How to plug a Banjo into GB

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by mainstreetmark, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. mainstreetmark macrumors 68020

    mainstreetmark

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, FL
    #1
    I don't have an electric banjo, yet all is not lost. In doing research, here are the solutions I've come up with:

    - Jam the piezzoelectric speaker from a greeting card between the bridge and the skin. Details: http://web.mit.edu/imia_bor/www/portfolio/banjo.html I spoke with the guy who did this, and he gets fair, but quiet results. Probably requires a preamp of some sort.

    - Buy a pickup. There are some where you apparently glue the pickup (with it's own counterweight) onto the skin somewhere. The one I chose was actually a new bridge with embedded p's and an included volume-tone control. It was called "Shadow 5 string Banjo Bridge with Piezo Pickups" and available here: http://guitarelectronics.zoovy.com/category/10pickups.banjomandolinviolin/

    So, I plugged the output from the pickup straight into the Powerbook, and after some fiddling (figuring out that I had to tell the Mac to use the line-in as my line in, instead of the Mic), I was able to get the banjo playing in GB, with all associated effects.

    The drawback is that the Banjo is so inherently loud, and the input into GB so inherently quiet, that you either have to crank your amps, or wear some David Clarks to keep the real banjo noise out.

    I'd post a demo, but I don't want a "you should stick to your day job" posts, like that guy who covered the U2 song the other day. :)
     
  2. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #2
    Don't worry, we'll be nice :D

    Seriously, this is quite interesting. When I first saw the thread, I was like "Wha? A Banjo!?"

    Congrats on figuring out and succeeding in connecting it. Now let us hear the results!


    By the way... is there such a thing as an electric banjo?



    irmongoose
     
  3. mainstreetmark thread starter macrumors 68020

    mainstreetmark

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, FL
    #3
  4. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #4
    I had a lot of luck using a transducer when amplifying instruments for which pickups aren't readily avialable (old mandolin, banjo, odd guitars, etc) it was basically a small round disk that you stick to body fo the instrument using something akin to blue tack if you know what that is (basically a very weak adhesive used for hanging posters, etc). The beauty of it was that it picked the sound up off fo the body of the isntrument, instead of just the strings, and I found it made a very rich tone. Can't remember the brand of the one I have. You'd have to then amplify the sound (its a passive not an active pickup) for use in GB, but the thing was relaly great for playing live. Sounded great, and you could just unstick it and put it another instrument in a matter of seconds. Leaves a bit of residue but that easily comes off.
     
  5. mainstreetmark thread starter macrumors 68020

    mainstreetmark

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, FL
    #5
    Yeah, that's probably just a piezoelectric device.

    For those of you who are unfamiliar, PE devices vibrate when a voltage is applied, and conversely, produce a voltage when a vibration is applied.

    When used in the former case, greeting card people stick a small voltage, which causes the PE to vibrate at audible frequencies (producing that harsh tinny sound that greeting cards, watches and travel alarm clocks have).

    When used in the latter, the difference in vibration between the skin or body of an instrument and a relatively stationary mass on the other side of the PE produce a voltage based on vibration.

    PEs are magical. Banjos are not.
     
  6. Mudbug Administrator emeritus

    Mudbug

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Location:
    North Central Colorado
    #6
    would mounting standard guitar pickups to the bridge of the banjo not work?
     
  7. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #7
    Probbaly correct about that. Results were definitely good though, probably much better than any home grown solution using similar technology. Can'tt relaly comapre though.


    On my old banjo and others I've seen, there's no place to put a guitar pickup. t he front of a banjo is like a drum head, so you can't screw into that, and the bridge is just a tiny piece of wood held on with tension, like a cello or something like that. Though that does make me wonder if the pickups sold for cellos, violins and stand up basses would work,t he kind that attach to the bridge. Those maybe piezo electric devices as well, I don't know.

    And of course a good microphone would work. Actually a microphone would probably yield the best results since its picking up the actual sound made by the instrument that we all hear, not just taking the sound from the strongs or the body of the instrument.
     
  8. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #8
    yes, definitely use a mic.

    there are many different ways to use two mics on an acoustic guitar. i bet some of them would translate well to banjo.

    e.g. place one mic out front, pointed at a spot on the fretboard several frets up from the body, 4-6" away. place a second mic over the right shoulder of the player (assuming they're right-handed), pointed at a spot a foot or two in front of the body of the banjo.

    move the mics around until it sounds good, make sure there's no phase problems. if it were me, i'd use one large diaphragm condensor and one small one.

    if you've got just one mic, put it out front. start with it pointed at where the body and neck meet. move the mic in and out and up and down the neck to get the sound you want.
     
  9. Mudbug Administrator emeritus

    Mudbug

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Location:
    North Central Colorado
    #9
    I was thinking about this again - what about mounting the pickups just under the strings on the body of the banjo face with cushioned double-adhesive tape? It wouldn't permanently mar the surface, and you could put it wherever you wanted...

    but for the record, I think using the mics is the way to go as well...
     
  10. mainstreetmark thread starter macrumors 68020

    mainstreetmark

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, FL
    #10
    Lots of folks mount PE pickups to the inside of the banjo skin, or a PE or Mic on a crossbar mounted inside the drum. It's out of the way. The back of the banjo is, essentially, open. If you have a tone ring on there, you can just remove it, and do whatever you want on the inside, safely out of sight and harm.
     
  11. Sabon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #11
    I'm saving up my money for a mandolin

    Don't tell my wife - LOL. But I'm saving up my money to buy a mandolin to go along with my 61 key keyboard and electric guitar, trombone, and harmonica.

    When I do get it, I'm going to do the same thing you did for your banjo. Pretty cool.
     
  12. Sabon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #12
    Update: electric/accoustic mandolins are only $50 more

    Update: electric/accoustic mandolins are only $50 more, depending of course on which one you buy. That would be a lot easier.
     

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