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kyguerilla
05-14-2009, 01:01 PM
I play old time fiddle and banjo (but make my money playing Bela Fleck
kind of stuff..ha ha) I just found a nice old fretless and put gut strings on it.
Any tuning recommendations? I use open C alot..

FloridaConfederate
05-14-2009, 01:15 PM
d-G-D-F#-A "Low Bass" which is two steps down.

Right now I am playing a slick little Jeff Menzies Gourd Banjer.

Stellar.

Chris Rideout
Tampa, Florida

kyguerilla
05-14-2009, 01:24 PM
Thanks!
I really like those banjos..
Right now I am playing a slick little Jeff Menzies Gourd Banjer.

Stellar.

Chris Rideout
Tampa, Florida[/QUOTE]

Marc
05-14-2009, 03:10 PM
Contact George Wunderlick at the CW Medical museum in Frederick, Maryland. He has many years of experience with the banjo.

http://www.civilwarmed.org/

Danny
05-16-2009, 11:37 PM
I play old time fiddle and banjo (but make my money playing Bela Fleck kind of stuff..ha ha) I just found a nice old fretless and put gut strings on it. Any tuning recommendations? I use open C alot..

ky -

For period tunings many use "Drop C" (gCGBD) or "open G" (gDGBD) but three to five steps slacker than modern pitch. A "Briggs" tutor tuning is dGDF#A and a "Converse" tutor tuning is eAEG#B. They use the same chord shapes, if you think in chords that is, as "Drop C" and the raised bass versions (dADF#A and eBEG#B) chord shapes are same as "open G", a typical Bluegrass tuning.

Not sure what you mean by your "open C" tuning, but if you mean the "Pete Seeger" traditional folk C tuning for banjo, (as called above "Drop C") you should feel right at home.

Good luck with those guts. I switched to Nylguts (faux gut) because in the sundown / campfire scene (drop in temp and increased humidity) I spent more time tuning than playing. The guts sound slightly better. The Nylguts look right if you stain stain them slightly.

Dan Wykes

Silas
05-17-2009, 02:15 PM
Saw that advice in your first paragraph, phrase for phrase, on another forum, Danno. I was impressed with what the original author stated about tunings because it was so clear and concise. When I read your post here, I recognized it immediately. Here's the link to the original advice : http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/topics/how-to-tune

Although the advice is sound and is something anyone could have written, I am somewhat taken aback by your use. Your reposting of that information gives the false impression that you know what you are talking about.

I am happy to report I didn't see similar advise about using plastic strings on that same esteemed minstrel banjo forum. The problem I've noticed isn't the strings, it's the head. Because calf skin gets soft in the humidity, I hang around campfires to heat it up periodically. I've been known to pack a candle for those times when I know I won't be near a fire. It's slow, but it works.

Old Cremona
05-17-2009, 06:44 PM
Well spotted, Silas!! Thank you very much for keeping the truth out in front, the better to deal with this cretin.


Saw that advice in your first paragraph, phrase for phrase, on another forum, Danno. I was impressed with what the original author stated about tunings because it was so clear and concise. When I read your post here, I recognized it immediately. Here's the link to the original advice : http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/topics/how-to-tune

Although the advice is sound and is something anyone could have written, I am somewhat taken aback by your use. Your reposting of that information gives the false impression that you know what you are talking about.

I am happy to report I didn't see similar advise about using plastic strings on that same esteemed minstrel banjo forum. The problem I've noticed isn't the strings, it's the head. Because calf skin gets soft in the humidity, I hang around campfires to heat it up periodically. I've been known to pack a candle for those times when I know I won't be near a fire. It's slow, but it works.

Danny
05-17-2009, 07:31 PM
Saw that advice in your first paragraph, phrase for phrase, on another forum, Danno. I was impressed with what the original author stated about tunings

Silas -

Me too. I liked the way Marc stated it on the Minstrel Banjo Ning, that link you posted, that's why I passed it along. Don't understand why you're casting aspersions, though. I've not done anything even remotely wrong or deceitful. You yourself noted Marc's material was not original, i.e. "it could have been written by anyone," and the tutors were the source credited by both of us. Hence, what is your problem?

And what's this about my not knowing what I'm talking about? I've been playing period banjo longer than you. I've used those very tunings, I've used skin heads, I've used gut strings. I've just spent three days at an educational living history playing the banjo and explaining the nuances of period performance. Why the trash talk, friend?

I haven't brought up Nylgut strings on the Minstrel Banjo Ning site because most of those folks aren't reenactors and play in stable environments where gut strings (and skin head) are not a problem. As you know, many of them use some form of Nylon string sets anyway. I still think gut sounds the best, but Nylgut is well within the sonic range of real gut sets, but they stay stable in temperature change.

