Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I have picked up a cheapie violin and was curious how the fiddle players here generally tune the violin. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of info I am finding.

For the time being I am following Howes Violin without a Master and trying to get familiar with the strings and bow. The tuning used in this book sounds like a g modal banjo to me

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It was bad but I imagined muuuuuch worse so I think once I tune the strings correctly the bacon will sizzle.

I can't tell you how many times I looked at that page and didn't notice, I suspect the person that made the plate didn't play.

Chris Prieto said:

Oh man me and the wife are dying right now. The effort it took to tune it and the way it sounds lolol. I even managed to play cluck old hen on it some how. I was like man that sounds just awful

Chris, here's the 1st page of tunes from Septimus Winner's New Primer for Violin circa 1864, they might be some good ones to start with, I think these turn up in some of the banjo tutors as well.

I also have a inexpensive fiddle. I think that true fiddle players refer to these as Fino, fiddles in name only. 

I was in a fiddle orchestra in a high school music class . We absolutely sucked. People complained about us

Well, thank you all for the help. I'm properly tuned and on my way to learning how to hold this thing. It seems my body isn't particularly cut out for it. I've tried different chin rests and the shoulder pads thing and I just cannot keep the darn thing in place.

I've played, off and on, for years and it still often sounds like a dying cat!  There are soooo many ways of making a violin/fiddle sound bad and those ways often happen.  I would suggest going online or getting a few lessons to get you started.  I started out teaching myself and found out how difficult it is to break seemingly obvious bad habits.  Get the basics for holding the violin and the bow, your left hand and right hand.  It's a difficult instrument.  When I see trained virtuosos playing the violin, it amazes me more than the fact that we landed on the moon!

Oh,....just read your last reply, Chris.  Yes, I agree.  I still sometimes feel as though I'm trying to be a contortionist.  It's not relaxing.  About ten years ago, (after seeing Tim Twiss play), I started playing minstrel banjo and I thought, "This is so much more relaxing that playing the fiddle!"  I could just sit on the couch and pluck away as I already had past banjo experience.

Thanks Al! I will eventually have to find a teacher here locally to make sure I got it going okay.

Good to know that holding is generally a pain. It is not relaxing. I tried playing against shoulder chest area and it's a bit easier but the instrument isn't really held in place.

Either way it's a fun lil squeaky box, and it so much nicer in time I hope I am able to follow thru and get better over time haha

Chris, in my various scratching on a fiddle I found this site to be very helpful. The guy is layed back and gives lots of tips. He hsa many videos on Youtube as well. I haven't touched my fiddle in a long time so I suspect I may be starting all over again. I have aslo never found a comfortable way to hold the thing and still be able to finger the strings correctly. But, hope springs eternal. Good luck. Site is fiddlehead.com.

Thanks Tom. Me thinks ya may have left off the linky part :)

I did notice that, went back and edited my reply to include it. Again it is fiddlehead.com. Hmmm, must be getting old or something.

Oh now I see it now. musta been added while I was typing. Definitely me and not the age! Thanks again :)

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