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Pony Banjo Query

21 May 09 - 06:05 AM (#2637386)
Subject: Pony Banjo Query
From: GUEST,Ana

Hello. I'm thinking of getting a 'short' banjo, coz it's a bit of a stretch up the neck of a standard for me. Any thoughts on new instruments - what to look for, brands to avoid etc - would be appreciated... or should I look at a tenor?

21 May 09 - 06:10 AM (#2637390)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: Les in Chorlton

Although not ideal, a capo can make most banjos short at will. Choice of strings and tuning are also important.

The best thing is to go to a good banjo shop like Hobgoblin and play lots and lots until you are sure what you enjoy. Then go home and try again on another day until you are really sure.


L in C

21 May 09 - 06:15 AM (#2637395)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: GUEST,Ana

That was quick! Thanks for your thoughts Les.

21 May 09 - 06:41 AM (#2637413)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: Geoff the Duck

As someone who plays both tenor and 5-string, I would say that the stetch on a tenor can be more of a problem than on a longer necked 5-string.
When playing a scale, you have to go up more frets on a tenor before you reach the next string, whereas with a 5-string, fretting second position to get from G to B via A, or from B to D via C or C# is a much closer shift for your fingers.
If you are only chording, there are alternative fingerings at different positions on the neck where ferrets are closer spaced, and of course, you can use a capo to shorten the scale, but then use heavier strings which will allow you to tune your new "Open" position down to the notes of the original tuning.

21 May 09 - 12:41 PM (#2637725)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: BTMP

There are a few companies that offer an 'A' scale 5-string banjo, essentially a neck shortened at the second fret of a normal scale banjo, but otherwise playing in the same way. It probably could be tuned to G scale if you used a slightly heavier set of strings.

21 May 09 - 02:34 PM (#2637810)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: Songbob

Gold Tone is one modern maker with a "average" priced short-scale banjo (or 'banjeaurene,' to use S. S. Stewart's nominclature. There are other makers, but for a commercial maker, that's where I'd start. Look online.


21 May 09 - 03:20 PM (#2637841)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: Stringsinger

The problem with a tenor banjo is that it requires other instruments to carry it. The Irish style uses single string work whereas the tenor jazz style uses chords mostly and is used in trad jazz bands. (Or banjo bands).

The five-string is more solo oriented.


21 May 09 - 08:34 PM (#2638088)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: GUEST,Ana

Mmmm. Really helpful stuff - thanks!
Most of what I like to do is sing the old songs (UK trad). I can play a bit of geetar, and prefer fingerpick style to strum.
If I settle for a 5 string, then I'm hoping I can still find a finger style that works with this. Is this a dumb idea?

22 May 09 - 01:44 AM (#2638230)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: Ernest

If I remember it right (from reading - I am not that old ;0) when banjos became fashionable in the parlor manufacturers tried to boost a guitar-like style of picking - so you could be fine with your current style. But of course it is always good to be able to play different styles (and probably fun to experiment....)


22 May 09 - 04:01 AM (#2638285)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: Geoff the Duck

5-string is fine for guitar style fingerwork. The one major difference is that you do not have the two bass strings below the main bit of the melody picking. If you want something more complex than rolls or arpeggios on the chord shapes, you may need to work on going further up the neck.

24 May 09 - 06:01 AM (#2639772)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: banjoman

For a real cheap short scale banjo have a look at a Johnson - I have one in my collection and it really is a great little banjo. I also have a Gold Tone "Plucky" which is even smaller. Both play well and can hold their own in the company of other instruments. The Johnson lends itself to a variety of styles and particularly suits my own thumb and one finger picking style which I developed because of medical condition with my hands.
As I build the occasional banjo, I was able to set up both of the above to my own preference so its worth looking for a bit of assistance if you do purchase one.
Good hunting

24 May 09 - 06:17 AM (#2639775)
Subject: RE: Pony Banjo Query
From: catspaw49

"For a real cheap short scale banjo have a look at a Johnson"

I've looked at my Johnson and if you've made yours into a banjo then you really are the "banjoman" ..................and also a bit insane if you ask me.