The Battle of the Banjos Continues

In a previous post (“Is the Standard Banjo Better?”) I mentioned some advantages of the standard banjo.

The standard banjo has another small advantage: the 5th string can be tuned up.  Many players tune it to A for the key of D.  On some banjos they can safely tune up to B♭.  The G 5th string on a capo-ble banjo, on the other hand, is tuned to its limit.  A 5th string capo or a “railroad spike” is needed to tune higher.

In the capo-ble banjo’s favor are possible tricks with the fully frettable 5th string.  Instead of staying open, or fretted to the first or second fret,  it can be played freely as a special part of the accompaniment.  You can see that in the fragment of my arrangement of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” above: in measure 15 the 5th string goes from the 4th to the 2nd fret to open.

Such tricks are possible with a standard banjo 5th string above its open position, but there is no point.  That high up the neck, the 1st and 5th strings play the same note.

Different banjos, different advantages.

You can see and listen to my arrangement of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” In TEFView, in the usual way, starting at

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