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Dean 6 string banjo

Sandy Mc Lean 25 Jun 07 - 12:23 PM
Stringsinger 25 Jun 07 - 12:36 PM
Greg B 25 Jun 07 - 01:01 PM
Jim Lad 25 Jun 07 - 01:06 PM
SouthernCelt 25 Jun 07 - 01:51 PM
curmudgeon 25 Jun 07 - 01:52 PM
Wesley S 25 Jun 07 - 01:56 PM
SharonA 25 Jun 07 - 04:35 PM
SharonA 25 Jun 07 - 06:58 PM
BanjoRay 25 Jun 07 - 07:08 PM
dick greenhaus 25 Jun 07 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 25 Jun 07 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 26 Jun 07 - 02:21 AM
fretless 26 Jun 07 - 09:38 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 26 Jun 07 - 04:41 PM
Rusty Dobro 27 Jun 07 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,banjoman 28 Jun 07 - 10:09 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 12 Oct 07 - 11:00 PM
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Subject: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 12:23 PM

At the Musicstop in Halifax the other day I tried a Dean six string banjo. I don't play banjo but as this was strung like a guitar I was pleased with being able to play it without learning something new. The instrument was well set up by the shop pro and sounded great, but it listed at $600. On the net I see it for half that price but the reviews are mixed quality wise. Does anyone have any experience with these?


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 12:36 PM

The problem with most 6-string guitar-tuned banjos is that they don't retain the ring or the banjo quality. They often sound dull and thuddy. Ome is now making a 6-string and I would like to know more about it. The early trap-door Gibsons were great sounding and I wonder if Johnny St. Cyr played one?

I have heard some that sound good in a trad jazz band.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Greg B
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 01:01 PM

Consider just learning the five-string, instead. It's a skill much
more easily acquired than playing the guitar, at least the basics
of claw-hammer style. And if you play guitar, you're going to be
well ahead of the game, skills-wise.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Jim Lad
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 01:06 PM

Sandy: It's the range of notes, be it 5 or 4 string, that makes the banjo work. I'm not keen on the 6 string at all. Having said that, if it's "THE" music shop in Hamiflax, they do have an excellent reputation and a wide variety of stringed instruments other than guitar.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 01:51 PM

I've got one of the Dean "Backwoods Banjos" as they call it. It's playable like a guitar as you say (chording) and while it's not exactly the same "twang" as a 5-string would be, it's passable for the occasional song I use it for. I got mine for less than half what you're citing by ordering on-line on a sale. The main drawbacks to the instrument are weight and balance (on a strap). I dare say it's some 3 times as heavy as my Martin D-35 meaning I can't just pick it up w/o the strap and run through a song; I'd probably drop it about half way through. On a strap it's not well balanced because the metal ring body moves the main mass back making it want to rotate the neck up and causing the strap to try to slip around your shoulder.

For the price I paid it's a good novelty instrument but if I were going to play a lot of banjo tunes or try to do any quality work, I'd go ahead and learn the 5-string.

SC


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: curmudgeon
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 01:52 PM

To understand and appreciate a six string banjo, you really need to hear Harvey Reid's CD, The Art of the Six String Banjo. Chords, clawhammer, flat pick - it's all there.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Wesley S
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 01:56 PM

Depending on what type of music you want to play on it - I'd say it's better suited for blues, jugband and old time music. There's a cowboy singer named Don Edwards that uses one from time to time. It works well for him. But I can't imagine it being used for "banjo music". There's a whole lot of other instruments I'd rather spend my money on before I got a 6 string banjo.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: SharonA
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 04:35 PM

I agree with Wesley that it's best suited for the styles he mentioned. I'm guessing, though, that if you're seeking a twangy sound, a resonator guitar would be better suited for those styles than would a 6-string banjo. A resonator guitar would also be useful for other styles, so I'd recommend purchasing one instead of the 6-string banjo.

If you want to play "banjo music" that sounds like you're playing a banjo, go with a 4-string or 5-string and learn to play the instrument and the music. With the 5-string especially, there's no way to imitate that 5th-string drone on a 6-string (unless you're Harvey Reid, perhaps!).

I have an ex-boyfriend who leads a Dixieland jazz band as well as playing other styles at various gigs, and he uses 4-, 5- and 6-string banjos. Since, as a professional, he has found it useful to have a 6-string in his arsenal, I can't say that there's NO reason to purchase one. Depends on your own needs.

But if you're bound and determined to acquire a 6-string banjo, don't pay $600 for the Dean. If you're bound and determined to spend $600, I'm sure you can find a better-quality instrument. Check out the Gold Tone models for quality at a reasonable price, for instance.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: SharonA
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 06:58 PM

By the way, the 6-string or 12-string banjo is also known as a banjitar, a guitjo or a ganjo.

Then there is the 4-string banjo uke (a.k.a. banjolele). the 5-string dojo, the 5-string banjola, the 8-string mandobanjo, the 4-string banjolin, the 4-string bass banjo, the 4- or 5-string banjocello... even a 5-string banjourine (also spelled banjorine or banjeaurine).

