Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Ok, a few awkward sundry questions here...

Those of you who have open back banjos, and I'm guessing that's pretty much all of us, have you found that a particular stand works better than others? Has anyone tried one of the stands that supports the banjo from the bottom of the rim only? I'm curious because they seem to take up less space, but worried that they may rely on closed backs for most of the support.

Also, I'd like to video myself at some point plucking away at my strung guts. I've heard that Sony Handicams work well, but just curious what other videographers here use.

And I have to add that, especially after a year of studying classical guitar, early banjo has provided a wonderful endorphin-inducing activity that, instead of making me want to lie on the floor, makes me want to jump on the walls. Whoo hoo, indeed.

Views: 138

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I can't provide any particular insights on your chosen topics, but it's great to have another methodologically oriented player in the fold.  I hope you have the June Gathering in your sights.


I don't use a stand.  The floor, a table, or the ground usually suffice for me.  These being light, relatively simple instruments, I don't usually worry too much about them.


I use the Sony Handicam, so no other insight there.  I've been lax about putting up vids for awhile and I'd like to get back into it.  More videos from everyone would be a good thing.  It's a great way to set practice goals, and compare our insights.  Many new people are sharing there music here, and they're very enjoyable to listen to.


I find stroke-style banjo to be an endorphin-inducing activity also.  As Charles Mattison said in 1858, upon first hearing Frank Converse play-- "He made my scalp tingle."

I've had guitars and fiddles hit the floor and sidewalks, not from falling out of stands but from people or wind doing it. For my minstrel banjo, which is lightweight and even more prone to take a dive, I built a box that  looks something like a turtle trap and I stand up instruments in that. It says Off Limits to grabby people and nothing falls over. Stands for instruments are a bad deal - I've seen a lot of instruments fall for all kinds of reasons. I think stands are OK for heavy electric guitars behind an amp, but sooner or later....

I use a FlipCam and I wouldn't recommend it. It has crazy high compression that ruins the sound. The video is OK though. And I'd like to know what cameras guys are using here too.

I get up in the morning all excited about either the banjo I'm gonna build or the one I'm gonna play. It's a banjo-ramma around here.


I use stands if I have to. I have two little folding stands that basically only support the pot, the top pad hits my Ashborn right at the heel. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GtrStdSm/ I like these because they are substantial...but never trust 'em completely. If I'm not right there to keep an eye on my banjos, they go in the case or lay down.

I use the embedded video camera in my laptop. It does an adequate job and the software is simple enough for me to manage. The companion microphone is crappy, so I use a Logitech USB mic.

For videos I just use my iPhone 4 -- so low-tech it's scary!  Works pretty good as a phone too...

Payed gigs are not a requirement for posting videos here.  I think there are plenty of non-professional people who have submitted videos.  You do quite a bit of reenacting/living history, and interaction/interpretation with the public; that's the same if not better than 'payed gigs.'  That's getting the word out to people about the banjo of the 19th century.


One purpose posting videos here serves is to set practice/performance goals, and then meeting them in a tangible way.  You can enhance your repertoire, polish up your chops, root out those nagging little hang-ups that everyone encounters in their playing.  I know I have my share- I'd like to make a video of just tackling the rough parts of my playing.


Also, of course, the whole group benefits by seeing as many different interpretations as possible of the music.  This is a very small group of players we have here-- we need to stick together and encourage each other.  The enemy is powerful and all around ;^} 


Seriously though, for one with interesting and provocative ideas about how this music should be interpreted and understood, some videos would help demonstrate your point of view ( you submitted audio files to the Clubhouse, this would merely be a video extension of that work).  I think people would apprectiate it.


Dan'l said:

I am only passable on the instrument (very few payed gigs) I don't know what purpose is served to post a video.





For banjo stands I have made a couple of variations.  I previously posted a picture or two of them.  Here is the link:


Recording a video really shows you your weaknesses.  It can also improve your playing.  It is not an easy thing to play a piece of music through without stumbling somewhere or another.  Even recording without posting is worthwhile.

I would post, here at least, specifically to highlight my weaknesses so others could point out any inadvertent boneheaded mistakes I'm making. That's one of the chief advantages of this forum for newbies. Though I don't plan to post anything for a while, I see forums like this as potential opportunities to get expert advice on technique and musicality. So far it's been amazing for that.

I agree with John.  Recording a video motivates me to actually "practice" a piece so that I can play it through at least twice before I mess it up.  When I succeed it builds confidence.  I've been posting some of the clips in order to get feed-back from you guys who have been at this game much much longer than I have.  And this site is a unique and great place to do this because its members are sincerely interested, positive and friendly.  And that also builds confidence -- for which I'm grateful.  Plus, I love to watch others playing -- there's always something to be learned.

Reply to Discussion



John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2022   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service