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Best strings for tenor banjos

Les in Chorlton 09 Oct 08 - 02:15 PM
Dave Hanson 10 Oct 08 - 02:45 AM
Will Fly 10 Oct 08 - 03:28 AM
Sky Sailor 10 Oct 08 - 03:48 AM
Bernard 10 Oct 08 - 06:13 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Oct 08 - 08:21 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Oct 08 - 08:22 AM
Will Fly 10 Oct 08 - 08:24 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Oct 08 - 10:01 AM
Will Fly 10 Oct 08 - 10:04 AM
Will Fly 10 Oct 08 - 10:05 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Oct 08 - 11:09 AM
Mooh 10 Oct 08 - 01:57 PM
Gulliver 10 Oct 08 - 08:00 PM
Tim Leaning 11 Oct 08 - 05:48 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Oct 08 - 06:32 AM
Leadfingers 11 Oct 08 - 07:17 AM
Zen 11 Oct 08 - 07:29 AM
Gulliver 11 Oct 08 - 10:46 AM
Les in Chorlton 16 Oct 08 - 05:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Oct 08 - 03:03 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 03:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Oct 08 - 03:29 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 04:05 AM
Tim Leaning 17 Oct 08 - 04:13 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 04:18 AM
Zen 17 Oct 08 - 05:49 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 05:56 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Oct 08 - 06:09 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 06:10 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Oct 08 - 06:29 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 06:34 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Oct 08 - 06:48 AM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 08 - 07:59 AM
Dave Hanson 17 Oct 08 - 09:31 AM
Stringsinger 17 Oct 08 - 05:15 PM
Will Fly 17 Oct 08 - 06:03 PM
Les in Chorlton 19 Oct 08 - 01:27 PM
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Subject: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 02:15 PM

I have fitted La Bella, fairly light strings to my tenor banjo and have tuned them GDAE (G lowest) in the Irish style. They sound fine but seem to loose their tone quite quickly.

Any advice?

Chiz

L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 02:45 AM

I use Redwing mediums, 12, 18, 28, 38. this seems fairly standard for Irish tuning.

Short scale banjos are usually fitted with heavy guage, 13, 20, 30, 40,
but mediums work OK on my short scale Whyte Laydie.

eric


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 03:28 AM

I use John Pearse strings for Irish tuning on one tenor banjo, and D'Addario strings on my short-scale tenor (C-G-D-A). Both seem to last the onslaught of my acid fingers.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Sky Sailor
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 03:48 AM

I use D'Addario Octave Mandolin strings on my 19 fret (GDAE). I found that the lighter strings were a bit 'sloppy'.
Gauges are 0.012, 0.022, 0.032, 0.046. The other advantage is that you get two sets per pack.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Bernard
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 06:13 AM

Heavier guage strings are always better on a banjo - as long as you've got everything else properly set and tensioned. It surprises me how many players bon't know how to tension the head properly, which causes all sorts of problems...

The first thing you do is go around all the tensioners checking for loose ones. After that, go around feeling the tension on each one in turn (clockwise or anticlockwise, but not in a criss-cross pattern - no-one's ever proved to me it works better!) so that they all feel as if they are equally tensioned. There's a knack to it, but it's easily learned.

If the head doesn't have a tight 'ring' when tapped with your fingernail (you'll know when it's right), go round gradually increasing the tension - less than a quarter turn on each time around - until you're happy with it.

Some cheap banjos have a plastic hoop moulded into the head instead of an alloy one. You cannot get the tension right on those. If it's a natural skin head, be careful the steel hoop hasn't gone rusty, or the head will tear.

A sloppy head will sound wrong, and it will affect the 'action'. Once you've re-tensioned the head you may need to alter the rake of the neck - if your banjo has the adjusters to do it, then fine, otherwise you're stuffed!!

Better go... I'm supposed to be 'working'!!

;o)


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 08:21 AM

Has anyone tried Elixir guitar stings?


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 08:22 AM

Has anyone tried Elixir guitar stings? Sorry I should say some of - on a banjo.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 08:24 AM

L in C: "Has anyone tried Elixir guitar strings?"

