Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Parlor Banjos

When I retired I decided to do a couple of me things including getting reacquainted with my 5 string banjo.  I have three 5 strings.   A 1962 Muse (a custom made ODE) with a resonator,  an open backed 1909 Washburn that was restored by Banjo Maker Extraordinaire Monte Hendricks and a Deering Parlor.

A parlor banjo is used for a couple of tasks.  First, it can be a great starter banjo - at under $400 it is an inexpensive way to see if you like it.   Second, it can be great for a kids banjo - the next is 19 frets and so a bit shorter and lighter.   Third, with a soft case (called a gig bag) it can be used as a travel banjo.  Light enough to carry around or stick in the back of your car.

There are a couple of parlor banjos made that I know about.   Saga has one called the SSP-10 and Deering has a Goodtime Parlor.   There are also some lesser known brands.   For me, the Deering is the superior instrument.  I got it as a birthday gift - so even better.   I traded off the Saga when I got the Deering as a gift.

Parlor banjos are tuned one key up and this one has a very nice action.   You can get up into high frets without problems.  It has a soft touch.   Because of the lack of a resonator and a slightly smaller head it does not put out as much sound as my other two banjos - so were I to use it in a band, I think I would figure out a way to amplify it.   I have enjoyed this instrument a great deal and it compares quite favorably to either of my two other instruments even though it is only a fraction of the cost.

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