Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

All Blog Posts (282)


....for me, it's when a bad day of playin' is not as awful as it used to be.

Added by Tim Twiss on February 8, 2013 at 1:02am — No Comments

Has anyone read this book?

On Amazon I stubled across this title; The Banjo Entertainers: Roots to Ragtime, a Banjo History.

It's by someone named Lowell H. Schreyer. It's only a few years old…


Added by Ian Bell on February 7, 2013 at 1:14pm — 6 Comments


I know you guys can't see it, but spammers are knocking at our door like Night of the Living Dead. crazy....we filter carefully.

Added by Tim Twiss on February 5, 2013 at 9:26am — 5 Comments


Having posted these last few tunes, I just picked up the banjo and did a few that were among the first I did when I began videos in 2008. One new one...."Nelly Bly" with the guitar. It's a time to pause and reflect, and then of course to get on to the next thing.

The book release has been good, and I thank all of you that got it. Always to clarify, it is a Primer, and a book to:

  • Lay a solid foundation
  • Provide an entry level repertoire
  • Probe the future by…

Added by Tim Twiss on January 27, 2013 at 4:00pm — No Comments


I was going through some music looking for something new to play, and landed on General Burnside's Jig.

It only took a couple of bars to realize that I already knew it. It was a version of the tune that's also called The Octaroon Jig, and Emancipation Jig in a couple of other books - only a few notes different. (not any of the important ones)

Boston Jig aka Modoc Reel is another tune with multiple titles (there's at least one more for that too) It would be interesting to do a survey… Continue

Added by Ian Bell on January 23, 2013 at 8:04am — 6 Comments

Finished Bell Banjo Kit

Finally had the time over the holidays to finish one of Terry Bell's Boucher Banjo Kits.  I may not be as fine a wood worker or finisher as Terry, but I think it did turn out nicely.  And it plays like a dream. Anyone that sees or hears it is quite impressed. …


Added by Patrick Haas on January 16, 2013 at 2:26am — 6 Comments


I'm licking my chops.....looking at that Green Converse Book. When to start...? I seem to get posessed by it once I start, so I have to make sure the rest of life is in order first...ha ha.

I plan on that and the Buckley 1868 soon.

Added by Tim Twiss on January 13, 2013 at 6:34pm — 37 Comments

New Videos-Buckley

I'm putting up some new videos. When I was playing through the ttors a while back for videos, I thought I had all the tunes up. I seem to be missing some, so I created a few of these from the audio I did recently. Nothing fancy in the visual, but a static picture supports listening to the music.

Added by Tim Twiss on January 9, 2013 at 11:12pm — 1 Comment

Case for Banjo

I ended up with one extra case. It is an Access brand gig bag and has lots of support. Real stiff and protective. Like new. I even have a good shipping box to get it to you. Anybody interested, contact me and i'll give you a photo and dimensions. It won't fit a real long Minstrel.

Added by Tim Twiss on January 8, 2013 at 7:07am — No Comments


Thanks all, for visiting my site and taking advantage of the holiday download special. As usual, if you had (or have) any difficulty getting a tune or two, or if one was cut short, please let me know and I will send you the file right away. Don't forget to check out the Little Yellow Book by Converse. This material came out really well. Essential Stroke stuff...great tunes!

Also, on the site there are 11 original banjo books to download free. Thanks…


Added by Tim Twiss on January 4, 2013 at 8:27am — 4 Comments

Frank Converse "Banjo Without A Master"


I'm going in for another project, this one being the 1865 book "Banjo Without A Master" by Frank Converse.

It will go up, one song at a time from front to back, but it may go a bit slower because I am going to write them out in Sibelius as I go. Been meaning to do this for a long time, so this will make a nice quartet of books. Watch for them as they go up at

www.timtwiss.com and hit "Music…


Added by Tim Twiss on December 28, 2012 at 7:25pm — 9 Comments

Rice and Briggs' CDs

While I am at it, if any body wants hard copies of the Briggs' or Rice music, I am making some today and can send them out. Same price as download, and I'll include postage.

Added by Tim Twiss on December 27, 2012 at 8:02am — 1 Comment

Smithsonian Magazine article & video "Music During the American Civil War"

This video and text probably won't provide much new or interesting to members of this site, but we never know just what important tidbit we might stumble across. Anyway, it is definitely worth sharing with acquaintances who might be interested in what we are so passionate about, and it would likely enhance their knowledge on the subject in general.


The musicians of the Union and Confederate armies provided strong memories of the homes left…


Added by Bryant Henderson on December 19, 2012 at 12:58pm — No Comments

Tambo on Ebay

Neat looking tambourine. Wonder if it's as old as they claim? http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Antique-Tambourine-Brass-Banjo-hardware-All-original-Minstrel-Era-/181046686874?pt=Folk_Art&hash=item2a2739349a 

Added by Ian Bell on December 18, 2012 at 12:13pm — 9 Comments

Early American Classics for Banjo

Have become absolutely obsessed with this book by Rob MacKillop.  Can't seem to do the old time stroke, but I can certainly pick single notes(to much time spent on the Scruggs style).  I love the sound and music of a by gone era.  Has anyone else used this book and if you have, what do you think of it?

Added by Jonathan Weaver on December 17, 2012 at 5:54pm — 1 Comment

Having the guts to repair a string....

I broke a string tonight while playing. Judy immediately said, "Wow, I didn't realize I could do that with my mind..." (That's why I love her)
Not a suitable gut spare to be found and not enough left on the peg to make up the difference, but I did have a baggie of random string ends. I now have a 1st string with not one, but two splices in it — one above the nut and one below the bridge. Seems to be holding so far. Three cheers for natural materials.

Added by Ian Bell on December 16, 2012 at 10:58pm — 8 Comments

BUCKLEY 1860 - Part 3



Today I began the last leg of the Buckley adventure. Above is the address where you can tune in and check it out. This will certainly be the most challenging, as it contains the fiddle repertoire in the back. Many are written with one or two sharps, and there is no thumb string indication. What to choose....thumb string as "D" or "E"? I'll talk about it one…


Added by Tim Twiss on November 26, 2012 at 9:00am — 62 Comments

Buckley 1860 - Part 2

So I sub-divided the book into 3 parts to make each volume a reasonable size. ( appr. 38 tunes each ). This is the start of the second part, beginning on page 25 with Raccoon Jig, and Corn-husking Jig. I've done them both a lot before, but as usual....under close scrutiny, flaws pop up that need fixing. Got 2 pretty good takes, using the Bell Boucher for this leg of the trip. The interpretation of the dotted rhythm is a bit of a beautiful mystery to me yet...

Added by Tim Twiss on November 15, 2012 at 11:10pm — 36 Comments

Buckley 1860

I blogged my way through Briggs' and Rice as I was recording them. Time to settle down and attack the Buckley 1860. My car car is out of commission, it's getting cold, I have a nice banjo....so here I go. Front to back...the instrumentals. It's a chance to comment on them as i go, with remarks about stroke or fingerstyle choices, and wrong note included in score. No need to respond if you don't don't want to, but this will go on for a while. As I do them, they will be for sale on my music…


Added by Tim Twiss on November 4, 2012 at 10:43pm — 39 Comments

Sweeney Fun

I think it would be a riot to take some time and pay tribute to Joe Sweeney's known repertoire. It is not huge. Break out the sawbucks, the boards to tap on, dress up a bit.....they could be representations of what we think he sounded like...or just tributes in your own style. Could be fun and informitive.

Added by Tim Twiss on November 4, 2012 at 10:10pm — No Comments


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