Friday, 20 December 2013

What's that ... Banjo?

Here's an interesting bantar guitanjo thing played by Brian Setzer in his Stray Cat days. Is it a one-off? Can anyone ID it? Thanks!

yours, Tone Deaf Radio

Hi Tone, it does indeed very familiar. I have a feeling I've seen one being used by The Pogues. But yeah, it's a Deering Crossfire electric banjo. It actually has two magnetic pickups mounted beneath the head and is designed to be played at volume without any feedback.

Note it's not really a "guitanjo" or a "bantar" - those names are usually given to six string banjos, which are essentially banjos tuned like a guitar so as to accommodate guitar players' existing know-how.  This Deering is a proper 5-string banjo, but in electric format.

G L Wilson

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  1. Where you been, man? Bela Fleck has been playing one of those for something like 20 years. And wonderfully, of course.

  2. Check out my axe... Hope u like it. Greetings from Argentina!

  3. What Don Tillman said - Bela Fleck! And his bassist Victor Wooten has a 4-string Bass version.

  4. Not a fan of 6 string banjers. You can either get that 3-fingered roll down, or just stick with guitar.

    1. Try counting. It's a normal 5-string.

  5. oh, you should check out Ryan Cavanaugh...

  6. Bernie Leadon also plays one, and I've owned one for a couple of years. I've tried a lot of "electric banjos" and thy just don't sound right - The Crossfire (now out of production) was really well designed - a real banjo pot and head and two EMG active pickups *just* touching the head. Run through a good preamp like a Baggs Millenium they sound better than most acoustic banjos with pickups run direct to a board. An absolutely superb instrument albeit with limited market. And given the retail price was over $4,000 (for good reason considering the amount of work that had to go into it) it was a tough buy for the average player. Used you can find them for $1700-2500, about the price of a decent acoustic banjo. The other nice thing it these are *great* for practice at home, as they are petty quiet (not as quiet as an all-wood solid body, but close. If such came to shove I'd sell my Mastertone before I'd sell this! It's far more versatile - at acoustic gigs with a small acoustic amp it sounds identical in tone and volume to a high-end flathead. Listen to Bernie's work in "Row vs Wade" by the band Run C&W to get an idea of the tone.



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