View Full Version : Fifing

11-30-2009, 02:01 AM
It's been a while since I've been on the forum or posted anything. It's great to see this new folder!

I've been collecting fife's for about five years now and have played here and there at different living histories I've attended. I would like to some day be brave enough to march in front of our soldiers and play the songs of the era.

What I need help in finding is "period-correct" songs, close-to-the-era arrangements of those songs, and what type of fife was used during the Civil War (I've heard all kinds of fifes for this answer). Can anyone lead me to a "fifing bible" so I can better portray my musician side and possibly answer these questions?

Respectfully submitted,

11-30-2009, 10:27 PM
Try looking on the a/c's music forum.

12-01-2009, 08:29 AM
Reenactors used to say that Bruce and Emmett's Drummers' and Fifers' Guide was the "bible" of fifing and drumming, but there are many sources that better represent typical 1860s fife and drum music.

Here's a list of almost all the fife and drum manuals ever published in the English language:


You can download Keach's and Howe's here:


You can download Nevins, Hart, and B&E here:


Avoid Complete Music for Fife and Drum by Walt Sweet and "The Company Books", i.e. the music books published by the Company of Drummers and Fifers. Too much modern material in these.

As far as fifes go, the only fife documented to the 1860s being reproduced today is the Firth, Pond, and Co. model made by Ron Peeler.


Like Silas said, all this stuff has been cussed and discussed on the music folder at http://authentic-campaigner.com/forum. If you are a member you can search the keywords "fife" and "drum". If not, you can just browse through the archives. I uploaded a pdf file of Klinehanse's 1853 fife and drum manual there a while back.

12-02-2009, 02:46 AM
Thank you for this information. I do have both the Complete Music for Fife and Drum as well as Bruce and Emmett's books. I don't have anything outside of that. I've tried looking online, but didn't know what I was looking at or the music was a "generic" printing of a song.

01-14-2010, 12:00 AM
go to beafifer.com
They have really good info and books that you can buy. Also, he is the maker of the model F fife.

04-06-2010, 11:44 PM
I recently in the past year just purchased a Model F fife to add to my collection. The tone is beautiful and makes for hitting High B's a lot easier. Although as beautiful a fife it is, I still play my Rosewood. I'm looking into purchasing an original fife someday if they're available for sale.

I had forgot about their website until you just mentioned it again. Thanks!

04-08-2010, 08:05 AM
The Model F fife is a copy of a 20th century fife. Some believe it is easier to play than the Civil War reproduction Firth, Pond, & Co. fifes made by Ron Peeler available at www.peelerfifes.com

Other fifers I know do not agree. Their theory is that Civil War fifes and Civil War reproduction fifes require less air to play because they have smaller holes and are therefore easier to play in that respect, although it may be more difficult to hit the high B, but this is easily overcome by practice.

I am not that good of a fifer and own both a Firth-Pond repro and a model F. For what it's worth, I can tell you that I consider them both to be difficult instruments to play.

I have played Cloos fifes, which were produced after the war, and believe them to be the easiest one-piece six-hole fife to play. But neither Cloos fifes nor Model F fifes are authentic to the 1861-1865 period.

The be a fifer site sells the model F fife, but he is not the maker. He does not claim that the model F is a Civil War reproduction fife. He actually has a page that has some good info on dating fifes:


If you want to play a fife like the ones used during the war the only options are an authentic original fife produced prior to 1866 or a Firth, Pond, and Co. reproduction made by Ron Peeler.

Drums with plastic heads are easier to play than ones with calfskin, but don't sound much like originals. Also, riding in modern vehicles is easier than marching.

I don't know why music is frequently held to a different standard than everything else in our hobby. Plastic drumheads are about the same price as Pakistani calfskin, which I believe to be about equal in sound and playability to American calfskin. Authentic reproduction uniforms are more expensive than the sutler row variety, but Model F and Peeler fifes are about the same price.