Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Nicholas A Bechtel's Blog (13)

Steel Strings during the Civil war

Does anyone know weather there would have been Banjos with steel strings during the Civil War Period.

I will take my answers off the air...thank you.


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on June 4, 2014 at 9:45pm — 3 Comments

When to change your GUT strings?

Just curious,.. do gut strings eventually loose their Punch? Mine sound good with little fraying on the 1st string, but have had these on since I got may banjo two years ago. SO maybe I am not noticing a slow decrease in available frequency due to age. Should Gut strings be changed out every..1, 2, 3, years?

Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on June 2, 2013 at 1:22pm — 13 Comments

Memorial Day

Hey all you banjo pickers that served our Country,...THANK YOU!

Glad your hear with the rest of us sharing and playing this great music.


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on May 27, 2013 at 10:45am — No Comments

Prairie Home Companion- Banjo theme for the show. Bill Evans and others

This was a surprise. I was sunning my banjo outside to tighten up the head, getting ready to play..had Bully for All in my head. went inside to turn on the radio and listen to the show, and St Patrick's Day was playing...WHAT ?, then "Bully for All", then it was reveled to be Bill Evans. There are a few other players. I caught the show in the middle. Here is the link below, you can listen to the whole show or pick the parts. Enjoy!…


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on February 24, 2013 at 2:30pm — 8 Comments

"a perfect 19th century Moderato tempo".

Mark Weems posted this comment of Ian Bells video. As a new player to this music I get confused what is a proper tempo. Some songs sound great and bring that 19th century feel, or what stimulates that feel to me when listening to a piece in a particular Tempo.  Then some, for me, are too slow, then some are too fast. My question to all you seasoned players of this music; What is the typical tempo, or is that something that is up to the musician him or herself to decide. Some sheet music will…


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on October 4, 2012 at 12:39pm — 16 Comments

Buffalo Gals/Lubly fans will you come out tonight.

Can anyone tell me if there is a version written specifically for stroke style somewhere or does everyone just go off the standard notation?

Still don't have the concept of how to take a standard piece and make it apply to the banjo style we are playing.


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on August 26, 2012 at 2:26pm — 2 Comments

Sebastopol Breakdown

Does anyone know the origin of this song. I really like it and upon playing it for some friends that used to live in the Sonoma Valley, said of the town there named Sebastopol. Some rumers that it got it's name sake from;

" The town was originally called Pinegrove, and how the name change occurred is rumored to have something to do with a bar fight in the late 1850s which was likened to the long British siege of the then-Russian seaport of …


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on June 4, 2012 at 5:28pm — 7 Comments

My First Coffin Case Part III

Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on May 18, 2012 at 2:37pm — 1 Comment

My First Coffin Case Part II

Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on May 18, 2012 at 2:34pm — 1 Comment

My first Coffin Case.

Needed a coffin Case for  my new sweet Banjo from Jay Moschella. it sounds sooo sweet. I have a reenactment event this weekend at Ft Tejon, Lebec CA.


 Figured I could make my own. Took me 4 days, made a couple measurement errors...nothing that the belt Sander could not fix. This was…


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on May 18, 2012 at 2:32pm — 5 Comments

Early American Banjo Enthusiasts in California

Putting a call out to anyone out here in Southern California that is particularly into this style of Banjo Playing.

I live in Santa Barbara, and have not seen anyone so far on the website that is out here. I read on with envy at all of you that get to get to get together. A lot of cool stuff going on out there.

standing by...

Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on May 16, 2012 at 10:15am — 12 Comments

Poke Miller

This may be old news to some, but I wanted to share this npr piece on Poke Miller.

The piece gives the history and some of the recordings. 

I only recently was introduced to poke miller by mention of him on the 2nd Carolina Stringed Band's CD " Lightning in a Jar". You can purchase his rare recording of 1909. http://www.polkmiller.com/


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on January 3, 2012 at 5:29pm — 1 Comment

First Reenactment

This Saturday and Sunday I am finally participating in my first reenactment. Here in what is supposed to be the biggest Civil War reenactment on the West Coast, well I will have to take them at their word at it, it's my first. I was driven to this because of wanting to play this style of music. I have a Tackhead from Eric Prust, and have a few songs memorized. I'm also bringing my fiddle. We have rain in the forecast so I bet keeping my banjo in tune will be a challenge. 

Should i go…


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on November 10, 2011 at 11:01pm — 10 Comments


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