Banjo guitar

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This term is often applied to six-string banjos, a century-old banjo configuration that was an alternative to the four-string jazz banjo. (Johnny St. Cyr's six-string banjo can be heard on some King Oliver recordings.) Less widespread than its 4- and 5-string brethren, it was reintroduced by Deering and others in the latter part of the twentieth century. By then, the 5-string banjo had achieved such dominance that most people using the term "banjo" meant "5-string banjo," and most people hearing them knew exactly what they meant.

Because most 6-string banjos today are tuned like guitars, folk who were uncomfortable calling six string banjos "banjos" tried to get the word "guitar" into their nomenclature. This results in a plethora of relatively recent terms like banjo guitar, banjitar, guitanjo, guitar banjo, guitjo, banjar, bantar or ganjo. All of this accommodation, of course ignores the fact that 4- and 5- string banjos have had multiple historical tunings, including many 4-strings being tuned like violas and mandolins, but no one has ever tried to claim they weren't "real banjos" based on tuning alone.

True, many cheap six-string banjos have recently been built by attaching actual guitar necks to banjo bodies. Worse yet, importers of cheap 6-string banjos often promise guitar players that they can become banjo players overnight just by buying their product. That said, the better 6-string banjos (like Deering's D6) retain banjo scale lengths and all of them require adjustment on the part of guitar players looking to change over.

The six-string banjo should not be confused with the six-string Bluegrass banjo (played by Sonny Osborne and others), which retains re-entrant banjo tuning and a high-pitched drone string, simply adding a low G string to the five string banjo, nor with the zither banjo, a similar instrument from the late 19th/early 20th century, which was made in both five- and six-string models.

Banjo guitar players[edit]

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