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Zither Banjo

The Zither Banjo is a particular kind of Banjo construction referring to how the body is made and is often credited to Cammeyer although Temlett was also making similar instruments independently. It became a hugely popular style in England - much more so than in America.

Many early Zither Banjos were 6 or 7 string instruments.

The Zither is a completely different instrument and exactly why this style of banjo is called 'Zither' causes some conjecture. The main difference is that the body is a complete bowl rather than an open hoop and smaller in diameter than open back banjos. They were often strung with a mixture of wire and gut and had frets. In the sense that the strings essentially run over a box, it is a Zither-type instrument but the strings extend along a neck which is most un-zither-like.

Most 5-string Zither Banjos have a symmetrical 6 string tuning arrangement of three per side with one unused. The short 5th string often ran through a metal tube in the fretboard to an ordinary tuner.

Many Zither Mandolin and 5-String Banjos are seen, but few Tenor or Plectrum even though they were produced. By the era of tenors and plectrums, the open-back and Resonator design had pretty much taken over.