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Posts Tagged ‘buyers guide’

Violin buyers guide – Acoustic, electric and electro acoustic Violins from Fidelius, Stentor, Antoni, Cathedral and many more

Our choice of violins/fiddles at Eagle Music Shop are selected to suit the absolute beginner through to the seasoned professional. We offer sizes to suit all ages from 1/8 through to 4/4. Check out our extensive range of excellent starter packs at sheer value for money.

There are three critical but simple decisions that you our valued customer should make when buying a violin:-

Buy from a Specialist Company … that will set up the instrument correctly
Eagle Music is one of Europes leading acoustic instrument specialist shops

Buy the Best Quality instrument … that is within your budget
Eagle Music carry a large selection of world class violin brands

Choose the Correct Size Violin… sizes vary for young and grown up players
Eagle Music’s specialist musician sales team  will ensure this for you

The notes below will help you choose the violin that is the right model for you.

Eagle Music Shop offer to you violins or ‘fiddles’ as you may wish to call them, starting from favourably priced Antoni and Stentor Student ‘outfits’ to the highest quality hand built electric violins that you see being played by professionals including fidelius, Bridge Electric Violins, Yamaha and Straus. The Antoni ‘Debut’ and ebony fitted Antoni ‘Premier’ violin outfits are exceptional value. Check out the ‘used instruments’ part of our website vintage violins.

Whether you are just starting to learn to play violin and are looking for an ideal starter model or are an experienced player looking to for a top quality hand made violin, Eagle Music can provide you with all the expert advice you will ever need, alongside an exceptional after sales service, including spares and repairs and a professional bow re-hairing service.

Violin spares and accessories are in plenty at Eagle Music Shop along with a multitude of violin / fiddle music books, violin tuition books and CDs and violin tuition videos. We also offer a bow re-hairing service.

Our violin technical advice section will also help you in deciding what type of instrument to buy.
Eagle Music are the exclusive UK retailer of Fidelius electric and electro acoustic violins hand built in Germany by Ulrich Schwabe they are played by world class stars including Nigel Kennedy and Boyd Tinsley.

Banjo buyers guide by Eagle Music including explanations of banjo types

Whether you are looking to start playing a Bluegrass 5-String Banjo, Frailing or Clawhammer Old Time Banjo, Open Back Banjo, Irish Tenor Banjo or Plectrum Banjo, Eagle Music will help you to make the right choice.

Original article written by Steve Noon, founder of Eagle Music, 2004

There are three critical but simple decisions that you our valued customer should make when buying a banjo:-

Buy from a Specialist Company… that will set up the instrument correctly
Eagle Music is Europe’s unrivalled leading banjo specialist shop

Buy the Best Quality instrument… that is within your budget
Eagle Music carry Europe’s largest selection of world class banjo brands

Choose the Correct Banjo… for the kind of music that you want to play
Eagle Music’s specialist musician sales team  will ensure this for you

The notes below will help you choose the banjo that is the right model for you.

Types of Banjo and the kind of Music that  is Played on them

There are many ‘types’ of Banjo that have been designed to suit specific kinds of music, these banjos will in general have either four, five or six strings. However, there are crossovers where one particular ‘type’ of banjo can be suitable for more than one ‘kind’ of music. We shall try to keep explanations relatively simple and deal with each of them in the notes below.

An important point to note for beginners is that some banjos are what are called ‘OPEN BACK’ and some banjos have what is called a ‘RESONATOR’ fitted, this banjo is also called ‘CLOSED BACK’. The ‘OPEN BACK’ is a quieter gentle banjo because some of its sound when playing is absorbed by the players clothing.

Whereby the ‘Resonator’ when fitted, helps to push most of the sound forward. Both banjos normally have the same neck and are tuned the same which means that any kind of music can be played on either banjo. However, in the 5-string banjo world BLUEGRASS players like powerful banjos with resonators fitted and the old time FRAILING and CLAWHAMMER players like the more gentle sound of the open back banjo.

5-String Banjo

The 5-string banjo is the most popular and in relative terms the easiest to learn to play as in most cases it is tuned to a ‘G’ chord …so that means that you can ‘play music’ by just brushing across the strings, when the banjo is in tune, that is.
Some types of popular music that are played on the 5-string banjo are as follows:-
Bluegrass, Frailing, Clawhammer, Old Time, 5-string Folk style, Classical etc.

5-String banjo Bluegrass Music style

Bluegrass players choose a powerful banjo that has a resonator fitted. Many bluegrass players play in the style of the USA legend Earl Scruggs. In this style, a thumb pick and two finger picks are fitted to the picking hand which then plays ‘rolls’ alternatively about the strings in what is called the ‘three finger picking style’. With much practise dexterity, solid timing and vibrant attack is achieved in producing the Bluegrass Banjo sound that you hear in American music like Duelling Banjos from the popular film Deliverance.

