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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:36 pm 
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I'm not likely to ever play at a session, but I'm curious about whether an open-back tenor is likely to be loud enough, or not.

Also, what kinds of heads do people prefer?

With 5-string for Bluegrass, a resonator and plastic head (which is what I have on my Deering Sierra) seem to be the standard. For clawhammer--and even two-finger, I'd probably want an open back and a skin or skin-like head.

My initial instinct is to go for open-back in a tenor as being less overwhelming, but maybe that would be a mistake? And, I suppose I might as well use this thread to ask about brands, too--from cheap up to mid-range.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 10:34 am 
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Lots of info on this site www.irish-banjo.com

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 11:40 am 
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I have a Gold Tone IT250 open back, 17 fret (19" or 20" scale) with a fiberskyn head. It seems plenty loud, though i haven't played it in session. The fiberskyn gives it a nice plunky mellow sound; i had a custom bridge made and changed the tailpiece, and it sounds pretty good to me.

Angelina Carberry http://www.reeltrad.com/photos.html plays an open back 17 fret with a clear mylar head, she gets a lovely tone -- great album with her and Martin Quinn.

Sam Bartlett in Indiana plays open back 17 fretters with skin heads, very nice mellow tone.

Kevin Griffin, John Carty, Gerry O'Connor, Kieran Hanrahan, Cathal Hayden, etc, tend to play 19-fretters (21-23" scale) with resonators and frosted heads, makes for a loud crisp tone which shows off the triplets well.

These are all great players (except me, of course).

I'm sure Coyotebanjo will be able to provide a lot more detail here if he sees this.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:22 pm 
Darwin wrote:
I'm not likely to ever play at a session, but I'm curious about whether an open-back tenor is likely to be loud enough, or not.

Also, what kinds of heads do people prefer?



Depends on the Banjo and setup. However I always like openback because when I want to turn the volume down all I need is a towel :0)

Best sound I ever heard came off of a real calfskin top, also can be other animal skins such as goat. Look around. You might usefully try out a few Banjos in the music stores, that way before you buy you know what to expect.

The other thing about shopping around is that when you find 'your' Banjo you'll know it right away.

All the best :0)


Last edited by Guest on Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:25 pm 
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I know it's not a tenor banjo...but look at the price of this baby :boggle:

http://www.deeringbanjos.com/Merchant2/ ... ode=Banjos

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:53 pm 
Whistling Willie wrote:
I know it's not a tenor banjo...but look at the price of this baby :boggle:

http://www.deeringbanjos.com/Merchant2/ ... ode=Banjos


..lol

That one is definitely not intended for Jimbob to be flailing away on Cripple Creek!


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 7:07 pm 
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toasty wrote:
Whistling Willie wrote:
I know it's not a tenor banjo...but look at the price of this baby :boggle:

http://www.deeringbanjos.com/Merchant2/ ... ode=Banjos


..lol

That one is definitely not intended for Jimbob to be flailing away on Cripple Creek!


I would be scared to play it incase I damaged it in someway :o

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 10:34 pm 
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Whistling Willie wrote:
toasty wrote:
Whistling Willie wrote:
I know it's not a tenor banjo...but look at the price of this baby :boggle:

http://www.deeringbanjos.com/Merchant2/ ... ode=Banjos


..lol

That one is definitely not intended for Jimbob to be flailing away on Cripple Creek!


I would be scared to play it incase I damaged it in someway :o

I like the way they optimistically include an "Add to Basket" button.

By the way, you can get the same model in a tenor.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 10:38 pm 
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rh wrote:
I have a Gold Tone IT250 open back, 17 fret (19" or 20" scale) with a fiberskyn head.

That's the main one I've been considering.

What does it weigh? It gets hard to sit up straight after a couple of hours with my 5-string.

And, while I'm at it, what string gauges do you use?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 2:25 am 
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Darwin wrote:
rh wrote:
I have a Gold Tone IT250 open back, 17 fret (19" or 20" scale) with a fiberskyn head.

That's the main one I've been considering.

What does it weigh? It gets hard to sit up straight after a couple of hours with my 5-string.

And, while I'm at it, what string gauges do you use?


For short scale tenor you want heavy strings (I think my low G is about a 44 at the mo'). You also want good quality tuners otherwise that low G is a bugger to keep in tune.

Gold Tones are great, cost effective banjos. I love mine. Another site which gives descriptions of the differences between models is Andybanjo. Check out the short scale tenor page at http://www.andybanjo.com/trolleyed/3/index.htm .

Andy likes the IT250F and mentions the mellow tone. He also says it's quite loud. On the other hand, if you were to want a session banjo he suggests the greater cut of the SS250F (also Gold Tone).

Of course, if you buy an open back Gold Tone you can always buy a resonator later if you need one. On the other hand, I have played mine with and without the resonator, and I'm told the difference in volume is not dramatic. I usually keep it on simply because it makes the instrument more comfortable to hold on my lap...

Mine's the cheaper CC model as demoed in the video at Folk of the Wood, here... http://www.folkofthewood.com/page1387.htm

(Edited to add link to the video demo)

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:30 am 
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As my late grandfather, or any old-timer, might tell you, a traditional banjo head is made of cat hide.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:36 am 
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Darwin wrote:
rh wrote:
I have a Gold Tone IT250 open back, 17 fret (19" or 20" scale) with a fiberskyn head.

That's the main one I've been considering.

What does it weigh? It gets hard to sit up straight after a couple of hours with my 5-string.

And, while I'm at it, what string gauges do you use?


Not sure what it weighs, and it's the only banjo i've ever had so i have little basis for comparison... definitely heavier than a mandolin though :lol:

Build quality is good, i changed the tuners to Gotoh, tailpiece to Waverly and put a custom bridge on it, the tone improved but really it sounded pretty good to begin with.

I've been using GHS stainless in .014 .024w .032w .042w.
It's this set: http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/CTB.htm

Some folks like to use octave mandolin strings -- you get two sets in one package that way.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:59 am 
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big downside with an open back - you will rip every pair of trousers you own!

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 11:29 am 
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Big Time wrote:
big downside with an open back - you will rip every pair of trousers you own!

I like to play with a strap, even when sitting. Bluegrass bands tend to perform standing, so it helps to keep the instrument in the same position all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself in front of an audience with the instrument in an unfamiliar position.

It seems like a lot of trouble when just playing casually, and I sometimes cheat with the guitar, but I always use the strap with mandolin and banjo, which means they're never in my lap.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:05 pm 
Big Time wrote:
big downside with an open back - you will rip every pair of trousers you own!




Only if there's an 'R' in the yoke you use to pluck, or is that ?uck, the strings.


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