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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

Guitar buyers guide by Eagle Music including explanations of guitar types

Eagle Music explains all the the difference between acoustic guitars, classical and Spanish guitars, all solid timber guitars, laminate top guitars, electro-acoustic guitars dreadnought, jumbo size. Cutaway and what all this means in simple jargon.

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

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

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

Choose the Correct Guitar… 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 guitar that is the right model for you.

Recognised as one of the Europe’s premier acoustic instrument specialist stores, Eagle Music offers a second to none range of all types of guitar. Along with acoustic and electro acoustic models, we also supply and can give help and advice on pure electric guitars. We offer some of the finest hand-crafted instrument brands that have many models within the range that are built from all solid timber. The leading world class brands  that we supply include Patrick James Eggle, Martin, Asher, Gibson, Taylor, Tanglewood, Sigma, Crafter and Yamaha.

These finely crafted instruments will grow to sound better with age, and will appreciate in value in the long term – although it is always a better idea to buy for playing rather than investment! The arrival of Taylor on the top-class guitar scene, with their amazing consistency of quality and modern manufacturing techniques, motivated all the other top makers into their move towards modern production methods, thus ensuring that quality relative to price has moved in the favour of the buyer.

The choice of your first guitar can be daunting as there are so many different guitar types and even more confusing in that there are so many models within a certain type!

From the 1940’s onwards the guitar has become the most popular stringed instrument as a first choice for a beginner wanting to play music because it encompasses and complements so many different types of music, including classical, traditional, folk, jazz, rock etc.
To make things easier, we shall explain in our technical sheets below the differences between guitar types.
In simple terms the guitar family is divided into two categories:

Nylon Strung

Music played: Classical, Spanish, Flamenco (Also crosses over to folk music)
Steel Strung: (Also called Western guitar) Music played: Folk, rock, jazz, funk also crosses over to classical

Another point to note here is that both guitar types can be supplied in different sizes.
eg. a nylon strung classical guitar can be supplied in  ½ size, ¾ size or 4/4 full size

A smaller ½ size or ¾ size nylon strung guitar is excellent for a young beginner because the nylon strings are easier to press down than a steel strung guitar. Many players start their playing life on a half size ‘classical’ type guitar.
All the above guitar types can be supplied with pick-ups already fitted to them. Eg. when a pick-up is fitted to an acoustic guitar it becomes an electro-acoustic guitar. Pure electric guitars in general have a solid wood body and are of no use for playing acoustically.

So, whether you want to be an acoustic street playing solo singer guitarist, on-stage-electric lead guitarist, chord backing jazz player in a dance band, flamenco or classical player there is a guitar that is designed and built purely for the purpose.

We shall explain in the individual guitar technical sheets all the different materials and timbers  that guitars are built from eg. laminate top, solid top, all solid timber etc. and shall also explain the different types, shapes and specific sizes of the guitar.

Guide to Buying an Acoustic Nylon strung Guitar

How to choose a Classical, Spanish or Flamenco guitar, which are also called ‘Nylon Strung Guitars’ are all described here by Eagle Music. Spruce or cedar top? solid or laminate timber? all the technical information you need is here in our technical notes.

Classical – Spanish and Flamenco Guitars

Many guitarists start their playing life on what is called a ‘Spanish Guitar’, or ‘Classical’ guitar. This guitar type is generally fitted with nylon strings in the configuration of first, second and third strings in plain nylon and the fourth, fifth and sixth strings metal wound on silk.

We stock a full range of nylon strung guitars from lower priced beginners / childrens models up to all solid timber professional models by various world class makers. The classical guitar has a wider neck than a western type guitar and also has a flat fingerboard. This type of neck with wider string spacing and the nylon strings leans itself more towards ‘finger-style’ solo melody playing.  The wider neck means a little more stretching for the fretting hand but the nylon strings are easier to press down for a beginner than the steel strings on a western type guitar.

Fingerstyle means playing the guitar with the tips of the finger nails. Although nylon strung guitars are best played finger style, they can be picked or strummed with a plectrum.

The general timber used for this guitar would a spruce or cedar top (soundboard) with mahogany,  rosewood or other type of laminate or solid timber for the back and sides. The neck is usually made from solid mahogany with a rosewood or ebony fingerboard.

In general classical players like the sweeter tone of a solid spruce soundboard (top) and flamenco music players would choose a cedar top which gives a brighter tone.

See our technical pages for the definition and explanation of laminate and solid timbers that are used for building guitars.

