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View Full Version : Pickers, check this out.



HighPrvt
10-31-2008, 10:29 AM
Shure would be nice to see a few of these around camps, rather than all the Dreadnoughts!!!
:)


http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-WAS-R314KK

Company Fiddler
10-31-2008, 12:20 PM
I agree, it would be nice to see & hear period instruments or replicas in the camps. This really is a double edged sword issue though. Although there are plenty of sources for period instruments and accesories, in most cases they are very expensive. In many instances, an instrument that is set up for a historical impression (gut strings & no picks) will not work well for modern playing scenarios because of volume. Try playing a parlor guitar with gut strings, finger style in a modern accoustic jam, :( you'll be lost in the shuffle!
This means that the musician has to have at least two instruments, one for modern and one for historical applications. While I prefer gut strings, no picks, open back banjos, parlor guitars & correct set up on fiddles, I think it would be far less authentic to have no music in camps then to have correct, period music played on modern instruments. This is an issue that will probably not change, especially with the cost of instruments ( like every thing else ) continually going up. Not everyone can afford to have multiple instruments for specific applications.

This thread should probably be in the musicians section of the forum.

HighPrvt
10-31-2008, 01:46 PM
Tim, I agree with your statements completely.
This guitar seems to be a nice compromise, at a great price.
While it is a steel string guitar, at least it would look the part at a short distance. Which is about as good as most reenacting gear does anyway.

tompritchett
10-31-2008, 01:58 PM
This thread should probably be in the musicians section of the forum.
Normally I would agree with you but your comments
While I prefer gut strings, no picks, open back banjos, parlor guitars & correct set up on fiddles, I think it would be far less authentic to have no music in camps then to have correct, period music played on modern instruments. raises some questions for all of us to discuss.

Therefore I am going to re-phrase your comment into a question for discussion - As reenactors which do you prefer, more Civil War music in the camp on non-period versions of instruments available in the 1860s or less music but only on period versions of those instruments?

jthlmnn
10-31-2008, 08:17 PM
On the path to greater authenticity while still having fun, I see more Civil War era music as step one (quicker, less expensive, and of greater importance) and period instruments as step two (a refinement of step one, more expensive, may require new/different skills and, therefore, requiring more time).

My 2
(Which will buy more gasoline now than it did a month ago!)

Silas
10-31-2008, 11:04 PM
On the path to greater authenticity while still having fun, I see more Civil War era music as step one (quicker, less expensive, and of greater importance) and period instruments as step two (a refinement of step one, more expensive, may require new/different skills and, therefore, requiring more time)

Period music on modern instruments isn't period music. As I type this very message, Mrs. Silas is playing our modern banjo to the music of the "Rural Walk Around." I find it pleasing to the ear in the comfort of my home, but it's not truely period music unless played on period type instruments.

It's not the same instrument. The metal strings are much tighter and louder than the looser gut strings. The strings are much closer together on our modern banjo than my tack head. The frets are marked on the modern banjo while they're not on the tack head.

It doesn't look the same. I can spot one of them modern banjos with all the shiney nickle plated kabobs and modern tuners a long way off. I usually notice them because I hear that unique twang first.

It's not the same sound. At a CW event, I want to hear the same sound that the soldiers heard. With gut strings on a repro, it's the same sound. I own a pocket watch owned by one of my great grandfathers. I periodically wind it and listen. The same sound I hear is the same one he heard. That sound takes me back in time. It's not different with period instruments.

The argument that repros are prohibatively expensive is a joke. My modern Deering Goodtime was somewhere around $350. It's a solid beginner's banjo. Here's a link to a manufacturer who'll sell you a basic tack head for $200 (http://www.chloesgarden.com/Banjos%20on%20Web/Basic%20Banjo.htm). How about a new grain measure banjo between $350 to $550 (http://www.gourdbanjo.com/GBhtml/grain.html)? You can pay some serious bucks for a repro, but the same can be said for modern banjos, too. You could also make your own banjo if you know some woodworking skills. I made mine at a cost around $60 bucks.

