Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Has anyone ever seen one of these bridges? If so, does anyone know where I might be able to come across one? Sorry that this does not necessarily pertain to Minstrel Banjo, but I thought this the best bunch of people to ask.


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Questions about banjo setup and maintenance are always welcome, though we (I?) can be opinionated and question the validity of any modern reengineering of a tried and true method.

Looks like an altered A.D. Grover non-tip.  Are you referencing the clipped corner?  Is there some advantage to doing this?

Must not be that useful as it would be common if it were.

Could you not just cut or sand the corner off of a bridge, then cut a new notch?

I could, but I am not an experienced luthier and if I could purchase one from someone who is then all the better. This is a bridge that was/is not in wide use. It was developed for people who wanted to play plectrum style in addition to 5-string (Minstrel, Clawhammer, etc.) style. Currently I use a modern 5-string banjo for a Jazz Combo at Eastern Michigan University, but I am also a member of a New Orleans Style Jazz Combo where I make use of a plectrum. Having the 5th string lowered would prevent me from having to remove the 5th string every time I wanted to use a plectrum. I understand that there may be other issues with using this bridge without a banjo that is specifically designed for this bridge, but one problem at a time.... :)

I've actually been experimenting with (mostly destroying) bridges to see if different bridge configurations might work better with my right hand attack of the strings. I'm currently doing something similar with my fingerstyle picking banjo and so far am finding it preferable. I actually have that bridge angled so that the 5th string is at the lowest setting and the first string is set at the highest setting (I'm running out of bridges). I do this experimenting  because I am never completely comfortable with sound and setup (that's the case on all of my banjos, no matter how awesome the instrument).

I greatly appreciate the "tried and true" that Joel suggests, but because of my own personal idiosyncrasies, t&t doesn't always work for me. Don't be afraid to experiment to personalize things. 

Let's do some playing!


Sounds great, Greg! Nice to know that people still like to break from the norm and experiment. If I can't find one soon, then I will be purchasing a bunch of cheap bridges and doing the same until I can get it set properly and then purchase a more upscale (no pun intended) bridge for the final product.

A cleverly engineered method for playing both styles on the same banjo. I sometimes carve down those Grover non-tips that Joel was recommending (what's the "A.D. " stand for "Anno Dobson"?) to fit my needs. That looks like a fairly old image and an interesting idea. Its from Rob MacKillop's website, maybe he knows more about them. Dave

Be careful with taking Greg's advice.  

He is a fantastic player- but a complete screw-ball with setup.  His likes to put packing tape on his fingerboards, shove forks in the brackets, draw lines all over the side of his neck, and puts his bridge in the wrong place.

That is a slippery slope ; )

All he is suggesting to me is modifying a standard bridge. There's nothing far out about that.

I don't know.  Here is the patent.


Albert D. Grover

Greg, my comment was a sad attempt at humor.  I realize that there are very few, if any, outside of our close group that would get those references.  I would like to apologize and admit that I got carried away.  I admire your enthusiasm in finding your sound, and I suffer from a very similar affliction.

I really cannot wait to see all of my friends at the Gathering.  And I especially enjoy our one on ones (even though they may be short).

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