Exercise 23 & 24 by Emile Grimshaw

Exercise 23 & 24 from Emile Grimshaw's "How to Excel on the Banjo" on a Windsor Zither Banjo once belonging to my Great-Grandfather.

First try playing around with a new mic and software.

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Comment by Jody Stecher on June 2, 2019 at 15:20

The bridge appears to be at an extreme angle causing the lower pitched strings to be shorter than the high strings. If the bridge foot on the treble side is in the right spot the upper frets on the shortened low strings will produce pitches that are sharper than than they ought to be. If the bass foot is correctly place, then the upper frets of the lengthened high strings will sound flat. If neither foot is in the right place everything above fret 7 is going to sound out of tune.  

This appears to be a very nice banjo. Sounding the strings somewhat closer to the bridge will make the sound more brilliant and colorful and less subdued and rubbery.  The photos of the right hand in Grimshaw's "The Banjo & How To Play It" show an ideal starting position which is halfway between bridge and where the neck meets the pot. If the sound is too dull move closer to the bridge. If it is too bright move closer to the neck.

Comment by thereallyniceman on June 2, 2019 at 17:21

I agree with Jody, the bridge is set incorrectly. Usually the treble (1st string) side is set "slightly" further towards the fingerboard than the bass (4th string) side. This gives the correct intonation when fretting notes.  Look it up on Google!

I have your Windsor, hollow neck, banjo's big brother and mine has that "very slight" shortening at the treble side. Also the true sound of the zither banjo will be enhanced by picking as Jody suggests, a little bit nearer to the bridge. ZBs have a brilliant sound, good sustain and ring like a bell.

Check out Jan Wien's biography on the PLAYER BIOGRAPHIES page here:


Jan Wien played ZB for the crowned heads of Europe so I guess that he knew a thing or two! While you are there listen to Ernest Jones or Alfred Kirby on zither and be blown away!!

Your playing and equipment are top notch and you are obviously a natural musician... I wish I was ;-)

Comment by Trapdoor2 on June 2, 2019 at 18:30

Don't worry, Ian, there's room in this world for unnatural musicians too! ;-)

I agree on the bridge being way too tilted. I usually tilt mine a little...but each string set tends to like things a bit different. I usually set mine with a Peterson strobe (which is a lot more accurate than my old flannel ears).

In #23, I think you may be misinterpreting the direction to not accent the grace notes...they should be sounding exactly the same as the rest. The lesson is to keep you from accenting them (which is hard as they are quickly played). I think you're de-accenting them via overcompensation. Otherwise, good work!

Comment by Rob MacKillop on June 2, 2019 at 22:51

Don't listen to them, Pip! ;-) The zither banjo was not created to sound like a regular banjo - what would be the point in that? Ellis shows two techniques, one for banjo (nearer the bridge) and one for zither banjo (near the rim/neck joint). Jody and Ian will not be satisfied until you make it sound loud and brilliant like a banjo! But, yes, the bridge alignment is on the extreme side. 

Comment by Jody Stecher on June 2, 2019 at 23:34

I said *somewhat* closer to the bridge.  I do not recommend trying to make a z-b sound like a regular banjo. I recommend trying to make it sound in a way that fulfills its potential. 

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