Check out our range of classical guitars from some of the world’s top makers Including many models that are made in Spain from Admira and the renowned workshops of B&M, Manuel Rodriguez and Tanglewood.

Guide to Buying an ACOUSTIC Steel Strung Guitar

Steel strung acoustic guitars are available in many different body shapes and sizes all of which have specific names. The most popular is the dreadnought shape.

Some other shapes starting from the smallest are travel, parlour, folk-body, auditorium, grand auditorium and jumbo.

There are other shapes and designs including many jazz guitar models that have ‘f’ holes and arch topped bodies!

In general, western guitars, as they are sometimes called, have larger bodies than nylon strung guitars. They mostly have narrower necks than classical guitars. They have radiused fingerboards and  ‘fast action’ necks  making them and very well suited to single note flat-picking styles. Many singer guitarists use a plectrum and strum along with this type of guitar.

This type of acoustic guitar is the most popular choice for playing pop, folk, country, bluegrass and jazz guitar music.

Electro Acoustic Guitars

Its simple really, an electro-acoustic guitar is basically an acoustic guitar that is fitted with a pickup system.

Steel-strung guitars, and a nylon-strung guitars are available ready-fitted with a pickup system. there are various systems from simple under the saddle transducers to sophisticated models that have what are called ‘blender systems’ that have a transducer type pickup and an internal microphone fitted that you blend together for the sound that you desire.

You then need to plug your guitar into an amplifier or PA system to get a louder relatively acoustic sound. Six string and twelve string models are available.

Many electro-acoustic guitars are designed with a cutaway body (part of the guitar’s body is cut away and missing adjacent the top frets above the 12th …enabling the guitarist to use these higher notes in classic rock ‘n’ roll style!

In general, it is cheaper to buy a dedicated electro acoustic guitar than to buy an acoustic guitar and fit a pickup system as a retrofit.

However, Eagle Music offers a workshop facility and fits pick up systems to guitars as a service for customers.

All Solid Timber

A guitar that is made from ‘all solid timber’ means that the back, sides, top and neck are all made from solid timber rather than laminate timber. These special ‘timbers’ are often referred to as Tonewood or Tonewoods.

All solid timber instruments produce a better quality of tone, more power and get even better as they age. They also hold their value better and in many cases gain value in time.

At Eagle Music Shop we offer some of the finest hand-crafted instrument brands that have many models within the range that are built from all solid timber. The leading world class brands  that we supply include Patrick James Eggle, Martin, Asher, Gibson, Taylor, Tanglewood, Sigma, Crafter and Yamaha.

These finely crafted instruments will grow to sound better with age, and will appreciate in value in the long term – although it is always a better idea to buy for playing rather than investment! The arrival of Taylor on the top-class guitar scene, with their amazing consistency of quality and modern manufacturing techniques, motivated all the other top makers into their move towards modern production methods, thus ensuring that quality relative to price has moved in the favour of the buyer.

Solid Top and Laminate Top Guitars

You may have noticed mentions of solid tops and laminate tops. The ‘top’ is the ‘soundboard’ of the guitar. Generally, the cheaper guitars have laminate tops, as they are quicker and easier to make. However, depending on the country of origin and the name that is on the headstock, you may sometimes find a solid top less expensive than another brand offering a guitar with a laminate top.

The way a laminate top guitar sounds on the day of purchase will be the way they will sound all through their lives. Many are great sounding and very good value for money.

Solid top guitars, on the other hand, cost more to make, as the choice of pieces of wood is crucial, and the construction has to be more accurate to stop the top bending. But they generally sound far more resonant and produce more volume – and as the wood matures, the sound matures too! About 90% of the sound of a guitar comes from the top (soundboard), so you will often find solid tops and laminate back and sides. This is a good compromise between price and sound quality.
The vast majority of our stock falls into this category. A few short years ago, solid top instruments were produced in small numbers in the USA and Europe, and were demanding very high prices. But in the past ten years or so a host of new companies, first in Japan, then Korea and now throughout the far-east, has changed all that.

Now we have an enormous selection of excellently constructed, affordable, great-sounding solid tops at unbelievable prices. Our Tanglewood Sundance and Heritage range represents the best value of all factory manufactured guitars, many of these models are hand finished. also check out the excellent value range of sigma Guitars Not only that, but western manufacturers. Also Seagull, Simon & Patrick and Norman of Canada are also producing very affordable, excellent quality solid top guitars.

