Banjo and parenting advice

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Steve 78, Mar 26, 2019.

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  1. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe you could ask your local music store if they can do a rental plus lessons deal?

    1. Didn't like the uke
    2. Didn't like the banjo music you played him

    I hate to sound pessimistic, but those two things make me think he might move on from the banjo just like the uke. That could be good though, trying out a bunch of things until he finds one to stick with... as long as you're not stuck with a bunch of left over cheap banjos and ukuleles! :D
     
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  2. Recce

    Recce Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with the rent one. If he likes it buy one later and he will have a better understanding of what he wants. If he plays it twice and never again then you return it and don’t have much money involved.
     
  3. Torren61

    Torren61 Tele-Holic

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    Spank the banjo, reason with the kid and listen to both.
     
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  4. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Afflicted

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    buy him a set of drums and tell him when he masters those, he can have a banjo. It would be good if he knew how to play at least one real musical instrument, before he follows the dark path...
     
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  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

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    Mmmm, buying a kid a musical instrument.

    Car he be a part of the decision making process?
    Does he do any little money making jobs?
    Can he fathom costs of living and where his choices lead?

    I'd say older used with no resonator since you don't want a loud beginner, and unless he's a small 7yo I'd say full size and decent quality, so he could use it for the several years it takes to become proficient enough to really need a better one, at which point he will know what specs it ought to have, and may be motivated to participate in the financial part of music.

    But are there any used banjo's in Au?

    I read "do his own thing" with the banjo, and that he doesn't like banjo music.
    Maybe a six string banjo would be in order, since it could follow guitar tutorials.
    Might be hard to learn to play banjo without following banjo music.

    I found the five string banjo totally baffling, where almost any instrument was easy to figure out. Seems like you really have to play banjo music on a five string, at least until you've mastered it with banjo music, at which point you can adapt it.

    There are also banjo ukes and banjo mandolins...

    Talking with him about what it is he likes about banjo might be an important start, particularly if he only likes the sound, and not the music played on it.
     
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  6. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    I found a great old vintage banjo for $100 with case. I set it up, learned to pick a little and it scratched my banjo itch. Then I sold it for what I had in it. I'd suggest doing something similar.
    Watch your local ads. Banjos are like any other instrument - lots of people buy them, thinking they will learn and then offload them when they get tired of tripping over them. Be prepared to put a little effort into making it playable.
     
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  7. Bluetelecaster

    Bluetelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Recording King makes some very good affordable banjos like the RK20 or the Dirty thirties models.
     
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  8. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

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    Here I thought this thread was gong to be "can I punish my kid by making him learn banjo when he's bad?"
     
  9. Bluetelecaster

    Bluetelecaster Tele-Meister

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    I was 12 when I ask for a banjo. My dad told Mom don't get it ,it will sit in the closet and be a waste of money. She bought me a cheap one from Brendels Dept store. Been playing for 43 years now.
     
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  10. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Afflicted

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    First, "doing his own thing" with a banjo sounds pretty free-style. So, I'd recommend avoiding a 5 string. I'd recommend a six string banjo, or guitar banjo. Its conducive to a free-style approach, sounds enough like a banjo and looks like a banjo for the dabbler, and a bonus, is the skills are transferable back and forth with a guitar.

    A resonator can be overrated, once you have a good setup*. So don't hang up on open back vs resonator. They can both sound like the two ends of the spectrum.

    Banjo is largely about setup. Part of that, is getting the head to some tension, to filter out the aharmonic pitchless ringing. A better tailpiece is part of this formula as well.

    A longer tailpiece like a Waverly, Presto, Price or other/copy is really needed with modern nickel strings and plastic heads. Even an Elton is better than a no-length tailpiece. No-knot tailpieces work best for gut strings and skin heads.

    Thin heads can be pulled to pitch easier and with less tension than thicker heads. The simulated skin heads are heavy, and require more tension than some banjos can muster before stripping threads, egg-shaping the rim, both of which will kill tone, kill pitch clarity, and kill volume*. I'd look for a frosted white head, Weatherking or similar.

    A proper setup banjo will be loud, but only if you play it loudly. Don't confuse softness with deep woody tone. Learn to play a proper setup banjo softly. Much better tone and pleasant musical quality that way.

    If you like a deep, woody plunky sound, look for an openback and a 12" head. You still need to pull the head to some tension to get rid of the aharmonic ringing, but it will be easier to do so with out the trebly crack of an 11" head tuned to G#. Most 12" are custom built, or built by a knowledgeable builder. They will cost more than typical imports.

    The cheaper imports that have hex shaped bracket shoes can be a problem, because the rims are soft, and the tiny hex shoes dig in and just bend over before you get any tension in the hooks. Some folks replace the shoes with Vega style shoes successfully.

