Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

This may be someplace on the site already and I just could not find it.  But, during the Civil War time frame what banjo's where up here, or taken to war with the Michigan regiments?   All the searches on goggle I have tied... did not turn up much for me...  Also was there any Banjo makers during the time in Michigan?  What did they use to make there banjos?  Was Oak, maple, walnut, Pine...What was the main materials used to build them with?   

I was thinking of emailing George Wunderlich,  But, from what I have read, he has moved on to other endevers... 

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If you bend your harmonica notes correctly, the harmonica lasts a long time. Years.

If you bend on a new one or the 'overblow' high notes too much, yes, they go out of tune. Hell, most harmonicas are out of tune anyway. You just take the cover off, locate the reed and scrape the reed at the top or bottom, depending on the degree of pitch....and keep a feeler guage under the reed.

Joel, I always read something into your harmonica comments as if you think Hohner encourages bending to sell more harmonicas.

I think Olds trombones encourages playing in a band because you have to blow hard and that produces too much spit for the one little spit valve to handle, thus tarnishing the inards of the horn. They need more spit valves or something.

Did you know that GHS and D'Addario encourage the bending of strings by making them in a light guage, then once you learn to bend, the 9 gauges always break. It's a racket.

Just kiddin,' buddy.

Sure It's in good fun on my end as well.

But all the fancy trick harmonica playing is a 20th century device and would not have been used in the ACW had the harmonica been common.

A documented argument for this is the overwhelming number of octave or "concert" harmonicas in ads of the late 19th century. Not the first choice for "bending."  Also the absence of an reference to it.  Then all the sudden in the 1930s it is in all the harmonica instructor books.

Then there is the note layout itself- clearly designed in imitation of the accordion (that's the 10 button/ bass chord layout), which we know were present to some extant, and very popular after the war.

Looking at harmonica design today- all innovations tend to be targeted towards the "bending" of notes.

Paralleling that with the evolution of the banjo- forward sound projection (with wire strings) and devices to keep the instrument stable from the added stress of wire. 

Some of our jos' are monsters of volume, many of them louder than the bluegrass machines.  I know two that are (mine and Carl's).  But the design changed for carrying the tone at higher pitches.  Then wire presented a whole set of new problems to be overcome.

Sorry for the hijack.

So who is making documented ACW harmonicas these days?  I'd buy one.  The earliest I know of is of 1897 pattern- and the cover-plates are different from the originals.

Joel, I'd like to hear some of your harmonica playing. That chord double tounge stuff fascinates me as much as the blues stuff. My grandpa played some in that style. You sound like you really know a lot about it. I've been dabbling with the harmonica for a few years, on the rack.

When documenting banjoes or banjo music for a specific reenacting impression, which I assume is what the original theme of this thread is, I personally rely first of all on minstrelsy's universal popularity as a blanket approach.  Here's a quick reference on how popular minstrel tunes were:

http://books.google.com/books?id=5LYUAAAAQAAJ&dq=great%20lakes%...

Fine-tuning for a specific state documentation is great, but let's not lose sight of the tremendous resources on banjos in general that the great folks here have done already.

We know Rumsey, Converse and Emmett were in Detriot- and we can imagine a host of lesser lights-- playing in the documented style of the tutors.  Surviving banjos give us an excellent idea of what they were playing this documented music on.  Soldiers and amatuers are naturally aping this music-- and there you have it.

I wish you great good luck finding more details on specific Michigan references, but don't forget the wealth that is all around us.

Excuse me for bending this thread a little more, again perhaps getting a little out of tune with the original poster's topic but i wanted to add to Joel's comment about the availability of accordeons before the war. From casual research I got the impression that accordeon ( French made in this period) were nearly as ubiquitous as banjos. This was from doing word searches in google books (accordeon/accordion/flutina vs. banjo) and simply comparing the number of hits. Regards, Dave Culgan.

I think I wrote "to some extant, and very popular after the war," but I don't want to split hairs.

We do have a Howe tutor from 1850- there must have been some type of market...

http://free-reed.net/reviews/elias_howe.html


Ol' Dan Tucker said:

Excuse me for bending this thread a little more, again perhaps getting a little out of tune with the original poster's topic but i wanted to add to Joel's comment about the availability of accordeons before the war. From casual research I got the impression that accordeon ( French made in this period) were nearly as ubiquitous as banjos. This was from doing word searches in google books (accordeon/accordion/flutina vs. banjo) and simply comparing the number of hits. Regards, Dave Culgan.

Extent-  I should pay more attention. 



Joel Hooks said:

I think I wrote "to some extant, and very popular after the war," but I don't want to split hairs.

We do have a Howe tutor from 1850- there must have been some type of market...

http://free-reed.net/reviews/elias_howe.html


Ol' Dan Tucker said:

Excuse me for bending this thread a little more, again perhaps getting a little out of tune with the original poster's topic but i wanted to add to Joel's comment about the availability of accordeons before the war. From casual research I got the impression that accordeon ( French made in this period) were nearly as ubiquitous as banjos. This was from doing word searches in google books (accordeon/accordion/flutina vs. banjo) and simply comparing the number of hits. Regards, Dave Culgan.

Hi Jeff. We met at Midland, right?

Yours is a good question. I've often wondered about Michigan banjos of ANY kind.

Terry, Yes we did meet in Midland at the Midland Folk Music Society... You was teaching a clawhammer class...  In which I must say was very good and in-lighting.  

To all

As far as High Jacking this thread.... NO WORRIES... I'm sure the banjo was not the only instrument used during the Civil War....   I must say I'm impressed with everybody knowledge,  thoughts and chiming in... Good stuff good conversations...So by all means keep up with filling in the blanks... I hope we can find the answers to the questions for all of us. 

   

So much for searching this subject.  My Mac book is dead... Searching from the I phone is not easy. 

Jeff said:

Terry, Yes we did meet in Midland at the Midland Folk Music Society... You was teaching a clawhammer class...  In which I must say was very good and in-lighting.  

To all

As far as High Jacking this thread.... NO WORRIES... I'm sure the banjo was not the only instrument used during the Civil War....   I must say I'm impressed with everybody knowledge,  thoughts and chiming in... Good stuff good conversations...So by all means keep up with filling in the blanks... I hope we can find the answers to the questions for all of us. 

   

So much for searching this subject.  My Mac book is dead... Searching from the I phone is not easy. 

Jeff said:

Terry, Yes we did meet in Midland at the Midland Folk Music Society... You was teaching a clawhammer class...  In which I must say was very good and in-lighting.  

To all

As far as High Jacking this thread.... NO WORRIES... I'm sure the banjo was not the only instrument used during the Civil War....   I must say I'm impressed with everybody knowledge,  thoughts and chiming in... Good stuff good conversations...So by all means keep up with filling in the blanks... I hope we can find the answers to the questions for all of us. 

   

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