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Thread: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

  1. #1
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    First, apologies for a banjo question, but I dont want to join a banjo forum to ask, and I figured one of you will know the answer.

    A friend asked me to restring and set up his Grandmother's Gibson Banjo.
    From the length of the neck, I am assuming it is an extra long scale style banjo.

    My issue is that it seems the fret markers are in the wrong place.
    For example the 5th and 7th markers are located on the 6th and 8th frets.
    Am I missing something?
    It is messing with my head.

    Secondly, what are these usually tuned to?

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    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...


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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    With a capo on the third fret the fret markers make sense and it's like a normal banjo. Tuning open is BEG#B.

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  6. #4
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    Yep, capo it at 3rd then tune normally to an open G chord.

    Long-neck banjos are designed to be able capo down as well as up from the 3rd fret starting point.

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  8. #5
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    That is a Gibson RB-175, which was Gibson's long-necked banjo model, that was inspired by Pete Seeger's modified Vega banjo. Long neck banjos were quite popular during the early 1960's.

    These long necks are designed from the point of view that they are adding 3 bass frets to a standard banjo neck configuration.

    While there are many ways to tune a banjo, the most common ways to tune the instrument are E BEG#B and E AEG#B, which is 1 1/2 steps or three frets below "standard" G tuning [G DGBD] and C tuning [G CGBD]. You can use standard light or medium gauge banjo strings as long as they are of sufficient length.

    And if you put a capo at the 3rd fret and pretend that the capo is the nut, you will find that the position markets are at 3, 5, 7, 10, and 12 above the capo.

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  10. #6
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    My Vega longneck capoed for regular G-tuning:

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  12. #7
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    Thanks to all above.
    It makes sense now.
    I had no idea.

    It has a really nice tone.
    It is not super bright, and has a comfortable volume.
    Cool instrument.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    I've been playing a long-neck "Pete Seeger style" banjo for about 20 years now; my RB-3 Mastertone (repro neck on a GB-3) sits largely unpicked in its case. First long-neck I had was a Regal tenor "pot" with a luthier-built neck. This year I bought a Stelling Longhorn (apparently one of two ever made in the 1980's), which is a top-end bluegrass "pot" with a three-frets-longer neck. Basically a long-neck, gold-plated Staghorn.

    The Gibson long-necks were journeyman-level banjos, generally, but decently made. I've enjoyed having one with a resonator -- a little more projection -- but, tradeoff, the Stelling's the heaviest banjo I've ever played. Definitely underscores my resolve to play sitting on a stool, from now on.

    I'd invest in a sliding 5th-string capo, if you can find one for the extended neck. My Stelling's got the "railroad spikes" in the neck, to "capo" the 5th string at various frets, and they're more of a pain. With a long-neck, you end up varying the capo positions more than with a standard neck, and you can't retune the 5th string sufficiently without breaking it, IMHO.

    Oh, and careful loaning out your banjo. Twice other players have "borrowed" mine for a tune, tried to tune up to standard G tuning, and busted a string. Long-neck pickers know what to do, but -- well, us banjo players ain't noted for smarts...
    Allen Hopkins
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  15. #9
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    Thanks for the reply.

    I did get it all set up and working for my friend.
    It is a cool old thing.
    Interesting tone.
    Got them a capo to put it up to regular banjo tuning.
    I am pretty sure no one there will learn to play it, but they just wanted Grandma's banjo up an working.
    They said she also has an old Martin and a Gibson Mandolin... I was intrigued, but didnt get to see those.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

  16. #10
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Long Scale Gibson Banjo question...

    Quote Originally Posted by CWRoyds View Post
    Thanks for the reply.

    I did get it all set up and working for my friend.
    It is a cool old thing.
    Interesting tone.
    Got them a capo to put it up to regular banjo tuning.
    I am pretty sure no one there will learn to play it, but they just wanted Grandma's banjo up an working.
    They said she also has an old Martin and a Gibson Mandolin... I was intrigued, but didnt get to see those.
    Can't help feeling the Gibson long-neck banjo is just the tip of a mighty valuable iceberg! Virtually any Martin guitar or Gibson mandolin pre 1980 is worth more than a Gibson long-neck banjo.

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