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Reduced Scale Banjo

GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 28 Jul 09 - 12:19 PM
Desert Dancer 28 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 28 Jul 09 - 01:01 PM
DonMeixner 28 Jul 09 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 28 Jul 09 - 01:35 PM
dick greenhaus 28 Jul 09 - 02:37 PM
Charley Noble 28 Jul 09 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 28 Jul 09 - 03:48 PM
banjoman 29 Jul 09 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,goodnight gracie 29 Jul 09 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 30 Jul 09 - 11:28 AM
Charley Noble 30 Jul 09 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 30 Jul 09 - 01:35 PM
Songbob 30 Jul 09 - 01:52 PM
oldhippie 30 Jul 09 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 31 Jul 09 - 12:34 PM
Songbob 31 Jul 09 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,goodnight grace 31 Jul 09 - 05:54 PM
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Subject: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 12:19 PM

I just got back from a weekend at Dan Levenson's Claw Camp East. It was an extraordinay experience and I recommend it for anyone seeking a skills-based clawhammer style banjo camp. Dan recommended that I get a banjo (w/o tone ring)with a reduced scale neck. I am a small person, short arms, small hands, etc. He recommended Cedar Mountain. I went on their site and the prices are way out of my league. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Grace


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM

Grace,

You should be able to find a vintage banjo of that description for less money than those pretty new ones from Cedar Mountain. These are the very plain banjos that were sold through Sears Roebuck, etc. around the turn of the last century. I have one that I got years ago from Elderly Music that my local shop would retail at $300-$400.

I don't see any at Elderly at the moment, but you can contact them and tell them what you're looking for and they will keep an eye out (they have a formal list for that, but talking/e-mailing someone might be useful, too). There are many used banjo listings round and about the web - the Banjo Hangout has a list. That might be a good place to post your interest, too.

Good luck.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 01:01 PM

Thanks Becky


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 01:17 PM

Hi Gracie,

I have a similar problem due to some serious finger injuries.
One day a longneck five came my way at a very low price and I just bought it. I would never find an Ode Long Five for $ 200.00 again in my life.

I put on a sliding 5th string capo ( $ 30.00 at Elderly) and bought a couple of Shubb flat finger board capoes( $15.00) and I have never looked back. I play mostly in G tuning capoed at the 5th, 7th, or 8th Frets ( C-D- Eb respectivly. A lot cheaper than a new short scale banjo and a much better sound.

Don


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 01:35 PM

Thanks Don


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 02:37 PM

Saga makes one--it's called a banjeaurine. Nice little instrument (it fits on airplane overhead racks), and, if you change the tuning pegs to something decent, it's quite playable. about $300 (as I recall) from Eldrely instruments


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 03:04 PM

Another classic smaller banjo would be the S.S. Stewart American Princess, generally available on e-Bay for $500 US or so depending on the model grade (1 is lowest and 3 is best).

Most of these banjos were manufactured between 1890 and 1900.

Check the S.S. Stewart website: Click here for website! for more details.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 03:48 PM

Thanks Dick and Charley:

This gives me something to work with.


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: banjoman
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 10:12 AM

Hi - I have a short scale five string banjo with name "Johnson" on it. I think this firm makes a range of cheap banjos. Anyway, having played about with the action and the right gauge strings, it is now one of my favourite banjos with a beautiful tone and low action - it also hold its tuning very well. I have fitted a pick up so its ok with PA. Its tuned to the key of A but will go to G if necessary. This banjo was cheap, about £80 but worth a look.
I also have an even smaller banjo - a Gold Tone Plunky which is tuned to C - its a bit difficult to keep in tune but plays well. Probably best suited to a child but a playable novelty.

Good luck
Pete


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,goodnight gracie
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 11:00 AM

Thanks Pete:

I am not looking for anything really teeny - just slight scale reduction, narrow neck, lightweight. I also want something that is well made, stays reasonably in tune -- that I can grow with.

