have two strings that are the same pitch and so produce a kind of shimmer characteristic of unison pairs of (e.g.) an octave mandolin.

Last edited by rlgph; 05-07-2020 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 05-07-2020, 08:06 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I've done exactly this on a budget Davison "banjitar" I was given. I replaced the "low" E and A with ones half the diameter of the original and tuned an octave higher (so the tension stays the same).

Easy to do and I like the sound.
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Old 05-07-2020, 11:54 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Itís certainly easy enough to try.

Iíve been playing guitar-banjo since 1980, and have owned one since 1985 (I was borrowing a friendís no-name guitar-banjo for a few years and he finally sold it to me for next to nothing in Ď85...) In the late 1990ís I scored a Deering B6 in a trade, and have used it ever since.

Anyway, I think trying lighter gauge strings tuned an octave higher on those strings is an interesting idea, and experimenting with it on a guitar-banjo is definitely worth trying. You might have some intonation problems if you use the original bridge without modifying it, but if itís something you decide to do from now on itís certainly easy enough to dial in the intonation, either by carving on the original bridge or by getting a new one dedicated specifically to this tuning.

If you do take that approach you can give yourself more flexibility: keep one bridge for regular tuning, and another for your modified partial octave tuning. That way you can switch between both stringings, depending on your musical needs of the moment.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 05-08-2020, 02:27 PM
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Thanks for your comments, guys. If i can sell my 1948 Martin 0-18T, or work out a trade for a Deering B6, i'm going to try it. Or maybe curiosity will cause me to move sooner -- and try it on a Davison or similar.
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Old 05-08-2020, 03:11 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Another option if you've got a short-scale (25.5" or less) instrument is to go double-octave on the bottom E and A strings, with a .010 and a .007 respectively - I saw a guy do this with a cheap banjo, and when fingerpicked it came closer to the traditional 5-string sound than the single-octave "Nashville" swap...
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Old 05-08-2020, 05:57 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Steve wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Another option if you've got a short-scale (25.5" or less) instrument is to go double-octave on the bottom E and A strings, with a .010 and a .007 respectively - I saw a guy do this with a cheap banjo, and when fingerpicked it came closer to the traditional 5-string sound than the single-octave "Nashville" swap...
That's an interesting thought. It's worth experimenting with, particularly if the player hasn't already developed a repertoire and approach for the instrument.

rlgph wrote:

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Originally Posted by rlgph View Post
Thanks for your comments, guys. If i can sell my 1948 Martin 0-18T, or work out a trade for a Deering B6, i'm going to try it. Or maybe curiosity will cause me to move sooner -- and try it on a Davison or similar.
You know, you might want to write a "Does anyone have a guitar-banjo you're not using?" post. That's how I managed to score my Deering B6.

What I have seen over the years is that a lot of folks will pick up a variant instrument like a guitar-banjo or baritone guitar, then find that it's not something that they use very much. After two or three years of owning the instrument they might not be ready to bestir themselves and actively try to sell it, but they can respond positively to an ad asking for one. Especially if you have something they want to trade for.

The Deering B6 is now called the Boston model, I'm pretty sure. The other good brand of guitar-banjos to consider are the Gold Tone. They've got an open back model with a 12 inch pot that has a good bass response, which is one of the things that's hardest to find with guitar-banjos.



Deering Boston guitar-banjo



Gold Tone BT-2000 guitar-banjo

Those are the two guitar-banjos that I can unreservedly recommend; they've both got good low end response, and good intonation.

Interestingly, I've played considerably more expensive Deering guitar-banjos side by side with the less expensive B6/Boston, and the higher priced ones never measure up sound-wise. I had some direct dealings with Deering a few years ago, and happened to mention that. The woman in the office I spoke to said: "Oh, yes, all of the session musicians in Nashville prefer the Boston."

So I suggest you place ads here and on other online forums and specifically ask if anyone has one of these guitar-banjos they want to trade off. Put the brand names and model names in the topic header. A lot of guitar-banjos don't get much use after an initial burst of post-purchase enthusiasm, and somebody out there might have a Boston or a BT-2000 that's been sitting untouched in a closet for two or three years.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 05-08-2020, 07:40 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
...I've played considerably more expensive Deering guitar-banjos side by side with the less expensive B6/Boston, and the higher priced ones never measure up sound-wise. I had some direct dealings with Deering a few years ago, and happened to mention that. The woman in the office I spoke to said: "Oh, yes, all of the session musicians in Nashville prefer the Boston..."
Several years ago I came across a '94 Boston tenor at the Brooklyn Sam Ash for $325 w/OHSC - currently $2K+, virtually unused, and interestingly enough I was considering it when they were selling it brand-new for over twice the price back in the day (hung around the shop for about two years before someone finally bought it)...

Strung it in drop-G tenor uke tuning (a trick I learned from Chuck Romanoff of Schooner Fare) - 10-13-17-26 tuned GCEA low-to-high...

A real little cannon, and extremely versatile: covers just about every style of acoustic music I'm likely to play - Irish, chanteys, neo-trad folk - and I've even fingerpicked it when my 5-string was down for repairs...

