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Need Banjo advice

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GUEST,BigDaddy 24 Oct 05 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,TIA 25 Oct 05 - 12:04 AM
NH Dave 25 Oct 05 - 12:15 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 25 Oct 05 - 06:22 AM
Leadfingers 25 Oct 05 - 08:21 AM
Patrick-Costello 25 Oct 05 - 08:50 AM
Midchuck 25 Oct 05 - 09:54 AM
Jon W. 25 Oct 05 - 12:20 PM
Mark Ross 25 Oct 05 - 12:27 PM
Jon W. 25 Oct 05 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 25 Oct 05 - 01:24 PM
Steve Latimer 25 Oct 05 - 11:27 PM
Burke 26 Oct 05 - 01:10 PM
Guy Wolff 26 Oct 05 - 01:35 PM
bigchuck 26 Oct 05 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 26 Oct 05 - 09:09 PM
GUEST,Jed without a cookie again ... 26 Oct 05 - 11:19 PM
DonMeixner 27 Oct 05 - 12:24 AM
GUEST,BigDaddy 08 Jul 06 - 02:16 AM
BanjoRay 08 Jul 06 - 07:29 AM
Ernest 08 Jul 06 - 08:22 AM
kendall 08 Jul 06 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,harpgirl 08 Jul 06 - 09:33 AM
JedMarum 08 Jul 06 - 10:20 AM
Anonny Mouse 08 Jul 06 - 02:30 PM
kendall 08 Jul 06 - 04:25 PM
Desert Dancer 08 Jul 06 - 05:31 PM
Little Robyn 09 Jul 06 - 01:13 AM
JohnInKansas 09 Jul 06 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,BigDaddy 10 Jul 06 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,Jim 10 Jul 06 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 10 Jul 06 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 14 Jul 06 - 02:44 AM
redsnapper 14 Jul 06 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,wanting a long neck 09 Sep 08 - 06:18 PM
Mark Ross 09 Sep 08 - 09:40 PM
Escapee 10 Sep 08 - 12:26 AM
Mooh 10 Sep 08 - 08:26 AM
olddude 10 Sep 08 - 09:36 PM
banjoman 11 Sep 08 - 06:51 AM
Jerseypinie 19 Apr 09 - 01:19 AM
GUEST,clay 26 Aug 10 - 07:45 PM
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Subject: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 24 Oct 05 - 09:43 PM

Help. please! I'm looking for a lower-end 5-string, open-back banjo. I've looked at the Rover RB-20 (too cheap), a Hohner that Elderly sells for $199.00 (didn't seem "bright" enough), the Deering Goodtime that Elderly sells for $299.00 (just not sure). I've also looked at some "fixer-uppers" by Kay, Harmony, Chicago, etc. These are around $150.00 each, but would require more than basic setup.    I'm beginning to feel that I've looked too much, or am too hard to please. The Deering Goodtime is about the top of my current banjo budget. I'd appreciate some feedback. I really only want one to play for my own back porch enjoyment and maybe at a family reunion or such. I have no desire to play bluegrass, just some old fun tunes like "Soldier's Joy," "Old Joe Clark," "Cripple Creek," etc.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,TIA
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 12:04 AM

I'm no expert, but I got good advice from these folks several times when looking at banjos...

Folk of the Wood banjo advice

Good Luck!


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: NH Dave
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 12:15 AM

If you would like an older banjo, our local music folks,
Acoustic Outfitters have some of the better older instruments at what I consider a fair price. Like anything, I don't think you'd be happy unless you could actually come in and play these instruments, but if you are in the North East, this would not be a problem.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 06:22 AM

a couple of years ago i got a low cost Ozark brand open back 5 string to learn on..

i'm very content with the overall sound, playability, build quality
value for money..

it will be a while before i find any need to upgrade...
it compares well to my much more expensive Goldtone electric banjitar


plus, considering the price..
i wont feel too bad about drilling holes in it
to fit an 'under the skin' humbucker pickup and vol control..


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:21 AM

The problem with most of the lower priced banjos is the 'solidity' of the hoop ! If its made of fairly light wood , the hoop will absorb some of the vibration from the head , thus losing tone . A while ago i found a cheap banjo for a 'friend' which had an aluminium body , so was light , but sounded good . He never played it and refused to sell it back to me though it would have been a good 'spare' instrument .
As with all things , the tendency is you gets what you pay for and 'cheapos' often sound just that .


