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Profitt-style fretless banjo?

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Tradsinger 06 Jan 06 - 06:05 PM
Pinetop Slim 06 Jan 06 - 07:39 PM
GUEST 06 Jan 06 - 08:02 PM
Guy Wolff 06 Jan 06 - 08:05 PM
cool hand Tom 06 Jan 06 - 11:14 PM
Once Famous 07 Jan 06 - 11:02 AM
Desert Dancer 07 Jan 06 - 03:56 PM
Once Famous 07 Jan 06 - 04:01 PM
Charley Noble 07 Jan 06 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,BanjoRay 07 Jan 06 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Uncle Jaque from Maine 07 Jan 06 - 09:45 PM
Charley Noble 07 Jan 06 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Uncle Jaque in Maine 07 Jan 06 - 09:54 PM
DADGBE 08 Jan 06 - 03:24 PM
Tradsinger 08 Jan 06 - 03:35 PM
dick greenhaus 08 Jan 06 - 08:21 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 09 Jan 06 - 10:54 AM
Uncle_DaveO 09 Jan 06 - 12:41 PM
Jon W. 09 Jan 06 - 03:55 PM
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wlisk 09 Jan 06 - 04:44 PM
Once Famous 09 Jan 06 - 06:12 PM
DADGBE 10 Jan 06 - 12:09 AM
GUEST,Sandy Paton (sans cookie again!) 10 Jan 06 - 12:14 AM
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Jon W. 10 Jan 06 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Patrick 11 Jan 06 - 12:54 AM
dick greenhaus 12 Jan 06 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,Michael Ebsworth 12 Jan 06 - 06:53 PM
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GUEST,fretless 13 Jan 06 - 09:28 AM
DADGBE 13 Jan 06 - 06:44 PM
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DADGBE 13 Jan 06 - 09:19 PM
GUEST,Greg Gunner 15 Jan 06 - 04:08 PM
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inuit 30 Jun 10 - 02:06 AM
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Subject: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 06:05 PM

The title says it all, really. Is there anyone making Frank Profitt-style banjos these days, and if so, who and how much? I will be in the States in March-April and could possibly get one then, depending on cost.

PM me if you have any info on the above. Thanks.

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 07:39 PM

Google search produced something on fretless banjo made by Keith Young for $450.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 08:02 PM

A guy named Mike Ramsey in No. Car. used to make a fretless banjo-a "Chanterelle" I think-dunno if he's still making 'em, and they are prolly a lot more than $450.00-seen a few of his on Mandolin Bros. website. Anyway here's a link (maybe) or something you could copy and paste to check him out. Just curious as to why you want a fretless one?
http://ramseybanjos.com/


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 08:05 PM

Here is a link to his site .. http://members.cox.net/keithyoungdulcimers/fretlessbanjo.htm

I love Frank Proffits playing .. All the best , guy


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: cool hand Tom
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 11:14 PM

I have an old fretless 5 string banjo in good shape, ebony fretboard lotsa pearl,neck is good and has the old friction tuners still.Its for sale and not that expensive as my newer banjos are allways costing me cash.It does not have a makers name just needs stringing and shes ready to play.
                        Regards Tom


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Once Famous
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 11:02 AM

Yes, go to the Elderly Instruments website and you will see them. When you buy one, make sure you use tape or mark little dots on the neck so you won't hit the wrong notes!

Using a fretless banjo it seems is more about image isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 03:56 PM

MG, a fretless banjo has a quite different sound from a fretted one, so it's more than image. And, a Profitt-style banjo has a quite different pot (less head and more hard rim, like the one pictured on Keith Young's site above), so I expect that would affect the sound, as well. I didn't see any Frank Profitt-style banjos on the Elderly site, though they have a number of fretless banjos.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Once Famous
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 04:01 PM

Well, that's OK. So bray and play a Profitt style banjo. Elderly Instruments is a large seller of many traditional instruments, including the obscure. If they don't have it, which was my suggestion, perhaps you can dig up ol' Frank and he can build you one. Otherwise, apparently there is little demand for this I would think.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 06:39 PM

Nathan Hicks, Beech Mountain, NC, used to make Profitt-Style fretless banjos. He made one for folk song collector and traditional singer Frank Warner, and his son Jeff Warner still has it. Other builders include Bob MacNevin of British Columbia and Bob Webb of Maine.