    For me, the two most important things about a banjo are 1) you can tune it so it sounds in tune when it is in tune, and 2) it has a musical sound. We should realize, many banjos don't fit these two simple criteria, mostly due to poor setup.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
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  11. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Lotsa good advice in this thread. Just off top of head:
    • Agree that 7 is young, but the kid is expressing interest so some response IMO is maybe useful? Our oldest daughter - who as a 9-year old home schooler aware of her family history was obsessed with all things Scottish and French - announced that she wanted to play the Highland Pipes. We were skeptical about teachers and resources as we lived WAY out in the boonies of rural Wisconsin but via an alert local librarian the kid got connected with a teen piper/teacher about 8 country miles from our little farm. She bought her first chanter & pipes from her teacher with her own money; we, her parents, paid for weekly $5 lessons. At the age of 11 she started piping/marching with the Clan Gathering Pipe & Drum Band, a connection made through her young teacher and a commitment that lasted until she went off to college. So many parades and events. Playing in that band was a great growing experience for a shy, asthmatic kid giving her a group to be a part of, that piper's swagger, some pocket money, and the confidence to develop decent skills with penny whistles, fiddle, flute, piano, etc. She eventually bought a nicer set of pipes with gig money.
    • I play 5-string banjo. First played from ages 12-14 in a 5-piece band that performed ballads from like 1912-1920 - so pre-swing, romantic schmaltz-ridden garbage to my ears, yet crazy difficult chord changes. Really awful stuff IMO. (I was playing this crap in church basements and coffee houses when I first met my wife at age 14.) It was a very heavy instrument with a resonator, as others have mentioned. I stopped playing to focus on guitar and keys. Took it up again acoupla years ago @ age 64 when I became for some reason re-obsessed. Bought an open-back Gretsch G9450 Dixie Banjo at my local music shop for $239. Am guessing it was made off-planet by android slave children. Nice neck and fretboard; very playable & light. I've since added a Fishman banjo humbucker and fitted about half the head with foam rubber - so it's a semi-hollow. Really. With these additions it works great for gigging.
     
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  12. Harry

    Harry Tele-Meister

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    This seems less about the fine points of banjo and more about the wisdom of buying a not yet seven year old an expensive musical instrument.

    Does doing "his own thing" mean that he is going to teach himself to tune and play the instrument, or just put it aside after the few minutes it takes for his thing to be done?

    If he's adamant about this, sign him up for a lesson at: http://schoolofbanjo.com.au/

    If he's attentive, respectful and dedicated, great. If not, he can move on to something else that captures his imagination. Without putting a $1000 banjo under the bed.
     
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  13. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

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    This is an interesting thread. Related subject:
    I have some friends whose 7-year old son expressed some interest in guitar.
    Last Christmas, they gifted him with a $39 steel string that is everything that description brings to mind--
    action on the high side, and the "E" string won't stay in tune, probably due to structural shortcomings.
    I wish they'd asked me before making the purchase.
    I would have advised them to start him on baritone ukulele, or loaned him a full-size entry-level classical.
    I've thought of just giving him one of my nylon string guitars, as he's having such a bad time with the one his
    parents gave him, but I don't want them to feel insulted.
     
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  14. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    The real issue here is, can you stand to listen to your kid suck on the banjo until he starts to get it together? If so, get him a banjo. My parents wouldn't let me play the trumpet or the drums for that very reason.
     
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  15. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Caveat: I have no children (that I know of).

    My experience in teaching the banjo to young kids is that they are usually doing one of two things:

    1) They want attention. Whatever gets your (or mom/dads) attention, they'll do it. Positive or negative, it is the attention they crave. I've had kids that fell apart when mom/dad went for coffee...couldn't do what they did perfectly 5 min ago. I've had them also become teacher's little robot with 5 sec attention span. Do exactly what you ask...until they start chewing the strings.
    2) They want control...your choice as to how you react to that. I've had teenagers still in that stage. Usually, we have just one lesson...

    Rarely, very rarely, a kid will be focused enough to march to their own musical beat. I've never experienced that.

    At 7, I would have not had the attention span to learn an instrument. I started piano lessons at 10, hated them. I got my first banjo (a 5-string but I was listening to 4-string and didn't really know the difference) at 13 and was too shy to take lessons...so I tried to make sense out of a banjo book (Mel Bay's "Fun with the 5-string banjo"...which is still in print, I believe). Didn't happen (it is a terrible book...but that wasn't the issue). I finally got my first "this is how you do it" from another beginner (he could play three tunes) when I was 20. Been downhill from there!
     
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  16. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Meister

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    www.thefretwire.com has something called a banjolele - it may be up your alley.

    As for parenting advice, make him work to earn whatever you decide for him. It will teach him about saving, the value of work, and making wise decisions with his money. :D
     
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  17. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe one per town that gets focused on something, but it's less about what we think in terms of cognizant "I want to set out a plan and get better at this" and more "I just like to do it".

    Sometimes, it's piano, sometimes it's wrestling, sometimes ...ok, a lot of times, it's video games.

    We had one girl in my town who wanted to play flute five hours a day - I think she's a teacher now. Wound a little bit tight, but very nice.

    And another girl who wanted to twirl batons from a very young age for five hours a day - by high school, she was twirling knives and fire in halftime shows - I don't think they'd allow that these days.

    I wouldn't buy my daughter a silver flute at age 7 hoping she'd become the first girl, but if she showed the fixation, I might after a couple of years.
     
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  18. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    Buy yourself a banjo and let lay around (in tune) and let him play it.
     
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  19. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    a guit-jo is a bit of a dead end for a kid who wants to learn bluegrass. Not trying to be divisive, but coming from guitar and going to banjo - i eventually put the banjos aside and went completely back to guitar. The rolls, etc, all of those muscle memory things are predicated on five strings, and the neck is nice and narrow - probably close to ideal for small hands.

    The weight of the resonator, not so much.
     
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  20. Jim622

    Jim622 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Get a playable one, around the price range you were thinking. If he don't keep with it, you get a banjo.
     
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