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Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?

Les in Chorlton 25 Nov 14 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery 25 Nov 14 - 03:46 AM
IamNoMan 25 Nov 14 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Mr Red 25 Nov 14 - 04:05 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Nov 14 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Reynard 25 Nov 14 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,matt milton 25 Nov 14 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Rahere 25 Nov 14 - 09:25 AM
GUEST 25 Nov 14 - 09:40 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Nov 14 - 11:21 AM
Musket 25 Nov 14 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Nov 14 - 01:20 PM
Mr Red 25 Nov 14 - 02:35 PM
IamNoMan 25 Nov 14 - 08:46 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Nov 14 - 09:00 PM
PHJim 25 Nov 14 - 11:53 PM
GUEST,matt milton 26 Nov 14 - 04:37 AM
IamNoMan 26 Nov 14 - 04:38 PM
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Subject: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 03:42 AM

Ok, lets get this out of the way:

Banjo Jokes

I play tenor banjo in sessions and would like to know how I can maximise the volume of sound that I generate

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 03:46 AM

Amplify it !!!


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: IamNoMan
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 03:54 AM

Don't know what kind of banjo you have or how you play it. Here're some ideas:
Increase the mass of the tailpiece.
Make sure the head is tensioned properly. If it Squeeks its about right.
Resonator tight?
Play closer to the bridge.
If you attack the banjo hard go to medium or heavy gauge strings.
Tune up a half tone or a full tone. Should give you more brilliance if not volume.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 04:05 AM

If you play in sessions, check the faces of the other sessionista. As I always tell proto-Bodhranists
"because you know when you are going to hit (strike) your brain is ready for it. As a result you tune it out to a degree. This is so that you can gauge what everyone is playing, particularly the one playing the right tune, and in sync".
In other words, you are louder than you perceive yourself. Ditto melodeon, sax, etc.

Trust me I am a drummer...................


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 04:51 AM

Thanks folks. I play mostly English Country Dance Tunes on a Framus (German) tenor banjo. I think I play sensitively in sessions but would like a bit more volume in our Ceilidh Band which can number 20 generally un amplified indtruments.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 05:38 AM

I would put another vote in for checking the head tension, maybe even think about replacing the skin altogether if it's old. It's pretty easy to do yourself, and not too expensive (maybe £30-40) and can make a big difference to tone. Most music shops would probably do it for you, it's not a job that needs a luthier's skill!

You can get different heads made from a various materials that are supposed to emphasise different aspects of the Banjo's sound, so you could look for one designed for a bright tone, or max volume. If you live anywhere near a good specialist shop like Eagle Music or   Andy Perkins' your best bet would be to visit or give them a call.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 06:59 AM

User higher guage strings and change them regularly.

Heavier pick?

But ulitmately, there are limits. When I play my openback banjo at my local session I simply can't be heard unless I'm hitting the strings as hard as possible, using metal fingerpicks, and even then only on the high notes. Means I only play right at the top of the neck on anything other than a quiet ballad.

So at that session I use a Danelectro Honeytone amplifier, with a cheap Maplin's clip-on cardioid microphone (it clips easily onto the banjo's rod). The amp's small enough to clip to my belt: if you couldn't see it you wouldn't even know I was amplified. All it does is makes sure I'm audible.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 09:25 AM

Cut the neck off and attach it to a bohran?


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 09:40 AM

GUEST,Rahere,

Stop being a complete wanker, possibly?


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 11:21 AM

Please, please it has been good humoured and helpful so far


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: Musket
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 12:58 PM

Yeah but tolerance of banjos only goes so far...

I used to play a G banjo, complete with resonator on stage with a folk rock band. Even that wasn't loud enough for large venues. Miking it wasn't an option because I was a lively bugger in those days and tended to dance around a bit.

Here's the thing. Trying to use it without amplification, everybody reckoned it rang out better without the resonator. I know you are looking at a tenor banjo, but bloody banjos in general can be contrary buggers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 01:20 PM

Here's what I would do first, Les. I would take my banjo to a store that sell banjos. I would play mine and then I would play the new tenor banjos that are for sale. Does mine sound noticeably softer? Then perhaps it needs that new head, or whatever.

If they all seem about the same, then possibly amplification is called for. Trouble is, once the sword of amplification is withdrawn, the sheath must be thrown away. I'm sure you know what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: Mr Red
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 02:35 PM

Isn't there a Resophonic/National banjo design?

Though I doubt the OPer was really looking for a new banjo.

Now here's a thing. George Formby (jnr that is) opted for a ukulele banjo because he realised he could not be heard in the gods without it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: IamNoMan
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 08:46 PM

Les: Mr Red makes a good point about having the proper type of instrument for the the job. Why don't you post some more revealing information about your banjo design so we know what kind of animal we're dealing with?


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 09:00 PM

k and k do a nice banjo transducer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: PHJim
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 11:53 PM

When I bought my old open back S.S.Stewart tenor, it had the original skin head and no tone ring. I have since added a simple 1/4" brass tube tone ring (I had to saw of 1/4" from the top of the pot) and changed to a thin mylar head. These two modifications increased the volume significantly. When I played in sessions, I changed from a GDAE tuning to a DAEB tuning. This puts all the tunes I played in the GDAE tuning an octave higher and since few of the fiddle tunes I was playing ever went below the D string, it didn't restrict me much. If I did need the low G, I could either modify the tune, go up an octave or switch to mandolin for that tune. This tuning seemed to increase the volume of the banjo as well.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 04:37 AM

"Trouble is, once the sword of amplification is withdrawn, the sheath must be thrown away. I'm sure you know what I mean."

I do know what you mean, but I've found sticking to a tiny 9V-battery-powered amp (like the Danelectro Honeytone) really doesn't qualitatively transform your sound or the way you play. Lots of fellow sessioneers hadn't even realised I was amplified, they could simply hear me play for once.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my tenor banjo louder?
From: IamNoMan
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 04:38 PM

PHJim: Do you think raising the pitch of your strings actually increases the volume or does it increase the brilliance? Your points about tone rings and plastic heads are right to the point. If I wanted more volume on a banjo with no tone ring I would try to get a Scalloped Fairbanks Electric Style tone ring. IMHO the bestest loudest T.R. ever made.


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