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Patrick-Costello
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:50 AM

Actually, the Rover isn't a bad little banjo. It's got a lot of bang for the buck and it's a better instrument - and a better value - than the pricier beginner banjos out there.

-Patrick


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Midchuck
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 09:54 AM

Banjo advice:

DON'T.



Peter.

(Just funnin' ya.)


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Jon W.
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 12:20 PM

I've heard good things about the Deering Goodtime from folks I trust.

One of the things to look for (insist upon) is a geared 5th-string tuner (the other four should be geared as well, and the Deering uses guitar tuners for those).

The tone of the Rover banjos can be improved by stuffing a sock or small towel between the coordinator rod and the head. Experiment with position. Of course this cuts the volume also but that's not necessarily a bad thing.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Mark Ross
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 12:27 PM

The Goodtime banjo is a great beginners instrument, although on the high end of the scale. I've recommended it for a couple of my students and it fits the bill. The sound will be greatly improved if you use medium gauge strings. Give it a try, youll be pleasantly surprised.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Jon W.
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 12:31 PM

Also, if you go with a Rover or one of the other cheap Chinese banjos, buy it from someone who has taken the time to set it up properly.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 01:24 PM

Thanks, all of you. I guess I'm leaning toward the Goodtime, perhaps with different strings and setup. I'm about an 90 minutes away from Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan. I've got a couple more days before making up my mind, so feel free to chime in again. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 11:27 PM

BigDaddy, While you are there, check out the Saga, they are supposed to be a very good banjo for the money. I believe the open back is the SS10.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Burke
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 01:10 PM

I have the Saga SS10 & am very happy with it. I think it was a little more expensive than the Deering Good Time, but not by much.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 01:35 PM

I know its tough to do <><><> BUT remember if you spend a little more (say 300.00 more then you are thinking so you walk in with $500.00 you can have something that has some value if you trade it in . If you can look at a Mike Ramsey student model while your visiting Elderly you will see what I mean. They are set up so well I used one on my last CD and love the tone I got because ><><> it was so well set up !
             I dont mean for you to spend extra for inlays or show stuff but just a good hand made student banjo from RAmsey or Gordon will be an addition to your household for a long long time . All the best , Guy


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: bigchuck
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 02:12 PM

I had a Deering Goodtime for a few years and was quite pleased with it overall. I used it when we recorded our first CD. You could do a lot worse.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 09:09 PM

Thanks again people!


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,Jed without a cookie again ...
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 11:19 PM

Deering Goodtime - me too!

Get the lowest banjo they make ... no resonator, no pick up, no nonesense. I'd be surpirsed if you have to pay more 'en $180.

I agree it sounds better with medium strings - but it sounds good as is too, with lights (I keep 'em light and tune it to A).

It's sounds and plays a whole lot better then it ought to! Maybe that's why they made it so ugly - don;t want to cut down on sales of their higher priced models!

;-)

Deering really does make some really fine banjos, and the Deering Goodtime is too good to be a low end banjo - but it is!


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: DonMeixner
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 12:24 AM

EBay has 6 Goodtime Fives up right now.   Priced from $113.00 actual bids to 300.00 starting bids and all prices in between.

I'd look long and hard at Saga Banjos. Consider a Saga kit?

Don


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 02:16 AM

Well, it took long enough, but I finally settled on a banjo. Just purchased the new Deering Goodtime Classic model at Elderly Instruments. I had decided on the Saga SS-10 last fall but there wasn't one to be had in the USA apparently. Now that I bought my Deering, a couple of Sagas have turned up on eBay. That's okay, though. I'm happy with my Deering. I also bought a DVD by Mike Seeger on "how to play" old-time banjo, but even though it's supposed to be for beginners as well as more advanced players, I find it difficult. Any suggestions? Mike starts out by changing the basic tuning and then teaching a picking style that is too complex for this beginner. It's a great video if you just want to watch a bunch of really good pickers, but...


