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Explore the Banjo

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New School of Music teaches banjo lessons at our music centers located in Buford, GA 30518, Dunwoody, GA 30338, and Lilburn, GA 30047; and our extension schools located in Johns Creek, GA 30097, Fayetteville, GA 30215 & Lawrenceville, GA 30046. We are the southeast's leading music conservatory with over 2000 students enrolled! Our schools serve the communities of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Doraville, Roswell, Alpharetta, Norcross, Snellville, Stone Mountain, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Lawrenceville, Oakwood, Dacula, Gainesville, Winder, Braselton, Jackson, Pendergrass, Auburn, Winder, Gwinnett County, Hall County, Dekalb County, Fulton County, Jackson County, Banks County, Madison County, and Franklin County. Rent a school band or orchestra instrument, shop online, and more.

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Did You Know...

The banjo is a stringed instrument of African origin, early or original examples sometimes being called the "gourd banjo". One predecessor to the banjo is called the "Akonting." It is a spike folk lute played by the Jola tribe of Senegambia. The name banjo is commonly thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term mbanza. Some etymologists derive it from a dialectal pronunciation of "bandore", though recent research suggests that it may come from a Senegambian term for the bamboo stick used for the instrument's neck.

The modern banjo comes in a variety of different forms, including four- (plectrum and tenor banjos) and five-string versions. A six-string version, tuned and played similar to a guitar is gaining popularity. In almost all of its forms the banjo's playing is characterised by a fast strumming or arpeggiated right hand, although there are many different playing styles.

Although the banjo is most commonly associated with country or bluegrass music, the instrument has enjoyed inclusion in a wide variety of musical genres, not the least of which is up-and-coming pop crossover music. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African American traditional music as well as in the minstrel shows of the 19th century.

The banjo consists of a wooden or metal rim with a plastic polyester (PET film) or calf or goat skin drumhead stretched across it, a neck mounted on the side of the rim, a tailpiece mounted opposite the neck, four or five strings, and a bridge. The woods used in construction vary, but are often combinations of maple, walnut, and ebony for fingerboards, pegheads, and the tops of bridges. In the five-string banjo, the fifth peg is normally on the side of the neck, although some English versions (the Zither banjo) mount the fifth string tuner on the tuning head with the others, and route the string through a tube in the neck where it exits near the fifth fret.

The earliest banjos were unfretted, like the African instruments that inspired them, but most banjos today are fretted. Banjo strings are most commonly metal, although nylon and gut can be used on some banjos, especially those played in the classical style. The two most common modern day acoustic banjos are the resonator banjo which has a detachable chamber, or resonator, on the back of the rim and the open back banjo which does not have a resonator. There are also solid body electric banjos; one such banjo, the Crossfire (manufactured by Deering), has two powerful magnetic pickups under the drumhead. A metal footed bridge ensures that pickups draw sound from both the strings and the head.
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