Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I have an 1860/ banjo with a 24 inch scale. Why did scale length shorten from the 1850s to the 1869s? Perhaps this has been discussed but I'm wondering.

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To the 1860s.
It didn't. There were banjos made in a variety of sizes in each decade.
My 24" 1860s banjo has inlaid frets. I sort of assume that open E was popular after 1860--based on the tutors. But I find it much too high for singing with my voice. I wonder if anyone else has had that experience.

Yes, being pitched at "D" is the standard...so it seems.

Doesn't Briggs suggest to simply retune?

So if one could slide the bridge or retune or capo, why shorten the neck and the scale? My impression is that while there were all sizes in use during the 1860s, that decade saw some popularity to the 24" scale length while the 1850s and, for full size banjos, the 1870s preferred a longer scale.
Ha! Good point. So, the 24" scale can be explained as a fad. The only problem I have with that idea is that every instrument maker I know is obsessive about design.

Could we see the banjo in question?  From you brief description of a small banjo with flush frets it might be that you have a small "child" or "ladies" banjo build sometime in the period of 1870s-1900.

How did you arrive and the 1860 year?

Banjos were manufactured in many sizes and one often finds these small sized instruments in the style of the early 1870s.  My theory is that they are so prevalent in such good shape because they were not used that much.  They were also continuously built and sold through jobbers for about 20 years.

… that is if your banjo is of the variety that I have in mind.

Please, share a picture.

Dan'l,  12" rim X 28" scale was the "professional size" 5-string banjo well into the 1920s.  Those are pretty big banjos. E. M. Hall and Horace Weston-- both late "minstrels" played 13" rim banjos-- also big.

Picture....click on the little icon of me in this discussion. I'm holding it.

CW- how do you know your banjo is from the 1860s?

No certainty. General design. Shield style shoes. Shape and placement of fifth string tuner. Number of hooks--16. Scale. Popularity of banjo here in 1860s. Owner was a local musician from 1865 forward. The rim is similar to one dated to Charles Morell 1863.

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