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7-string banjo

Roger the Skiffler 22 Mar 06 - 09:45 AM
beardedbruce 22 Mar 06 - 09:47 AM
John MacKenzie 22 Mar 06 - 10:19 AM
beardedbruce 22 Mar 06 - 10:44 AM
Leadfingers 22 Mar 06 - 11:13 AM
David C. Carter 22 Mar 06 - 11:15 AM
Allan C. 22 Mar 06 - 11:40 AM
Leadfingers 22 Mar 06 - 11:51 AM
beardedbruce 22 Mar 06 - 12:46 PM
melodeonboy 22 Mar 06 - 01:02 PM
Dave Hanson 23 Mar 06 - 02:24 AM
Roger the Skiffler 23 Mar 06 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 24 Mar 06 - 02:14 PM
Jon W. 24 Mar 06 - 05:52 PM
Leadfingers 24 Mar 06 - 05:58 PM
Peace 24 Mar 06 - 06:01 PM
cool hand Tom 24 Mar 06 - 07:14 PM
Allan C. 24 Mar 06 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Non-strumming Mum 29 Jan 11 - 10:42 AM
Desert Dancer 29 Jan 11 - 11:00 AM
Barbara 29 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM
Ned Ludd 29 Jan 11 - 05:24 PM
Leadfingers 30 Jan 11 - 05:51 AM
Bob Bolton 30 Jan 11 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,Adam1989 23 Apr 11 - 10:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Apr 11 - 06:00 AM
Bo 24 Apr 11 - 06:13 AM
Leadfingers 24 Apr 11 - 07:37 AM
Geoff the Duck 24 Apr 11 - 01:40 PM
Bo 25 Apr 11 - 03:01 AM
Geoff the Duck 25 Apr 11 - 11:11 AM
richd 05 May 11 - 05:39 AM
GUEST, mc d 23 Aug 11 - 07:55 AM
Leadfingers 23 Aug 11 - 09:52 AM
Desert Dancer 16 Sep 11 - 12:13 PM
Lighter 16 Sep 11 - 12:25 PM
Spleen Cringe 16 Sep 11 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,udlh john 16 Sep 11 - 02:41 PM
Lighter 17 Sep 11 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Bisbonian 04 Dec 11 - 11:31 PM
Geoff the Duck 07 Dec 11 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,Banjarz7 10 Jan 13 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Banjarz7 07 Feb 13 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,DrWord 08 Feb 13 - 12:54 PM
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Subject: 7-string banjo
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 09:45 AM

Since others have posted odd banjo sightings (even Wallace- he's Plasticene for goodness sake!), here's my two penn'orth.
I've just come back from a week in Somerset, and in the excellent Rural Life Museum in the Glastonbury Abbey Tithe barn, near photos of village bands is a big drum from the Ilminster Village Band, a keyed bugle and a banjo. The banjo has a short neck like a tenor, but six pegs on the head like a guitar-banjo and one on the neck like a 5-string banjo. The neck is nicely finished and though the pot is fairly plain it looks a professional make, not a home made one.
I know there are lots of varieties of banjo but this is the first 7-string I've seen.

RtS


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: beardedbruce
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 09:47 AM

Roger.

My father has one like that on the wall at his house- The head is a slotted 6 tuner guitar style, and there is a 7th string in the usual place on the side of the neck. Not sure how it is strung, though. It might only have 5 strings.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 10:19 AM

It was probably a guitar head originally and was recycled for banjo purposes with one peg being unused in practice.
Giok


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: beardedbruce
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 10:44 AM

No, there was a definite extra peg on the side, as well. So, two unused tuners? Possibly a spare guitar neck was used. But why INCLUDE the tuners that are not to be used? Seems like an added expense.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 11:13 AM

I have been the owner of a Temlette Seven String banjo for than thirty years ! I bought it in dubious condition and had a new vellum put on at the old Clifford Essex shop in London . The old guy who ran the shop told me it would have been tuned however you tuned your Five String , with a low C and G for bass runs for song accompaniment .
I still drag it out for a plunk every now and then - a real Fun Machine !!


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: David C. Carter
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 11:15 AM

I just Googled-NIXWORKS 7 String Banjos,and there's some info there about first sightings/dates/manufacturing etc.Seems they're called-Banjars!I saw one in a guitar store in Charring Cross Road when I was last in London.

David


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Allan C.
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 11:40 AM

Well hell, if you put seven or even eleven strings on it, is it still really a banjo? I, for one, don't think so.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 11:51 AM

Allan - How many strings should a 'proper' banjo have then ?
Is a Tenor banjo a proper banjo ? or only an open back five string ?
Is this the birth of the Banjo Police ??


