Posts Tagged ‘tailpiece’

How Does your Banjo Ring and Frequently asked Questions. Author, Steve Noon, Cleckheaton, 1988

Banjo parts and adjustments, simple explanations of how they affect the sound and tone of your banjo.

Eagle’s answers

I have revised this article that I wrote back in 1988 during my Cleckheaton days with Dave Mallinson and David J Taylor after being asked so many questions about banjo set-ups by many banjo playing friends and customers. Also see our other specific blog articles relating to all banjo parts.

If you are a banjo player, you may already be afflicted by the ‘vellum pluckers’ condition. A condition which leaves you constantly asking yourself, “It’s not quite sounding right, is it? Or is it?” If you haven’t yet been afflicted, the following hints, adjustments and modifications will help you through some of the traumas. A banjo is different from most other stringed instruments: you could think of it as a mechanical ‘drum’, with many adjustable parts. So, as a banjo player, it will help you to develop your D.I.Y. and mechanical skills, along with your musical ones.

What kind of banjo do I need?

Choosing a banjo, we have many books, tapes and videos to take you from beginner to advanced player. You may ask “what kind of banjo do I need?” Here is a description of the most common banjos used today, and a simple explanation of the music they are chosen for.

The Tenor banjo

In the early 1900’s this banjo was designed and made for playing jazz music, it was tuned C4, G3, D2, A1 and either picked or strummed. This is the banjo that has been adapted for playing tunes in Irish and traditional music. In order to make the playing of fiddle tunes, jigs, reels etc. easy, we put heavier strings on the tenor banjo and ‘drop’ tune it to G4, D3, A2, E1. (The fiddle and mandolin are tuned to G4, D3, A2, E1, only an octave higher). Scales and tunes that are written for fiddle are now much easier to play. You can play the tunes on a ‘C’ or jazz tuned banjo, but it is much harder. Another golden rule when stringing ‘drop’ tuned banjos is ‘The shorter the scale length, the heavier the strings’. Tenor banjos come in standard scale (usually 19 fret) or short scale (usually 17 fret), the scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge. They may be ‘open back’ or have a resonator fitted. The resonator was designed to increase the volume of the banjo. The resonator projects the sound forward.

The Five String Banjo

The earliest banjos that came from America (even earlier, from Africa!) reached maturity around the late 1800s. Many fine open back five-string banjos from this period can still be found today. The most popular five string models today have heavy tone rings and are fitted with a resonator. These banjos are chosen for playing bluegrass, folk and general banjo music. The most popular tuning is G (fifth drone string), D4, G3, B2, D1. Normally played with a plastic thumb pick and metal fingerpicks fitted to the first and second finger. Open back banjos have a more ‘gentle’ feel. They are a favourite type for frailing style. A point to note is that all five string banjo types can be used for bluegrass, frailing, old time and jazz. (In some cases you just tune the strings differently).

The Plectrum Banjo

This banjo has a neck as long as the five-string banjo but is fitted with only four strings. The instrument is ideal for chord work. You can ‘pick’ or ‘strum’ using a plectrum.

Heads, skins, vellums, which type do I need?

The skin, vellum or head This can be adjusted and tensioned like a drum. The choice of skin and tension applied will give a different sound to the banjo.
a) Clear plastic This head will give the loudest, bright thin sound.
b) Plastic head spray finished “Frosted Top” This head will give slightly less volume than the above, but with more “body”. These heads can be obtained with the sprayed on coating applied to the inside or the outside.
c) “Fiberskyn” plastic head This head will give less volume than the above heads but will give a rounder sound with much more body and depth. The sprayed on fibres are applied to the outside of the head to emulate a real vellum, but unlike the vellum, the fibre head is not affected by humidity.
d) Calf or goat skin vellum The vellum will give the traditional full bodied “mellow” sound, but remember that a vellum is affected by humidity and temperature. You can experiment with different heads and different head tensions to find your desired “personal” sound but remember, any adjustment on head tension will affect the height of the strings in relationship to the fingerboard, as the bridge moves with the head All the above heads and vellums are stock items at Eagle Music.

Bridge, how does it affect the sound of my banjo?

