Acoustic banjos may become difficult to hear for musicians playing in bands with electric guitars, drums and other loud instruments – this can especially be problematic with finger picking styles like clawyammer.
Ryan Cavanaugh has designed a pickup bridge that dramatically amplifies an electric banjo‘s natural sound, and is available for both Deering and Gold Tone models with metal bridges.
Buying a Banjo Electric
Electric banjos allow players to explore new sonic territory with the instrument, and professional musicians often utilize these devices. Therefore, when purchasing one it’s essential that your goals be considered when selecting an electric banjo.
One key consideration when purchasing an instrument is your budget. Musical instruments tend to be costly, and electric banjo prices will depend on its type, model, features, and desired options. Finding one within your price range ensures you have an affordable instrument that meets all your needs while growing with you as you develop.
When purchasing an electric banjo, the number of strings should also be taken into consideration. Most models contain four strings; however there are models with five or even six. Generally, banjo strings go from low to high along the fingerboard in this order: fourth, third, second, first and fifth (where fifth is known as drone and produces sounds three-quarters the length of other full length strings).
Consideration of string count, tone preference, and budget will all play into selecting an electric banjo that best meets your needs. No matter if you are just beginning or an experienced pro – there is sure to be one suitable.
Deering Goodtime Electric 5-String Banjo is an ideal option for beginners interested in learning the banjo. Equipped with a Deering Sierra pickup that produces similar tone as an acoustic guitar and featuring an ergonomic radiused ebony neck for easy playability, this model will make learning the banjo an enjoyable experience.
Experienced musicians may prefer an electric banjo with more advanced features. One such model is the Gold Tone EBM-5, offering premium look and feel perfect for live performances with its dual source pickup and three way selector knob. It comes in various colors.
If you’re in the market for an electric banjo, be sure to explore your options online first. There are various brands and styles of banjos, so taking time to select one that meets your individual requirements will ensure a successful experience.
Acoustic Banjo to Electric Conversion
There are various techniques available for turning banjo vibrations into an amplified electric signal, with two of the most prevalent being piezo and Fishman pickups. Both utilize piezo elements consisting of crystals sandwiched between plates of copper. When plucked strings cause these crystals to vibrate and transmit that energy directly to their piezo element – turning into an amplified signal which can then be amplified further.
Acoustic banjos rely on natural resonance of their bodies to produce sound, and are typically played at a volume that can be heard by small audiences or during an acoustic performance. Electric banjos, on the other hand, feature built-in pickups which connect directly to an amplifier or sound system and produce louder noise than their acoustic counterparts.
Some acoustic banjos may be converted to electric banjos at great expense and not suitable for working musicians. More affordable pickup-equipped acoustic banjos may have their sound modified or changed using effects pedals.
The Gold Tone EBM-5 electric banjo is an all-in-one solid body banjo designed to sound similar to an acoustic banjo when unplugged or plugged in, and comes equipped with two humbucker pickups allowing it to fit seamlessly into different situations. Perfect for beginners or more experienced musicians!
Tom Nechville of Nechville Musical Products has created a video detailing how easy and quick it is to install a pickup on any acoustic banjo. This process only takes minutes, while producing high quality sound that will make the banjo more versatile in terms of applications and uses. Click below for viewing of this video!
Acoustic Banjo Pickups
The banjo is an instrument with unique amplification challenges that make its sound difficult to capture with electric pickups alone. Featuring metal brackets around its rim and a head that produces sound like that produced from a resonator guitar, most acoustic guitar pickups were not designed to handle its high frequencies effectively – therefore most acoustic banjo players opt for microphones as a source for their sound.
Use of a microphone when recording or performing live is an excellent way to capture the natural sound of your banjo, but in loud venues this may lead to feedback issues and pickup other musicians or background noise that will overpower its tone. A flexible arm microphone may provide better results by being attached directly onto your banjo’s side; simply position and remove when not required for optimal results.
Magnetized banjo pickups provide another viable option for creating an amplified signal, with their coils of Alnico magnets and gapped-off coils vibrating when you play your banjo and creating a magnetic field around its coils. When plucked strings change this magnetic field and disrupt north/south pole magnets causing electrical currents to flow to an amplifier/guitar amp that sends an amplified signal over instrument cable to mixer, PA system or electronic devices for playback.
Professional musicians frequently opt for the ACB due to its naturally-balanced tone. It is a dual-coil magnetic pickup featuring Alnico magnets in an innovative design, which effectively recreates banjo sound. Coils are spaced apart creating acoustic gaps which enhance its fidelity and provide more fidelity overall.
The ACB is designed for both 4-string and 6-string banjos with either single or double coordinator rods, and can be modified to other mounting arrangements with some soldering expertise. In particular, its use of a 3.5mm jack as opposed to its old 1/4 inch counterpart prevents possible electrical shorts if an unwary finger comes into contact with it or cord falls into it, and also serves to connect belt preamps directly into an amplifier.
Acoustic Banjo Amplifiers
Electric banjos differ from their acoustic counterparts by having built-in pickups that connect directly to an amplifier for sound amplification, producing louder tones suitable for larger venues or performance with bands. Some electric banjos even come equipped with tone and volume controls for customized tone adjustments.
Acoustic banjo amplifiers have been created to deliver more powerful and flexible sounds than the typical acoustic guitar amplifier. These amps are tailored specifically for acoustic instruments and include features like multiple input channels, feedback-fighting controls, effects section as well as various power levels to meet various performance spaces and performances needs.
The top acoustic banjo amplifiers are tailored to provide a natural, warm, and full sound. Many feature tube designs for an organic feel while others are meant for high output performance. If singing along is part of your banjo playing experience, make sure that your amplifier features a microphone input with phantom power capabilities.
If you’re searching for an acoustic banjo amp with Bluetooth connectivity, consider the Fishman PRO-LBT. It works well with both acoustic banjos and guitars and offers an ideal blend of acoustic tone and wireless functionality – perfect for performing backing tracks or vocals on mobile phones! Plus! Bluetooth lets you sync up directly with other devices.
This acoustic banjo amplifier boasts advanced circuitry that’s designed to produce natural, warm sounds. Its acoustic EQ allows you to control tone and bass response of your banjo while its built-in effects add variety to your music. In addition, its lightweight construction makes it convenient to take on the road.
This acoustic banjo amplifier is ideal for anyone seeking a cost-effective solution to enhance their sound. Featuring adjustable EQ with bass boost for creating incredible tones and a footswitch input to remotely mute flanger, chorus and slap echo effects remotely – this unit provides everything needed to enhance any playing session!