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.

Guitar Care & Maintenance – Looking after your guitar, a guide by Eagle Music

We are often asked how do I look after my guitar  and how do I clean it? Here eagle Music answers in simple terms the important do’s and don’ts regarding general care of your guitar, storing, cleaning and transporting your guitar safely.

Eagle Music Shop has a fully equipped on-site workshop facility and offers a full set-up and repair service for stringed instruments.

Storing

In general musical instruments like the same environment as their player, conditions where it is not too hot or hot and certainly not wet or damp! Keep your guitar clean and free from dust,dirt and moisture. In a UK home, its OK to leave your instrument on a stand between playing sessions, in fact we encourage this as it makes you pick up the instrument more frequently to play and practise. Buy a decent quality stand to keep your instrument ‘out of the way’ in a corner of the room. Never leave it near a radiator or in a window where direct sunlight can fall upon the instrument and bake it! Also, never leave your instrument stored in a cold or damp place eg. cellar, loft or out in the garage

Cleaning

Each time you have played your guitar give it a wipe over with a lint free cloth to remove finger marks. the strings can be cleaned with Fast Fret, martin or Dr Kyser string cleaning lubricant …all these products can be bought ‘off-the-shelf’ from Eagle Music. From time to time you may want to polish your instrument, always check that this is suitable for the finish on your instrument eg. On a modern gloss finish, always choose a non-smear wax free polish. Always remove finger and body marks from Nickel plated or gold plated hardware and use the special impregnated cleaning cloths that are available for this purpose. Never use abrasive cleaners as this can remove the plating! Chrome hardware is much easier to keep clean and is much harder wearing.

Transporting

Care of your guitar during transportation really depends on where it is being transported to, and how it is being transported. Hard-shell cases and Gig bags have their pros and cons. It can be said that a padded gig bag is sufficient to take your instrument out to the pub or a jam session.But please note:- when using a gig bag, you must always remember that your instrument can still be damaged if you don’t take extreme care of how you handle it, how you put it down and where you leave it, other persons can sit on your gig bag! Also, If you are a gigging musician, It wouldn’t be a good idea to put your gig bag/ instrument in the back of a van or in the boot of a car with PA gear and other hard objects! We recommend a hard-shell case always for gigging musicians.

If you’re travelling by by airplane we recommend a hard-shell or even better a flight case. Also, for added protection  ‘bubble wrap’ your hard-shell case before letting it go in the hold of an airplane …the handling of baggage at airports can be very rough! Our Hiscox range of lite-flight cases is excellent or you could have a more expensive flight case made by Keith Calton.

Check out our Black-Ice and Extreme Protection range of well thought out quality gig bags. For hard-shell cases check out our Leader, Hiscox, Deering, Kinsman etc. range of top quality brands.

Whistle Care & Maintenance – Looking after your whistle, a guide by Eagle Music

We are often asked how do I look after my Whistle, and how do I clean it? Here Eagle Music answers in simple terms the important do’s and don’ts regarding general care of your whistle, storing, cleaning and transporting your whistle safely.

Eagle Music Shop has a fully equipped on-site workshop facility and offers a full set-up and repair service for all instruments.

It is important to treat your whistle with the utmost care as dents and damages can make play out of tune or even be impossible to play at all.

Take care with the mouthpiece (fipple) and always ensure it is clean and free from dirt. If your whistle is tunable from time to time apply a small amount of joint grease onto the joints to ease sliding it to tune it.

After each use, clean out the bore of your whistle and remove any moisture or dirt that has settled there. This can be done with what is called a flute/whistle  mop which is made from lint free wadding held in position by thin wire that is wrapped around it and also forms a shaft and handle.

You can also clean and disinfect your whistles by swishing them around in a tub of water that has a small amount of disinfectant mixed in with it. Dry the whistle with a clean lint free cloth.

Always put your whistle back in its case when not in use. Eagle have dedicated Extreme Protection cases for flutes and whistles.

Flute Care & Maintenance – Looking after your Flute, a guide by Eagle Music

We are often asked how do I look after my Flute?  and how do I clean it? Here eagle Music answers in simple terms the important do’s and don’ts regarding general care of your flute, storing, cleaning and transporting your flute safely.

Eagle Music Shop has a fully equipped on-site workshop facility and offers a full set-up and repair service for all instruments.

Cleaning and Maintenance

It is important to treat your flute with the utmost care as minor damages can make the instrument leak air, play out of tune or even be impossible to play at all, especially in the case of flutes that have keys!

