10/27/2013

c.2010 Savannah (Chinese-made) 6-String Banjo Guitar



This banjitar is here in the store on consignment from a local fellow. Like most new Asian-made inexpensive banjos of any stripe, it came in with a horrid setup. I straightened that out (head adjustments, bridge recut for better intonation, adjustment at the nut, a new set of lighter strings, neck angle adjustment, whatnot) and now it actually sounds and plays... like... an instrument!

The basic design and hardware used on this banjo has sort of been around since the 70s. What's different in these new ones are the multi-ply wood (rather than aluminum) rims which = sweeter sound and (usually) better tuners. They still need to be setup when they get to "these shores" but after setup they can be decent student or recording instruments. I wouldn't want to use one for regular gigging (they're not as stable as a Deering format of this type of instrument, for instance) but they're just fine for adding another sound to your hoard of guitars.




This instrument has a shorter scale length (22 3/4") to (I suppose) compensate for most guitar players being completely confused by a typical banjo's odd feel in the lap and "pushed out" longer scale.

Even with the shorter scale length, I've used a set of electric guitar 10s (46w, 36w, 26w, 17, 13, 10) which gives you an unwound G string and a lightweight "banjo" feel. This is a major and important factor in getting a proper "banjo" sound out of 6-string banjitars. If you use regular acoustic guitar gauges the sound will tend towards a thuddy, murky, dark sound as they're overdriving the head, essentially, with too much tension.



Pearl dots in a rosewood board. The neck has a medium-sized C profile.


Rosewood-topped maple bridge. Note that I've intoned the saddle slots.


The neck appears to be mahogany or something similar and the veneer on the resonator and rim is, too. The finish is a curious red-burst.





The adjustable tailpiece takes loop or ball-end strings.


...and the 'jo comes with a not-great-fitting chip case and a strap.

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