One small step for me. A giant leap for…

Well, maybe not. But I’ve been thinking about the timbre of the banjo and how it imparts a particular melancholy to ballads. I asked around to see if anyone around here played one and I found no-one. So I was at the excellent local luthier putting in my Santa Cruz guitar to be set up in Nashville tuning (6 strings like the high strings on a 12 string – see the acoustic sound on etc, especially Santa Cruz) and I asked if I could play one and is it possible to ‘fake it’ with a plectrum. As some of you may already know, my primary acoustic technique is a finger picking fake that I came up with in 1995. Well the guy I spoke to said that that is what he does… so I picked up the cheapest one, a Rover RB-100, made in China, and found that banjo tuning is almost the same as open G tuning on the guitar, which is almost the same as open D which I use on my black guitar, so I already knew a bunch of the shapes, just not necessarily which strings to play them on… so I bought it, with the understanding that if after a year I still suck, they will buy it back from me for a fair price. It was very inexpensive anyhow.

I’ve been strumming and fake picking it all weekend, I even took it out on the porch – I think I’ll be able to use it on the record. It has a lovely tone and at least one of the guitar ideas I had (a riff, I suppose) sounds better on the banjo.

It’s funny, one of the main reasons I was thinking of the banjo was Neil Young’s Harvest record. I was sure there was a banjo in that ensemble (the Stray Gators) but I just listened and there is no sign of one…



One giant leap

That was funny:cool banjo, I like the idea of new instruments being learnt and hopefully being used on the new album. There is a good feeling coming out of his album already, as can be read into Lloyd’s posts. In the lead up to the Demos being started Lloyd wrote ‘I think I’m leaning towards an eclectic record like my first solo album’ I hope that the Vibrato guitar used so beautifully on that release comes back for another airing. Howard (Banjo) Burton did a good job on that track by the way.


Vibrato guitar

I do actually have it in mind for a few songs – specifically the elussive, will I ever finish it, The Flipside of That Gentle Melancholy Feeling.


Rover V.2

The Rover is back from the shop with new tuners and a new bridge. I've had a lesson, too.
Today I worked out N. Young's Old Man without a capo, which is cool as it isn't in G (well, maybe it is but the chords are not 1,4,5 – D modal thing, fM7, C, G, Am, Em7). Some friends of mine do a benefit show for the local schools and I said I might be willing to humiliate myself for a good cause. In fact it should be fun and I think my part will stand nest to JT's.

BTW – this is exactly the sort of stuff I DON'T want to tweet – yes I did start a Twitter page
I think folk who are interested in this type of trivia should have to come and get it, not have it forced upon them. The RSS works fine here if you want everything.



It is also saving my fingernails, as I’m practicing while playing online Poker – without the banjo my fingernails are toast.


JT on banjo

Slogging through the overlong and miserably written Neil Young biography, I see a quote from James Taylor about his banjo playing on Old Man. Neil apparently liked to put people on instruments they’d never played before. ‘”I don’t think I played on one before or since,” said Taylor.’

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