Just found a forum where an acquaintance of mine was talking about making a banjo-kalimba. Seems folks make everything banjoid except a banjertina and a banjy-gurdjy (thank goodness!). Or have I spoken too soon...?

Anyhoo, the point of this rambling is to say to Sandy that perhaps you may want to pause to consider which banjoid instrument or BSO (Banjo Shaped Object) you really want to get first. The banjitar is just the tip of the iceberg (or icebanj).


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: BanjoRay
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 07:08 PM

IMHO The guitar banjo is for idle guitar players who can't be bothered learning how to play a real banjo. The previous suggestion that they're good for Old Time is totally mistaken (again IMHO). I believe they were invented in the days of early recordings to produce more volume than a guitar when playing with brass and woodwind, and are now redundant. I expect someone may well disagree with that....
Ray


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 08:35 PM

If you want to hear what a six-string banjo sounds like in really competent hands, listen to some of the backup work that Sam McGee did for Uncle Dave Macon.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 09:59 PM

Good banjo guitars are very useful for finger-picking, ragtime style, but not for much else. Johnny St. Cyr played one on several Louis Armstrong Hot Five recordings, when he wasn't playing tenor banjo, but not many other recordings seem to have been made till Sam McGhee's work with Uncle Dave.

Now, Sam played a Gibson, and it rocked. But a Dean isn't a Gibson, and it isn't even a Stelling, the one company I've heard of making a real quality instrument these days. The cheapest Stellings are around $900 or so (street price, not list). Someone mentioned Odes, above, and those are probably good 'uns, but most likely priced like Stellings.

I've seen Deans for lots less than the price mentioned in the original post, above, but I'd play it a lot before buying, if 'twere me. I got a guitar banjo online, used, but didn't pay that much for it. It's a Goldtone, and I understand they now make a second model, better than the one I got. If you're really interested in playing guitar banjo, look for many makes and models.

If you just want the banjo sound but only want to play guitar, well, be advised that you get what you pay for (in both money and effort learning the instrument).

Bob


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Jun 07 - 02:21 AM

i bought one of these 2nd hand from the US..


Goldtone Banjitar Lightweight (BT-1000)

http://www.goldtone.com/products/pages/bt-1000.asp



lucky to get it at a really low price
[even including shipping & import-tax/VAT]

within a couple of days i tried it out in open G minor tuning..


and its remained permanently set up and intoned for that tuning ever since.

still fitted with a very heavy set of strings from previous owner..


[lowest bass string maybe sounds a bit too dead by now..]

.. somehow it just sounds right for dark doomy Gothic folk moods..


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: fretless
Date: 26 Jun 07 - 09:38 AM

Rev. Gary Davis used to play a 6-string banjo on occasion, but I don't know if he ever was recorded playing one. The sound worked well for ragtime and for some blues, but a "real" banjo (i.e. 5-string with the drone 5th) still works best for Old-Timey.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 26 Jun 07 - 04:41 PM

Thanks everyone for the input and advice!
The banjo that I tried was nice enough and had a good sound but not worth $600 to me. To buy one on line for a lower price is not my intention, because I would want to "try before buy". The endearing thing was being able to pick it up and play it. I know that I should learn to play a 5 stringer but I am lazy as hell. I have a fiddle hanging on the wall for 20 years without getting much use so a banjo may become an ornament, I am afraid. I have four guitars and they seem to hog the attention.
          Thanks again!
                  Sandy


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 06:01 AM

I've just bought a Dean 6-string on Ebay (for £157), and IMHO SouthernCelt above got it just right. I play mainly in 'anything goes' evenings and also with an occasional amplified band with the emphasis on vulgarity and humour, and the Dean has allowed me to vary the sound without another learning process. It has all the shortcomings which people have listed above, and took me a fair while to set up after its transit through the postal system, but I've got it just right now - it stays in perfect tune and the intonation checks out.

Next step will be to experiment with various weights of strings, and to improve on that awkward strap arrangement. Bottom line, though, is that I'm very pleased with it, and find it a lot of fun. $600 seems a lot, though - it lists new in the UK at £239, and usually instruments seem to sell in the US on a 'dollar for a pound' equivalent.

My other axe at the moment is a Dean Resonator, which is a little jewel and will, I hope, be with me to the end of my days. Oh, and I do feel an inclination coming on to learn a 'proper' banjo.......


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 10:09 AM

Intersting thread - I agree that if you want to produce a banjo sound then you have to learn to play banjo. However, I have been restoring & making banjos for a while now & although this diverts from the original question i have just come across a banjo with seven strings one of which is an octave string. It needs a bit of work to make it playable but if anyone has info as to how it should be tuned please let me know.
Its not one of those Windsor types which had a spare tuning peg, this has seven tuning pegs and a seven pin tail piece.


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Subject: RE: Dean 6 string banjo
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 11:00 PM

Just a bit of follow up on this old thread. I recently purchased a Dean Backwoods while on a trip to the USA. I paid $230 for a new one and another $70 for a case. That's less than half the cost of the one I seen in Halifax. It has very good volume and ring and I am having some fun with it. While there I tried a few resonator guitars but anything below $1000 sounded pretty crappy. Thanks again!
                              Slainte,
                               Sandy


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