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: beardedbruce
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 12:46 PM

The cheap ones have five strings-

The good ones are Tenors.....

:)


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: melodeonboy
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 01:02 PM

To digress slightly, there's a rather good band called the Bluesmothers that plays in the Mid-Kent area . The core of the band is Seven-string Les (along with Conga Lil). Les (or Les Miserable, as he's sometimes referred to) plays a variety of seven-string guitars, and plays them bloody well!


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Mar 06 - 02:24 AM

Seven string banjos were quite common in the early twentieth century, mostly English made [ I think ]
They come up on eBay quite often.

eric


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 23 Mar 06 - 06:14 AM

Thanks for the info, I obviously need to look in more shop windows! Why am I not surprised you have one, Terry??

RtS
(The washboard in the same museum was all wood- not so good for playing!)


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 24 Mar 06 - 02:14 PM

"Is it a banjo?"

Well, sure, how can it help but be?!!

As one who has played everything from a five-string banjorine, four-string banjo-ukelele and eight-string banjo-mandolin to a six-string guitar-banjo and five-string bass banjo, I'd say there's no way a seven string can be anything but a banjo.

Welcome to the family, Septimobanjo.

Gee, now I want to try to play one.

Bob


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Jon W.
Date: 24 Mar 06 - 05:52 PM

Yeah, and if it has three strings or 8 strings or 1 string it's still a banjo as long as the strings cross a bridge on a skin (or synthetic skin) head stretched across a hoop, gourd, or something similar. Some, however, might be tuned and played like a guitar or mandolin or ukulele or string bass or whatever.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Mar 06 - 05:58 PM

Bob Coltman - If you are any where near West London you can try mine anytime !


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Peace
Date: 24 Mar 06 - 06:01 PM

Had a friend in NYC who had a seven-string guitar. He added another tuning head and doubled the treble E string. Neat sound.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: cool hand Tom
Date: 24 Mar 06 - 07:14 PM

I play 5 string but still i have seen cello banjos amazing looking things but as leadfingers says we dont want no banjo police.Some think my longneck is a mutation and worse still it has a metal neck.anything with strings and a vellum head to me is in the big banjo family.
                  Regards Tom


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Allan C.
Date: 24 Mar 06 - 08:16 PM

I was just "stirring," guys, to see what opinions there might be on the subject. I play a twelve string guitar and have gazed covetously at Art Thieme's nine string guitar. So there's really no reason why a banjo couldn't still be a banjo even with added strings.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,Non-strumming Mum
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 10:42 AM

My dad's 7 string Banjo is a Barnes & Mullins (London 1920-30s).
The 7th wire string runs three quarters up to its neck. The 7 ivory tuning pegs are all at its head.

I can't play anything yet -but I'm learning to tune and play a guitar with an eye on eventually playing Dad's banjo.

If anyone else out there has a similar model - would be glad to hear from you. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 11:00 AM

Coincidentally, I started another thread recently on banjos with more than 5 strings (with some links to players): here.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Barbara
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM

I've just been reading a history of pre-war Washburn instruments and the Lyon and Healy company of Chicago Ill. and in it the author states that Washburn produced a 6 string banjo as a way to interest guitar players in playing banjo. The idea was it would be tuned to traditional guitar tuning to make the transition easier.
Is that how the 7 string ones are tuned? Six in trad guitar tuning and then the side peg?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 05:24 PM

Geoff Beaumont of the Beaumont brothers, Ginger jug band, and Ugly Mug jug band plays a 7 string fretless banjo open tuned bottleneck. Oh and lefthanded!


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 05:51 AM

Barbara - The old chap who looked after Clifford Essex's Shop told nme they were supposed to be standard banjo tuning with a low C and G for bass runs for song accompaniment


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 09:52 PM

G'day Roger ... and everyone else following,

I may have posted something of this on some other related thread ... sometime back some (mumbledy) years back ...

Way back (around mid 1960s) in a Sydney folk club I remember a Canadian singer accompanying himself on a 7-string banjo. A quite big drum head, 'standard' slotted guitar head and 7th string peg on the side of the neck.

To follow a 'Canadian' line ... I later (some time in the 1970s) bought a copy of an 'Illustrated Diary' of life in England / New Zealand / Austalia ... and back & forth called (~) Charlie Hammond's Sketchbook. This was very interesting because it was a personal view by a young English lad who moved between England and "the Colonies" until he settled down in Australia ... where he worked, mostly as an artist (and, later, photographer) in commercial and newspaper areas.

Consequently, it is a great resource (and reliable!) for many images and details of late 19th century life, down this end of the world.

