Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I seek advice for locating a suitable vendor of real gut strings.  Many thanks in advance.

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That's quite a jump Scott...from Mathis' silky voice to ...banjo.     =8-*

The gut strings I had on the Fairbanks & Cold frayed were my nail picked the strings. Eventually, it cut right through the first string and it was all over. I don't think the frets had enough time to do much damage.

I've been using guts on my Classic Banjo for some time, they last about a year before I get fraying. Actually, I wear out the wound 4th faster than the rest (it gets divots from the frets). My fingernails are pretty soft and I keep them cut way back. I get my gut sets from Clifford Essex...and they're indeed pricey @ $27 per set.

The Ashborn has nylguts on it at the moment. I have a set of guts but the nylguts last so long on the fretless that I've never needed to change them out. One of these days...!

If you think guts are pricey for your banjo, you should try orchestral strings. My viola = $150 per set. 

Gamut strings. Kind of pricey but worth it.

Yes I have Gamut gut strings on my rebec.  Very high quality strings and great knowledgeable service.

Scott--I've always gotten my gut strings from Bob Flesher.  They are always good.  You can't use them outside in the summertime with a skin head on a humid day in North Carolina, so I if I encounter those conditions I have a banjo with a Fiberskin head and Nylgut strings. Go to Bob's website, get the telephone number, call him and tell him what you need.  That's probably the easiest way.  Sometimes his wife answers the phone, so don't be put off by that.  Anyway, that's what I do.  

Another interesting point is that the gut strings I got from Gamut are carefully varnished, supposedly so they are less humidity affected and less subject to fraying with play.  He often supplies for early and medieval instrument musicians...vielle, viola de gamba, lutes, period venues, etc.  Those people are usually way more exacting than banjo players. lolol

All that said Flesher is an A++ guy who of course knows his minstrel banjo stuff inside and out and is very reliable.   :)

Strum. I did not see the instrument "banjo" on the Gamut site. Have you put gut strings on your banjo, and if so, how did you size them? The "tension" value in their calculator is an unknown quantity to me.

I've only bought varnished gut strings from Gamut for my rebec. Since he provides gut strings for larger instruments as well, I'm guessing one only has to communicate with him as to the scale length and the desired note (or note range) to tune to and he'd be able to make his recommendation.  He actually MAKES his gut strings.  

Years ago I had discussions with Bob Thornburg as to what gauge of gut strings I'd need for my banjo scale and tunings, so I think this consultation is common practice when dealing with expensive gut strings.  It was Thornburg that I used to buy BANJO gut strings from, and he's great too.  But if I bought today I'd ask Gamut first to see what he says.  Just my 2 cents.

When I put gut strings on my Fairbanks & Cole A-scale, Bob sized them for me. When I replaced them with Nylgut, I think I used a Gut/Nylgut multiplier from the AquilaUSA site and applied it to the string sizes that Bob supplied. But that banjo is an A-scale, so the strings are probably slightly different than they would be for a full sized banjo.

Do you have a photo of your rebec?

Brian Kimerer said:

Do you have a photo of your rebec?

Woah never heard of a rebec. Is it a fiddle type of instrument? Very nice to look at.

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