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1

Accident of history. The fingerpick style of banjo playing became the predominant style when Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys in 1945. Before that, the five-string banjo was played "clawhammer" style. The "classic" period and style for the plectrum banjo was dixieland jazz from the 1920s. I see no reason why you couldn't play a 4-string ...


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Not exactly a replacement, as the tuning, although equivalent in terms of pitch class, is an octave below that of the madolin or fiddle (or violin, for that matter). But since the size of the instrument makes it possible to tune it in fiths, as explained by Scott in his answer, it makes of course all the sense to tune it in a way that can be immediatly ...


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Easy strumming was probably the market reason for the creation of the so called plectrum banjo. For strumming you don't need a pick for each finger, and because of the metal strings the most natural choice is a flat pick. And, with a flat pick you can also do soloing or combine melodic lines with selectic pluking of two or more strings (a kind of guitar ...


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It's probably, as you suggest, an ergonomic reason: larger stringed instruments in general tend to have smaller intervals between the strings, because that makes scales easier to reach with the fingers. Smaller instruments (such as the tenor banjo) can afford to have larger intervals between the strings, which gives the instrument a greater range for the ...



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