FAQ Category : 4-String or 5-String?
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What's the difference between an Irish tenor banjo, a tenor banjo, and plectrum banjo?
Great question! The Irish tenor banjo has 17 frets, the tenor 19 frets, and the
plectrum has 22 frets. Generally the Irish tenor banjo is best known is the instrument of choice for Irish folk songs. It's tuned the same as a fiddle and mandolin, so it's an easier transition from one to the other. The tenor banjo is known for its unique sound as a rhythm instrument in Dixieland bands, and it's tuned the same as a viola (EADG). The plectrum, also a Dixieland instrument, is tuned to C (DBGC), and it's the
choice of many soloists. The neck of the tenor banjo is shorter and
requires more use of inside chords to reach all of the melody notes
without getting too far up into the upper reaches of the fretboard
where things can get some what squeaky. The longer neck of the plectrum
allows for more notes to be reached on the first string. In addition
the first string does not need to be stretched as tightly to be brought
into tune. This allows for a somewhat easier tremolo.
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just got a banjo and i noticed that most of the chords are written in
without the fifth string... meaning I've only seen 4 notes written for
4 strings on the chord charts.
Your book is likely
written for 4-string tenor or plectrum banjo players. If you have a
5-string banjo, you'll need a clawhammer or bluegrass book. Clawhammer
is slower and more mellow; bluegrass is fast and hard-driving.
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What''s the difference between a 4-string and a 5-string banjo?
4-string (tenor or plectrum) banjos are used with Dixieland Jazz bands,
often considered a genre born in New Orleans. Artists include Louis
Armstrong (Hello Dolly!) and Harry Reser. These banjos are strummed
with a flat pick.
5-string banjos are played in mainly two different styles: Clawhammer
and Bluegrass. Clawhammer banjos have an open back, and they're
strummed with one or two fingers. The style originated in the
Appalachian mountain region; it's very mellow and folksy. Pete Seeger
is one of the best-known clawhammer banjo players.
Bluegrass music usually has a fast tempo. Bluegrass banjos have a
resonator on the back that projects the sound forward. The banjo
players uses two fingerpicks and a thumbpick and strives for speed and
accuracy. Earl Scruggs is the pioneer, and he's famous for songs like
The Beverly Hillbillies and Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
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