When we receive a call from a customer who is interested in “old time banjo” this raises a few questions. Does "old time banjo” mean pre-Civil War? Does it mean post Civil War? Some people think “old time banjo” means early 20th century music. What about banjo music from the 1930's and 1940's? Does it mean clawhammer style or does it mean early parlor banjo playing of the 1900’s fingerstyle? Frailing? Early fingerpicking from North Carolina that eventually became bluegrass? What do are people actually referring to when they say old time banjo?
One question I hear a lot is "what is a banjitar?" While I have dedicated years pointing out that in fact it is called a 6 string banjo, many folks dismiss the 6-string as some kind of marketing gimmick, born out of a demand from lazy guitar players who want to get a banjo sound without bothering to learn “real” banjo (by which they always mean 5-string, never 4-string).
It is generally accepted that the first banjos were constructed without a tone ring. They were built with a round rim made of wood with a skin head (just like a drum head) stretched over the round, wood rim. Early banjo builders discovered stretching the head over a metal ring that was mounted on the wood rim gave the banjo a little more clarity, note separation, a bit more midrange definition, along with increased brightness and even a little more low frequency clarity.
Here are ten 6 string banjo songs that showcase the history and versatilty of the instrument. The banjo in these songs is one of the primary instruments used (in some cases the only instrument used) and is not just a faint banjo sound buried in the background of the mix. You can see that these songs range from recordings from the 1920’s to today. They also range in styles from traditional jazz, blues, old time, country, and rock. There are no limits for the 6 string banjo. There are many other songs where the 6 string banjo is an essential part of the song. This list is just a snapshot of a few. Let us know of others in the comments section below!
If I told you that banjos were good for your health what would you say? We are told today that a return to the use of natural/organic products is good for our health, right? I was talking to some folks who attended a Natural Product Expo in Anaheim, California along with 71,000 other folks. As I listened to the descriptions, it dawned on me that banjos are one of the top “natural” products you can buy! Let me show you how!
Folks who are thinking about buying a banjo often ask us the question, “ how many strings on a banjo? ”
The topic of classic banjo recordings from the early 1900s came up recently as a customer called a few weeks ago asking what banjo he should buy that would help him recreate the sound of that era.