I use them on my guitars - they keep their brightness and tone for a long time as they're coated in various ways. Some guitarists don't care for them but I do. I have a tendency to break the 3rd (.024 gauge), but that's just in Thrash Ceildh sessions (don't ask!)


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 10:01 AM

I put them on my 1960's Yamaha FG 180, I think they are brilliant. I guess I could put some of them on my tenor.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 10:04 AM

It's certainly worth a try, Les - do you play in "standard" or "Irish" tuning?

Will


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 10:05 AM

Sorry Les - just re-read your first post - Irish of course!


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 11:09 AM

Yes, light strings, 12 for the thinnest I think. I have a long necked Framus but I put a capo on and play it well up the neck. I have tried all sorts of string thicknesses and tunings withe capo in various positions and I think I have it where it works well.

Cheers
L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 01:57 PM

I use and prefer D'Addario on my short neck tenor. They seem to hold their tone, intonation, and tunability as long as any other.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Gulliver
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 08:00 PM

There's not a great selection of brands of banjo strings in Dublin. Do folks buy them mail-order or over the Internet?

Don


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 05:48 AM

Try knitting wool?
Its not so loud and you can use differnet colours so it pretty.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 06:32 AM

Gulliver,

"There's not a great selection of brands of banjo strings in Dublin"

This seems a bit sad given that Dublin is the probable home of re-stringing and re-tuning the tenor so that it basically matched the fiddle, enabling fiddle players to play the tenor a bit quick and straight from the fiddle dots. I think

Chiz

L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 07:17 AM

John Alvey Turner WAS one of the 'good' makes of English banjos back in the Good Old Days , and the name still exists , as an Online Outlet ! They also do a range of banjo and guitar strings . I ONLY use JAT strings on all my banjos (D'Addario on guitar and mandolin) and they do Mail order . There is a website :-                      http://www.johnalveyturner.co.uk/page2.html


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Zen
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 07:29 AM

I use the same gauges as Sky Sailor on my 17-fret tenor (.012, .022W, .032W, .046W). I have always used nickel wound on tenor banjo which last a lot longer.

Zen


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Gulliver
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 10:46 AM

Thanks for that info, Terry. I'm just heading off to the session in O'Donoghues--I must ask the banjo players about their strings--there's about 4 of them turn up regularly, one of them, young Luke (to distinguish him from old Luke, his father, also a banjo player) very good, and also makes his own parts.
Don


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 05:50 AM

I was all ready to buy some Elixir guitar strings yesterday in the much esteemed Hobgoblin in Johnny Roadhouse, Manchester, I had explained the strategy of guitar strings onto banjo when the young person serving me said ah, but the second string is not wound as is a banjo string.

Now, deep in the land of banjo obscurity what does this mean and does it matter?

I am inclined to point to the sophistication of us tenor banjo people, contrary to well rehearsed stereotypes!

Chiz

L i C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 03:03 AM

Wound or unwound A string on Irish tuning tenor banjo then.

Stands back and anticipates banjo jokes.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 03:22 AM

OK Les - you asked for it (and I also play tenor banjo):

Q: What's the difference between a trampoline and a banjo?
A: You take your shoes off when jumping on a trampoline.

Sigh...


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 03:29 AM

Thanks Will, I love 'em all. but we still know what a fine, subtle, romantic thing tenor banjo can be ........ sort of?

I like the one about a drummer (we all need someone to look down on) who decides to become a guitarist. Goes into a shop to buy one. The shopkeeper says - are you a drummer? Yes he replies, how did you guess? Because this isa fish and chip shop.

But still ............ wound or unwound how crucial is this?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 04:05 AM

I'm not sure I can throw any light on the wound/unwound 2nd string question. My tenor is in "standard", short-scale C-G-D-A tuning, and the 2nd string on my current set is unwound. As far as I'm aware - and please correct me if I'm wrong - "Irish" tuning is lower and therefore uses heavier strings.

If you have a choice of either wound or unwound, then all will depend on your overall choice of gauge. When I started playing guitar ("many, many, many years ago", as Betty Marsden used to say in Round The Horne), some guitar string sets had an unwound 3rd. You don't get many of those today!


