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Showing posts from June, 2013

Banjo Tinkering

There comes a time when you just want something different. Since we all can't own enough banjos to suit our varying tastes from day to day, a fact that our neighbors and loved ones no doubt celebrate, we must instead tinker with our instruments now and again to make new sounds.

My banjo needs a tonal makeover. Right now it is set up with Ome heavy strings, a thin goatskin head and a 5/8-inch bridge of medium weight, all on a 12-inch rim with a Dobson-style tone ring. There is also a swatch of duct tape under the bridge and a wad of plastic grocery bags wrapped with tissue paper stuffed between the head and dowel stick to mute harsh overtones.

Like many old-time banjo players, I'm always in search of the perfect "plunky" sound. However, I've come to the conclusion that stuffing the pot isn't getting the job done. While this practice cuts down on high-pitched brightness, it also kills the warm timbre associated with skin heads. Also, why have a tone ring if you&…

Difficult Balancing Act

Trying to learn the fiddle in the months before my wife delivers our first child has proven to be a tough task, especially when the weather gets nice and running starts to occupy more of my time.

Don't even ask me about playing the banjo.

The summer should be the time when I while away the evenings playing tunes on my porch, but that's easier said than done. Over the last few weeks, playing music has taken a backseat to running the local trails, barbecuing, mowing the lawn and, more recently, putting together furniture for the baby's room.

Only in the last few days have I mustered the courage to see what feeble skills remain since the last time I played the fiddle or banjo.

There are only so many hours in the day. And with so many interests, some are bound to get short shrift from time to time.

My poor banjo has been neglected the most. My plan was to use jam sessions as my primary outlet for playing the ole five-string, but it's been a couple months since I've bee…