5-String banjo Clawhammer Style –  also closely related to Drop Thumb and Frailing  styles

Open Back banjos are chosen by players for this style of ‘Old Time’ Banjo Music, and to facilitate easier fingering, a number of different tunings are chosen by the ‘Old Time’ players to pick out fiddle tunes. This style is also most suitable for singers and vocal accompaniment. Thumb picks are generally not used, but some players do use a pick like the Fred Kelly Freedom Pick’ or the Perfect Touch Clawhammer Pick instead of the back of the natural nail.

This style is very popular in folk and mountain music circles. The desired banjo sound is gentle and mellow, deep and ‘plunky’ and some modifications can be made to the design of the banjo to give these desired requirements.

On some banjos like the Vega Old Tyme wonder, the Prucha Old Time, the OME Juniper and Jubilee Models or Gold Tone White Ladye models a ‘frailing scoop’ (removal of some frets and part of the fingerboard at the bottom of the neck) can be found on the banjo to facilitate the thumb on the ‘Clawhammer’ hand as it comes down to rest on 5th string and then ‘pick’ the 5th string. In the same rhythmic movement, the back of the nail on the picking finger … normally the third or first finger on the picking hand picks the tune out on the other four strings. With practise the frailing / clawhammer rhythm can be learnt quite easily by most players.

5-String banjo folk style

This style is a combination of clawhammer and “up picking” and was popularized by Pete Seeger. Played without finger picks and usually mixing melody playing with chords. Very often a long neck banjo is used because it may be tuned lower to better suit vocal ranges. There are many variations of this style and may be played on an open back or resonator banjo.

The 4-string Tenor Banjo

Tenor banjos are nearly always played with a plectrum (pick) and can be played in the strumming style along with single picked scale runs. It is the typical banjo for New Orleans style jazz sound or Irish traditional music.

The 4-string Tenor Banjos Jazz and General Styles

The four string banjo has a shorter neck than a five string as the tuning is higher 4C 3G 2D 1A and is an excellent rhythm instrument for jazz bands. A resonator is typically used, since the banjo’s sound must be loud and piercing to compete with other instruments in the band. Single string melodies can be played but chord melodies are more traditional. Popular jazz tenor banjo tuning is 4C 3G 2D 1A.

The 4-string Irish Tenor Banjo

The Irish Tenor banjo is the same instrument as a jazz tenor banjo and can have a seventeen or a  nineteen fret neck. The shorter neck allows a higher tuning so the songs are better suited to the keys of Irish music (G, D, A, E etc.). The style is played with a plectrum and often played with rapid single string melodies. The Irish tenor banjo can be fitted with or without a resonator, the sound desired is mellow but with attack. Popular Irish tenor banjo tuning is 4G 3D 2A 1E.

The Long Neck Banjo

As an absolute beginner looking at banjos, you might think that all 5-String banjo have a long neck! most  do in fact have a 22 fret neck but, there is a specific banjo called ‘the Long Neck banjo that was designed by Pete Seeger in the 1960s. this banjo has an extra three frets making it a 25 fret neck and around a 32” scale length (nut to bridge). it is tuned normally to E Which gives the banjo a powerful low tone. The idea of Pete’s design was for accompanying his singing in the lower keys, a style that has been copied and sought after by many aspiring banjo players to this very day.
You can place a capo on the third fret of this banjo and play in open G as on a normal 5-string banjo. Check out the Deering Vega Tubaphone and Woodsongs range and the Gold Tone Long Neck available from Eagle Music shop.

The Plectrum Banjo

The neck on a plectrum banjo has 22 frets and a Deering model has a scale length of around 27” (which is slightly longer than a 5-String banjo).
Some plectrum style players will use a five string neck but eliminate the fifth string. A plectrum may be used in jazz styles, melody chord styles or for just playing chord accompaniment for vocals.  It can be played with or without a resonator. Players usually use G tuning which is D G B D. However, it can be tuned C G B D or D G B E. The chords are easier to learn than on a Jazz tenor banjo.

Alternative Banjos

These include the six string banjo like the Deering Phoenix, Gold Tone Banjitars etc., the Banjo Mandolin, Bass Banjo, Ukulele Banjo, even Dobro Banjo. Most use a banjo-style body but neck and tuning is the same as the names they simulate. They allow non-banjoists to achieve a banjo tone without learning a new instrument.

