A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
It's been a while since I last posted here, so I might as well post a few updates. There have been a few developments in the past few weeks which have taken time away from my banjo studies, namely that I got a pretty good job (which means... no, not more money to spend on banjos... must... not... spend on banjos!) and that I seem to have come down with the flu for the past few days so banjo playing isn't as pleasant as usual.
Still, I've been having a closer look at my old, English-made banjo. It would seem it was originally a smooth-arm banjo, as it previously had the pearl markers underneath the frets, but those have been cleverly filled with small round ebony dots which make them practically undistinguishable, and then moved up a bit to fit between the frets. I suspect that the banjo was made around 1880, and was converted to frets around 1920-1940.
Now, due to the problems with the banjo's action, I sometimes get some very nasty fret buzz, especially around the first position. The only solution would be, it would seem, to have the neck straightened and the dowel stick remade...
...OR, I could cunningly return the banjo to its original condition as a smooth-arm. I'm sure Joe Morley would approve.
Since I'm a brave (some would say stupid) fellow, I might consider doing the job myself... pulling out the frets, and then filling the slots with some contrasting wood. That would solve the fret buzz problem, look rather nice, and be loyal to the maker's original intentions.
However, since I'm so busy playing pieces such as Ad Astra or The Egyptian Princess which take me all the way up to the 17th position, I wonder if it would be wise to attempt to play a smooth-arm. Is it possible to play the more complex Morley repertoire on a fretless? Did Morley play those on a smooth-arm, or did he ultimately switch to frets himself?
Maybe I should stop fretting about the frets...
Anyhow, music-wise, I've been making a lot of progress, and I think the next piece I'll be recording will be Mr Punch. Playing The Egyptian Princess and Mr Punch has made me learn a lot about fingering and single-string passages, and they're both very exciting to play once you develop the skills. Can't get enough of them.
Next in line are the Olympian March, London Club Parade, and perhaps some Grimshaw, for a change.
By the way, Ian, I was watching your rendition of Circus Parade, and I couldn't help noticing how lively it sounds compared to mine. There's something which really makes it sound like a circus parade, but I just can't put my finger on it. Care to share some tips on how to play it better? I think arpeggiating some of the chords might help...
I've also switched to Chris Sands heavies and a Renaissance head, and I like heavy nylons better than the medium nylguts. I'm used to playing heavy-gauge strings on the classical guitar and the medium-gauge nylguts feel like overcooked spaghetti.
Anyhow, that's all for today. Thanks for reading,
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