Take care when assembling your flute and alway rotate in in the same direction as you assemble each section and align the holes for playing, from time to time apply a small amount of Cork Grease onto the joints to ease assemble and protect the cork joint.

On keyed flutes, it is important to inspect the cork pads from time to time and ensure that they are seating correctly and not ‘losing air’. take special  care at all times not to bend the keys.

After each use, clean out the bore of your flute and remove any moisture or dirt that has settled there. This can be done with what is called a ‘pull through’ you can make simple pull through with a thin piece of string or nylon cord with a tiny lead weight on one end and a piece of lint free rag on the other end. the rag can be impregnated with a drop of almond oil to oil the bore as you pull through. You can also use a manufactured flute mop which is made from lint free wadding held in position by thin wire that is wrapped around it and also forms a long shaft and handle.

Wipe over the outside of your flute from time to time with a lint free rag impregnated with a small amount of almond oil, take care not to bend any of the keys. Do not use excessive  amounts of oil each time you clean your wooden flute, a small amount is sufficient keep the timber from drying out.

Please Note: Never use any other kind of oil other than ‘edible’ oil on your flute. Industrial type oils can poison you.

Always put your flute back in its case when not in use. Eagle have dedicated Extreme Protection cases for flutes and whistles.

Flute & Whistle buyers guide by Eagle Music including explanations of types and makers

Flutes and Whistles by George Ormiston, Desi Seery, Dixon, Brian Howard Low Whistles, Chieftain, Generation, Shaw Whistles, Clarke’s, Susato. Our choice of woodwind instruments at Eagle Music Shop is second to none and probably the finest in the UK.

We offer an excellent range of flutes and whistles from some of the world’s most respected makers. Many of the greatest flute players started out by learning to play the modest Generation or Feadog type ‘D’ tin whistle. It is one of the most compact and easy to learn instruments. Here at Eagle Music Shop we carry a superb range of other whistles including Susato high whistles and low whistles from the USA, Chieftain high and low whistles, Clarke’s and Shaw conical tin whistles, Clarke’s Sweetone and other simple models from Waltons. Low or Tenor whistles have become very popular over the past couple of years or so and we offer handmade whistles from Brian Howard and the world-class range of Chieftain high and low aluminium alloy whistles that are chosen by many professionals.

Within our range of flutes there is a model for all levels of player. From the simple system ‘D’ practice flute to handmade silver keyed models hand built in Scotland by George Ormiston. We also carry the range of ‘space age’ Irish made Desi Seery flutes that are turned from high impact Dupont Delrin Acetal Resin. The superb range of Rhiannon bamboo flutes are available to order. We carry many tin whistle tuition, flute tuition and tune books. Videos are also available from Eagle Music Shop giving you a one-to-one lesson with some of the worlds greatest tin whistle players. Also please check out our fabulous range of exclusive ‘Extreme Protection’ gig bags and cases custom designed for flute and whistle.

The ‘Tin’ Whistle – Simplified Explanations

In these notes we shall just refer to this musical instrument as simply a ‘Whistle’.

Many names are used to describe a whistle, tin whistle, Irish whistle, feadóg stáin, flageolet, penny whistle etc.

A brand of traditional  ‘Tin Whistle’ was made from  tin, and it was also called the ‘Penny Whistle’ because in the early part of the 19th century you could buy one for an old penny!

The most popular whistle to start playing is a High whistle in the key of D This is the whistle that is predominantly used in Irish traditional, Scottish and english folk music.

Modern whistles are made from all different materials including tin, brass, copper, aluminium, plastic, bamboo and all different kinds of wood. They come in many different  musical keys. The key of the whistle (musical pitch) determines what size the whistle will be.  ‘High’ whistles are generally small and short and ‘Low’ whistles are generally long.

A whistle has six holes that you place your fingers on and off to play musical scales as you blow down the whistle, it also has a hole at the bottom of its body (because it is cylindrical) it also has two holes in the mouthpiece (the mouthpiece is also called the Fipple) one hole that the player blows through and another hole that you must not cover when playing.

Most Popular Size and Key

The  most popular size is the HIGH WHISTLE range. Within this range are soprano and mezzo soprano whistles. You will find D E F and G (soprano) and  Bb B C (Mezzo soprano .The G soprano whistle is the smallest and the Bb (mezzo Soprano) is the largest in the Generation range. The best quality makes to choose from within this range include Generation,Tony Dixon, Shaw, Clarke’s, Feadóg

Mezzo Soprano Whistles

This range of whistles is slightly larger that the standard high sopraon whistle range and within this range you can buy a whistle in the key of A which is popular for playing Scottish music. Much Scottish music is written in the key of A. The keys of C and Bb are also available in the Chieftain mezzo soprano range.

