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Tranjo Travel Banjos

Charley Noble 22 Sep 11 - 09:05 AM
Mavis Enderby 22 Sep 11 - 12:27 PM
Charley Noble 22 Sep 11 - 07:32 PM
dick greenhaus 22 Sep 11 - 08:03 PM
Charley Noble 23 Sep 11 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,Geoff the Duck 23 Sep 11 - 06:44 PM
Charley Noble 23 Sep 11 - 07:59 PM
Ana 24 Sep 11 - 01:13 AM
foggers 24 Sep 11 - 04:46 AM
Charley Noble 24 Sep 11 - 11:00 AM
fretless 25 Sep 11 - 01:35 AM
Charley Noble 25 Sep 11 - 07:58 PM
fretless 25 Sep 11 - 08:10 PM
dick greenhaus 25 Sep 11 - 10:05 PM
Charley Noble 26 Sep 11 - 01:14 PM
dick greenhaus 27 Sep 11 - 09:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 27 Sep 11 - 10:51 PM
Charley Noble 28 Sep 11 - 08:42 AM
Musket 28 Sep 11 - 09:15 AM
Leadfingers 28 Sep 11 - 04:42 PM
Charley Noble 28 Sep 11 - 10:44 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 06 Oct 11 - 04:02 PM
Charley Noble 06 Oct 11 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 07 Oct 11 - 03:26 AM
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Subject: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 09:05 AM

There are a number of banjos described as "travel banjos" available from Saga, Goldtone, and a newly developed one by the Farris Travel Banjo Co. called a "tranjo." Here's a link to his Tranjo 8.1: click here for info and PIX

They certainly are innovative, with a fold-up neck, full fingerboard, and constructed in either maple or walnut (non-rain forest woods).

I'm thinking that this might be just the thing for those of us doing international touring, who worry about losing track of our vintage banjos (lost or mislaid in transit) or having them challenged by customs staff.

These banjos would seem more appropriate for accompaniment of vocals rather than for instrumental sessions. The 8.1 model is pricy at about $900; however, there are less expensive travel models produced or licensed for production by Farris.

I've initiated a thread about these banjos on Banjo Hangout and gotten some useful feedback. Does anyone here have any direct experience or comments?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 12:27 PM

I'd be interested to know how well the Steinberger tuners work, and how quickly you could change tunings. I think they are 40:1 ratio?

Very nice design though....

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 07:32 PM

Pete-

I was reassured by a post on Banjo Hangout that these tuners were very responsive, despite their 40:1 ratio. They are tuners to lust for!

Here's another travel banjo, the Travel Jo by J. A. Sloan & Son, in the running which actually looks like a banjo: click here for info and PIX

Both banjos retail for about $900, which puts them well beyond the causal banjo player's budget.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 08:03 PM

Saga's copy of an old Stewart banjorine (spelling?) works, if you can stand the short scale. Doesn't sound bad, fits on a luggage rack and sells for about $300.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 08:05 AM

Dick-

The Saga SS 10-P is a contender, available from Elderly Instruments for a modest $325, but the neck is a short scale, for open C tuning. That was my first thought as well, but then I got distracted by what else had been developed for this niche market.

I am somewhat concerned about the "exotic wood issue" at border crossings. I don't know how real this issue is in practice but I'd rather not run the risk of losing one of my vintage Stewart banjos.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: GUEST,Geoff the Duck
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 06:44 PM

Surely a Tranjo ought to be a banjo for a trasvestite...





















I'll get my frock!





Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 07:59 PM

Geoff-

The Tranjo is indeed a weird looking instrument, but it seems to please a whole lot of people. Here's an comment from some one who has a lot of experience using it from the Banjo Hangout (peewee):

"I have the first Tranjo 8.1 produced, and I have been traveling with it extensively for almost a year now.. I paid around $900 for it, and I had a custom Colorado case built for it, $300. I am out of town 170 night a year, and I normally fly close to a Million Miles a year. The banjo has been very durable, but I am not sure how much the Case contributes to the durability.. I had extra dense padding, and an insert that prevents sharp impacts from damaging the banjo added. I carry it on the plane fully assembled in the bag, and it fits just about anywhere.. The overhead storage, the stand up closet, or even under the seat in front of your feet. No problems ever with getting it thru security or onto the plane.

As far as Tuning goes, the Steinburger tuners are the best.. They are easier to string than a normal wrap around tuner, and they are 40:1 geared, plus they are completely out of the way so damage is not a major concern. The top part of the tuner that is visible is used to lock the string in place. It works like a vise, put the string thru the hole, and screw the top down pinching the wire in place, snip the wire off, then on the back side of the tranjo the tuners are twisted which pulls the pinch string downward into the tuner causing the string to tighten. Really simple.

The Tranjo is not very loud in general and does not sound exactly like a regular banjo. Its too loud in a quiet Hotel room and I use a bridge mute, around the house and in the yard walking around playing the loudness is just right, but in a jam or band situation No one will hear you. The only way around that would be to use a Microphone or pickup into an Amp."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Ana
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 01:13 AM

Yes SagaSS10-P is nice, but I found its tuners rubbish. With neew tuners its quite acceptable. Tranjo seems a great idea!