If you'd had a lot of experience at reenactments up North, you'd know what happens June evenings, even early July, and again by late September around evening campfire time. Not sure you have that problem down South as commonly - do you? Skin heads can be tightened with heat or with the tensioners if you got 'em, but faux-skin mylar heads allow less retuning time so I don't have your high-horse about that practice either, having used both.

You still tummin' on that fine-lookin' homemade?

Dan Wykes

p.s. hello Carl, loved your latest U-tube, totally appreciate the playing and the settings

Old Cremona
05-17-2009, 08:00 PM
Carl -

Am I missing something, was there something I did wrong? Would you have given guy a different answer? Why so bitter?

You're a great period banjo player, I'm sure you can add something interesting and positive to the topic, why not that instead?

Dan Wykes

You used someone's else's words and phrases and tried to pass them off as your own. Just more evidence, and I'm borrowing some one's else's phrase here, of your cretinism.

Also, your comment on gut strings was just plain old mis-information. Gut strings do not go out of tune at dusk any more than plastic ones do. The problem (as Silas pointed out) is with the absorbative nature of a real skin head. Anyone who has actually used real gut strings would know this.

Danny
05-17-2009, 08:41 PM
You used someone's else's words and phrases and tried to pass them off as your own. Just more evidence, and I'm borrowing some one's else's phrase here, of your cretinism.

Also, your comment on gut strings was just plain old mis-information. Gut strings do not go out of tune at dusk any more than plastic ones do. The problem (as Silas pointed out) is with the absorbative nature of a real skin head. Anyone who has actually used real gut strings would know this.

Well, Carl, I disagree. Gut strings are affected by humidity and temperature. There's a reason some in the Early Banjo community recommend coating the unwound ones. I've actually used gut sets, how would you know if I didn't anyway? So there we have it, two different experiences, two different opinions.

Isn't it the music that matters? If we're both getting the results we want is this anything to obcess and accuse over?

Dan Wykes

Old Cremona
05-17-2009, 08:46 PM
Well, Carl, I disagree. Gut strings are affected by humidity and temperature. I've actually used both. That's the reason some in the Early Banjo community recommend coating the unwound ones. So there we have it, two different experiences, two different opinions. Your very comfortable calling somebody a liar, I'm not.

Dan Wykes

Sorry, "Danny," the reason people recommend coating is to increase string life, not to combat tuning problems at dusk. Gut strings are expensive, plastic are not, so it's natural to want to get longer life out of them. If you had any experience with real gut, you would know this. Everyone who has used gut does.

Spinster
05-17-2009, 09:18 PM
. Not sure you have that problem down South as commonly - do you?


Yes.

Not the banjo player, just the one the banjo player hands the banjo to, before he goes off to sleep in a shebang. Banjo, on the other hand, sleeps snug and dry in my cabin.

5strings
05-17-2009, 09:34 PM
Alright Danny, I was going to edit your last post but decided just to end it. There will be no mud slinging Whine Cellar threads in my forum. This forum has been a joy to moderate and it's going to stay that way. I hope we all understand, thanks for listening.

Danny
05-17-2009, 09:38 PM
Sorry, "Danny," the reason people recommend coating is to increase string life, not to combat tuning problems at dusk. Gut strings are expensive, plastic are not, so it's natural to want to get longer life out of them. If you had any experience with real gut, you would know this. Everyone who has used gut does.

No apology necessary, Carl. But the thread is about tuning. My point relevant to this thread is that coating prevents humidity incursion on the unwound strings, a benefit to tuning because it makes them more stable. Coating helps with that, and that's not my idea. You are correct that longer life is a big benefit. I have played gut strings and have gone through a couple sets, and it was been recommended to me that coating the strings will increase string life.

Dan Wykes

Danny
05-17-2009, 09:41 PM
Alright Danny, I was going to edit your last post but decided just to end it. There will be no mud slinging Whine Cellar threads in my forum. This forum has been a joy to moderate and it's going to stay that way. I hope we all understand, thanks for listening.

Thanks, good to nip the hijacks when they occur. Topic was covered well anyway.

dw

33rdaladrummer
05-18-2009, 08:56 AM
For what it's worth, here's advice on catgut from a 1861 drum manual:

"In regard to snares, some performers prefer cat-gut, others raw-hide; both are good, but for general use, the raw-hide is preferable, as in wet weather, the cat-gut is the most easily affected by the dampness, which causes a contraction, and prevents the proper vibration."