The bridge The bridge can alter the tone and the volume of your banjo. If you change your bridge from 1/2” to 5/8” you will get more volume. Don’t forget that this might, depending on your instrument, make the “action” (that is the distance you have to push the strings down to the frets) higher and more difficult. If you sand a bridge to give less area contact with the head, the tone will be “snappier”. You can also taper the bridge from the bass to the treble end to try to eliminate unwanted overtones and harmonics. Compensated 5 string bridges are also available. Maple and ebony bridges are supplied in various heights, also with bone inserts for a clearer sound. Remember, the bridge must be positioned on the head the same distance from the 12th fret as the 12th fret is from the nut. The bridge can be slightly angled to compensate for the heavier fourth string on a tenor or plectrum banjo, the distance at the fourth string thus being slightly greater than at the first string.

Tailpiece, how does this affect the sound?

The tailpiece The tailpiece plays a very important role in the tone and volume of your banjo. Its prime function is to anchor your strings. Its secondary function is to angle your strings to exert maximum pressure on the bridge in order that the bridge transmits sound into the banjo head. Adjustable “clam shell”, “Scruggs” type, “Kershner and “Nashville” types are available. Please enquire for prices.

Resonator, what is it’s function?

The resonator If you fit a resonator to your banjo, it will have more volume and will project the sound forward. Without a resonator, your banjo will be quieter and sound more mellow. A “frailing” banjo would not have a resonator.

Armrest, do I need one?

How can the arm rest affect the tone of a banjo? If an arm rest is fitted to your banjo, it can keep your arm from deadening the movement of the head, which could lower the potential volume of your instrument; also, it can he adjusted to alter the angle and position that you “attack” your strings, which brings in the… strings.

Strings, what type should I use?

Strings come in many different grades, materials and gauges, each of which gives a different sound and “feel” to your banjo. Experiment with all aspects to find your preferred tone and volume, but remember this brief note: thinner steel and nickel for more “clang” and “twang”, heavier wound bronze or phosphor bronze for a “warmer” sound with more body. Note that custom gauge sets can be made up at no extra cost Last but not least, the position that you strike your strings, what you strike them with and the pressure that YOU can exert accounts for much of your banjo’s tone and volume.

Plectrums, picks, The choice is yours

Plectrums, picks etc If you are a plectrum player, experiment with different shapes, thicknesses and materials. The nylon picks give a softer sound, the harder the pick the “chunkier” the sound. Remember this brief note: the closer you pick to the bridge, the harder the sound. The further you pick from the bridge, the mellower the sound. The “old masters” prefer to use a tortoise shell plectrum: I prefer to see the shells on the backs of the tortoises! Fingerpicks and thumbpicks likewise come in all shapes and forms. Again, experiment, although you don’t have as much choice as you have with plectra. Bluegrass players go for metal fingerpicks for attack and volume.

Vellum, how do I fit a new one?

Please note – these instructions apply to natural skin vellums only! Fitting a plastic head is much simpler. Basically, all you need to make sure of when fitting a plastic head is that you apply equal tension gradually, all round the circumference of the head, tightening up hooks evenly and symmetrically.

Fitting a Natural Skin ‘Banjo Vellum’.

When the time comes to fit a new vellum, it is also a good time to clean all the metal parts of your banjo and remove all grime and dust from the inside of the banjo rim! (The ‘rim’ is sometimes called the hoop) Vellums (Sometimes called ‘banjo heads’ or skins) are available at Eagle Music Shop in different qualities and types. Calf skin and goat skins are the most popular …natural white calf skins are the most expensive. Order a skin that is larger in diameter than the banjo rim, normally 30mm excess all around is sufficient, this allowance is for pulling around the flesh band (sometimes called the vellum wire), and gives you some leeway for cutting off and finishing the job neatly on the inside of the bezel (sometimes called the stretcher band or hoop).

Firstly study how your banjo ‘pot’ (The pot is the whole assembly) is assembled (If you have a camera, take some photos to remind you later) note the position of the bezel in relation to the neck, tailpiece and rim. (Banjo parts can be distorted and ‘out of round’ from years of use or abuse!).

Remove the strings from your banjo and commence to strip down the ‘pot’. Keep all the tensioning hooks (Sometimes called brackets or ‘J’ hooks) and nuts as they are matched (This makes it easier to assemble later, as threads can differ from one hook to another)
Take some time out here to clean all the metal parts …Take care with plated parts, and do not use abrasives on gold or thin nickel plating.