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: foggers
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 04:46 AM

A year or so back, a visitor from the US came to what was then my regular session in a local pub. He was here for a few weeks to see relatives. He had a Tranjo and he was kind enough to let me try it out a few times.

I would echo exactly what the owner from Banjo Hangout has said. It is a little quieter that a usual full sized banjo, it is a very clever design with good build quality. The action was comfortable and the sound was great for accompanying singing. It did get a little drowned out when everyone was singing and playing together. He was very interested in my little 9amp battery powered amp that I use on my dulcimer, for that very reason. The owner was someone who travelled a lot and found the Tranjo to be perfect for that purpose.

Geoff - I think a banjo for a transvestite would be a Trannie-jo. And what colour is your frock?


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 11:00 AM

Foggers-

Yes, I'm thinking the Tranjo 8.1 is what I'm looking for while I'm traveling. I'm no longer an instrumental session contender, my wrist doesn't deal well any more with rapid pace and repetitive long tunes. But I do like something I can play for accompaniment of singing. The tuners that come with this banjo have been described as superb.

I do find its appearance somewhat disquieting but it appears to be very well made, and of native maple or walnut!

I'm less impressed with the less expensive Tranjo models; they seem more in the category of practice instruments for travel.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: fretless
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 01:35 AM

Don't know the Tranjo, but I've owned and played a Sloan Traveljo for about 30 years, from back in the days when Sloan called it a Fold-a-Jo. Handy for air travel since it fits neatly into a brief case or similar carry-on. Beware: the pot and all those strings look really weird in security's x-ray machines, and the guys working the scanners tend to freak out when they see it.

My version takes nylon strings, which gives a mellow sound but not necessarily one that is loud enough for performance with other instruments.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 07:58 PM

fretless-

Wonder how the new Sloan model compares with what you have. Does it look similar? Check the link above.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: fretless
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 08:10 PM

The new ones look more polished, and the hardware that controls the folding process seems more sophisticated. No idea about the sound--I haven't played one of the new ones.

Mine is set up for nylon strings, which was a key accommodation for allowing the banjo to fold without having to remove the strings and, indeed, without having to do more than minor retuning when you restored the folded instrument to playing condition. I don't know if the new ones can handle metal strings, which I suspect would be a necessity if you were going to play it with other instruments.

Another thing that certainly has changed and that's the price. If I'm reading the website correctly, the new ones cost about 5 times as much as I paid for mine. but of course withinflation, the dollar is probably worth about a fifth of what it was worth in the 1970s.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 10:05 PM

Oddly enough, the photos on the website don't seem to show the tuners. which model Steinburger tuners does it use? Anyone have experience with the different models Steinburger sells?


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Sep 11 - 01:14 PM

Dick-

The Steinburger tuners are gearless. Here's how Sam Farris the builder describes them on my thread on Banjo Hangout:

Don't be put off by the "40:1" number - it's not a gear ratio, it's the number of threads per inch on the threaded shaft which puts tension on the string. You can tune a string from dead-slack to full pitch in seconds with just a few turns of the knob, which has very little friction and turns very easily. Retuning strings to alternate tunings is fast and easy - it takes about 1/2 turn to go from F# to G on the third string for example. There's no mechanical backlash (unlike geared tuners) so it's easy to fine-tune precisely, and once you are there they really stay in tune well. I use the Steinberger tuners on my regular banjo as well, and I will never go back to a conventional 4:1 geared banjo tuner again. They are fantastic!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 27 Sep 11 - 09:02 PM

Which model Steinburgers are you referring to?StewMac (and Steinburger )list several.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Sep 11 - 10:51 PM

Not sure banjo players should be encouraged to travel. keep em all in one place - I say.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Sep 11 - 08:42 AM

Dick-

I can't find anything more either under the technical specs for the gearless Steinburger tuners on the Sam Farris website.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Musket
Date: 28 Sep 11 - 09:15 AM

Travel banjos are a good idea.

Who here doesn't know a banjo player who has problems getting a banjo into the tiny front boot of their Porsche?


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Sep 11 - 04:42 PM

That's CRUEL Ian !!! LOL


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Sep 11 - 10:44 PM

I suppose a real travel banjo would be one that you could ride like a broomstick.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 04:02 PM

If it's flying with it that worries you, I have had no difficulty carrying either my Deering Classic Goodtime Openback Banjo, or my Art & Lutherie Ami (parlor-size) guitar on board a variety of airlines. I used to think I had to ask in advance, find something smaller, or use a heavy-duty case and check it like luggage. I even considered shipping it to my destination via UPS at one time. Then I just started carrying it as though it was the most natural thing in the world, and even in these weird times, no one ever says a word about it. And that has been true for Southwest, Delta, and Spirit.


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 07:08 PM

Big Daddy-

Didn't work for me on US Air or United, but I haven't tried to carry on an instrument in the last 5 years.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Tranjo Travel Banjos
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 03:26 AM

I meant to say that in the case of both instruments, I have carried each in its original padded case. I don't know if that's part of the "magic" or not. And I've only ever carried one at a time. I've seen others doing the same with no hassle.


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