Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Nicholas A Bechtel
  • Male
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • United States
  • 2 yrs.
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Profile Information

How did you find out about Ning Minstrel Banjo?
By searching around for Minstrel Banjo youtube clips
How long have you played banjo?
2 yrs.
What kind of banjo(s) do you own?
"The Crow" by Deering. Waiting for a tackhead from Eric Prust

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Nicholas A Bechtel's Blog

Steel Strings during the Civil war

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 9:45pm 3 Comments

Does anyone know weather there would have been Banjos with steel strings during the Civil War Period.

I will take my answers off the air...thank you.


When to change your GUT strings?

Posted on June 2, 2013 at 1:22pm 13 Comments

Just curious,.. do gut strings eventually loose their Punch? Mine sound good with little fraying on the 1st string, but have had these on since I got may banjo two years ago. SO maybe I am not noticing a slow decrease in available frequency due to age. Should Gut strings be changed out every..1, 2, 3, years?

Memorial Day

Posted on May 27, 2013 at 10:45am 0 Comments

Hey all you banjo pickers that served our Country,...THANK YOU!

Glad your hear with the rest of us sharing and playing this great music.


Prairie Home Companion- Banjo theme for the show. Bill Evans and others

Posted on February 24, 2013 at 2:30pm 8 Comments

This was a surprise. I was sunning my banjo outside to tighten up the head, getting ready to play..had Bully for All in my head. went inside to turn on the radio and listen to the show, and St Patrick's Day was playing...WHAT ?, then "Bully for All", then it was reveled to be Bill Evans. There are a few other players. I caught the show in the middle. Here is the link below, you can listen to the whole show or pick the parts. Enjoy!…


Comment Wall (12 comments)

At 9:49pm on July 26, 2011, Dena Lee said…
Welcome, Nicholas!
At 10:04pm on July 26, 2011, Nicholas A Bechtel said…
Thanks.  As I said I'm just getting into this part of the Banjo. I picked up a Deering "The Crow" back in November. Was taken by the Clawhammer style right away, yet also working on the scruggs style of picking. By default I got into the history of the Banjo and that connected the banjo with another deep interest I have with the Civil War and that whole period of history. I quickly have felt a comfortable connection with this music. Also have been connected to some very helpful people. It's an interesting community of people, glad to have discovered it. I will look forward to hearing your Banjo.
At 2:15am on December 16, 2011, Jeff said…
Hello, how are you liking the Purst banjo?  I love mine if I could learn to play...  By the way belated welcome. 
At 11:50am on December 16, 2011, Nicholas A Bechtel said…

Howdy! It has been a perfect instrument to get me started. I got mine back in July. Before I got it I was practicing the songs and stroke technique on my Deering. I modified mine after a while. I ended up putting real gut strings I ordered from Bob Flesher along with a maple bridge he made. I have mine tuned lower than what Eric recommends. I have been working out of some of the Early period instruction books which had the banjo tuned much lower. Weather will play a roll on the sound, nothing that letting the banjo sit near a heater or good fire won't take care of. Another tip, always lay your bridge down when not playing, this is to save from putting a divot in your banjo head. Another wedsite you might check is the following, http://www.milfordmusic.com/Banjo%20Audio.htm This site has many of the period instruction books on pdf and most of the songs are on a sound bite in addition they are on video.  Enjoy. 

At 1:27pm on December 21, 2011, Jeff said…
I guess I should had mentioned I have had my Prust for two years now.  I have not play it that much as I too have a Deering w/ gear tunes upgraded and Remo head.  I have been play around with moon bridges a compensated bridges.  I keep coming right back to the GS Bridge every time. 
At 1:49pm on December 21, 2011, Nicholas A Bechtel said…

right on! now what is a GS bridge? I am awaiting a Banjo being made by Jay Moschella. This one will have a tension ring and a 13" pot. I originally had a Deering "The Crow" which i got in November of last year. When I am in San Diego County, where I spend my time is not too far from the Deering Factory, so I am always stopping by. I was there talking with Berry Hun and talking about putting a synthetic head on and changing my tuners. He asked what condition my banjo was in and said if it looked good he would trade me for the Classic Good time, which comes with the tuners I wanted, color etc.. so we did a trade. I practice my Clawhammer tunes adding to my song list. As well as working on tunes to be played on my Tackhead. I also play the fiddle and Dulcimer, wroking all the songs out on the various instruments. I am from Chattanooga TN, but now live here in Santa Barbara. There is not a strong community like there is back east. It's cool that you live near Tim Twiss, that guy has done an incredible job bringing these tunes back to life, and creating a great reference. I hope to make the pilgrimage to the Early American Banjo Gathering, maybe I will see you there. Great questions about the History within the Michigan regiments, and the stuff about the harmonicas. I love it.

At 6:21pm on May 21, 2012, Doug Goodner said…

Nicholas, we will have to get together.  I live in Goleta and am very interested (albeit new) in minstrel banjo.  

At 11:19pm on March 28, 2015, Paul Draper said…
Hey Nick, nice to see you back here!
At 11:23pm on March 29, 2015, Paul Draper said…
Like riding a bike! Yes - I'm lucky enough to have one of Jim Hartel's Ashborns. And for Old-Time Jay made me a 12" steel strung open back. Couldn't be happier with both.
At 2:14pm on March 31, 2015, Nicholas A Bechtel said…

I Have a 13" from Jay. I am torn about getting a Boucher from Jim or save and get something a little nicer. I just want one from him (Jim H.) Before he stops making them. How much does your Ashborn differ from the one you got from Jay. I like Terrys stuff...but I swear each time I hear them and mind you this is over a video,..but they sound a little thin and bright. Jim's has a bit of a warmer tone..again Strings and the type of head have something to do with that. You have been to the AEBG and have had a chance to play on the different ones...what do you think?

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