Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

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.


Views: 147

Comment by Leonidas (Lee) Jones on June 5, 2014 at 12:16am
There was quite a discussion of the subject a while back. Check here:

Comment by Joseph Sorah on June 16, 2014 at 6:25am
From the research I've done steel strings weren't available to most people till nearly the end of the civil war. I believe manufacturers warned against them because they would cause the instrument to fail. Guitar manufacturers were dead set against until the advent of X bracing and mechanical tuners. One of the problems banjo players had was tuning pegs that wouldn't stay in tune at standard pitch on an instrument longer than about 24" string length. I know from the banjos I've built steel strings place a lot of extra stress on the neck and stick, and especially when tuned to standard. Obviously most of the instructors played in lower than standard tunings, and I suspect that was bow and curtsy to not only the Negro playing styles they were copying, but also the limitations of the materials the banjos were made of. I would speculate that people played with what ever they could find that could be turned into a string. Someone posted a link on this site not too long ago that talked about the number of horse hairs needed for each string. I think that frets, coordinator rods, steel strings, and mechanical tuners might have come into common use about the same time...though I'm not sure about the coordinator rods. They may have happened later.
Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on June 16, 2014 at 9:31am

Thank you for the information.


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