At one point, his older brother, who he hasn't seen for the years in which big brother was serving in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, arrives in Australia ... and is drawn as unpacking ... a 7-string banjo! The instrument is, presumably, accurately depicted, as all the family were active musically - and photos of the studio Charlie and another brother ran in Melbourne show a number of other musical instruments ... possibly involved as props (by this time they were also photographers ...) but also being played by the Hammonds. (Charlie depicts himself playing an autoharp ... for a "bush dance" on a New Zealand Sheep property, somewhat earlier!)

I guess that the "Canadian" link is purely coincidence ... but I have seen English music from that period stating that it is available in arrangemnents for: 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, 10-, and 12-string banjos!

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,Adam1989
Date: 23 Apr 11 - 10:44 AM

Hi Guys n Gals,

Upon a recent forage into my attic, my dad and I stumbled upon what we have been told is a Seven-String Banjo, and upon removing the skin to take a look inside we found a signature on the inside of the skin, of someone by the name of something Rogers with a stamp of STANDARD underneath all in pink ink. I have photographs if anyone wishes to see them, drop me an email - adam-glover@hotmail.com, and any information you could give would be great.

Thanks so much

Adam


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 06:00 AM

standard banjo tuning

Where did the notion there is a standard banjo tuning come from?


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Bo
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 06:13 AM

and, to follow on from Mr McGrath, how has it come to pass that everything with a skin and a bridge with strings over it = a banjo.
The man I once saw playing a two string 'chinese violin' with bridge and skin, and a friend who plays kora will be very surprised to discover that they've been playing banjos all this time.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 07:37 AM

Kevin - When 'I' say standard banjo tuning , I mean the tuning whoever it is NORMALLY tunes their Five String banjo (Open G , Mountain Minor or what) with a C and G on the two lowest tuned strings for Bass Runs !


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 01:40 PM

GUEST,Adam1989.
In answer to your question, the skin bit of a banjo is a replaceable item which could be purchased independently of the instrument. Any identification marks belonging to the banjo will be on the actual wooden parts, whether that be a mark stamped in the wood, or a plate attached to it.
A quick web search found this page - somewhere about half way down he describes things attached to a banjo "non-descript cheap japanese tailpiece and a rather worn Rogers vellum."
This suggests to me that "Rogers" were vellum manufacturers and "Standard" was the thickness or grade of vellum and the stamp was on the "wrong" side of the skin and not intended to be seen.
A slightly different search found this page which mentions "The Art of Bookbinding. A Lecture Delivered by Frederick Rogers, President of the Vellum Binders Trade Society. Possibly a coincidence, but possibly not.

If you want to identify the manufacturer of the banjo, you will need to look for markings elsewhere.

Bo - the whole point of this and similar threads is that the instruments under discussion ARE banjos. They are not derived from Chinese bowed instruments or the Kora which, although it has a skin over its sound box, is closer to a harp than a banjo.
The instruments were by and large designed by manufacturers who were already building "standard" banjos, using the same sort of banjo bodies (sometimes made in a different size) but adding a neck with a different number or arrangement of strings.
In my book (and the manufacturers catalogues) that makes them some form of banjo.

Nobody is trying to claim that all instruments with a sound box covered with a skin are some form of banjo. What we are discussing is a family of instruments with a reasonably well documented history since it became popular in America and then moved across the Atlantic to Britain.

Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Bo
Date: 25 Apr 11 - 03:01 AM

Thanks Mr Duck, what does not appear on these posts is a little sign indicating that the writer has tongue firmly inserted in their cheek. I was referring to a much earlier post where Jon W clearly stated his definition of a banjo.
I have little actual knowledge of banjos but an old friend, many years ago, had an old banjo which he said was an English Windsor model. I remember clearly that it had a head very similar to a 'spanish' guitar with slots in which were fixed 6 machine heads. He said that this was 'normal' and only 5 strings were ever used. The 5th string was run from the bridge and it disappeared into a little hole at the side of the neck and emerged at the back of the nut to connect to the tuner. I don't know if this was a usual technique but it fascinated me at the time.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 25 Apr 11 - 11:11 AM

The Windsor you mention was a fairly standard arrangement on English made 5-string banjos. The string disappearing down a brass tube and emerging at the point an American style 5-string has a peg sticking out of the side of the neck. The skin of the banjo on these designs is stretched over a cast iron "drum" fitted within a wooden shell. The arrangement is usually referred to as a zither banjo.

The tuning machine heads in banks of three would have been a standard manufactured item made for guitar builders and were not made in sets with two on the plate. In later banjos, you will occasionally see a plate with two machine heads on one side and three at the other. These would have been custom manufactured for the job.

