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When I decided getting a handmade instrument, Kamil was the second person I went to - but the first one brave enough to give this odd idea of mine a try.

Being a banjo player, I longed for something having a long tone, something with different sound colour than is my handmade acoustic 5-string banjo (which I otherwise love a lot). An acoustic banjo has a sound, which some people hate after just a couple of minutes and, despite my long affection, the never-changing sound (although I am quite used to it) started to get on my nerves after all those years.

As I play the acoustic banjo using a piezopickup and I usually play with a drummer, sometimes really horrid sounds occur as the banjo membrane, following some strange rules I don’t really understand, begins resonating with the drums' membranes. I decided to take a resolute action being encouraged by Bela Fleck, who plays a Deering Crossfire electric banjo. His banjo has a membrane and looks a lot like a peculiar telecaster. It's got this soft warbling sound where search for longer tones would be in vain.

I decided to take a step further and get a banjo without a membrane, kind of a mutant of an electric guitar with five-string banjo tuning (dhGDg).

Surprisingly, Kamil was not at all reluctant towards this request of mine. For him, it was a challenge. As far as I know, nobody around the globe has ever made such an instrument. (Well, when talking about primacies, my desire to play this instrument was fed by my ambition to become the world best player of some instrument. Well… This only could happen if I played an instrument nobody else had.)

A traditional five-string banjo has a structurally interesting neck. I have no idea who invented it, but the fact is that between the fifth and sixth fret there is a g peg. It looks overwhelmingly strange. But we wanted it even stranger, so we thought the peg could be on the other side of the instrument, somewhere behind the bridge. And so, my banjo has a g peg hidden in its den in the banjo's body.

Apart from an unusually long and narrow finger board, there's a clear difference from a common guitar in the fork-shaped head with four pegs only. I wanted Kamil to make the pegs such that they are closer to me, like on a banjo. I made a very bad drawing - I drew a violin peg box, but without the scroll, with standard Schaller pegs. I was really looking forward to see how Kamil was to end the head. Both my surprise and happiness - he ended it with nothing.

Thanks to one cievkovému a jednému piezo pickup, the Banjitar „El Banjo“ offers a wide range of sounds, from a soft "Knopfler" sound to short tones with no sustain, reminding, although very remotely, a banjo.

I'd like to point out two more good reasons why I like this instrument: It is MUCH, MUCH lighter than his acoustic brother and when playing at home, it is not desirable to bother fellow citizens with immoderate noise.

As you might know, you can't play banjo silently.“

Martin Sutovec (www.slnkorecords.sk)
(The author plays
banjitar „El Banjo“)

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