I was thinking that one of Frank Profitt's sons also continued to make such banjos, with or without frets.

Good luck in your search!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 07:38 PM

Helmut Rheingans of Orb Music in Eyam, Derbyshire makes similar styled banjos to Frank Proffitt. He has a website.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Uncle Jaque from Maine
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 09:45 PM

George

Uncle Jaque's Banjo Concert in the Pavillion


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 09:50 PM

Uncle Jacque-

You do look good! Where did your banjo come from?

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Uncle Jaque in Maine
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 09:54 PM

...I say; (before i hit the return key)... George WUNDERLICH used to make fine reproduction Minstrel banjos and such.

Last I knew he operated as "WUNDER BANJOS" - you could try googling him i suppose.

These instruments were usually set up to use gut strings, tuned 2 1/2 steps below our modern "Bluegrass" pitch - Ab as I recall.

Good luck getting friction pegs to hold steel strings up to modern pitch!

Gut stings are not cheap, but that's the only way you will get the "authentic" sound. I get mine from BOSTON CATLINES. It helps if you laquer or varnish them prior to application. NEVER use picks on gut!

If you're cheap or for practice, you can fudge using certain nylon guitar strings in a pinch.

For the authentic old Minstrel-"Stroke" style of playing one of these critters, check out Bob FLESCHER, who has several excellent instructional books and tapes on the subject.

A fretless board takes a little getting used to, but you can do nifty slurs and slides on 'em, or compensate for a string that goes a little haywire in the middle of a tune (which guts WILL do) as you go along.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: DADGBE
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 03:24 PM

All you fretless players, have you tried fluorocarbon fiber fishing line on your banjo yet? My Proffitt has been strung with steel since time out of mind. Recently I tried fluorocarbon fishing leader and it's great!

The sound is somewhere between gut/nylon and steel and they sound good over a wide variety of tensions. They're amazingly stable and tune easily so fine tuners or geared pegs are unnecessary.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 03:35 PM

Thanks, MCs, for all the tips.

Some have asked why I want to play a Profitt-style banjo. JUST COS, I DO, right! Anyone got a problem with that.

Seriously, though, I like the sound it makes and I think it would suit some of my songs (not all).

HNY

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 08:21 PM

DADGBE-

Thanx for the tip--I've been wondering about these. Any idea of which gauges to use (as I recall they're labeled in x pounds test)?


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 10:54 AM

Frank Proffit Jr was making them a few years back, maybe he still does.
I am fortunate to have one made by the late Stanley Hicks a relative of the Proffits. It's quite possible that other dscendants of this large family are still making similar instruments down around Beach Mountain, N.C.

Lo Gortdon the banjo maker from Brevard, N.C. may be able to point you in the right direction although I don't believe he makes this type himself. Lo normally turns up at the Gainsborough Old Timey bash each February.

Happy hunting
Hoot

Re the image bit mentioned above I think this guy is confusing the old time style musicians with the bluegrass guys who only play Martins or Gibsons


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 12:41 PM

GUEST of 8:02 on the 6th said:

A guy named Mike Ramsey in No. Car. used to make a fretless banjo-a "Chanterelle" I think-dunno if he's still making 'em, and they are prolly a lot more than $450.00-seen a few of his on Mandolin Bros. website. Anyway here's a link (maybe) or something you could copy and paste to check him out. Just curious as to why you want a fretless one?

Mike makes A LOT more than just fretless banjos. And "Chanterelle" is not the name of a particular model of banjo, but the name of the Company, or the Brand. But most people seem to ignore the name "Chanterelle" and just talk about Ramsey banjos. Which seems all right to me, because "the company" consists only of Mike and his wife; no employees. At least that was true five years ago, and from what Mike told me at the time, I'm sure that it's still true.

For whatever it's worth, not everyone knows that "chanterelle" is an old-fashioned word for the fifth string.

Here is a correct URL for Chanterelle (also known as Mike Ramsey) banjos:
http://www.ramseybanjos.com

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Jon W.
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 03:55 PM

Bob Flesher not only writes/performs/records/sells instruction books and CDs, he also builds banjos including fretless minstrel banjos and also sells kits for them. See here.