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: BanjoRay
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 07:29 AM

Mike Seeger plays a lot of different types of Old Time playing methods, both up and down picking - If I were you, I'd concentrate on one style that you like till you've got your head around it, before you start looking at other styles. I started on Clawhammer (aka frailing, downpicking, rapping etc) many years ago, and haven't yet got round to looking very hard at the other styles.
I've bought many banjo instruction books over the years. If clawhammer suits you, a good book to start with is Clawhammer Style Banjo by Ken Perlman, who explains it all in detail, leaving very little to chance. If you work your way to the end (could be at least five years if you do it properly!) you'll be a very good player indeed.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Ernest
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 08:22 AM

Have a look at Patrick Costello`s site (he posted above). I don`t play 5-string, so I don`t know if it suits you, but it is worth a try.
I think it is called "The Tao of old-time banjo" or something similar. He posted a limk in a thread a while ago, so you might find it here by putting it in the search box.
Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: kendall
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 09:09 AM

My first banjo was a Samick, and it was too loud. I've been looking for the right one for years. At present, I have an ancient Fairbanks Vega number 2 special, and the tone isn't bad, but the tuners suck. If you tighten them enough to stop their slipping, you can't turn the damn things. Plus, I hate to use pegs for the 5th string because it would spoil its antique value. It's in nearly perfect condition now.

I've heard countless banjos over the years and the one Granpa Jones played has the sound I want. He offered me one of his back in the 70's but I couldn't justify the cost back then.I thought my daughter's braces were more important than my lifelong desire to play a good banjo.

Can someone tell me why his banjo sounded like that? Was it the banjo, or his playing?


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 09:33 AM

BigDaddy,
Good choice for a first time player, The Goodtime! Pete Seeger's banjo book is the place to start and then go from there, I reckon. Also nothing better than someone to actually show you some licks. Find a teacher that plays the way you like! I like Ernie Williams in Florida but mind you, I am a stalled banjo student myself. hg

My Rover is okay but I'm not satisfied with how well it stays in tune. Being an autoharp player, I'm particular about good tuning!


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: JedMarum
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 10:20 AM

The Goodtime is a much better banjo then it ought to be! I think they were looking to build a pretty good, low cost banjo - but they created a great, low cost banjo. It plays and sounds like a good one and it costs almost nothing (as banjos go).

I have two. I actually use them on stage.

They're cheap, they play well, sound fine and they are easy to carry around.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Anonny Mouse
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 02:30 PM

Deering Goodtime is a good choice. FOlk of the Wood has a coupla demos with the "Goodtime" you can listen to. For their cost, they sound pretty darn good! And if you move up to something more expensive, you'll get a pretty decent return on your investment. Deering is a very well-respected American builder.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: kendall
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 04:25 PM

I find the Goodtime much too twangy. I'm looking for mellow.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 05:31 PM

Dan Levenson was helpful in my learning, he's got a book & DVD made for rank beginners called "Clawhammer from Scratch". I haven't used the book (since I wasn't starting from scratch when I met him), but it's probably good.

I've used Ken Perlman's book, too, and he's got a set as well. It's available from Homespun, as are many other options, including Pete Seeger, Bob Carlin, and Happy Traum sets.

It's always useful to look at more than one teacher's presentation of the idea.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Little Robyn
Date: 09 Jul 06 - 01:13 AM

I recommend Mike's big brother Pete's tutor if you can find one. Mine is about 40 years old (but I'm not parting with it).
When you're halfway through that one, you might like to revisit Mike's DVD.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Jul 06 - 10:39 AM

Mentioned above:

The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo, by Patrick Costello.

You can download a .zip at the link that unzips to the .htm web page version. Full book/CD versions also available for purchase, with goodies like video etc that would likely add to the learning experience. As noted at the download site, it's a fairly large book, so a "print your own" will probably cost you quite a bit more than just placing an order.

I was impressed, but then I'm not a banjoist; and the "banjo student friend" I saved it for was off into "some other style" at the time.

(Note to the author: I did a quick conversion to .pdf [Adobe distiller] when I downloaded the .zip, since .htm saves have a tendency to disintegrate when they get moved around in storage. I haven't done a full proof-read, but it appears to have come across okay. The file is 1,091 KB - about twice the size of the website .zip, but probably could be forwarded as an email attachment. It zips to 922 KB, which isn't really enough compression to be worthwhile(?). PM an addy or other contact info if interested? - I'd be happy to try to forward the .pdf if you'd have a use for it and don't already have it in "durable format.")