I don't want to hear modern sound at events played by reenactors. The argument about period lyrics and notes on modern banjos is the same flawed argument that is used to justify use of a modern sewing machine and modern dyed wool to create period like garments from period patterns. Either the garment is correct or it's not. Same goes for period music. Either it's period or it's not.

HighPrvt
11-01-2008, 02:07 PM
Uh guys this thread has strayed away from guitars, to banjos, completey different animal.
Anybody know where to get a period correct parlour for low $$$ ?

Silas, while I agree the Washburn wouldn't cut it in an authentic camp, I was pointing this towards the tent city.

Silas
11-01-2008, 08:03 PM
I know this is a mainstream forum, but I very strongly disagree with the concept you've noted. You're saying this particular item is okay in one camp, but not the other. I'm missing the logic here. Since this guitar or any other post bellum instrument, song, strings or whatever is wrong for the period, it's wrong in either camp. Wrong is wrong, right?

Mainstream camps should not be an authenticity free zones.

dedogtent
11-02-2008, 03:38 PM
Silas,

Everything you say here Sir is true. It really isn't period music when played on modern instruments. The sound isn't even close. Listening to the 2nd South Carolina String Band at Cedar Creek, now that was great period music!

That said, I have to say our new little camp band with the 2nd Delaware isn't period correct. I am 10 months new to playing the banjo and I did buy 2 period tackhead banjos. Starting out I found them very hard to learn on and keep in tune. I then bought a basic GoodTime banjo that made it easier to learn on. We have 2 banjo players and 2 guitar players, a bones player and tamborine player. The bones and tamborine are period correct. We are very new as a band and the main reason we play is to get everyone singing in camp and enjoy the songs of that era. We have 27 songs right now in our songbook.

As we get better and the players more into it, I hope we can go the route of period instruments. But right now we will have to play what we have and hope our company members have fun singing the songs. We do not mean to offend anyone by playing on modern instruments, just give us a little time. Thanks for listening.
__________________
John Barr
2nd Delaware
http://2ndDelaware.com

Danny
11-02-2008, 05:59 PM
Shure would be nice to see a few of these around camps, rather than all the Dreadnoughts!!!:)http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-WAS-R314KK

H. -

Yes, that Washburn guitar would go a long way towards correct appearance for a guitar in our camps. Still, this guitar does not have the correct setup to sound like a period guitar. It is optimized and braced for steel-strings. You can install gut or faux-gut strings (actually metal wound silk on the heavies is authentic) and get an acceptable, if not very loud, sound. The bracing could be shaved and other mods made that would make it louder with the gut or faux-gut strings but then the cost puts it in the range of a repro guitar anyway so not worth it.

A few of we camp players have done a lot of research about this -- a period type guitar that does not cost as much a museum-grade reproduction guitar. There are two other models, unfortunately recently dropped as new guitar offerings, but you might find them on eBay or not yet sold at a music store. We believe these to be from the same Chinese factory, as perhaps the Washburn is by the looks of it, but plainer and sold for $200-$250. They are the Fullerton Blackwood guitar and the Republic guitars Republic RP. Any of these guitars should have the phillip head screws on the geared machines replaced with slot-head screws at a minimum, as that is most noticeable modernism besides replacing the steel strings with gut or faux-gut.

Several of us have noticed that 1900's to about 1940 small guitars are not far off from the mid-ninteenth century pattern either, and you can find those on eBay as well, in still-playable condition.

Options for all.

Dan Wykes

dedogtent
11-03-2008, 11:30 PM
Since your post I brought out my tack head banjo made by Jay Moschella in Mass. and have been playing the heck out of it. I even think it's a bit easier to play as I haven't touched it in around 4 months. I guess maybe learning on a banjo like the Goodtime first, may have helped me.

I have been picking tunes from a book I bought months ago called "With a Banjo on my Knee"- Minstrel songs of Stephen Foster. It's arranged for Minstrel banjo by Daniel Partner. I find it a very good and easy book to follow. It has 16 of his best banjo tunes. The tuning is d A D F# A.

