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Thread: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    I played Pre-COVID era with some guys, including one loud banjo (and an electric guitar, electric bass, and one or two acoustic guitars). My mandolin playing was always buried by the banjo and even the purchase of a good Kimble didnít make much difference with the volume problem.

    I recently resumed playing with this group. The first time I used my Kimble (nice to be playing again, but same problem). The second time, last Saturday, I took an old German fiddle and THAT was a banjo killer, lol. Iíve mostly played the fiddle by myself in my music room in the basement, so I hadnít really thought about its volume. Once I was playing across the table from the banjo player, I realized I needed to play more quietly in order to hear him well enough. (When I got home I tried some orchestral mutes on the fiddle but didnít like what they did to the tone, so will at least for now just try to play my fiddle more quietly.)

    Revenge is sweet, lol.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315, some guitars, banjos, and fiddles

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    My banjo killer is a mandolin! It's a teens Gibson A, and holy wow it's got some volume. Actually, I've got two of them - one's in the shop, and we should be reuniting in a month or so - and both of them have some punch. And plenty of sweetness, too, depending how I play them. Depending on my attack, as it were.

    Thanks for taking that one out. Sweet victory!
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    The main advantage of any fiddle is that you play it closer to your ears than other instruments. I always find it harder to play anything but a fiddle or my National RM-1 at a large jam. Usually I play fiddle.
    Jim

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    My banjo killer is a 1932 National Triolian tenor guitar.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Don't be silly. You can't kill a banjo.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Really? They're pretty easy to wound - their skins are quite vulnerable - which most of the time is good enough. But yeah, perhaps actually killing them ... They do seem to propagate all too quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    My banjo killer is a 1932 National Triolian tenor guitar.
    I got one of them thar things, too, a 1935. Don't play it much because the tuner assembly for the top string went kerphlooey a few years ago, and I've had some trouble finding a replacement. I can still play the lower three strings, but the distances between frets are at the far end of my fingers' reach. I tend to use it with a slide more often. But it's a moot point; jamming around here seems pretty much non-existent.

    But yes - it's plenty bloody loud enough!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    My banjo killer is a banjo


    a mandolin banjo

    I might have to give in and use an amp with the OM though, the G string really gets lost.
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    I might also try my electric violin (Yamaha YEV104) with a Fishman Loudbox Artist since I can just set the volume as needed. Iíd rather play the acoustic violin for its better tone, but the electric violin would be fun if I ever wanted to try any effects (like octave down for more cello-like tones).

    Iím also clinging a bit to acoustic instruments just for simplicity of hauling and setup/tear down. Already two trips from car with mandolin and fiddle, a backpack, a music stand for my iPad, my iPad, and a stand for whichever instrument Iím not playing at the moment. (If I ever do decide to amplify, I do have a K&K pickup in my Eastman MD315, so that would take care of my mandolin playing being lost behind the banjo. I probably wonít ever add a pickup to the Kimble - I LOVE the endpin he used and donít want to replace it.)

    (By the way, the bass player has and amp and the guitar player uses an amp when he wants to play one of his electric guitars.)
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315, some guitars, banjos, and fiddles

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    A Stihl chain saw.
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    A Stihl chain saw.
    Nah, those strings just jam up the drive sprocket. (Other kind of jam.) A gas masonry saw is just as loud, and cuts metal better.
    True story: a friend had to get an old upright out of the cellar, but the house had been revised and there was no way out - even for the harp by itself, and with some regret I cut through most of the strings, then the cast iron. Regret, a Sawsall, and a rather large hard wire nipper. Regret, because my urge is to restore, no matter how pointless.

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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Never had much of a problem with my Kimble F.

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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    if enough banjo killers show up, more archtop banjos w/clear heads cranked to 92, high action, high thin bridges, tailpiece cranked down, steel strings, pointy steel fingerpicks etc are going to show up. Lots of ways to get more volume out of banjos...
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    if enough banjo killers show up, more archtop banjos w/clear heads cranked to 92, high action, high thin bridges, tailpiece cranked down, steel strings, pointy steel fingerpicks etc are going to show up. Lots of ways to get more volume out of banjos...
    Banjos are just way too easy to get to the “loud” setting. To be fair to my friend in this example, he was playing his more polite (quieter) banjo. (But to be fair to my fiddle, I wasn’t trying to play it loudly either. Fiddles are just relatively loud and piercing.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315, some guitars, banjos, and fiddles

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Never had much of a problem with my Kimble F.

    I was expecting this Kimble to be ďloud,Ē but Iíve played lots of other good mandolins and theyíve all just been relatively quiet compared to a banjo or fiddle.

    I guess we also need to include HOW the mandolin is being played. With strumming and chops, any of my mandolins are probably ďloud enough.Ē Itís just when Iím doing more linear stuff that Iím buried.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315, some guitars, banjos, and fiddles

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    To be fair, it has been my experience that experienced banjo players know how to handle the awesome power of their instrument, moderating volume, being able to play unobtrusive and genuinely supportive back up as well as awesome breaks.

