Sponsored By
 
Jim Hartel Minstrel Banjos
 
Bill Evans demonstrates two reproductions of 19th-century banjos.
February 1, 2019

Although there is no shortage of different brands and models, today’s banjos are fairly well-defined instruments: bluegrass players tend to use resonator instruments, and old-time clawhammer players get their tone from open-back banjos. But what were banjos like before their designs were optimized in the 1920s, creating the blueprint that is more or less followed by most contemporary banjo makers? Typically, these instruments were a bridge between contemporary designs and the much earlier versions that had origins in Africa. While they had recognizable features such as a drum-style body with a head made from animal skin, and in many cases five strings, they were also fretless, had gut strings, and predated such modern features as tone rings and geared tuners. Fortunately, not only have some of these earlier banjos been preserved, but a few contemporary luthiers specialize in building replicas of these instruments, among them Jim Hartel of Franklin, New York. Peghead Nation banjo instructor Bill Evans uses some of Jim’s instruments in his “The Banjo in America” show, and in this video, he demonstrates two minstrel banjos, both fretless and strung with Aquila Nylgut strings, one based on an 1845 Joel Walker Sweeney banjo and the other based on one built by James Ashborn around 1852. Minstrelbanjo.com

 

Related Fine Lutherie Posts
 

Riley Baugus Round Peak–Style Banjo

Peghead Nation instructor Bill Evans demonstrates a special open-back banjo.

Read More

 

Evie Ladin’s Open-Back Banjo

Peghead Nation Clawhammer Banjo instructor found her dream instrument by chance.

Read More

 

Hawthorn Top Tension Banjo

Peghead Nation instructor Wes Corbett demonstrates his main banjo.

Read More

 

Mowry F-Model

A vintage-style mandolin built by luthier Andrew Mowry

Read More

 

Inside Collings Mandolins

Mini-documentary provides a view of the Collings workshop.

Read More

 

Custom PRS Bouzouki

Peghead Nation’s Celtic Guitar instructor Tony McManus demonstrates his one-of-a-kind eight-string.

Read More

 

American Guitar Company Weissenborn

Mike Witcher demonstrates his late-1990s custom Weissenborn-style guitar.

Read More

 

Bruno Stefanini Fiddle

Bruce Molsky discusses and demonstrates his primary fiddle.

Read More

 

2016 Clark F5 Mandolin

A custom F-style mandolin built by Austin Clark using traditional methods.

Read More

 

Schoonover Resophonic Guitar

Mike Witcher demonstrates a custom Schoonover dobro.

Read More

 
Sponsored By
 
 
 
Peghead Partners
 
Sarah Jarosz and Mike Marshall: “Mansinneedof” | Northfield Mandolins
A great mandolin duet of Sarah Jarosz’s original tune, recorded live at the Marshall Mandolin Summit.
 
 
 
 
 
  Follow Us:  
 
  About Us       Shop         Support         Contact Us         Email Sign up         Advertise         Sitemap         FAQ         Privacy         Terms         Subscribe   Sign In  
 
    ● Courses
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● Courses
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com