Travel Banjo

A travel banjo is a smaller version of a standard size banjo. Check out the Deering Goodtime 19 fret Parlour 5-strings and 17 fret Tenor Banjo models. Also the Gold Tone range of travel banjos.

Contact our Technical Department

If you have any questions about the above notes or about banjos in general or any other musical instrument, please contact our banjo technical department at Eagle Music shop on 01484 661460

Traditional Musical Instrument Buyers Guide – choosing the right instrument for you

Eagle Music describes here the general details and criteria for you to study when you are buying a musical instrument. Also see the specific section for each particular type of instrument.

eg. if you are buying a banjo, read the notes below and then look in the Banjo Buyers Guide section.

Which instrument is the right one for you?

From the Eagle Music team’s vast experience of playing the musical instruments that we retail, we have written The Eagle Music ‘Buyers Guide’ to help you as an absolute beginner or a  proficient player, to choose the instrument that is the ‘right one for you’. In these notes we have taken into consideration your budget and the type of music that you want to play or learn to play. We give the answers to each of your key questions for each particular instrument.

Each section is relevant to the particular instrument that you play or want to learn to play, and gives consideration to the following criteria when buying your particular instrument.

Credibility of the retailer that is offering to sell you your instrument

Does the retailer have a long standing business that has thousands of returning customers? Does the retailer have a support team? Does the retailer have specialists within their business that can give you honest and credible advice? Does the retailer have a workshop and offer you an ‘after sales service’? Does the retailer offer a ‘Money back Guarantee’ if you are not fully satisfied? Does the retailer have a Price Match Policy’? If needed, can the retailer offer you any finance options to help you buy the instrument of your dreams?
Eagle Music Shop’s  answer is a big ‘YES’ to all the above questions.

Other considerations when you are buying a musical instrument

Retail Price

First decide on your maximum budget, then put together a short list of models that you have found within this price band.

Manufacturer

Check out the ‘pedigree’ of the manufacturer …High profile major known name brands have built up their reputation on build quality and service.

The Country of Origin of the instrument

Find out where the instrument is built ? You may have a preference for the country of origin

Quality Level

The build quality level of the instrument relative to player eg. Beginner, Intermediate or professional, also take into account that a professional level instrument is very much suitable for a beginner!

The Type/Style of Music

The type and style of music that is played on the particular instrument model

After Sales Spares and Service

Does your supplier have a workshop for after sales support, does your supplier set-up the instrument before selling it to you?

Manufacturers Guarantee

Does the instrument have any kind of manufacturers guarantee or any guarantee against parts and workmanship from your supplier?

Cosmetic Details

Does the instrument tick all your boxes for design and ergonomics

Weight of Instrument

Consider the weight of the instrument before buying …some makers have lighter weight models that are easier to handle.

Ukulele buyers guide by Eagle Music including explanations of uke types

All the different types of ukulele including soprano, concert, tenor, baritone are all explained here by Eagle Music with their relative tunings.

There are three critical but simple decisions that you our valued customer should make when buying a banjo:-

Buy from a Specialist Company… that will set up the instrument correctly
Eagle Music is Europes leading ukulele specialist shop

Buy the Best Quality instrument… that is within your budget
Eagle Music carry Europes largest selection of world class ukulele brands

Choose the Correct Ukulele… for the kind of music that you want to play
Eagle Music’s specialist musician sales team  will ensure this for you

The notes below will help you choose the ukulele that is the right model for you.

Types of Ukulele Simplified

The four main popular sizes of ukulele are (From the smallest to the largest) soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. So, when choosing your ukulele consider what size is most suitable for you and also the sound/tone that you will get from the instrument.

Steve Noon of Eagle Music Shop writes … My guitar teacher father put a ukulele into my hands at a very young age, from that day on I never looked back, I went on to play ukulele, piano, guitar, mandolin and banjo and was a professional musician by the age of twenty!

The ukulele is the ideal musical stepping stone that will take you on to playing a whole range of stringed instruments. The smallest size soprano uke is ideal for ‘child size fingers’. The chord shapes are the same as the first four strings of the guitar. Britain’s George Formby society has created much interest in the ukulele with local branches now spread all over the country. Many people link the ‘Banjo’ to George Formby who was in fact a great ukulele player. George played the Ukulele banjo and his syncopated ‘split stroke’ right hand rhythmic playing is the goal of many players! As a leading UK retailer, we supply dozens of highly playable ukes to schools, a highly playable colourful starter kit costs around twenty pounds, thanks to the high tech modern far Eastern factories!

We sponsor schools and events and attend festivals throughout the year in the ukulele and banjo world.