I use calf and goat skin heads and catgut snares on my drums and agree with the banjo players that the humidity is a much bigger problem with the heads than the gut. The moisture makes the skin heads loose. I have the opposite problem with the gut snares. The moisture makes them tighter. You can tighten up your drum in the morning when it is damp still, then move out to the sunshine and find that your snare gut has become loose. The advice in the drum manuals was given because often times cheaper drums did not come with a strainer strainer (the device used to tighten the gut) and the adjustments had to be made by just tugging on the snares. But with a snare strainer this is no longer really a problem. I'm not a banjo player but imagine strings tightening up would be less of a problem than getting loose. Then again, the loosening of heads due to humidity would affect the tension of the strings much more than the variation in tension caused by the contraction of the strings themselves.

Will Chappell
Liberty Hall Fifes and Drums

Danny
05-18-2009, 10:50 AM
For what it's worth, here's advice on catgut from a 1861 drum manual:
"In regard to snares, some performers prefer cat-gut, others raw-hide; both are good, but for general use, the raw-hide is preferable, as in wet weather, the cat-gut is the most easily affected by the dampness, which causes a contraction, and prevents the proper vibration."Will Chappell Liberty Hall Fifes and Drums

Same for gut banjo strings. Thanks for the reference Will, something to stuff under the 'ole top hat.

dw

Old Cremona
05-18-2009, 04:38 PM
My 10 years or so experience with gut banjo strings and heads has shown me that the problem is chiefly with the head, not with the strings. If you have problems with your gut strings at dusk, by all means, go Danny's route, and use plastic. I think his reputation here speaks for itself.

Spinster
05-18-2009, 04:59 PM
My 10 years or so experience with gut banjo strings and heads has shown me that the problem is chiefly with the head, not with the strings. If you have problems with your gut strings at dusk, by all means, go Danny's route, and use plastic. I think his reputation here speaks for itself.

I dunno Carl, the fellers I know just use a lantern to solve the problems. Seems to work admirably, and gives little breaks in the music so I can refill cups a lot more gracefully. :p

Old Cremona
05-18-2009, 08:09 PM
Terre,

Period problems have their period remedies, which we know are one of the funnest things in this hobby.

This thread of course was not even about the problems associated with gut strings, which is in itself an interesting topic. I bring this up because the word "hijack" was mentioned...looking back, one can see where the topic first started to veer from "Banjo Tunings"...it was right here--




Good luck with those guts. I switched to Nylguts (faux gut) because in the sundown / campfire scene (drop in temp and increased humidity) I spent more time tuning than playing.

Dan Wykes

As we know, Danny is the master hijacker, the DB Cooper of this board. He has made this gut/plastic arguement many times, and I admit it gets on my nerves. I think others here can identify with that sentiment. But I probably over-played my hand, and that was a good quote Will gave us. That type of quote is the gold standard of the hobby, and I think it settles the matter. I stand corrected.

Mackay92
01-06-2012, 12:31 PM
The tuning that you will use is really dependent on the style of music you are playing. If you are playing more lyrical tunes such as minstrel music, then the standard G tuning (gDGBD) is more than appropriate.

However, for older music, such as Appalachian fiddle tunes, old-time ballads and the like, it may be more appropriate to play in G Modial (gDGCD). This tuning is also known as sawmill or mountain minor. This is a good key to play solo, but with a guitar player is familiar with the style and is good at "feeling" chords changes, this is also a great key to have accompaniment.

The difficulty that guitar players have is playing in the key of G minor, which is not a "friendly" key for guitars, and many guitarists find it difficult to find where the chord changes are. A capo that allows you to switch into A minor will make it much easier for them.

Some musicians that play in this key are David Holt, Dock Boggs, and Gillian Welch.

Silas
01-06-2012, 06:18 PM
The tuning that you will use is really dependent on the style of music you are playing. If you are playing more lyrical tunes such as minstrel music, then the standard G tuning (gDGBD) is more than appropriate.

Not quite. Minstrel tuning in G/D is AFDGd. I remember it as "All Fat Dogs Get drunk." The tuning one level up is A/E and is BGEAe. I don't have a mnemonic for this tuning. One level down from G/D is the older F/C of GECFc. This is per the books from the time by Howe, Rice, Briggs, Converse, Buckley and others.

Here's a quick link to Howe's Complete Preceptor for the Banjo where you can see the tuning of GECFc : http://www.archive.org/stream/completeprecepto00howe#page/n7/mode/1up I believe this was printed around 1848.

Here's a link to Converse's Banjo Instructor, without a Master (1865) aka "Yellow Converse" : http://ulib.hamilton.edu/omeka/archive/files/f1f2b42066b09e3ee678d889956e16bb.pdf Go to page 18 of the pdf and it shows the tuning for the key of A. Page 20 has a nice diagram of the fingerboard for A/E.