Mikes/projects better than my far-more-expensive D-6, and much lighter on the strap (a major advantage since I'm not getting any younger) - as you state I haven't touched the 6-string in a long time, and I might just unload it and pick up a Boston plectrum to keep the tenor company...
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Old 05-09-2020, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post

The other good brand of guitar-banjos to consider are the Gold Tone. They've got an open back model with a 12 inch pot that has a good bass response, which is one of the things that's hardest to find with guitar-banjos.
Would you recommend the Goldtone BT-1000? What are differences between the 1000 and 2000?
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Old 05-09-2020, 10:46 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlgph View Post
Would you recommend the Goldtone BT-1000? What are differences between the 1000 and 2000?
Prior to your post I wasn't even aware of the BT-1000 - I've only ever played a couple of BT-2000's.

Looking at the spec sheets for both of them, though, it seems that the BT-1000 has the same tone-generating parts as the BT-2000. It just has a natural maple finish rather than the darker finish of the BT-2000. The inlay is a bit plainer, as well, without the inlaid stars on the peghead and at the fifth fret. The tuners are a bit plainer than the BT-2000's, without the pearloid buttons of the fancier model.

But you can always put fancier tuners on it if you want.

Judging from the spec sheets of both models on the Gold Tone website, both models should sound identical to each other.

Here are images and the spec sheets for both models:



Gold Tone BT-1000 guitar-banjo


https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldt...uments/bt-1000




Gold Tone BT-2000 guitar-banjo


https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldt...uments/bt-2000


Thanks for alerting me to the BT-1000. Good to know.


whm
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Old 06-20-2020, 04:31 AM
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As i posted on some other thread awhile ago, i did manage to sell my 0-18T and bought a used open back Deering Boston (B6). After receiving it, i ordered two sets of Pyramid silver-plated copper banjo guitar strings and a couple of single John Pearse nickel wound and plain steel strings that i would use for the re-entrant eaDGBE tuning that i wanted to experiment with. While i was waiting for them to arrive, i put on a set of Newtone Heritage 11-47 phosphor bronze strings that i had available, not expecting to like them particularly, since i had read a couple of posts slamming phosphor bronze strings on banjo guitars.

I was very surprised. The combination was quite pleasing to me, and i was also happy with my usual guitar finger pattern playing on the Boston. And even my strumming sounded pretty good. That was also surprising – i had read many posts pooh-poohing 6-string banjos: "You can't play it like a guitar", “Get a real banjo”, etc. Obviously, it didn’t sound like a blue grass banjo, but i’m not interested in (or capable of) playing bluegrass (I’m an old folkie). Suffice it to say, i was very happy with my new acquisition.

When the Pyramid strings came, i transferred the phosphor bronze strings to a size 5 guitar i have, and put strings 1-4 of the Pyramid set on the Boston. I then added two of the JP singles for strings 5 & 6, tuned an octave above standard. I’ve been playing the combination for three weeks now, and enjoying it immensely. As i said, i mostly play alternating thumb finger patterns on it rather than strumming or boom chuck, and i have been pleasantly surprised by how many of the songs of my repertoire sound good (different, for sure, but good) on the Boston. For those thinking about a banjo guitar, don’t be put off by the nay sayers. I assume that if you want to play bluegrass, 5-string is the way to go, but if you like folk, acoustic folk-rock, or folk-inspired pop, a banjo guitar is an excellent alternative. (I can’t competently comment on how appropriate it is for blues, jazz, or other types of music.)

As for a comparison between the phosphor bronze strings and the re-entrantly tuned Pyramid strings, i like them both! The latter are certainly more twangy and suggestive of a bluegrass banjo sound. The PBs are more mellow, though still clearly in the banjo camp tone-wise. After i play my current setup for a good while, i'll probably put strings 5 & 6 of the Pyramid set on to hear how linear tuning sounds with the silver-plated copper strings. Interesting days ahead.

Last edited by rlgph; 06-20-2020 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:13 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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That's great. I think it's cool when people approach these offbeat instruments with a creative attitude.

What I have found is that most people who are dismissive of guitar-banjos have never really tried playing a good one. Some five string banjoplayers, bluegrass banjo guys in particular, seem to actually feel threatened by them, as though it's cheating somehow to play one.

But approached with an open mind guitar-banjos can be truly marvelous. They certainly don't deserve the scorn and opprobrium that routinely get showered upon them.


whm
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:47 PM
BluesBelly BluesBelly is offline
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As a 5 string resonator Blues Grass banjo player I would add the Recording King 6 string (or any Recording King) into the fray. Better build quality than Gold Tone and better value than Deering.
Banjo players consider 6 string Banjo-tars to be a totally separate instrument from a normal banjo. Totally different sound that as a 50+ year guitar player I appreciate. Has its own voice
Standard banjo tuning is open G, same as playing the top four strings of a guitar tuned to open G which is DGBD so all the guitar chords you know only have to be modified on the high E which is now detuned one step to D.
The short half neck 5th string is tuned to G and mostly played as a drone without fretting similar to Drop D tuning on guitar.
When I started banjo I debated on buying a 6 string but decided to go with the 5 string resonator back regular banjo. I’m glad I did, BUT, there’s something for everyone and whatever your decision I’m sure you will have fun!


Blues
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Old 07-27-2023, 07:50 PM
s11141827 s11141827 is offline
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Default Figured it out

We have Nashville Tuning string sets but most 6 string Guitar Banjo made today have a slightly wider & deeper body to help the lower notes speak clearly.
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