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Hard ain't Hard

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Here's some information from Pete Seeger's book and his list of Chords for the 5 string. Take note that the chords labeled Major 7th, are really Dominant 7th chords, and the ones labeled Major 6th are really just 6th chords.The little 'v' next to the chord means that the 5th string will be in tune with the chord. If it is not there, then you should not play the 5th string, just the other 4 notes. How Pete Seeger Invented the Longneck Banjo Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio had one, Alex Hassilev of the Limelighters had one. And if you were a banjo-crazed folkie riding the wave of enthusiasm for traditional American music that swept across the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s, you probably wanted one. What Guard and Hassilev had, and what many others wanted, were long-necked Vega banjos -- specifically, the instrument known as the Pete Seeger-model, or PS5, today one of the most enduring icons of the musical tastes of that generation. The reason for that long neck? Simple. With the usual five frets between the peghead and the fifth-string peg, most banjos were tuned to an open G Major chord. The addition of enough neck and fretboard between the peghead and fifth-string peg to carry an additional three frets meant that the instrument now could be tuned to an open E Major chord. E Major, Schmee Major, who cares? Pete Seeger, the folk music stalwart credited with originating the longneck banjo, cared. A lapsed Harvard student with an interest in music and social justice, Pete discovered music, and, more important, discovered the banjo as a means for accompanying the songs he wanted to sing about the things that were important to him. One of those songs was, "Viva la Quince Brigada," which Pete describes as, "One of the great songs of the Spanish Civil War." The banjo tunings and chord positions available with a banjo neck of traditional length were insufficient for the way he wanted to sing that song, Pete told me. He said, "C Minor was too high for me, E minor too low, and if I'd slacked off tension on the strings, the strings would have buzzed. G tuning would not have worked for that song. "So in 1943, on furlough in the U.S. Army, I got (famed New York luthier) John D'Angelico to add two frets to my banjo, a Vega Whyte Laydie, just so I could play and sing Viva la Quince Brigada. Now, G-flat and even F (played as open chords) became possible. This all worked so well that in 1955, Pete made his own banjo neck, now three frets longer than standard, of lignum vitae, a wood that is, he says, very heavy. He mounted that neck on what he says is, "a Vega pot model A Pete Seeger #100050, the hollow tone rim with eigth-inch holes every three-quarter- inch," a description that sounds very like that of a Tubaphone tone ring. Pete told me, "Nowadays, my banjo is three frets longer (than normal), and one guy I know has a banjo four frets longer. It's like adding some lower notes to the piano keyboard. You don't use 'em often, but it's nice to have 'em. Normally my capo is three frets up, concert pitch." The folks at Vega, the fine old instrument manufacturer based in Boston, knew a good idea when they saw one, and began building Pete Seeger-model longneck Vegas. By now, Pete had been on the road, and in record stores, with the Weavers, a quartet credited by many as the vanguard of the '60s folk movement. Pete and his longneck represented a certain folk image, so a Pete Seeger-model Vega longneck is what Guard, Hassilev, and a generation of folk banjoists dedicated to moving forward with the folk torch, played. How like Pete's own banjo was the Vega product? Hard to tell. Though Vega's PS5* certainly uses the Tubaphone tone ring, famed for its warm, round tone, the similarity of Vega's longneck to Pete's own neck is harder to track. When Vega began building its Pete Seeger model, Pete says, "I gave them the dimensions of my neck, but I don't know if they followed them. Most people like a narrower neck than I do." Today, Pete still plays the neck he built on its old Vega pot. He says that during the short time that C.F. Martin owned Vega, the folks at Martin gave him a Pete Seeger-model banjo. "I gave it away," he says, and adds, “Now, except for a gourd banjo and a Frank Profitt banjo (in the Cleveland Rock and Roll Museum), neither of which I play much, I have one banjo. I don’t collect.” * Vega (defunct since about 1970) also built a less expensive, and today much less desirable, longneck model called, I think, the Folk Ranger that used a plain five-ply wood pot with no tone ring. Thanks to Jon F. Thompson, for this article


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5 string banjo Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 4 years ago A special note on notation Below, we give the tunings of each string as open, making no allowance for the fact that the 5th string is five frets shorter than the other four. So, when fretted the 5th string sounds five frets above what the tuning would at first sight indicate. In C tuning for example, the 5th (g') and 1st (d') strings fretted on the same fret will sound the same pitch, for those frets on which the 5th string can be fretted at all. See fingerboard extensions for more details. Standard tuning Oh, that's a good one! Pete Seeger once said there were probably more banjo tunings than banjo players. If you don't like retuning, you have two choices basically: Take up another instrument. Learn one song on banjo and stick to it, and take up another instrument for the others. All right, it's not quite that bad... But there's no standard tuning. Pete Seeger used C tuning (not an open tuning) as his starting point, many others use open G. And retuning between songs is part of many banjo players' standard performance technique. Joel Walker Sweeney g' - c - g - b - d' (C tuning) Claimed to be the first white feller to perform on stage on banjo, in the 1830s, and did a lot to popularise the instrument and make it a basic part of the Minstrel Show. Pete Seeger g' - c - g - b - d' (C tuning, same as Sweeney)) Seeger's book How to play the 5-string Banjo is a definitive work. Seeger also invented the long neck banjo, and a now popular method of retuning the melody-string by having a small screw adjacent to the relevant fret - modern players often use a model railroad spike. This is used to shorten string 5, which is rarely fretted anyway, in much the same way as a capot can be used on frets 1-4 (or 1-7 on Seeger's longneck) to shorten strings 1-4. Long neck banjo A Pete Seeger invention, it just adds three frets to the main four strings (only). Common tunings g' - d - g - b - d' (Open G) g' - c - g - c' - d' (Double C) g' - d - g - c' - d' (Sawmill, Modal or Mountain Modal) a' - d - a - d' - e' (Old-time D) f # ' - d - f # - a - d' (Open D) Scale There's no standard scale length either. Current Fender models include one at 27.4" and one at 26.25", and as short as 22.25" has been reported. The one thing that is standard is that there are 22 frets. Other registers The A scale banjo, sometimes called a travel banjo, was two frets shorter than the standard size and designed to be tuned one tone higher. The banjeaurine had a scale length of a little more than 18" and was tuned a fourth above the standard five-stringer. It was used in banjo orchestras, where there were typically two banjearine parts and two for standard banjos, plus bass and rhythm instruments. The piccolo banjo was smaller still, and tuned a full octave above the standard five-string. External links How to tune your 5-stringer... good list of basic tunings Anita Kermode's 5-String Tuning Compilation... very comprehensive

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ long neck banjo Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 4 years ago The long neck banjo is a 5 string banjo with an extra three frets for the four main playing strings, invented by Pete Seeger. The 5th string is not extended, so instead of being five frets shorter than the others as on a standard banjo, on the long-neck it's eight frets shorter. Standard scale length is 34", with 25 frets, and standard tuning E tuning: e' - B - e - g# - b' (Used by Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio) Seeger often used a capot on fret three to bring himself back to standard tuning, so assuming this was his favourite C tuning (g' - c - g - b - d' ) his basic tuning would be the (nearly unplayable): g' - A - e - g# - b' (actual open string tunings taking no account of the fact that the g' string is shorter). Without the capot, the melody string would probably be slacked of to e', or shifted up by Seeger's shortening technique to a': e' - A - e - g# - b' a' - A - e - g# - b' (string 5 shortened an extra two frets) but many other tunings are possible. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________