Now is the fun part …To Mount Your New Vellum on The Flesh Band/Vellum Wire
Study the new vellum and note which is the ‘face’ and which is the ‘back’. The ‘face’ is normally smooth and the ‘back’ is normally rough. This is very important, as I have seen a fair number of vellums fitted the wrong way around!

Have a large clean towel at the ready, laid out on a flat area …Fill a large clean bowl with fresh clean cold water. Immerse the vellum completely in the bowl of water and leave until the vellum is supple, this normally takes about ten minutes depending on the thickness of the vellum. Remove the vellum from the water and shake off the excess water, place the vellum ‘face’ side up on the flat towel. Visually check that there are no wrinkles in the vellum and feel that the vellum is supple. Place the ‘flesh band’ (Sometimes called the vellum wire) central on the vellum leaving an equal amount of surplus skin around the edges. Holding the bezel above the ‘flesh band’, start to fold the surplus skin up and around the outside of the ‘flesh band’ and at the same time folding and tucking it inside the bezel and working in a circle motion around the whole circumference of the bezel. Visually check all around the vellum for evenness.

Now working with the hoop on your banjo…evenly spaced around your banjo’s hoop, fit half a dozen of your banjo’s tension hooks and nuts. Ensure that they are loosely fitted and ready to accept your new vellum. Now place your new vellum, flesh band and bezel assembly onto your banjo hoop. Here you can note if your bezel has a weld joint and position this to be hidden underneath your tailpiece. Position the vellum assembly carefully and evenly around the hoop and locate the six tension hooks in position …do not over tighten the tension hooks at this stage but visually check that they are evenly pulling down on the vellum. Seeing that no folds or wrinkles appear …ease the vellum up and under the bezel and ensure that there are no overlaps or folds as it passes over the ‘flesh band’. Gently press down in the centre of the vellum to give a little ‘slack’ in the vellum for later tensioning after the vellum has dried. Visually check again that the bezel is pulling down even and gently tighten the six tension hooks to leave the bezel slightly higher than the face of the vellum …The bezel will be tightened down to it’s final position when the banjo is assembled before being finally ‘set up’ for playing. Have a last final check that the vellum is evenly stretched and that there are no wrinkles or folds evident.

Now lay the whole pot assembly on one side in a clean dry position, in a cool dry room. Under no circumstances should you use a ‘hair dryer’ or any form of heat to speed up the drying process. Leave for at least twenty four hours, best to leave even longer to ensure that the whole of the new vellum is dry. Please Note: The part of the vellum under the bezel will take much longer to dry than the face of the vellum, so don’t rush the process when you ‘feel’ that the face of the vellum is dry!

After a day or so, remove the vellum from the hoop by undoing the six fitted tension hooks. Leave the vellum ‘off’ the hoop for a further few hours, this will allow the mating parts to further dry out. The vellum should not feel ‘tacky’ and should not stick to the hoop. If you try to fit a vellum that is not completely dry, you can cause distortion of the vellum or even cause it to split. When you are quite sure that the vellum is completely dry, this is the time to finish off the vellum by trimming the excess skin from the inside of the bezel. Use a sharp ‘Stanley’ type knife for this process, it is also good practise to protect the face of the vellum with a thin piece of card or plastic (a piece of old banjo head is ideal for this purpose) as you work around the circumference of the bezel.

Now to Fit Your New Vellum to Your Banjo Rim

Sprinkle some French chalk on the inside of the vellum in the area where it locates with the rim, and shake of the excess before offering it to the rim. Note the orientation of the bezel and place any welding joints in position so that the tailpiece will cover the join. Fit all tensioning hooks and nuts until finger tight. Working diagonally and evenly, tension each hook and nut so that the bezel pulls the vellum down evenly. ‘Correct’ vellum tension is a personal choice. However, the vellum needs to be tight enough so that when pressed with your thumbs, you feel a reasonable tension and no sign of ‘sagginess’. Experience will teach you how tight your vellum needs to be. Please do not hesitate to contact our technical department at ‘Eagle Music Shop’ if you need more information.

Eagle Music define the Parts of the Banjo – Rim, Tailpiece, Tone Ring, Pot, Tension Hoop…

Banjo Parts Guide by Eagle Music Shop.

