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Author Topic: Have you played a banjolin?  (Read 9970 times)

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Offline morning

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Have you played a banjolin?
« on: May 24, 2008, 04:44:08 PM »
I have a banjolin that I got on ebay. It's as heavy as an andiron and the action is so high it's punishing. But it sounds pretty cool. Is it a pretty common instrument?I haven't had the nerve to take it to the string band, but I just might try it.

Offline bwzuk

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2008, 06:45:40 PM »
Are you sure it's a banjolin? These are really pretty rare, I know I've been looking for one for ages. I've played my friend's on occasion and it is a really nice instrument and makes an excellent 2nd instrument for a fiddler (the scale length is more or less the same). Banjolins have 4 strings tuned GDAE. If it has 8 strings its banjo mandolin instead. I'm not so keen on banjo mandolins as I think the doubled strings make them sound less like a banjo, but they are also fun 2nd instruments for a fiddler. I say take it to your band, but remember they can be very loud little instruments :)

Offline patheslip

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2008, 08:23:43 PM »
Used to busk with one, but swapped it for a banjo mandolin after it cut through my finger tips in cold weather.

Play with a soft pick if you don't want to deafen everyone.

Have fun.

Offline frodopogo

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2008, 10:58:10 PM »
I had a Vega Banjo-mandolin back in about 1974; we used it
in our string band for raggy sounding stuff where it sounded very
"period", just like an old 78. The action was high, though- I think the neck
had bowed some. I vaguely remember the bridge was kind of special-
not something you'd want to hack up.

4 strings would be easier to deal with though.

Yes they are loud- you can jam some foam rubber or a sponge or a small
towel between the "perch pole" (the stick inside the pot- most old banjos
and banjo-mandolins have a wooden one) to cut the volume some.

Michael

Offline susiakasinead

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 15, 2008, 12:57:06 AM »
Is there a difference between banjolin and banjo mandolin?

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #5 on: Jun 15, 2008, 05:30:06 AM »
Is there a difference between banjolin and banjo mandolin?

I'm remotely curious myself. I have seen two varieties. Neither of which did I like the sound of. The two of them seemed to be rude little instruments. Neither had a resonator. One had a round frame surrounding the miniturized banjo head. I think it could have sounded better with a little work. The second actually did have a resonator. It kind of reminded me of a jiffee pop skillet with a tiny banjo head on it. It is uniquely one of the most iritating instrumets I have ever heard in the hands of a capable player. I think the banjolin or mando banjo take the worst of both worlds and combines into them into an instrument that is as important to music as paper cuts are to typists.

I'd actually love to hear one that sounds good so I can learn the error of my ways.

Offline bwzuk

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #6 on: Jun 15, 2008, 09:26:01 AM »
I think the banjolin or mando banjo take the worst of both worlds and combines into them into an instrument that is as important to music as paper cuts are to typists.
Ouch, harsh :) As you may have read in my other post I just purchased one of these irritating beasts.

http://www.fiddleforum.com/fiddleforum/index.php?topic=28037.0

There's definitely a difference between a mando banjo and a banjolin, which is that mando banjos are double stringed. I personally find mandolin banjos quite annoying and they don't sound like a banjo to my ears. If you saw a banjolin with a small head could it have been a banjolele instead? With regards to 4 string banjolins I tried 3 different models before I purchased mine (and also had the advantage of hearing a great banjo player trying them). There was a vintage model from the 30s which sounded quite flat and a bit annoying. The two modern instruments sounded much better. One of them had a heavy tone ring and sounded most like a good quality banjo, but I opted for the lighter quieter version.

A decent quality banjolin should sound just like a banjo except an octave higher.

Offline madmat

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #7 on: Jun 15, 2008, 06:19:40 PM »
A decent quality banjolin should sound just like a banjo except an octave higher.
Which would make it the irritating, yappy little Yorkshire Terrier or Pomeranian of the plectrum instrument world. ;D
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

Offline Don Stackhouse

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #8 on: Jun 30, 2008, 05:34:44 PM »
I haven't had a lot of dealings with banjolins and mandolin-banjos myself, but I have had some. I might be getting some more experience soon, one of my regular customers has one of each, both of which need some major work.

I have seen banjolins with 8 strings.

I do have a tenor banjo, which has a banjo structure and four strings that are typically tuned GDAE for Celtic music, but an octave below a fiddle.

A luthier mentor of mine has a lot more experience with this whole class of instruments. Apparently the mandolin-banjo dates back to the late 19th century, and was typically a decent quality instrument. Banjolins, on the other hand, typically date to around the 1920's. They are a sort of "revival" instrument, and typically of lesser quality. The easy way to tell a banjolin from a mandolin-banjo is that the banjolin typically has only about half as many tension hooks retaining the head.

Banjolins usually have a lot of problems due to their poor quality construction. Mandolin-banjos typically have a lot of problems because of their advanced age, but their higher quality construction tends to make them more likely to be worthy of the trouble to resurrect them.

Both are tuned like a mandolin, GDAE.

Offline Mac

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 25, 2008, 07:45:15 PM »
I have a banjo-mandolin. It's reasonably well made. It has the short scale you find on round-backs. It looks nice hanging on the wall. I keep saying, one day I should try setting that thing up and playing it....but for some reason the desire is never enough. But it looks really nice on the wall and people always ask about it.

Offline madmat

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #10 on: Aug 25, 2008, 08:00:00 PM »
I have a banjo-mandolin. It's reasonably well made. It has the short scale you find on round-backs. It looks nice hanging on the wall.
Some sociopathic people with too little restraint seem to have trouble keeping these off-the-wall instruments on the wall. ;)
Quote
I keep saying, one day I should try setting that thing up and playing it....but for some reason the desire is never enough.
Thank you! ;D
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

2kool4skool

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #11 on: Sep 01, 2008, 10:15:05 AM »
that sounds cool. can you post a picture?

Offline phatgirlfiddler

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #12 on: Jul 05, 2011, 03:54:07 PM »
This has been really helpful. I know the difference between a banjolin (4strings) and mando banjolin (8strings). So what is the banjolele all about? I know is it four strings. Is is tuned like a ukulele? or is it similar to fiddle like the banjolin and mando banjolin?

Offline madmat

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Re: Have you played a banjolin?
« Reply #13 on: Jul 05, 2011, 09:31:10 PM »
So what is the banjolele all about? I know is it four strings. Is is tuned like a ukulele?
That's exactly it. They have the "re-entrant" "my dog has fleas" tuning of the uke. Plus, they aren't nearly as irritating as the banjolin or mandobanjo because they don't have metal strings, nylon like a uke.
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

 




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