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Banjos are the quintessential American instrument known for bluegrass music, integration into jazz, Irish folk music, and much more.
Of course picking your particular instrument can be a challenge especially if you are new and you don’t know what features to consider or you are advanced but you don’t know what manufacturer is best.
If you’re looking for a Jameson banjo review, this article seeks to explore some of the main playing techniques and banjo types and in what situations they are most suitable so you can make an informed decision.
Your playing needs
It’s important to take into consideration your skill level and playing ability when deciding which instruments to use.
For example, if you are a beginner you don’t necessarily need a lot of fancy accessories are features because the subtle differences these afford or not going to be something in your ear is trained to understand let alone work with.
By comparison as a more advanced player these are things you are starting to pick up on and as you continue training and practicing your going to notice them more and more and look for an instrument that helps you control them so that you can make the most out of your instrument and its abilities.
Instrument is going to sound slightly different than the more you get to know it and play with it, the better off you will be controlling the sound you can produce.
But that doesn’t mean all brands are created equally.
Some manufacturers integrate modern components into vintage designs so you can create the quintessential 1930’s banjo sound while others like Jameson like to incorporate more advanced features into even their most rudimentary of banjos so that you can enjoy these features regardless of skill level.
Evaluating parts of the banjo
When you are working with a banjo, there are a lot of different parts that influence the sound some more subtle than others.
As you work your way up from a beginner to an advanced player you will notice more of these changes when you try different instruments.
To that end, when you are evaluating this particular design or any other designs and manufacturers you need to know how the different constructions and materials influence sound and to what degree so that you can find the perfect composition.
The neck and fingerboard are usually made of maple.
Higher-quality banjos will be constructed from a single piece of wood while those that are more affordable will be made of several pieces of laminated wood that are glued together sometimes called multi-ply.
The fingerboards are usually constructed of ebony or Maple for a higher-quality instrument.
The rim will have an important influence on the quality of the sound you get from your instrument and the volume.
Older banjos tend to have metal rims with a tone ring while newer designs are made up of wood or multiple pieces of maple.
Modern players tend to have a mylar head because it doesn’t change based on humidity or weather.
Other players like the calfskin on the head because it gives a mellow sound.
Remember that when you pluck your banjo strings that vibration gets transmitted through the bridge and ends up in the head.
So the material used for the head is going to impact the sound produced as will the thickness of the head.
The bridge very similarly to a violin is responsible for holding the string tension and it’s another element that can influence the tone.
A heavier, denser wood used for the bridge will give you a sweeter sound and vice versa. This is something to consider based on the type of music you produce.
Different banjo types
Today the most common types of banjos you will find are 4 string, 5-string, and six string.
On rare occasions, you might also come across a fretless banjo or a 12 string banjo. That said, the 5-string banjo is the most popular and most common.
Beyond the number of strings you also have to consider an open back or resonator version.
The resonator version is sometimes called the closed back because it has the resonator on the back of the banjo that literally closes it off and pushes the sound forward toward your audience whereas the open back design sends the vibrations and the music out the back where it is typically absorbed by your body.
The resonator versions give your instrument more punch and more volume which become increasingly important if you are playing with other members in a band and you need to make your sound pop just as much as their instruments.
It’s for this reason so many Bluegrass musicians opted to have a resonator design.
Open back designs are better for quiet settings and they often produce a mellow, soft sound.
They have less complex construction so they also weigh less making it easy to hold for longer lengths of time.
The open back designs are much more popular for those who use clawhammer technique and are fans of Old-time music.
Some open back designs have modifications that enable you to remove the resonator so you can switch back and forth based on your setting.
Jameson is an industry leader for banjo manufacturing. They strive to offer professional grade features on the banjos they make available for even beginners.
The company provides a range of banjos that are suitable for any skill level and playing ability.
You can invest in one of their designs whether you are an expert at clawhammer or just beginning.
Jameson Banjo Review: A closer look
Now that you have some idea about the company and what features to look for in typical banjos it’s still important to evaluate what models the Jameson company has.
To help with that this Jameson banjo review will go over a few of their top contenders so you can compare features and find something that works best for your situation.
Jameson Guitars White Jameson 5 String Banjo with Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner
This model is a closed back, or resonator back which is ideal for any bluegrass musicians out there.
Being a traditional 5 string guitar, it is also perfect for beginners, those transitioning from a guitar, or anyone who uses the clawhammer technique while they play.
The back is crafted from mahogany while the rim is 3 ply maple. The resonator is mahogany with thumb screws while the neck is maple.
The fretboard is crafted from rosewood.
The armrest that comes with it is nickel plated. The bridge is crafted from hard maple. If you want something different, then the high gloss white finish on the body is sure to catch your eye.
This design is a slim, fast neck that makes it easy to maneuver your hands up and down the neck while you play.
The truss rods make it adjustable too, so you can change the height of the neck based on your height.
It comes with a geared 5th tuner which is one of the advanced features that Jameson puts on even their beginner banjo models, so you don’t have to compromise features and quality when starting off.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this product might work for you.
- 5 string design
- Comes with geared 5th tuner
- White body with mahogany back
- Maple rim
- 24 brackets
- Closed back which means more projection, not suitable to everyone
Pink 5 String Jameson Banjo with Geared 5th Tuner & Closed Back
Very similar to the model above, this is a full size banjo that is a closed back, or resonator back. The resonator back is useful in situations where you need to project, usually in a group setting or when rehearsing in a music class.
It is a 24 bracket design with the back made of mahogany. Made with maple, the neck takes on the common Jameson feature of being slim and fast so that you can move along the neck easily and quickly when performing complicated songs. More than that it is adjustable so you can make sure the banjo is as comfortable as possible when you play. The rim on the unit is a 3 ply maple, quite common for beginner or intermediate designs.
It features a pink body, which is certainly unique, but the other features are rather common of Jameson designs, with the maple neck, the 24 bracket design, and the rosewood fretboard. The bridge is a hard maple. It comes with a nickel plated armrest too.
- Full size with geared 5th tuner
- Closed design with mahogany back
- Adjustable, slim neck
- Comes with armrest, one which is nickel plated
- Pink body, which not all players want or are allowed to use on stage
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com