What is a Banjo Rim, Tailpiece, Banjo Tone Ring, Pot, Tension Hoop, Coordinating Rod, Banjo Vellum, head, Banjo Flange, Planetary Geared Tuners, Neck Truss Rod? All available to buy here at Eagle.

All these and more banjo parts are demystified and explained here by Deering and Eagle Music.

In the following notes, we shall use for example, the USA built Deering Banjo models to explain materials chosen for parts and general banjo build quality. You can also browse our full range of banjo parts and accessories.

The Banjo Rim or Pot

The rim is the circular wooden part that is the heart of your banjo, the banjo is built around this part. The ‘pot’ is the complete assembly of the parts fitted to the rim. A solid maple rim is the heart of any quality banjo. Maple has long been used to make banjo pots because of its fine grain, strength and bright clear tone on stringed instruments. The entire violin family instruments use maple for their backs and sides. All USA built Deering banjos have solid violin maple rims. Steinway and other quality brand pianos use maple for the pin blocks of their pianos. Bowling alleys are commonly made of maple for its hardness and durability.

Some far eastern made banjos have soft aluminium or plywood rims that do not have the sparkle, brightness or clarity of the USA built banjos.

The softer, porous wood does not have the hardness, fine grain structure or tone character of a musical quality hard wood like violin maple.
Steel and Aluminium Rims

Deering for example, uses a steel rim on the Boston series banjos. Tap on a disassembled aluminium rim and you hear a “clunk”. Tap on a disassembled Deering steel rim and it rings brightly, clearly and long. Soft aluminium has little or no musicality. It is a reasonable building material but has a poor musical tone.

The Banjo Head

The most popular banjo head size is 11” high crown. Types of heads: Top frosted, clear, fiberskyn, Kevlar, bottom frosted, black and Renaissance. Top frosted heads are brightest and crispest. Clear heads are bright with more sustain. Black shiny heads are mellow, warm and soft with more sustain. Fiberskyn heads are warm and plunky with less sustain. Bottom frosted heads have good sustain with nice bass response, not as bright as top frosted. Kevlar is snappy and responds a bit like an arch top banjo due to its stiffness and thickness. Heads can be used to achieve certain sounds and looks. Heads come in three crown heights (height of the playing surface above the head’s stretcher band (tension hoop …the rim around the edge of the head.) high, medium and low. High are medium are the most common and the easiest to find. For example, all Deering made banjos work with High and Medium crown heads.

The Tailpiece

Good quality banjos have adjustable tailpieces (except for many of the ‘‘old time ‘‘ banjos like the Deering Vega Old Time Wonder that has a ‘No-Knot’ small fixed tailpiece for traditional appearance and sound. The best adjustable tailpiece has no resonance of its own, it is better that it does not ring and interferes with the tone of the rim and tone ring. For example, all USA made Deering, Goodtime and Tenbrooks banjos have the excellent Deering adjustable tailpiece made of a non-resonant alloy.

The banjo tailpiece plays a very important role in the tone and volume of your banjo. Its prime function is to anchor your strings. Its secondary function is to angle your strings to exert maximum pressure on the bridge in order that the bridge transmits sound into the banjo head. Adjustable Waverley Style, Clam Shell, One hump and two hump,  Scruggs type, Kershner and Nashville types are all available from Eagle Music.

Bracket Shoes and Flanges

Deering Goodtime banjos have zinc alloy bracket shoes and Deering resonator banjos have zinc alloy resonator flanges that also do not interfere with the tone of the rim and tone ring. Zinc alloys are acoustically dead so these critically functional parts do their job helping support the head tension, without infusing any un-wanted and interfering sounds to the banjo.

Brackets and Nuts

These parts must be made of steel for strength and durability and have consistent threading to make adjustments accurate and controllable. These parts are “isolated” from the rim by the zinc flange or bracket shoes and also by the banjo head that is held in place by the tension hoop (or stretcher band as it is sometimes called). which is also isolated by the stretched head.

The Tension Hoop / Stretcher Band

The Tension Hoop or Stretcher Band as they are also called is the banjo part that is pulled down by the adjustment of the tension hooks, in effect it holds your banjo head in place.
tension hoops can have notches in them marry up to round tension hooks and tension hoops that are plain or have a circular groove marry up to flat tension hooks.
Top end Deering Banjo tension hoops, are made from brass or steel and are notched to match round tension hooks. The Deering Goodtime tension hoops are made from steel and match up to flat tension hooks. Both are isolated from sound interference by the banjo head.