I've built a few banjos myself, and I'm currently working on my second fretless. Pictures of my first one are here: click


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Jon W.
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:02 PM

Note: I've since restrung that one with nylon, and moved the bridge closer to the center of the head. It sounds a lot better that way.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Jon W.
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:06 PM

Another note: The Foxfire 3 book includes a summary of many "mountain" banjo builders, including, IIRC, Stanley Hicks. There are a lot of great photos of the builders and the banjos and decscriptions of the processes and materials used to make them (the banjos, not the builders ;-)


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: wlisk
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:44 PM

David Hyatt of Fayetteville, AR builds fretless gourd banjos. His website, http://www.dhyatt.com/ has many mp3's by various artists playing fretless banjos. He also talks about the history of the gourd banjo- it's a fine website.
David has also taught classes on making banjos at the Folk School of the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Once Famous
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:12 PM

I'm not confusing it. bluegrass guys (and gals( generally always play Martin guitars and Gibson banjos. One of the primitive style banjos would work I am sure for some kind of primitive sound the thread starter is looking for.

don't recccommend it for Earl's Breakdown, though.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: DADGBE
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 12:09 AM

Hi Dick,

In answer to your question, I'm using Seaguar leader material. The first and fifth strings are 30 lb. test - 0.020" diameter, the second string is 40 lb. test - .024" diameter, the third string is 60 lb. test - .029" diameter and the fourth string is 80 lb. test - .036 diameter.

I tend to enjoy a fairly high tension stringing and used medium weight steel when I used steel. The instrument had to have the nut and bridge slots widened to accomodate the thicker strings but that's not a big deal.

Hope that helps.

Best regards,
Ray


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Sandy Paton (sans cookie again!)
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 12:14 AM

Banjos IDENTICAL to the ones Frank Proffitt (and later Frank Proffitt, Jr) sold, are still being made by Clifford Glenn In Sugar Grove, NC, or were, last I heard. They wouldn't be all that expensive. Try calling 704-297-2297 (Glenn's last known number, but I haven't tried it recently). Or you might drop a postcard to Clifford Glenn, 631 Big Branch Road, Sugar Grove, NC. Sorry, I don't have the zip code.
    Frank Proffitt, Jr., by the way, died more than a year ago. Heart, I'm told.
    Sandy Paton


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 05:48 AM

Sorry about my ignorance of the death of Frank Proffitt Jr as pointed out by Sandy Paton above. By pure co-incidence I read of his passing just this morning less than 24hrs after posting to this thread.

By the way Sandy please accept my best wishes to you and Caroline for the new year.

Hoot (a former attendee at the Princess Louise, High Holborn)


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Jon W.
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 12:35 PM

The Owl Mountain Music website has the following phone number for Clifford Glenn: 828-297-2297.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Patrick
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 12:54 AM

How much exactly like Proffitt's banjos are you talking about? I have a copy of Folkways Records FA 2360 in front of me with a large photo of Frank Proffitt playing one of his banjos. Fretless with some sort of darker material overlayed up to about an inch from the 5th string peg, friction pegs, small pot with a big rim. What some folks seem to call "mountain banjo" style.

If it is the small pot that is all you want, check here:
http://www.songsea.com/banjo.htm

I have built one of these kits and I like it very well. The company that makes it also offers it with friction pegs, nylon strings, fretless. Kit or completed. After building one, it is easy enough to figure out how to build another, if that is your bent.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 06:39 PM

DADGBE-
I appreciate the infomation on fluorocarbon leader for banjo strings. There's one problem: My local fishing supply stores charge about nine bucks for a small package of leader (25 yards). This comes to almost 40 bucks just to see if I like them.


You wouldn't happen to have any shorter lengths you'd like to sell, would you?

dick (cheap) greenhaus


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Michael Ebsworth
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 06:53 PM

One of the closest banjos to the Proffitt style that is currently available is made by John Huron (Noteworthy Instruments - http://www.noteworthyjohn.com/index.html). He uses the Stanley Hicks pattern found in Foxfire 3. I play one of John's banjos and highly recommend his work.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 10:39 PM

In point of fact, I suspect that the Glenns were the actual makers of many of the banjos and dulcimers Frank sold in the last few years of his life. He was working hard to finish building the house he and his wife were to live in and he seemed to sense that his health gave him little time in which to complete it.
    So when you ask how much like the Proffitt banjos are those made by the Glenns, the answer, as I stated above, is "identical."
    Sandy


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,fretless
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 09:28 AM

Sunhearth used to make a Profitt-syle banjo (here's one from Elderly: http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/60U-1742.htm), which is what I play. Good tone and really fine woodwork, but the skin head needs a lot of adjustment for playing in humid summer weather. Wunder makes minstrel style banjos, a different format and different sound.