Anyway, this has been a fun change of pace from the steel strings for sure.

Silas
11-04-2008, 06:55 PM
Since your post I brought out my tack head banjo made by Jay Moschella in Mass. and have been playing the heck out of it. I even think it's a bit easier to play as I haven't touched it in around 4 months. I guess maybe learning on a banjo like the Goodtime first, may have helped me.


I started on one of them, also. Then I borrowed a friend's starter repro banjo. (He'd moved on to a much better banjo than his starter.) As soon as I started playing his, I realized I needed a repro of my own.


I have been picking tunes from a book I bought months ago called "With a Banjo on my Knee"- Minstrel songs of Stephen Foster. It's arranged for Minstrel banjo by Daniel Partner.

I haven't obtained a copy yet, but will eventually. Ed Sims also assisted on that project. I'm holding out for the autographed copy from Ed. I'll likely see him next February when I'm in the S.F. Bay Area for the NCWA Winterquarters (http://www.ncwa.org/index.php?option=com_eventing&task=view&id=55). I've tabbed several Foster songs and play them regularly. Foster wrote some great tunes.


It has 16 of his best banjo tunes. The tuning is d A D F# A.

Originally, I played in that same key, but my banjo sounds better one notch up : B, G#, E, A, e.


Anyway, this has been a fun change of pace from the steel strings for sure.

That's the whole point. If you want to play minstrel at CW events, you ought to play the same music on the same banjo at home. Playing period music is a way to replicate the same sound heard by folks for more than half of the 19th Century. To me, that's what reenacting is all about : do today as they did then. That's why I don't like metal or nylgut strings. They don't create the same sound as gut.

I try to play Mrs. Silas' goodtime banjo once in a while. Once I play a few songs and get accustomed to the tighter string spacings and the use of frets, I'm okay. I find that the higher pitch hurts my ears as I'm accustomed to whacking my gut strings to get a decent amount of sound from them. Don't need to whack tight metal strings. Going light on the strings doesn't feel right. I cannot play too many tunes before I put it down and reach for the comfort of my own banjo.

Before I started playing - I am ashamed to admit - period banjo sounded pretty much the same as modern. Basically, hearing one, I'd heard 'em all. Many folks on this forum can probably say the same thing about minstrel verses modern. "It's all the same." Well, no. I wore out a couple Dwight Diller CD's plus some others before chancing upon some minstel CD's recorded in period style on period and repro instruments. Then I was hooked. I don't listen to much modern music any more. It's not as sweet a sound to my ear. Dere ain't no music like da ole banjo.

Listen to some of the videos that Carl Anderton has posted on utube. There are many other players whose videos are grouped with his. Download some of the tunes posted on the Banjo Clubhouse. There's a world of great music out there which is waiting to be rediscovered.

dedogtent
11-04-2008, 09:53 PM
Silas,

Ed Sims wrote the Historical notes for the Song Book and did a great job. It also comes with a CD with two tracks to each song. The first track is just the banjo playing the tune and the second is the banjo and bones, nothing fancy but very nice.

I will try your higher tuning for the songs and if you feel like sending some tunes you tabbed, that would be great. I will also check out Carl Anderton's video's on youtube. I do know of Carl and he is a great banjo player.

And your right, there ain't nothin like dat ole banjo tumming.

Danny
11-05-2008, 07:17 PM
...That's why I don't like metal or nylgut strings. They don't create the same sound as gut...

Silas -

I've used different types and have come to know that Nylgut actually is, after all, well within the sonic variety that various natural gut sets produce. Enough so that if you're listening to recordings of each (or a player behind a curtain) you could not pick out which was the natural set. Case in point, the Banjo Clubhouse where there are recordings of gut sets, Nylgut sets, and Nylon sets and you can only guess which was which -- unless you asked.

Consider also that in those bygone days each performer had their own preferences for which gut string they would use (typically violin string stock) to make up a set on their banjos, so the sonic variety was even wider.

I concede Nylgut looks a little different. We players can tell they are a bit too consistent in texture. So I've discolored my set to disguise them a bit.