As for irony, we usually have to guess, especially if it is not obvious that a comment refers to an earlier posting. It is an old thread, which I read at the time (2006), so on this occasion didn't bother re-reading the earlier part as I was responding to Adam's question. I sometimes helps to quote the earlier comment and add a manual smiley (Wasn't he a Spanish gardener ;¬) ...).
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: richd
Date: 05 May 11 - 05:39 AM

I've aquired a seven string banjo. Bit sad looking but lovely. It has the name J E Dallas Maker and the address 415 Strand WC there is a serial number 3989. It has a slotted head, and looks neato- does anyone know anything about banjos of this type, or the maker??


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST, mc d
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 07:55 AM

i have come accross a instrument which looks just like a banjo it has 6 keys at the top like a guitar and another about 2/3 way up the finger board it doesnt have any frets there is some writing on the inside which says 16 th feb 1893 dublin any ideas on a site where i could get advice on restoration project id say i need very little parts by the looks of the thing


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 09:52 AM

GUEST,mc d - that sounds like a Fretless 7 String Banjo - IF the neck is straight , not warped at all , it will be worth doing a renovation on I feel . If the vellum is in poor condition , that is a fiddling job , but should be well within the capabilities of any one with a LOT of patience !


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:13 PM

Here is a vintage image of a 7-string banjo: 6 tuners on the head and one on the neck, all fully strung. No date, but looks to be somewhere between 1900 and 1920.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:25 PM

Quick! What sea shanty actually mentions a 7-string banjo?

Time's almost up...!


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:32 PM

All musical instruments are banjos. Ain't never seen a horse play anything else...

I like the idea of The Banjo Police. If they were a band I'd book 'em (if they didn't book me first)...


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,udlh john
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 02:41 PM

I,ve got a seven string banjo that needs a bit of repairing (Well!If it was human, it would be on life support!) and I would be happy to sell it to anyone who was willing to put a skin on it and replace a few frets. this is a genuine invitation to anyone who makes me a reasonable


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 08:30 AM

...Still no takers, eh?

The shanty is "Gimme the Banjo." See Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,Bisbonian
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 11:31 PM

GUEST,udlh john , if you've still got that 7 stringer, I'm game. Send me a not at "porternut-at-earthlink-dot-net"


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 07 Dec 11 - 06:11 PM

Hey Spleen! When this ancient thread resurfaced a few days back, I spotted your comment about the Banjo Police. Sounds like another item to add to my life work "Something to annoy almost everyone...".
I reckon "So Lonely" has possibilities clawhammer wise.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,Banjarz7
Date: 10 Jan 13 - 02:55 PM

I have 4 7-string banjos. They are a real hoot to play. Years ago, I was jamming with Don Pedi, playing one of my British (unmarked)ones at the Festival at Mt. Airy, North Carolina. A few campsites away was Mike Seeger, Pete's half brother, playing an old Martin.
When he heard that 7-string, he followed the sound like a dog smelling steak, and we picked all afternoon, Mike has, unfortunately recently passed away. He had an extwnsive banjo collection.
I never got to show him my Orpheum 7, with a 12 inch head and tone ring. You can vamp all day on the low 2 strings.


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,Banjarz7
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 04:11 PM

My Lyon and Healy is a fretless 7 string.

I play all kinds of banjos, including fretless 5 string, but let me tell you, It's a real white elephant. Anything fretless is a real challenge, especially up the neck.
There are so many variations that count as banjos... I have an A.O. Oakley with two drones (not set up yet) which should prove to be
real riot to play. I know there are other similar 19th century banjos
with multiple drones. They built all kinds of variants before the banjo was standardized
Keep pickin' and don't be afraid of banjos that seem weird. I found my first 7 string leaning on a tree at a flea market in New Hampshire in 1989. It was stringless, and had no tailpiece or bridge, but I figured out the tuning. I just use any regular 5-string tuning, and tune the 5th and 6th strings as octaves to the 3rd and 4th. It had a skin head, and I set it up with classical guitar strings. I re-cut a standard 5 string bridge for it.
Also, if you closely examine your 7 string, you'll probably find that the frets were added later, sometimes right into the neck, with no fingerboard.

Banjarz7


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Subject: RE: 7-string banjo
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 12:54 PM

GUEST,Non-strumming Mum: It's probable that Barnes & Mullins were dealers rather than makers. Well, no. It's possibly the case. Some UK catter can clear this up, but I have a bowl-back Barnes & Mullins 'Special ten-string' mandolin ca.1910-20 that is unquestionably of Italian provenance.

So: were B & M the equivalent to, say, Canada's Long & McQuade (i.e.,a music shop), or an actual maker? OK!!! I broke down & surfed up the answer. Though started by banjo players, they are dealers.

It's two years since your post about your dad's 7-string instrument. Are you playing it yet?

keep on pickin'
dennis


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