Standard and Capo-ble Banjos

The modern 5-string banjo with more than 20 frets is a 19th Century invention, a modification of the fretless African instruments brought to the Americas by black slaves.  The short 5th string was common in those banjos.  The high-pitched note of that string had two important effects: first, it added a drone note to whatever else was played; second, it meant that the melody was played on the lower-pitched strings.  These effects influence all 5-string banjo playing.

The capo-ble banjo is quite at home with all the 5-string styles: bluegrass, clawhammer, melodic, etc.  It has two obvious advantages over the usual banjo.  (It has more advantages, and also some disadvantages.  Watch this space.)  First advantage: you can capo to any fret, thus changing the key of the instrument.  Second advantage: you can fret the 5th string, even close to the nut.

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