I wish I had the luxury of using natural; of retuning often in Camp; but I have other duties. I have only the sunset-to-nightime timeframe and that's the worst time for gut strings and skin banjo heads because of the rapid temperature and humidity changes. Living histories are a different setting though, and I think one should only play the natural strings in that setting.

Of course metal strings not at all. As good as they sound they cannot sound like period banjo so have no place on the field or at a living history in my view.

Dan Wykes

Old Cremona
11-05-2008, 07:56 PM
I wish I had the luxury of using natural; of retuning often in Camp; but I have other duties.



Officer- "Private, that banjo sounds terrible."

Soldier- "Beg pardon, Sir, but my camp duties leave me no time for tuning it."

Danny
11-05-2008, 10:24 PM
Officer- "Private, that banjo sounds terrible."

Soldier- "Beg pardon, Sir, but my camp duties leave me no time for tuning it."

Officer: "Not a problem" (shoots private)

Officer: "Cpl. Anderton, get over here and clean up this mess"



Dan Wykes

dedogtent
11-10-2008, 12:23 AM
Silas,

In a earlier post I mentioned I tuned my tack head to: d A D F# A. You mentioned your tuning as: e A E G# B which I think you meant: e B E G# B. I just changed to the e B E G# B and it is dead on for my banjo. I checked old emails from Jay Moschella who built my banjo and this is the tuning he suggested. So here is where I will keep it. Gut strings are a blast to play. I have missed them.

Silas
11-11-2008, 03:18 AM
Nope. That's the tuning. I keep the bass (fourth) string at A.

In referring to my reprint of the Briggs' Banjo Instructor, the tuning is one step lower than what I use. Briggs used A, F#, D, G, d. I'm using the next key up : B, G#, E, A, e. Songs such as : This Side of Jordan and Pitch Burgundy Plaster from the Briggs' Banjo Instructor when done in the upper tuning would use the tuning you mention : B, G#, E, B, e. The rest of the songs in his instructor have the bass string as I have written.

dedogtent
11-11-2008, 12:54 PM
Silas,

Thanks for the information. A few days ago I bought the Briggs Banjo Instructor and a couple others and I am waiting for them to arrive. My fourth string tuned to A sounds a tad strange to me so I will keep it a B for now. When I get the books I can see how the songs should sound.

May I ask who made your banjo?

Silas
11-11-2008, 02:10 PM
I made it. I learned a few wood working skills from my grandfather and from working in an oak furniture warehouse in college. The oak for the neck came from a garbage bin outside an oak flooring supply. I shaped the neck entirely with hand tools. Spend much time looking at photos and measurements of several in the Smithsonian before I started cutting. Rim is cherry and from Cooperman. Someday I'll bend my own, but I decided to purchase this one. I purchased the skin for the drum from some online dealer. Tail piece is a Georgia frame buckle.

It was my summer project a year ago. Should have painted the house. Instead, I made a banjo. Mrs. Silas was just thrilled about my choice. (House got painted in the early fall.)

It's not as sweet sounding as banjos made by the big names. There were some errors which will be corrected when I make my next one sometime down the road; however, I'm generally very pleased with what I made.

dedogtent
11-11-2008, 02:50 PM
Silas,

You are a braver man than I. Just looking at my banjo and the way the neck is made with the bends, I don't think I could do it. Then fitting the tuners in the holes and making the nut to fit the strings, I think I'll pass. I do think it's pretty cool though you made your own.

Danny
11-12-2008, 11:00 AM
I made it. I learned a few wood working skills from my grandfather and from working in an oak furniture warehouse ...It was my summer project a year ago...I'm generally very pleased with what I made.

Silas -

Your product appears excellent, from what we can see. I made mine as well and am pleased with it's sonic performance and playablity, but not so much its detail. Plan to purchase a better replica if I get another cash award at work.

Mine was made with geared tuners, which is also period correct and provides great utility.

Dan Wykes

tater
11-27-2008, 11:28 AM
http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo221/Tyler_Gibson/Civil%20wah/485855915_71b62e5cdd_o.jpg