A short history of the banjo
It is unknown where the instrument originated, but it resembles West African instruments known as Kora. Kora is different from Banjo, as the neck of Kora is stick-like, and it has metal loops that function similarly to frets. The banjo prototype started in the early 17th century, and the modern one started in the Caribbean. All the instruments are played with the fingerboards and tuning pegs.
The old version of the banjo was played by the enslaved people and people who played such instruments. And after the 18th century, the white started taking up the banjo as their instrument to play. The Banjo they played consisted of four full lengthened strings and the fifth one with drone string with a drumhead-like body.
What are the Banjo playing techniques?
In the earliest style of Banjo, a vital part that still has much significance is called the claw hammer technique. The name clawhammer came from the claw-like placement of the hand, and many modern designs came out of this. These clawhammers strike on the strings in a downward motion with the help of the middle finger. One can play Banjo and try some complex melodies using the techniques known as drop thumb and double thumbing.
Claw hammer aims to create rhythms and variations of techniques that allow the players to play a melody and peaceful sounds to listen to. With these techniques, one can brush their effects and efficiently play the Banjo.
There are many bluegrasses playing styles that the players follow, also known as the three-finger technique played with substantial single-string picking.
Different parts of Banjo
Banjo comes in different designs and different parts, but all of them have parts present in them that are:
It is also known as headstock or head and is the area attached to the tuners. This part is fully decorated in deluxe banjos and cheap banjo as well.
The part comprises maple, and the neck usually contains a metal truss that allows intonation adjustments and helps maintain rigidity. The better quality necks are made of single-piece wood, and the neck of the affordable one is laminated and has some glued areas.
3. Nut: These are made of bones, plastic, and wood; and mounted at the base of another part called a peghead, and it also has slots whose string is tied down to the fret.
4. Rim: The hoop encircles the banjo body, and the modern rims are made of multiple kinds of wood or maple. The earlier versions are made of metal rims.
5. Tone ring: the part is positioned above the rim and below the head area. It is a part that affects the banjo’s dynamics and tonal range.
6. Resonator: It is the part that is not all the Banjo’s; it is a metal plate-like structure mounted to the back of the Banjo and projects sound.
7. Tailpiece: It is the part that holds the string and puts them under tension. With this, the strings can vibrate and produce sound.
How one should access the quality
There are several things that one must check while buying a cheap banjo.
1. One should test it by strumming and pressing down each string of the fingerboard. The string should make eye contact with the frets.
2. Strumming the strings individually and together makes the sound pleasant without any rattles.
3. Presence of a tone ring indicates the better quality of instruments.
One can buy a cheap banjo if he is interested in playing an instrument that looks similar to a guitar and has knowledge about it.