Low Whistles

Low or Tenor whistles are available in the keys of Eb E C D (Howard) and D F and G (Chieftain)

Tunable Whistles

Tunable whistles have a sliding head or are made in two parts so that you can slightly change the pitch to bring yourself in tune with other instruments.

Ukulele Care & Maintenance – A guide to looking after your Uke

We are often asked how do I look after my ukulele?  and how do I clean it? Here eagle Music answers in simple terms the important do’s and don’ts regarding general care of your ukulele, storing, cleaning and transporting your ukulele safely.

Eagle Music Shop has a fully equipped on-site workshop facility and offers a full set-up and repair service for stringed instruments.

Storing

In general musical instruments like the same environment as their player …conditions where it is not too hot or hot and certainly not wet or damp! Keep your ukulele clean and free from dust,dirt and moisture …In a UK home, its OK to leave your instrument on a stand between playing sessions, in fact we encourage this as it makes you pick up the instrument more frequently to play and practise. Buy a decent quality stand to keep your instrument ‘out of the way’ in a corner of the room. Never leave it near a radiator or in a window where direct sunlight can fall upon the instrument and bake it! Also, never leave your instrument stored in a cold or damp place eg. cellar, loft or out in the garage

Cleaning

Each time you have played your ukulele give it a wipe over with a lint free cloth to remove finger marks. the strings can be cleaned with Fast Fret, martin or Dr Kyser string cleaning lubricant, all these products can be bought ‘off-the-shelf’ from Eagle Music. From time to time you may want to polish your instrument, always check that this is suitable for the finish on your instrument eg. On a modern gloss finish, always choose a non-smear wax free polish. Always remove finger and body marks from Nickel plated or gold plated hardware and use the special impregnated cleaning cloths that are available for this purpose. Never use abrasive cleaners as this can remove the plating! Chrome hardware is much easier to keep clean and is much harder wearing.

Transporting

Care of your ukulele during transportation really depends on where it is being transported to, and how it is being transported. Hard-shell cases and Gig bags have their pros and cons. It can be said that a padded gig bag is sufficient to take your instrument out to the pub or a jam session.But please note, when using a gig bag, you must always remember that your instrument can still be damaged if you don’t take extreme care of how you handle it, how you put it down and where you leave it, other persons can sit on your gig bag! Also, If you are a gigging musician, It wouldn’t be a good idea to put your gig bag/ instrument in the back of a van or in the boot of a car with PA gear and other hard objects! We recommend a hard-shell case always for gigging musicians.

If you’re travelling by by airplane we recommend a hard-shell or even better a flight case. Also, for added protection  ‘bubble wrap’ your hard-shell case before letting it go in the hold of an airplane, the handling of baggage at airports can be very rough! Our Hiscox range of lite-flight cases is excellent or you could have a more expensive flight case made by Keith Calton.

Check out our Black-Ice and Extreme Protection range of well thought out quality gig bags. For hard-shell cases check out our Leader, Hiscox, Deering, Kinsman etc. range of top quality brands.

The Ukulele Banjo – a simplified explanation by Eagle Music

Playing the Ukulele Banjo is almost just the same as playing the soprano or concert ukulele! it is tuned the same as the standard uke, but in use it is‘strummed’ by the player and mainly used for song accompaniment. Strumming in the ‘Formby’ style is very popular today. Eagle Music will help you to make the right choice.

Many people link the ‘Banjo’ to George Formby, but in fact George was not a ‘banjo player’ he was a great ukulele player. George played the Ukulele banjo to the highest level, and his syncopated ‘split stroke’ right hand rhythmic playing is the goal of many players!

The ukulele banjo is mainly ‘strummed’ playing backing chords for singing, rather than used for playing tunes.

Think of the Ukulele banjo as having a ukulele neck fitted to a banjo body! This gives the player much more volume and punch than a wooden bodied ukulele.

The Ukulele Banjo is tuned exactly the same as a soprano or 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!

As a leading UK specialist, we supply dozens of highly playable ukes to schools, a highly playable colourful starter kit costs around twenty pound, thanks to the high-tech modern far Eastern factories!

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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