Spotted Pony

January 1, 2012 3:03 PM

My first recording to share: this is the old-time banjo tune Spotted Pony, played on my new (to me) Bart Reiter fretless banjo, equipped with NylGut strings. Tuning is double-C.

posted by fritley (7 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Nice! I like that slippery fretless sound.

What's double-C tuning?
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:36 PM on January 1, 2012

Standard open-G tuning (in order 54321, string 1 is furthest from nose, 5 is the short string) is GDGBD, with 4 being the lowest pitch, on up in order 4 3 2 1 5, 5 an octave above 3, 1 an octave above 4.

To get single-C aka C aka minstrel-C, you drop string 4 down to C. To get double-C, you also raise string 2 to C.

It's not an open tuning, but you can get an easy C chord by stopping only string 1 at E, giving GCGCE. You can hear the GCGCD/GCGCE transition at the start of the A part of this tune.
posted by fritley at 4:15 PM on January 1, 2012

Slippery is the right adjective. Slippery and warm. I've also switched out my banjo strings for NylGut, and I love it. You and The White Hat share a nice aesthetic I think. Whoa, especially to his song Chiefest Microns now that I listen again.
posted by Corduroy at 7:54 PM on January 1, 2012

First post, but I hope it's far from your last!
posted by Corduroy at 8:03 PM on January 1, 2012

Corduroy knows me well-- this is real fine work, and in my favorite tuning to boot. Doesn't rush, takes its time. Well-recorded. I love it, and I can't wait for the next one.
posted by The White Hat at 4:10 PM on January 2, 2012

Love this sound! I'm new to the banjo, what playing style is this? I think of clawhammer with old-time but this doesn't sound like that to me.
posted by mendel at 5:11 PM on January 2, 2012

I'm so happy you all like it! I've had the fretless only about a week but I have played it a lot. I am still getting to know it.

I hear some flubs in this recording but I wasn't sure more tries would yield a better sound. It's an unprocessed recording made on a whim, in the bedroom, hiding from the cats and ticking clock and street noise, with the recorder sitting on the dresser next to me. I guess in retrospect I don't mind that it's imperfect. Listening to others' perfect recordings is intimidating - I never really sound like that.

mendel, this is very much a straight clawhammer style. I play with just one finger, with the nail striking downward, and thumb pulling outward mostly on the 5th string. I think there's only one thumb drop in this rendition, near the beginning of the A part, first occurrence at about 0:03.75 - the rest of the off-beat stuff that's not string 5 is left-handed in various ways, either hammers or plucks or the slides.
posted by fritley at 7:31 AM on January 3, 2012

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