Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

 Just wanted to mention to all that I just received one of Terry's tambo's today. Fine workmanship and worth every penny. Big sound indeed. Not ashamed to give the Bell boys a plug.Well done!

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Thanks a lot, Gil.

Gil which size did you get?   Is it red painted?

Would love to watch you play it!   I brought my small tambo to Harry Smith this year and it caused some 'raised eyebrows' for sure... but then I always get a kick out of doing that.   ;D

 It's a kit. 13 inch rim 28in. scale. So i should be able to rattle the street lights. Kaboom! I could paint it or stain it or coat it with anything i choose.Thats the fun part with the kit.

Gil, are you talking about a banjo kit or a tambourine?

I know you are getting the Bell Boucher kit any day now.  Exciting!  Did you get a tambourine from Terry too?

yep,got a tambo from him months back.it sounds wonderful.it's not red though

I'd like to go public and say that Gil is one of the few and the brave. Well ,  I'm exagerating by an inch. Gil is getting a Boucher with a 28" scale, only half an inch longer than mine, and many historical banjos. Let me say this - something magical happens with Nylguts at 28 inches. If I ever get the time, I'm going to make myself a 29'er. A very famous music store we all know USED TO advertise that Nylguts were for banjos with a scale length of 29 to 33. This is why I always recommend at LEAST a 27 inch scale length (which I think Converse recommended). I get a lot of questions about the scale length. Short lengths = floppy strings, Longer lengths = tighter, louder strings.

I'm liking the 27 1/2" on mine, but think I'd go for 28" for the next one (and gut strings).  I believe you're right, Terry, about Converse showing the scale length as 28".  I have nothing to compare mine to as it's the only Minstrel banjo I've ever played.  Makes sense what many have observed.  Oh if only you could go into any ol music store and play different Minstrel banjos (sigh).  Guess that's what AEBG is for!  Next year!

Terry, I have been known to take a risk or two. As for the scale length,it was you,Terry, that had posted one of the best and simplest explanations on scale length I have ever read on your web site. You explained to me why you took it off but in all honesty you should repost it again. Tweak it he or there but it is so helpful to builders and players alike.N

ow i'm really getting itchy for that big boomer!

Ya, I should put that back online. I think I'll retype it as a table or something. That way, whatever string type or scale length or tuning, it would be easy to read. Your boomer feels great!! Sorry for teasin' ya.

Not trying to push you  on that but information like that is very important. You dog you,stop teasin!!

HI Terry, Gil, Matthew, Strumelia,

For what it's worth, I've set the bridge my Bell Boucher (12 5/8" head, gut strings) to a scale length of 29".  The further from the middle of the head I went with the bridge the better it sounded -- up to a point.  Mine seems happiest at 28 1/2" to 29".  The Lonnnng scale length also allows me to tune down another whole tone from "normal" to play in C & F -- which makes my voice happier on some songs when I'm singing -- and still have good string tension.  And, if necessary, for other songs, I can move the bridge toward the neck to about the 27" or 27 1/2" pencil mark then tune up from "normal" without putting too much extra strain on the strings and still have a decent.sounding banjo. 

However, at 29" I had to make a slightly taller bridge to keep the action as high as I like it -- a strictly personal taste.

So Dan,  with your bridge back near 29,  how is the index finger to pinkie stretch on "Rural Walkaround" or "Bee Gum Reel?" The sound at 28" is powerful and full, but my favorite thing is the VERY natural feel of the G chord. Do you agree on that, Dan?

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