The Coordinator Rod(s)

These rods need to be solid, and made of a strong yet non-interfering alloy. It is a myth to think that banjos need ‘two’ coordinating rods …It all depends on the design and stability of the particular  banjo. eg. some Eastern built banjos need two coordinating rods because they are often built around a thin plywood rim. A quality banjo built around a three ply solid maple rim is quite stable with one coordinating rod.

All Deering, Goodtime, Vega and Tenbrooks banjos have solid rods made of a non-interfering alloy. Many traditional banjos have brass rods which is a traditional metal used for this part. However, on some banjos this can interfere with the tone.

The Tone Ring

Tone rings come in many designs and are made from many types of alloy. Some banjos do not have a tone ring but stretch the head over the wood or metal rim. Bluegrass style banjos (like the Deering Sierra) have a bell bronze tone ring that weighs 2-3 pounds and is precisely fitted to a three ply violin maple rim. Historically, Maple is the most accepted rim material in banjo building.

Old time music banjos are commonly open back, with tone rings made of brass and the tone rings are lighter in weight. Some entry level banjos have steel tone rings that have a bright, responsive sound and feel. Many Eastern banjos advertise a “bluegrass style tone ring” but don’t tell you what kind of metal they are made from. Most of these are “pot metal” or zinc alloy, which, while appropriate for a flange or shoe, is inferior in tone to the USA built tone rings. Even the Eastern banjos with “brass” tone rings can have cheap die cast tone rings that do not have the correct grain structure or alloy for the best musical vibration and yet these banjos can sometimes cost as much as a good American made banjo.

Banjo Pot

This term refers to the rim with all the parts that are assembled around it.

The Neck

The shape: Though a good feel of a neck is subjective, the neck must “feel” good to the player. It must make the strings feel easy to push down with as little effort as possible. Generally, thick, bulky, poorly shaped necks can be found on some far Eastern banjos and are more difficult to play. However, thickness alone, does not make a neck feel bad or “great”. The “great” feeling neck has subtle shape characteristics that are difficult to put in words, but instantly discernible by the human hand. Certain curves, slopes and shapes, when artistically combined are comfortable. Neck shapes have been developed to a shape that has optimum playability by the great American banjo companies like Deering.
The material: Mahogany and Maple are the two most popular banjo neck woods currently in use. Walnut, Koa and Rosewood are also used but not quite as popular. Far Eastern banjos often use terms like “Mahogany stained hardwood” to include the word “mahogany” to mask what wood is actually being used.

Tuning Machines – Banjo Pegs

The best tuning machines are geared for smooth, easy tuning. Some inexpensive banjos have friction pegs that are difficult to tune and frustrating for the novice player. Tuning machines with buttons that stick out to the side of the peghead are usually referred to as “guitar style” tuners. The standard Deering Goodtime range has “guitar style” tuners and the Deering Leader Goodtime range has  “planetary style” tuning machines …“Planetary style” tuning machines are precision geared tuning machines that stick straight back from the peghead. The term planetary refers to the arrangement of the gears in the tuner that surround other gears much like the formation of the planets in the solar system.

Truss Rod

The truss rod in the neck of a banjo controls the  ‘‘relief ‘‘ or subtle curvature of a banjo neck and helps counteract the pressure of the strings to help prevent warping and twisting. An adjustable truss rod can be used to change the “playability” of a neck by allowing the neck to curve a little more or by flattening the neck out a bit more. Players with a hard attack generally need a little more “relief” in the neck and players with a lighter touch generally like a slightly flatter neck.

Many vintage banjos and some are built today without truss rods in their necks. The selection of timber and the way they are built is critical to guarantee a stable neck that will give the correct relief and not warp, this can be said for the excellent Deering Goodtime range of banjos that have a selected maple neck.

The Nut

The top nut is usually made of a hard material like, bone, ebony, mother of pearl, Formica or other synthetic material and guides the strings through slots  over the fingerboard so they are separated evenly and in correct relationship to the width of the fingerboard. The nut is  ‘cut ‘ to a depth for the strings to give the best  ‘‘action ‘‘ in the first position.

