Maybe more than any other instrument, the banjo represents the unique history of music in America. As an example of how music in America has emerged from cultural influences around the world, banjos were originally brought to America by 17th centu...
African banjos were created from a variety of indigenous materials, including gourds, wood, and animal skins. Hemp and animal products were used for strings.
In the 1800s, traveling minstrel shows from America brought the banjo to the international stage and it evolved into the form of today.
Today's banjo includes frets and steel strings. The instrument was initially played by strumming the strings. Contemporary players typically pick or pluck the strings similar to a mandolin.
With a renewed interest in such musical forms as bluegrass, banjos are seeing a bit of a renaissance. All the major guitar companies create top quality instruments, including Fender, Martin, Gibson, and Taylor.
In addition, lessons for acoustic and electric, as well as 6-string and 5-string banjos are becoming more and more commonly offered by local music shops. With an increasing interest in the many kinds of music that the instrument can play, musicians from all walks of life are picking and plucking more than ever.
Whether your taste is for classical or contemporary, the banjo might just be a perfect fiddle to fit your fancy.
Banjos were brought to the US by African slaves and have undergone several changes since then -- changes that have made the banjo a more vibrant and popular member of the music family.
Banjos come in a variety of shapes and sizes, enjoying great popularity today. Classified in two categories on the basis of strings, there is a four-string and the five-string.
The banjo is often classified by resonators. The two categories based on the resonators are the resonator ones, with detachable chambers on the back of the rim, and the non-resonator, which is open-backed.
Another modern-day development is the long and elegant neck fitted with frets. The originals were fretless. The strings, which are made of metal, start from the tailpiece, run along the banjo's neck and are held in place by tuning pegs.
The most dominant part of banjos is the wooden or metal rim, which is covered by a drumhead made of calf-skin, goatskin or plastic, held by a screw mechanism.
Over the decades banjos has come to be played in different musical styles named after musicians who popularized them. Three of these styles are melodic or Keith style, two-finger or Reno style and Scruggs style.
Banjos have had an excellent comeback and are here to stay.
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