Types of Ukulele Explained

Soprano 4 String Ukulele

The soprano ukulele is the smallest in the ukulele family and has the traditional bright, sweet sound. It is the best choice for children starting to play and can be played by children as young as four years old.

The soprano ukulele is regarded as the ‘original’ ukulele and its smaller size produces that traditional ukulele sound. However, if you have long, fat or stubby fingers you may find it difficult to play because it has small frets. In this case we recommend that you choose a concert ukulele which has a longer neck and wider frets.

Tuning … The soprano Ukulele is tuned exactly the same as a concert ukulele and the popular tunings are G C  E A  (Regular ‘C’ tuning) or A D F# B (known as ‘D’ Tuning) ‘C’ tuning which is the recognised standard and most popular tuning for ukulele. The G string is tuned in relation to 1st, 2nd and third strings an octave higher. Another name for this tuning is ‘Re Entrant’. The ‘high’ G fourth string in relation the the lower octave C third string gives the instrument the distinctive ukulele sound when you strum across the strings.

Tuning your ukulele in ‘D’ tuning (A D F# B) was more popular in the early 1900s, you will find some music books and musical scores written in this tuning from that era. This higher tuning can give a lift to some instruments that sound ‘flat in the lower ‘C’ tuning.
If you are going to sing along with your ukulele, you may want to experiment with different tunings to suit your voice …tuning up your ukulele to a different pitch enables you to sing in a different key while still playing the same chord shapes!

Concert 4 String Ukulele

The concert ukulele is an excellent choice because it has a fuller tone than the soprano ukulele but still retains the traditional ukulele sound, it also has the advantage of having wider frets which make it easier grown ups to play.

Tuning … The concert Ukulele is tuned exactly the same as the soprano ukulele and the popular tunings are G C E A  (Regular ‘C’ tuning) or A D F# B (known as ‘D’ Tuning) ‘C’ tuning which is the recognised standard and most popular tuning for ukulele. The G string is tuned in relation to 1st, 2nd and third strings an octave higher …Another name for this tuning is ‘Re Entrant’. The ‘high’ G fourth string in relation the the lower octave C third string gives the instrument the distinctive ukulele sound when you strum across the strings.

Tuning your ukulele in ‘D’ tuning (A D F# B) was more popular in the early 1900s, you will find some music books and musical scores written in this tuning from that era. This higher tuning can give a lift to some instruments that sound ‘flat in the lower ‘C’ tuning.
If you are going to sing along with your ukulele, you may want to experiment with different tunings to suit your voice …tuning up your ukulele to a different pitch enables you to sing in a different key while still playing the same chord shapes!

Tenor 4 String Ukulele

As you move up through the range of ukulele sizes to the tenor and baritone ukuleles you get a deeper, fuller tone with increased volume. The tenor ukulele is a popular choice for musicians that want to pick out fingerstyle tunes and play solos. In many cases the professionals choice! You have a wider range of musical notes which lends itself to solo playing.

Tuning … The tenor Ukulele can be strung and tuned in different ways. The popular tuning is G C E A  (Regular ‘C’ tuning) which is the recognised standard and most popular tuning for ukulele. The G string is tuned in relation to 1st, 2nd and third strings an octave higher …Another name for this tuning is ‘Re Entrant’. The ‘high’ G fourth string in relation the the lower octave C third string gives the instrument the distinctive ukulele sound when you strum across the strings.

Low G Tuning … Players needing a wider range of bass notes tune their tenor ukulele to Low G tuning. this tuning is an alternative to the ‘re entrant’ tuning that is described above

Low G tenor tuning is as follows: Low G C E A …The Low tuned G string gives you a wider span of octaves.

It is important that your ukulele is fitted with the correct strings for the tuning that you require.

Baritone 4 String Ukulele

The baritone ukulele is the largest ukulele and can be likened to a four string guitar as it is tuned the same as the first four strings on a guitar which are D G B E

NOTE: There are two popular tunings for the baritone ukulele as follows:-

High G Tuning … D  ‘High G’ B E

High G baritone ukulele tuning gives you the same pitch relationship as that on a guitar. Guitarists will find the transition to baritone ukulele from guitar easy and the larger sized neck oof the baritone ukulele wil feel comfortable, on the other hand if you learn to play the ukulele and then move on to playing guitar you will find that many of the chord shapes are the same. (but may have a different name due to the ukulele tuning)

Re Entrant tuning … D ‘Low G’ B E

The G string is tuned (in relation to 1st, 2nd and third strings) an octave higher …The ‘high’ G fourth string in relation the the lower octave C third string gives the instrument the distinctive ukulele sound when you strum across the strings.

It is important that your ukulele is fitted with the correct strings for the tuning that you require.

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