For fishing line in place of nylon strings, Pete Seger had gauges listed in How to Play the 5-String Banjo, but, as he notes, the strings take FOREVER to stretch out, which means retuning between (and sometimes during) a tune.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: DADGBE
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 06:44 PM

Hi Dick,

Yah, the stuff is expensive for sure! Since I'm doing lots of banjo luthier work these days, I sprung for those 25 yard spools and would be happy to send you some. Just send me a personal message and we'll make arrangements.

Best,
Ray


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 08:12 PM

How does the fishing line compare to purpose-made nylon banjo strings?

I recently changed my first banjo, a spun-rim no-name, to the nylon, and it's fun to have a new instrument...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: DADGBE
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 09:19 PM

Hi Becky,

The major difference between nylon and fluorocarbon comes from the fact that fluorocarbon has greater density. (When sold for fishing purposes it's advertised as sinking line while nylon floats.) Greater density is an advantage to strings because it means greater tone and volume. In practice, they have clearer, richer tone than nylon - sort of like a cross between nylon and steel. They sound great!

Fluorocarbon stretches less so, after the initial break-in period, they remain more stable and in tune than nylon.

Best,
Ray


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Greg Gunner
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 04:08 PM

Clifford Glenn and his father, Leonard Glenn, actually made many if not most of the instruments that were sold by Frank Proffitt, Sr.in the early 1960's. Frank Proffitt, Sr. was too busy playing folk festivals, building a new home financed in part with money obtained from the rights to "Tom Dooley", and working his small farm. I corresponded regularly with Frank Proffitt, Jr. prior to his untimely death in August of 2005. I even ordered a banjo from Frank Proffitt, Jr., but the banjo was actually built by Clifford Glenn of Sugar Grove, North Carolina. Clifford Glenn stopped taking new orders about two years ago, because he was 2 to 3 years behind in filling his orders. I just recently received a mountain dulcimer ordered from him in 2002. His instruments are well-worth the long wait, but I fear he is no longer making the instruments.
As others have mentioned, Keith Young makes one of these mountain-style fretless banjos. Keith has a website where you can look them over. Another excellent source based on the Stanley Hicks design is John Huron who bases his models after the Stanley Hicks pattern. His models can be found online as well. Search online for "Noteworthy Instruments". By the way, Frank Proffitt, Sr. was married to Bessie Mae Hicks, a cousin of Stanley Hicks. Bessie Hicks was the daughter of Nathan Hicks, who made the banjo played by Frank Warner. Stanley Hicks was the son of Roby Monroe Hicks, Nathan Hicks's paternal uncle. If memory serves me correctly, the Keith Young banjos run about $400-$450 and John Huron's banjos are about $350-$400.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: GUEST,Dick Gilman
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 02:52 PM

Well, I make them ! I have one of Frank's...the one he played on tour in about 1960 as he came through the U of Illinois. Mine is signed "personal banjo of Frank Proffitt, Reese, NC. My instruments look very much like his, usually they are of curly maple, but some are cherry. My older ones have a hide head, but recently I have modified the pot to take a slightly larger (8 inch) head which I found REMO makes using fiberskyn 3. I think they sound great. I use nylon strings and violin pegs. You can see a couple of them by going to TRINITY GUITARS and click on the GILMAN FOLK INSTRUMENTS link


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: Mzee Simba
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 05:12 PM

I have two fretless banjos. One is a Dobson from some time in the 1800s with friction pegs. The other uses the small pot with resonator from a pre-World War I banjo mandolin, with a custom made neck that has modern geared pegs. I keep the one with geared pegs strung with steel strings, and the Dobson, with its ivory friction pegs, came to me with steel strings on it, but it never stayed in tune, had an action that was too stiff, and was pretty hard to tune in the first place. Now I keep it strung with nylon kitchen chord...supposedly for trussing up a chicken. I unwound some of the string for the thinner strings, and leave it wound for the thicker strings. It works just fine, and has a lovely mellow tone. I keep it tuned one and a half tones low.


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Subject: RE: Profitt-style fretless banjo?
From: inuit
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 02:06 AM


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