    That said, I do have a National RM-1 and I do know what to do with it.
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    To be fair, it has been my experience that experienced banjo players know how to handle the awesome power of their instrument, moderating volume, being able to play unobtrusive and genuinely supportive back up as well as awesome breaks.
    Yes, sir. Truth. I have played with some fine pickers who knew what they were doing with their instruments and how to play nice with others. I've also played with some others, and the less said about them the better. It's also worth noting - though I probably shouldn't - that most of the time when I say disparaging things about banjos and their players that I'm kidding around (mostly) and having a little fun. All in good fun. Well, a little at their expense.

    In some ways, I have had worse luck with fiddlers perhaps because I have had more experience with them. What I will never understand is why so often they will keep playing all through a song, even when I'm taking a break. It's annoying and distracting. I tend to just stop playing if they won't. If they want to take every break, go ahead. I'm still getting paid regardless. They should do like sax players in a rock band - just stand there quietly and wait for their turn. Perhaps they just want to contribute and believe that everything they do enhances everything else all the time. It does not. Now, of course, this doesn't apply to all fiddlers, but I sure have run into it a lot.

    OK, done with my rant. Carry on!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Journeybear, something I've noticed about fiddlers is that very few of them -- at least amateur and not pro-level -- know how to play a backing role.

    Not just sitting out, but harmonizing with drones or a subtle counter-melody and keeping it in the background if someone is soloing. They're trained to play melody lines, or improvise if it's something like jazz or Bluegrass, but seldom specifically trained in a harmony/backing role. It's just off their radar. They don't think in terms of harmony.

    The leader of a local mixed Scottish/Irish session is very good at this, and will sometimes fall back and harmonize drones behind the rest of the group playing a slower tune. But she's the only fiddler I've ever met who can do this instinctively.

    Anyway, back on topic, my banjo killer is my "Irish flute." It's a wooden reproduction of a 19th Century orchestra flute and it's loud as heck. I measured it recently and it's 10 db louder at a three foot distance than my mandolin. That's twice as loud as my mandolin, and it's a pretty good one (Lebeda F5).

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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Journeybear, something I've noticed about fiddlers is that very few of them -- at least amateur and not pro-level -- know how to play a backing role.
    Yep, that's true, a lot of us folk fiddlers are just tune folks. Yet the fiddle can drone, chord, and chop. On topic, the instrument that carries best in a couple of bands I play in is a high D whistle. It doesn't seem to be just the volume, it's the sound characteristic (against, 5 str banjo, melodeon, accordeon, guitar, recorder, bass recorder, fiddle). There are times outside when you can hear the whistle from a distance and nothing else except a vigorously played bohdran.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Yep, with whistles it's the pitch and not just the volume, especially outdoors. Maybe because they stand out at that pitch against background noise? It's why whistles are used for signaling in sports, and the reason fifes were the featured instrument in fife and drum military bands. You could hear 'em coming a mile away!

    I confess I'm not a big fan of high D whistles. I try not to sit next to a whistle player at a session because it grates a bit on my ears. I do sometimes play a C whistle in my car when waiting at the ferry dock. For some reason just dropping it down two semitones makes it easier on my ears.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    I like the Bb whistle for richness and feeling of musical empathy.

    The high whistles have almost all of their volume in the single frequency whereas if you play an open D on a nice mandolin then the resulting will be energy will come from many different resonant frequencies which are still there but mix in with other instruments.

    I did have a banjo once that was haunted.
    Occasionally I’d hear people grumbling from within while I happily played on. It was mainly an impolite woman’s voice, but sometimes an older man. At first I thought it was the neighbours. The complaints were worse with modal or minor tunes.
    -I liked those tunes, they didn’t, so I put nylon strings on it and didn’t hear from them again.

    In the end the banjo got stolen and someone recompensed me part of the value so I could leave Paris and fly back to California...

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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post

    ..In the end the banjo got stolen and someone recompensed me part of the value so I could leave Paris and fly back to California...
    Err...was this all the same person, and did they sound like the voices? I had a neigbour once who used to appear with a bottle of wine and two glasses when I played bagpipes in the garden...

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: My banjo killer (is not a mandolin)

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Journeybear, something I've noticed about fiddlers is that very few of them -- at least amateur and not pro-level -- know how to play a backing role.

    Not just sitting out, but harmonizing with drones or a subtle counter-melody and keeping it in the background if someone is soloing. They're trained to play melody lines, or improvise if it's something like jazz or Bluegrass, but seldom specifically trained in a harmony/backing role. It's just off their radar. They don't think in terms of harmony.
    I have been getting more and more into playing that way on fiddle or mandolin. Part of it comes from playing in gatherings with multiple fiddles. I can usually Sue’s out tunes I never heard but more times than not enjoy adding harmonies, countermelodies or drones. I think it also comes from playing other backup instruments like guitar or bass. I mostly do that when I can get away with it in old time or Quťbťcois sessions. I might get shot if I tried in Irish or bluegrass.
    Jim

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