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 04:13 AM

How can you tell if the stage is level?
LOL


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 04:18 AM

Exactly.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Zen
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 05:49 AM

If in "Irish" tuning (GDAE) a wound A string will tend to give better tone in my experience.

Perfect pitch? Banjo into a skip from 50 yards!

Zen (tenor banjo player)


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 05:56 AM

Perfect pitch? Banjo into a well from 50 yards, avoiding the accordions around the edge.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 06:09 AM

Well, I left my banjo on the back seat of the car, forgot to lock it, when I got back ............................

I am a gentleman, I have a banjo but ................


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 06:10 AM

Finished, Les. Can I hand my paper in now? :-)


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 06:29 AM

Sure can Will, I think we have cleared the decks a bit, but I am still in search of a wound 18 string by Elixir

Chiz
L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 06:34 AM

I don't think they make them. Here's their acoustic page:
Elixir acoustic strings The nearest wound string I can find is a .022 wound.


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 06:48 AM

Thanks, Will,

I have checked out the Elixir sites and I am sure you are correct.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 07:59 AM

Banjo / Harley Davidson ?


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 09:31 AM

Man walks into a bar and says " hey, wanna hear my latest banjo joke ? " the barman says, " I play banjo and those two guys down the bar, Big Bad John and Psycho bill both play banjo, do you still want to tell it ? "

The man says nah, I can't be bothered explaining it 3 times.

eric


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 05:15 PM

Wonder if anyone has experimented with the tuning Bb F C G? I'm going to try it with
a trad jazz session soon. Here's the point, if you play with tenor banjo chords in the key of C in this tuning,you are in Bb (a good horn key). If you play in tenor banjo F, you are in Eb, another good horn key. Tenor banjo Bb puts you in Ab. Tenor banjo G puts you in F. Tenor banjo D puts you in C. Why bother? A whole step lower on my Bacon and Day seems to be more mellow.

I might put a capo on the second fret and play in standard tenor C. I have a 19 fret Bacon and Day which makes the capo on the second fret turn the neck into 17 frets.

I have heard that some New Orleans trad banjo players use this Bb F C G tuning. I'll keep you posted if it works.

The problem the tenor banjo has with standard trad jazz is that the top strings are so high that they interfere with the clarinet in a "dixie" lineup. Elmer Snowden played GDAE like the Irish tuning which avoids this problem.

My friend and one of the best tenor players I know, Bill Rutan uses this tuning and his
playing sparks any trad jazz band with which I've heard him play.

Also, Bill uses a re-entrant tuning in which he tunes the fourth string an octave higher for closer voicing on his chords. (You might call it a high G tuning). Some standard tenor players do this as well in CGDA and call it high C tuning.

Mike Pinkatore with Paul Whiteman used the standard tenor tuning CGDA but he played three note chords which cut through the orchestra. A three-stringed chordal approach was like Freddie Greene's open tenth style guitar style playing which cut through the Basie Band.

So the gauge of the strings would have to do with which tuning you employ. I have used a light GDAE and cranked it up to BbFCG.

Like to hear from others on all of this. My friend Bill Rutan has made me a devotee of jazz tenor banjo.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 06:03 PM

Interesting possibilities there. I played tenor banjo and guitar with a mainstream jazz band in the late 70s/early 80s - but without a clarinet. The front line was trombone, trumpet, alto sax and tenor/baritone sax. So I just played in the standard chording - which I didn't much like, frankly, preferring guitar. I became more interested in the tenor banjo when I started listening to Billy Pigg, the Northumbrian piper - and the standard tenor tuning seemed really suited to stuff in G. However, I now also a capo on the 2nd fret to facilitate fingering for some material in D and A! It's a Windsor 1904 short scale tenor, not really suited to "Irish" or other tunings, and I'm tempted to get a longer scale one to experiment with. I'd be interested to hear how the voicings change in the capo'ed jazz environment.

Will


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Subject: RE: Best strings for tenor banjos
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 01:27 PM

Any more views on the tuning of the short necked, tenor banjo in irish tuning (EADG)?

Chiz

L in C


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