1. #1

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    As some of you will recall (6-String Banjo?), I wanted a banjo but wasn't sure what type to get. Based largely on Woody's and Rob's advice (thanks so much, guys), I decided on a Plectrum. I happened to find one on Elderly's Website and pulled the trigger. I got it about 3 weeks ago, copped out and tuned it Chicago style (old dog/new tricks) like a 4-string guitar, and became quite enamoured with it. Since I paid $800 for it, and serious entry-level professional ones seem to go for around $2,000 and up, I decided to take it to Glenn Nelson at Mockingbird Music in Berlin, MA (highly recommended) and throw a couple hundred bucks more into it (still half the outlay of what a comparable new one might cost). I had him put on a new head (bottom-frosted), new Gotoh planetary tuners (smooth as silk), and do a complete set-up (there's a whole boatload of things to adjust on a banjo). So now it looks great, plays great, and sounds great. I put on GHS Plectrum set #190 strings (.011, .014, .017, .026 SSWound), and it rings out nicely all over the neck. When I changed the strings, I tried reentrant tuning (like a Ukulele) using a spare .011 for the 4th string (just pop the brass ring out of the tailpiece end to convert it to loop end) with interesting but limiting results, so I put the regular wound .026 on. (I wonder what an 80-20 bronze 4th would sound like, but I don't have a spare one to try.) I also got a cradle strap which wraps around the body of the banjo instead of clipping to the tension lugs, and I really like it; the banjo hangs in perfect playing position even if I don't touch it. It seems that I'm more interested in playing 60's folk and jug band music on it (Tom Dooley, SFBay Blues, et al) than Dixieland Jazz, but stuff like The Old Lamplighter, Sunny Side of the Street, and When the Saints Go Marching In are fun too. And Amy by Pure Prairie League sounds awesome on it! OK, I'll admit it: I have dabbled with Dueling Banjos a bit as well. I'm still primarily a guitarist, but having a couple of Ukuleles, a Bass, and now a Banjo is all terrific fun and ear-opening. The bottom-frosted head (smooth on the top side, frosted on the inside) seems to produce a bit more bottom end, something Banjos generally don't have a whole lot of. Here's how it looked with the clear head:
    My new old 1967  Vega Wonder Plectrum Banjo-my-vega-wonder-plectrum-67-jpg

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  3. #2

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    That's a real beauty. OK I can't resist (disclaimer: I L-O-V-E banjos and those who play them!!!!): Guy walks into a bar, sidles up to a stool and asks the bartender for a beer. As the barkeep is serving him his beer he asks, "wanna hear a banjo joke?" The bartender puts down the glass he was drying off, looks the guy square in the eye and says, "you see our bouncer over there on the stool by the door, the one in the leather vest? He plays the banjo. See that feller down there at the end of the bar - the big guy with the sidearm and 20" biceps? Yeah he plays the banjo. And you know I pick a little banjo myself. Now, you still wanna tell your lil' banjo joke?!?......"

    The guy takes a swig of his beer, sets it on the table, and says, "well, not if I have to explain it THREE TIMES....."

  4. #3

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    Nice looking banjo! Looks like you've got your fun cut out for you. Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  5. #4

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    Good choice, Tom. They can be great fun. Heavy, though, so get a thick padded strap. Banjos are great for changing parts. You'll change parts so often, you'll have nothing of the original left, but still think it the same banjo!

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    ...They can be great fun. Heavy, though ...
    Ha! That's what I said to Glenn - he said, "This one's relatively light!" Oy!

  7. #6

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    In a pinch would make an excellent boat paddle, in case the 1000-year flood comes.

    JK--looks great, play it in good health!

  8. #7
    The only banjo joke I know:

    How is a banjo player like an episode of Columbo?
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    Everybody is happier when the case is closed.

  9. #8

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    I've been playing my new banjo a fair amount, and when the weather's nice I've had the window open. Before, even with C19,
    my neighbors would stop by and chat for a bit at a safe distance. Now they don't come over at all. What am I doing wrong?!