Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I thought it might be fun to do a little introduction to Guitar Style of play. Even though Stroke is the most discussed version of play here, both styles were common and we might want to look at it. Does anyone use this....and do you integrate it into your playing?

Views: 990

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Yes, I realize!  I was just saying that the more advanced classic style (guitar style) pieces in the Analytical couldn't be played on the early tubs.  Of course some of the simpler guitar style pieces could be as well as the banjo style pieces.

John, I do wish you'd stop lumping all the wonderful earlier banjos together as 'tubs'.

I bet many of those players back then could play rings around most of us today on our fancy banjos.  People like Frank Lee and Ray Alden are/were just two contemporary players who could knock your socks off on fretless banjos with impossibly high action.    :)

Well.....in your opinion, should the more complex pieces in the 1868 and the 1860 be played on a "tub"?

Don't get me wrong, I love the tubs, but that is exactly what they are compared to the finely engineered banjos of the late 19th and early 20th century.  

They likely were by countless numbers of people.  They aren't very complex though compared to the later pieces in the Analytical.

Tim Twiss said:

Well.....in your opinion, should the more complex pieces in the 1868 and the 1860 be played on a "tub"?

No, but they are still a bitch to play on a fretless and get a consistantly good performance. I still THINK ( not know ) that they were played and intended for a more evolved instrument....yes - in the 1860's.

Let's use emperical evidence of today and listen to people play it.

But, I want to rest with the original point....I hope people experiment with guitar style and don't make a big deal of it.

It's not the action height alone that is the problem (properly set up classic banjos have 4-5mm action at the 12th fret, which is rather high).  It's the combination of low tuning, high action, and early construction methods that present the problem since they strings don't clear the tension hoop well on those early banjos and do not intonate that well up the neck (they work well enough for stroke style and early guitar style pieces).  I have to say having listened to Frank Lee and Ray Alden, neither knock my socks off or really impress me all that much.  I should mention that I'm not a great player myself (or all that good really), but my banjo heroes are Frank Converse, Vess Ossman, Van Eps, Joe Morley, Olly Oakley, and Alfred Cammeyer, and I don't think any "old-time" banjoist can compete with those guys.

Strumelia said:

John, I do wish you'd stop lumping all the wonderful earlier banjos together as 'tubs'.

I bet many of those players back then could play rings around most of us today on our fancy banjos.  People like Frank Lee and Ray Alden are/were just two contemporary players who could knock your socks off on fretless banjos with impossibly high action.    :)

I agree with you Tim.  Just look at the banjo that Frank Converse played in the 1860s.  That thing is no tub!

Tim Twiss said:

No, but they are still a bitch to play on a fretless and get a consistantly good performance. I still THINK ( not know ) that they were played and intended for a more evolved instrument....yes - in the 1860's.

Let's use emperical evidence of today and listen to people play it.

But, I want to rest with the original point....I hope people experiment with guitar style and don't make a big deal of it.

"tubs"   "finely engineered" 

...Reminds me of when my step grandfather would described people as having either 'coarse features' or 'fine features'...and of course for him it was always the people of German descent who had the 'fine features'...ugh.

Anyway, there were banjos actually made from humble tubs, barrels, grain measures, cheese boxes etc.  But I have to say I really dislike hearing the term used over and over to describe all early banjos.  Especially here, a haven for those who find such early instruments to be beautiful and inspiring.  It's a derogatory and gross (coarse?) generalization.  Maybe we should call all the players who played the banjos from that time 'bums', as opposed to the 'refined engineers' who played clearly superior 'fretted musique instruments'.  lol

That's him! There he goes!  That's the bum that plays the old tub!

Strumelia, I think you are reading far to deep into my use of the word.  You just essentially tried to link my use of the word "tub" describing banjos to racism, which makes no sense at all.

 Like I said, I have a huge amount of affection for these early banjos.  I collect and play them, and I think they are all beautiful and unique regardless of how they were made.  I do not collect later 19th century banjos because I think they lack the individuality and soul that the early instruments have.  That said, it is perfectly reasonable to compare them to banjos from the late 19th century, and in terms of playability they do not compare favorably.  It's ok to call things as they are.



Strumelia said:

"tubs"   "finely engineered" 

...Reminds me of when my step grandfather would described people as having either 'coarse features' or 'fine features'...and of course for him it was always the people of German descent who had the 'fine features'...ugh.

Anyway, there were banjos actually made from humble tubs, barrels, grain measures, cheese boxes etc.  But I have to say I really dislike hearing the term used over and over to describe all early banjos.  Especially here, a haven for those who find such early instruments to be beautiful and inspiring.  It's a derogatory and gross (coarse?) generalization.  Maybe we should call all the players form that time 'bums', as opposed to the 'refined engineers' who played clearly superior 'fretted musique instruments'.  lol

Ah, well from your descriptions, it sounds like you are clearly a budding classic banjo afficionado, John.  I have nothing but admiration for those who can play that complex music, truly, though it's not my personal taste, as you may have already guessed.  lol   From your definitive statements, you seem to be sure of your knowledge about everything in all genres of banjo history.  You must have studied banjo history and played for many years!

I admire people who have paid their dues and who play their chosen genre well, whatever their instrument or musical style.  There are even people who play home made banjos made from plastic milk jugs or metal oil cans...who sound like Absolute Heaven to me.  Could be I just have undeveloped taste.  Sad, because I was raised from the very womb sixty years ago on Vivaldi and Bach.   I do remember my mother trying valiently to hide her disappointment when instead of my taking up the cello again in my forties, or even playing Early music on my mandolin...I took up the banjo.



John Cohen said:

It's ok to call things as they are.
And that's exactly my goal as well.   Call it like it is.   :)

Reply to Discussion

RSS

About

John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2019   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service