The Position Markers / Inlays

The dots or other inlays are used as reference points on the fingerboard to tell the player at what frets certain notes are found. Dots and fancy inlays are the same in function but only different in cosmetic appeal. Side  ‘position’ dot markers are found on the side of the neck on some banjos.

The Frets

Frets are usually made of nickel silver and are either pressed into the fingerboard or pressed and glued in. They are shaped sort of like a round topped  ‘T ‘ with tiny barbs on the tang to grip the fingerboard slots they are pressed into. Frets can be jumbo or narrow as found on vintage banjos. Some higher end custom banjos have stainless steel frets.

Arm Rest – Different Types and How They fit

The prime aim of the banjo armrest is to give the player comfort on the wrist/arm of the picking hand. There are many different designs and styles of armrests. Most banjo arm rests are designed to fit on banjos in relation to the number of tension hooks (sometimes called brackets) on the banjo.

The traditional Gibson type flat armrest can have one or two brackets for fixing it to your banjo. These brackets are spaced to span over the tension hooks on your banjo. The brackets on the armrest have a flat metal bar that positions behind two tension hooks and clamps to the tension hooks via a hexagon screw that when adjusted pulls the bracket tight against the hooks. The Deering banjo armrest is similar to the original Gibson style arm rest.

Some armrests are versatile and will fit on banjos that have 18 or 24 tension hooks, whilst others are designed purely to fit a specific number of tension hooks.

The old Vega style ‘Wire’ armrest that can be bought from Eagle Music is very versatile in that it will fit OPEN BACK banjos that have any number of tension hooks from 12 to 34.

Banjo sound and volume

Fitting an armrest can also affect the tone of a banjo in that it can restrict your arm from resting on the banjo head and deadening the movement of the head. Any body contact (arm, hand fingers) with your banjo head will lower the volume  of your banjo.
Most armrests can be adjusted for height to give the player the optimum position for your style of playing. All players have a different way that they ‘attack’ their strings.

Please call us to ask which arm rest is suitable for your banjo.

THE BRIDGE and Its Function

The banjo bridge does exactly as its name suggests …it forms a bridge for the strings to pass over the banjo head and transmits sound from your strings into the banjo head. Bridges are available in different heights and they are measured in imperial measurement …The most popular three heights being 1/2”, 5/8” and 11/16”The most popular bridges are made from AAA grade  maple with an ebony top. Some bridges have inserts made from bone or plastic to help give a brighter tone.

Tone, Volume and Action

Changing your bridge will alter and affect the tone and volume of your banjo …it may also alter the ‘action’ of your banjo! (The ‘action’ is the distance that your strings are from the frets of your instrument …Your strings will be easier to press down when you have a ‘low’ action. However, the ‘action’ should not be set so low that you get ‘fret buzz’)
In general the simple rule is: Low Bridge = Low Volume High bridge = More Volume.
5/8” is the optimum and most popular bridge height.
Note: Some novice players think that the height of the bridge is for setting the ‘action’ of their banjo …this is not the case! The action is set by adjusting the ‘neck angle’ on a banjo.
However, in some cases where the banjo neck angle cannot be adjusted that only way to change the action of the banjo is to alter the height of the bridge.

Banjo Intonation

The intonation of your banjo is affected by the position of your bridge. The rule is that the bridge is positioned on the banjo head twice the distance of the measurement from the inside of the nut to the 12th fret. On a 5-string banjo the bridge is generally positioned square, but on tenor and plectrum banjos it helps intonation to set the bridge at a slight angle giving the heavier gauge fourth string a greater distance than the thinner plain first string. The bridge should sit flat and square making full contact with the banjo head.

Shape of Banjo Bridges

You can buy ‘Off the shelf’ Compensated 5 string bridges, some of which compensate the length of all the five strings and others that only compensate the length of the third string.
Modifications to the shape of a bridge can alter the sound of your banjo eg. if you ‘thin’ your bridge by sanding it, this will give your bridge lesser contact with your banjo head and the result will be a brighter ‘snappier’ tone …many plectrum banjo and uke banjo players do this.
Unwanted harmonics and overtones can ‘sometimes’ be suppressed by sanding the bridge thinner towards the treble end.

Resonators

If you fit a resonator to your banjo, it will have more volume and will project the sound forward. Without a resonator, your banjo will be quieter and sound more mellow because your body and clothing will soak up some of the sound that is produced. A “frailing” banjo would not have a resonator.

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