should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

I know it will be different depending on the banjo and the banjo is not as loud when you play it when the back is off but hands up who thinks it sounds better or if it sounds worse. My personal opinion you should leave the back on. #banjobanter

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

If your tenor banjo has a resonator, leave it on. Its purpose is to give more projection for the sound, and I guess the degree of projection might depend on the quality and fit of the resonator. If you play 5-string banjo and play bluegrass, leave it on. If you play so-called "old time", in the frailing down-picking style, the fashion today seems to be main for open-back instruments, but genuine "old timers" seem to have been unconcerned. Wade Ward played a Gibson with a resonator, for example. As for the tone that you hear when you play, I guess that’s up to your individual taste. A choice of calfskin or plastic for the head might make more of a difference in tone, or so enthusiasts say, but I’ve never really heard much to choose between them. Anyway, it’s a banjo!

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

IMNSHO……..a tenor banjo with a resonator on is too loud for a session, and should be returned to its rightful place as the chordal instrument for a trad jazz band.
Tone has nothing to do with it, it’s too loud.
As I say…In My Not So Humble Opinion…..

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Thanks jim younger but I was just looking for a sort of yes or no answer because ill be leaving my back on my banjo because a few days ago I took the back of my banjo and it made a weird sound and you could barely here it

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Fair enough, Mr Loughran. I think you’ve answered your own question!

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Ye I was just trying to start conversation and maybe learn a bit more about the banjo jim

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Leave it on. Properly fitted, the resonator affects the tone as well as the volume. It may change how you perceive the volume, so listen to your session mates. If they threaten to send you back to the jazz orchestra, ease up on your right hand pressure. But leave it on.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

I hadn’t spotted it was Jim above me in the comments……well, I’m sure it affects the tone too, Jim, but if you have a banjo-player who has to stop playing because he can’t hear what tune everyone else is playing for the racket he’s making, then I rest my case.
Somewhere I heard tell of a tenor zither-banjo, where a smaller head is incorporated within a resonator-case built on to the neck. The 5-string versions of this are quieter than the larger "Bluegrass" versions of a banjo one encounters, and not so jarring in their attack and tone. Seems like an ideal design for ITM.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

I’m only 13 so I don’t know much about what’s inside the banjo yet. What’s a resonator?(I play the tenor banjo)

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Seems as tho’ you’ve made your decision Sean.
But if yer not completely satisfied with the sound yer gettin’, jes’ start fillin’ the cavity with those little styrofoam peanuts, one at a time, until it sounds jes’ right! 😉
(And to be sure, you’ll be gettin’ positive feedback from those playin’ wid ya.)
😉

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Roads to home thanks very much for the comment

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Sean, a resonator is the round back that some banjos have. Usually made of wood, it’s slightly concave to project sound out from the banjo and is easily removable. Your banjo will be louder with it on.
I didn’t realize you were only 13 when I posted the "snarky" humor earlier.
Keep playing, you’ll be a star one day! 😉

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Thank you so much Road to Home

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

So the back of the banjo is called a resonator. Right.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

If you’re playing alone and you think it sounds best on then leave it on. If you’re playing with others and you think it’s a little too loud try taking it off. Best of luck.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

[So the back of the banjo is called a resonator. Right.]
That’s right Sean.
Your banjo though may or may not have one.
If you turn it over and can see the rim or banjo head you probably don’t have a resonator.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Good luck with your music , Sean, whatever you decide. "You be the judge."

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

If it came with a back then leave it there.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

The focal point of the volume of a banjo is the person sitting about 10 feet away in front of you, aka the Victim. ;)

Some banjos can be played with the resonator off, others are really uncomfortable to hold without it on. Another way of muting things is to stuff a towel inside between the rod(s) or dowel stick and the head. Resonator or no, it can completely kill the volume level. What you really need to work on though is just playing more quietly.

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

I agree with Guernsey Pete and Kevin. A banjo with a resonator intended for playing in a dance hall is wildly inappropriate for playing in a session.
I too have been a Victim 🙁

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

If there’s any chance of flesh eating zombies attending your gig, leave it on - it cuts the heads off better (with apologies to those who haven’t seen the film).

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

If ye think you’re too loud, maybe try using a lighter plectrum? Might be better than pulling your banjo apart and putting it together again. 13? I remember playing in a bar in Carlingford when an ould fella came in and joined me on fiddle. He was way better than me. James Conlon, or maybe John Conlon was his name. From Crossmaglen. We were scraping away when the pub door opened and a wee fella came in , followed by his Da carrying his banjo case. My fiddling friend says "That’s my son and grandson. D’ye mind if the wee fella plays?" I didn’t mind in the least. The wee fella hopped up on a stool. His Da handed him his banjo and he got stuck in. Ye never heard anything like him - totally fantastic, talking to his Da and his mates while knocking out tunes without missing a note. I said to the Grandfather that the child was brilliant. "Dead right!" sez Granda, "He’s the All Ireland 12 yr old Champion!" Go for it Sean! You could be the next Champion!

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Thx alexander I got through to the all-Irelands in Derry city in 2013 in u12 got the sheet back and had come 4th. Ntb after only playing for a year and a half

Re: should you take the back off your banjo or leave it on?

Yes