Grace


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:28 AM

Check this one out. Two frets shorter than the normal neck length, weight 4lb. Gold Tone instruments are well made for the price, with fairly predictable properties. I'm sure Gold Tone would provide a shorter neck for any of their standard banjos, with a little negotiation.   
The older instruments that have been recommended can be great, but are not for players who don't yet know much about banjos, often needing a lot of setting up to make them playable, and you'd need to have one in your mitts before being convinced that it's worth the money.
Dan's a great teacher - I bet you had a great time.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:38 AM

Grace-

What Ray says is reasonable.

But do see if you can get your hands of one of the classic ones mentioned. I don't suppose you live anywhere near Lansing, Michigan, where Elderly Instruments is headquartered? But you can check out their used instruments on their website.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:35 PM

Thanks Ray and Charley:

Bob Carlin also recommended this one. I think I want something closer to a 25 -1/2 " scale with a 11" pot. I do live near HMT so I will check this one and others out too. Yes, Dan is a great teacher, Jennifer Levenson and Bob Carlin alos taught.

Grace


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: Songbob
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:52 PM

I sold a converted tenor banjo recently -- tenor necks are about two frets shorter than the 25+" standard length -- and the buyer was quite happy. I didn't do the conversion on that one, but whoever did not only layered a piece of wood onto the side from the 5th-string peg to the shell (the place where 5-string banjos get wider), but topped it with a piece of fingerboard, complete with frets, despite that no one would be fretting the 5th string anyway. It was a neat job, I have to say.

I long ago did such a conversion, but I left the 5th string just 'hanging out' from the peg to the bridge. I didn't like it, so I put extra wood on the side of the neck, but didn't bother with a fingerboard on top (too much work for what was an old low-grade Kay tenor).

I have a banjo on eBay right now, a 1925 Gibson (10.5" shell -- nothing fancy, in other words), but it has the full-scale neck, so unless you want to use a capo all the time, it's not what you want. However, it is really light, with a good action and sweet, sweet tone (probably close to the plunky tone your teacher is after for you). I used it for several years and always loved the tone. It is not a short-scale instrument, but might be what you're looking for, though it's also probably more than you want to spend.

I have an American Princess, as mentioned above, and it's a lovely banjo, but mine, at least, is only successful with nylon strings, and isn't really loud enough for string-band use. It's the very thing for 19th-Century "guitar style" ("classical") banjo, though.

Good luck in your search.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: oldhippie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:33 PM

Gibson also made a mandolin banjo in the mid twenties, banjo body w/mandolin neck, which might be a suitable instrument.


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 12:34 PM

Thank you Bob and Old Hippie.

I am embarrased to tell you this Bob but I am the person that rode on the train with you and is currently playing a lovely banjo that you generously gave me. I have been having neck problems -- hence the suggestion of the shorter scale neck. However, I am open to your wise recommendations.

Your friend and banjo admirer,

Grace


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: Songbob
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 04:09 PM

Grace, I didn't realize it was you needing the shorter-scale banjo. I'll see what I can scrape up. ( have several in pieces and parts in my basement, most of 'em regular scale (including at least one S.S. Stewart (needs a neck reset, alas) and I'm sure I can find you one.

That one I gave you (which actually came from a neighbor who said, "Find it a good home") is a lovely banjo, so I know what to look for. I have a junky tenor that might make a good short-scale conversion -- I'll look more closely at it to see if it'd "do" over the weekend. It has what your camp instructor said -- no tone ring -- and might be acceptable. I'm sure I can get some shop help from BillD for putting a strip of wood onto the side of the neck where the 5th string goes. I have done this before, so it might not be that hard.

And dog nose the instrument isn't worth much as it sits, even if I put a new head on it. Might be fun to try the conversion. I'll be in touch.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Reduced Scale Banjo
From: GUEST,goodnight grace
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 05:54 PM

Thanks a million Bob.


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