The Gold Tone CEB Cello Banjo is a Delight to Play- by Erich Schroeder
I use my Cello Banjo a bit for solo playing, but mostly for when there are other banjos present, or when something is being played that I cannot do an adequate job on the melody--particularly jigs & hornpipes. I find that I can drift then into a simple bass line that's a lot of fun to play.
Most of my CEB playing has been in jams or at home, but I've done a few things for audiences--solo at a little outdoor festival and at the monthly old-time fiddle association gathering, in a fairly large band at for a contra/square dance, and in a small group for a dinner at the local branch of the university (that was a fiddle, guitar, mandolin, tuba and myself on banjo or cello banjo). The CEB is overpowered by the tuba, but I started out solo on the one piece we played with the CEB, Over the Waterfall.
I'm still using the original strings & set up, just tightened the head a couple of times since I got it at the end of July. I've been thinking of trying the expensive Tomastik flat-wound steel classical guitar strings. I've also toyed with getting a taller bridge to see if I can avoid some sounds from my right hand hitting the head.
As is probably the case for everyone who buys one of these things, I find it a delight to play. Interesting to work on getting the best sound out of, but easy to play. I would not be happy with it as an only instrument, and when I bring it, I always have my WL-250 also. This makes for a good bit to carry.
My natural playing technique moves pretty well to the CEB-5 because
I'm usually not a real notey player, but I do tend to cut back more on my brushes and full chords. I don't think full chords sound as pleasing on this compared to a regular banjo, and it can get muddy if there are too many notes coming too fast. If I'm solo, I have to watch my "thumb-thwacking" as that 14-inch head really brings it out. However, in a loud and lively jam or dance I will often lay my thumb down extra hard to get that drumbeat.
Eric Schroeder, Cello Banjo, clawhammer, 2-finger picking, minstrel stroke style.
From Central Illinois
Erich’s website, http://vrteach.org/banjo, features over 120 mp3’s of his renditions of clawhammer banjo tunes. Julianne Johnson, West Fork Girls, Greasy Coat and John Henry demonstrate his use of the Cello Banjo.
On Erich’s Banjo Hangout On Erich’s Banjo Hangout homepage he says, “I'm a clawhammer player who played a great deal in the late 70s and 80s, but I have been pretty solitary for the past 15-20 years. Now I'm back to banjo (and music in general) and I'm having a good time.”