John


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 03:03 AM

Thanks, everybody. Now I just have to decide which of the preceeding suggestions to try. Elderly's about two hours away, so this may require another pilgrimage. Tough way to spend a day off but somebody's gotta do it. Cheers,
    Jay


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 10:55 AM

One of my students owns a Good Time and it is well worth the money she spent on it. Since she was interested in Clawhammer, We put medium strings on it and the tone/playability improved.
While I think every banjo player should have Pete's book, it does bite off a lot of different styles. I'd stick to one style for a while as suggested earlier. Ken Perlman was an excellent suggestion. For clawhammer style, I'd go the video/DVD route as it's hard to explain the right hand accurately in a book.

By the way, Fred Eaglesmith owns and plays Good Times on stage, even though he also owns an old Gibson.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 02:28 PM

Kendall, swap out the head on the Goot time for a Fiberskin head. Don't take the top too hard with the tension hooks and play with medium strings. That mellows anythung down a bit. If it is still too twangy. Stick a towel rolled up between the dowel stick and the top.


BigDaddy,

GoodTimes and SS-10's are the best banjos for the buck. You could have done worse by a mile.

Don


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 14 Jul 06 - 02:44 AM

Thanks, Don. I'm glad I did my homework and didn't rush into this. By the way, my new Deering Goodtime is called the "Classic" and appears to be available only at Elderly Instruments. It's a step up from the usual Goodtime and doesn't look like it was designed by Ikea (mahogany finish instead of the usual blond wood). Check it out at Elderly's site. They sell it for $419.00. I'm happy.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: redsnapper
Date: 14 Jul 06 - 05:21 AM

I have a Deering Goodtime and it is excellent for the price.

RS


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,wanting a long neck
Date: 09 Sep 08 - 06:18 PM

I have been playing an Arthur E. Smith for about 30 years now, but am interested in getting a long neck for purposes of singing with my guitar-playing wife. I like the idea of singing in the key of E and the other options that a long neck presents. I play a pretty simple 3-stroke frailing style, with little drop-thumbing and mostly to sing songs with my wife. I'd like some ideas on what to purchase for under $2000.00. I've mostly seen 1960's era Vega models running for around $3500.00 and up depending how close to Seeger's or Dave Guard's style---and I'm always looking in estate sales, etc. I'm not sure if Vega is more hype---kind of like CF Martin although I've played some nice Martins. I guess what I want is a good durable long-neck, with full tone that sounds well with my baritone voice along with my wife's low soprano and a 12-string. Am I barking up a wrong tree at $1700.00?


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Mark Ross
Date: 09 Sep 08 - 09:40 PM

Gold Tone Banjos makes a long neck for under a $1000. They also will sell you a long neck for any pot you want to put one on.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Escapee
Date: 10 Sep 08 - 12:26 AM

Not only will Gold Tone sell you a neck, they'll install it. I got a neck for around 200 bucks, and they put it on an old Vega pot for around 200 more and they did a great job.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Sep 08 - 08:26 AM

Another old thread returns from oblivion!

Haven't played the GoldTone long neck, but I dig the Irish tenor and 5 string I have. Dollar for dollar they sound great, minimal set-up too, as the factory seems to have their act in order. The 12th Fret in Toronto sells a bra-zillion of them along side much higher end banjos (though I got mine from Long & McQuade...price ya know).

It baffles me why banjo is so maligned, it's the infinate cool.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: olddude
Date: 10 Sep 08 - 09:36 PM

laugh if you like but tyler mountain makes a darn good inexpensive banjo with a big bark IMO. Maybe asian made I dunno but I don't care, nice sound, easy to play, and won't break the bank


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: banjoman
Date: 11 Sep 08 - 06:51 AM

I would recomend the Goodtime for beginners, but also suggest trying a few Gold Tones. I currently have a couple of their Long Neck Banjos and they are great. Its also well woth considering, if you are handy with a few basic tools, of making & setting up your own banjo. It would be unique. Thats how I got started into making them years ago and currently have about 35 in various stages around the house and work room, much to the dismay of Maggie.
I gave up trying to fathom out how to play books years ago and suggest that the only one worth reading once is Pete Seegers.
Good luck & keep on pickin'


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: Jerseypinie
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 01:19 AM

Witch is better American made Banjo or Imported Im thinking of getting a Deering Goodtime banjo or the cheaper Goldtone CC 50 banjo. both are less then $400.00.


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Subject: RE: Need Banjo advice
From: GUEST,clay
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 07:45 PM

I've got an early long neck Muse with Harpoon peg head. It's a great banjo. But I'm trying now to trade it off for an open back with a regular length neck, maybe an Ome ideally. The muse is a good player.


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