Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Hey folks!

Got this Flutina today in an antique market from an older gent. I was glad to see all the keys are still intact and the bellows are not completely destroyed! Anyone know anything (or care to posit any guesses or share any thoughts) about it?

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Cory--great find. I saw one of those recently in a guy's private collection, but it was not in playing condition as the bellows were still together, but dry rotting! Does yours work? If so, how far above/below A440 is it?

Hey Greg,

All of the keys still sound, and I can even get something of a drone out of the left hand chord button. Unfortunately, over the course of the last century, each reed has settled to a pitch of its own choosing. I have an excellent accordion repairman in New York and as soon as I can have him look at it, I will be able to get some idea of how this fellow originally sounded.  I'm curious as well as to how this would have originally sounded, sort of a musical time capsule if I can get it up and running again. Long story short, it produces sound, but is not yet playable. Either way, for $75 I sure couldn't leave it there!

That's cool! Maggie and I recently got a fully functional melodeon that is pitched at A449-A450. It sounds great with both guitar and minstrel banjo! If you get this back into playing order, it'd be great to get it to sound with the banjo. Keep us posted.

Cory Rosenberg said:

Hey Greg,

All of the keys still sound, and I can even get something of a drone out of the left hand chord button. Unfortunately, over the course of the last century, each reed has settled to a pitch of its own choosing. I have an excellent accordion repairman in New York and as soon as I can have him look at it, I will be able to get some idea of how this fellow originally sounded.  I'm curious as well as to how this would have originally sounded, sort of a musical time capsule if I can get it up and running again. Long story short, it produces sound, but is not yet playable. Either way, for $75 I sure couldn't leave it there!

Melodeon sounds wonderful! I certainly will keep you posted, I'm going to have Del strike a plate featuring it when I'm back in Gettysburg and I'll be sure to bring it around when it's is up and running to let the banjo-heads noodle around on it a bit.

Greg, I'd love a video of you and Maggie playing a duet, banjo and melodeon...

 

Rob

 



Greg Adams said:

That's cool! Maggie and I recently got a fully functional melodeon that is pitched at A449-A450. It sounds great with both guitar and minstrel banjo! If you get this back into playing order, it'd be great to get it to sound with the banjo. Keep us posted.

Cory Rosenberg said:

Hey Greg,

All of the keys still sound, and I can even get something of a drone out of the left hand chord button. Unfortunately, over the course of the last century, each reed has settled to a pitch of its own choosing. I have an excellent accordion repairman in New York and as soon as I can have him look at it, I will be able to get some idea of how this fellow originally sounded.  I'm curious as well as to how this would have originally sounded, sort of a musical time capsule if I can get it up and running again. Long story short, it produces sound, but is not yet playable. Either way, for $75 I sure couldn't leave it there!

About 12 years ago I had one of those off eBay, that I bought mainly to get the 1843 Elias Howe tutor that was being sold with it.  The person whom I had out-sniped was very miffed; and since I had no real interest in the instrument I sent it on to him for a cheap price, with a xerox of the tutor (which I kept).  Probably should have kept the instrument and left him Peeved in Pittsburgh, but I used to be a nice person.  Also, at that time I wasn't really hanging out with Early Banjo reenactors.

Anyway, if you want to read earlier posts about these critters, search here under "accordeon," spelled that way (i.e. "wrong").  There are a lot more entries than if you call it a flutina.  Ian Bell and I wrote about half of them.  Some are on threads about Elias Howe -- or his later pseudonym, "Gumbo Chaff."

I found an edition of that that's viewable online, if you want to learn Howe's tunes.  Note that this Preceptor was written for a diatonic instrument with the reeds mounted opposite to the way that has become standard.  So the P and D markers don't match up with many of these, that you ever see anymore.  They do match the early one I had -- and maybe, the one Corey has just found.

http://www.michiganaccordion.org/howe/

My copy, which is of the 1843 printing, has a different cover.  Haven't checked whether the internal content is all the same.


razyn said:

that I bought mainly to get the 1843 Elias Howe tutor that was being sold with it.

Greg - Just curious - when you say melodeon are you referring to a little pump organ or a button accordion? 

Greg Adams said:
That's cool! Maggie and I recently got a fully functional melodeon that is pitched at A449-A450. It sounds great with both guitar and minstrel banjo! If you get this back into playing order, it'd be great to get it to sound with the banjo. Keep us posted.

Cory Rosenberg said:

Hey Greg,

All of the keys still sound, and I can even get something of a drone out of the left hand chord button. Unfortunately, over the course of the last century, each reed has settled to a pitch of its own choosing. I have an excellent accordion repairman in New York and as soon as I can have him look at it, I will be able to get some idea of how this fellow originally sounded.  I'm curious as well as to how this would have originally sounded, sort of a musical time capsule if I can get it up and running again. Long story short, it produces sound, but is not yet playable. Either way, for $75 I sure couldn't leave it there!

The melodeon we have is exactly like this one: http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/209888

 

I'll bring it to the next AEBG!

Nice. I guess yours didn't belong to John Brown like the one on the website. (maybe James Brown?)  I borrowed one a lot like that to use on a CD of early Christmas music we made a few years ago. They're very sweet sounding. I took it apart to try an get a note working and down in the bellows I found a couple of dozen of the little wooden rods that connect the keys to the valves. They weren't "missing" from the action and eventually decided that they had been dropped down there by a guy in the factory back in the 1860s, who (rightly) decided there was no good reason to spend a lot of time fishing them out.

Greg Adams said:

The melodeon we have is exactly like this one: http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/209888

 

I'll bring it to the next AEBG!

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