Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Would anyone have a tab in Minstrel tuning for Sweet Sunny South or is this even possible?
I really love this tune and I have been trying to sound it out by ear but have not been very successful.
Color me confused. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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No TAB, and I'm not sure what you mean by "minstrel tuning" (pitch?) but there is this published version in "H. C. Dobson's Universal Banjo Instructor." I think the melody is a little different from the later hillbilly version that, even later, becomes a "folk" version.

Thanks Joel. I meant dGDF#A tuning. The Tommy Jarrell version of the tune. No sure if this is possible.

Oh... Have you tried asking on the Banjo Hangout "old time" forum?  


Richard Katz said:

Thanks Joel. I meant dGDF#A tuning. The Tommy Jarrell version of the tune. No sure if this is possible.

What's your goal?  

To play an oldtime tune in a low key?

If your goal is to play Tommy Jarrell's way, then you should probably use Tommy's tuning and fingerings (and tab) and just pitch it all lower if you want to play in oldtime style but want a lower sound.

Tunings are intended to make playing easier and have the notes and intervals fall naturally for certain tunes and styles.  If you want to play Jarrell's versions and Jarrell's fingerings of tunes (Round Peak oldtime), you'd probably do best to use the same tunings he did.   Just like people go into "Reuben's Train tuning' to play Reuben's train.  You wouldn't seek out a stroke style tab for Mary Blane in Reuben's Train tuning, for example.  It's an oxymoron.

In any case, try Briggs tuning with the second string raised a half step. and playing 'as though' you were in oldtime double C tuning.  Of course, then it's no longer really 'minstrel tuning' then...but you'll have better succes trying to play Tommy Jarrell's oldtime version.

Clarke Buehling has a version called 'take me home' which is the same song but it's kinda happily strummed and isn't too strokey sounding on his cd 'out of his gourd' Might help, might not.

Well, thanks for all the advice. I finally sounded it out in dGDF#A tuning. Just adding some picking to the melody line now.
Right now as a beginner, I am trying to learn tunes that stay in the same tuning for convience sake and so as to not confuse me too much. I have 14 tunes under my belt so far, so I am happy with my progress. My favorites are; Old Dan Tucker, Prince's Jig, Boston Jig, Rattlesnake Jig, Corn Shuckin' Jig, and Old King Crow.
I am learnign remotely "without a master" as there are no Minstrel banjoists nearby.
Many thanks to Tim Twiss and Paul Draper for their expertise and assistance.

I'm pretty sure that he is playing from the version I referenced.

CA Prieto said:

Clarke Buehling has a version called 'take me home' which is the same song but it's kinda happily strummed and isn't too strokey sounding on his cd 'out of his gourd' Might help, might not.

Hi Richard,  One thing to keep in mind is that the focus of this group was started to discuss "early banjo."  Early banjo as we know it (or "Minstrel Banjo" because it was used in minstrelsy) was predominately (or exclusively?) a commercial music.  As is, there is very little to do with folk styles like "old time" and all the various scordatura that is characteristic of that music.

While the banjo hangout has a very active "old time" banjo discussion group (and sometimes is welcoming to discussions of early banjo as an influence on "old time") this is the only group that focuses on this genre of banjo music.

It is difficult to find a way to remind participants of this without sounding "elitist" so please don't take it that way.

It has, and is, very attractive to "old time" banjoists looking for either and extension or justification of what they play.  It is also appealing because of the "folky" nature of hand made gourd instruments (modern revisionist concepts with five strings).  But it differs greatly in that the banjo started and remained a commercially popular instrument until it lost public favor.  It is during that commercial success of roughly 1840s-1880s that we are (were when we started) focused here.

The Classic Banjo ning site picks up where this one leaves off focusing on roughly the late 1870s to today with a concentrated focus on the late 1890s-1930s.


Richard Katz said:

Well, thanks for all the advice. I finally sounded it out in dGDF#A tuning. Just adding some picking to the melody line now.
Right now as a beginner, I am trying to learn tunes that stay in the same tuning for convience sake and so as to not confuse me too much. I have 14 tunes under my belt so far, so I am happy with my progress. My favorites are; Old Dan Tucker, Prince's Jig, Boston Jig, Rattlesnake Jig, Corn Shuckin' Jig, and Old King Crow.
I am learnign remotely "without a master" as there are no Minstrel banjoists nearby.
Many thanks to Tim Twiss and Paul Draper for their expertise and assistance.
Hi Joel,
Thanks for the reminder. I appreciate this site and will keep my discussions related to Minstrel banjo in the future.
Got a little off track.

The crossover from one "genre" or species of playing to another can be almost indiscernible.  

Some of us feel categories, styles, and history are not quite so tidy.    :)

That Baur stuff I am doing...dated 1883. That stuff is certainly on the fringe. 

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