I used to be a banjo maker, but before that I was a banjo player. Just curious if there are other model T owners on the forum who play banjo. Here is a little video of me playing Sunflower Dance on an 1890s S.S. Stewart banjo strung with gut strings. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this style of playing, it was called finger or guitar style and was popular from around 1880 to the late 1920s. The banjo recordings you hear on Edison cylinder records by Ves Ossman, Fred Van Eps, Fred Bacon and others feature this technique. I also play old time clawhammer, tenor and bluegrass banjo styles. But this is the most eccentric. Apologies for the pour picture quality in the video ... it was my first phone camera.
I do Scruggs style three-finger roll picking on my Vega banjo.
Very neat. An old Vega banjo?
Scruggs style on an RB-250. Lately a lot of celtic on a 1927 Gibson tenor.
Yep, I play a little clawhammer banjo (mostly guitar though) and .... I am fairly close to you. I used to play Scruggs, but drifted away from it. I am a regular attendee at a really good semi-private oldtime jam in Ithaca. It is this Sunday, from 2 to 5 , key of G this week. If you are interested in going let me know, I can give you to some dropbox tunes to listen to. P.S. You are a WAY better banjo player than I am and.... I also would like to copy a part from your OF carb. :-)
I love playing clawhammer on the porch by myself .. with a small group. Bluegrass is only fun when playing with a group. I played tenor in my medicine show since we did a lot of 1910-1920s jazz band music.
Here is the peghead of a banjo I made back in in 1980, typical of the work I did with engraved mother of pearl inlays. The necks were made with lamination in the center and under the fingerboard and peghead for strength. Very much like the old Vegas. I used to do the inlay restoration work for Fred Oster, the instrument specialist who appears regularly on Antiques Road Show.
"Very neat. An old Vega banjo?"
It's only 20 years old and probably not a collector's item. But it was expensive. My wife saved up and bought it new for me as a surprise on my 48th birthday to replace the crappy cheapo banjo I owned at the time. I have since added Keith-Scruggs tuners so that I can more accurately plays songs such as "Flinthill Special", "Earl's Breakdown" and "Bending the Strings", etc. I like this banjo, but I have never been able to get it in tune with itself on the fifth fret, new strings notwithstanding. I have a pretty good ear for pitch, so it really bothers me that I have to live with this area on the neck either being a little sharp or a little flat. The local music shop's banjo guru was not able to make any improvement.
As a former banjo maker, can you tell me if this is/was a Vega problem or did I simply get a banjo that was slapped together at 4:55 on a Friday afternoon?
By the way, to keep this thread loosely Model T-related, I got interested in the banjo because of the 1967 movie "Bonnie & Clyde", specifically because of Earl Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown". I was already into Model A's by then and identified those cars with Scruggs style picking (even though Clyde Barrow played the saxophone and liked jazz music, not "hillbilly" music). When I got into Model T's in 1978, my love for this style banjo picking moved laterally from Model A's to Model T's. So, there actually IS a connection between Model T Fords and banjo picking - for me, at least! I suspect others here can tell similar stories.
Marshall ... what type of banjo is it. Probably just poor fret placement. A change of string gauge might help a little. When it comes to very old banjos, remember that they were not designed for steel strings. The Stewart I played in the video has a real skin head and real gut strings, so that is what it would have sounded like in the day.
In the model T production era, there was no bluegrass three finger picking. It was either rhythm or melody strumming on a four string in a dance band, clawhammer or frailing in the back woods, or the style I was playing in the video. Bonnie and Clyde featured Earl Scruggs playing the type of banjo technique that he invented. In the 1940s you start to hear the influence of Scruggs and others.
Me playing model T era ragtime guitar during a photographic camping trip. Note the darkroom tent in the background.
And some banjo playing on a photographic trip on the Erie Canal. Note the silver nitrate stains on my fingers. We were making tintypes that day.
I ain't no banjo picker, but I love real "old time" string music, admire good Bluegrass and the "virtuoso" styles that have come along in later years. Also blown away by your inlay work Mark, a real treat to see.
(I did a little of that, built two flat-top guitars patterned after the Martin DS-35, back in '81. Still play 'em. It would be a treat to "chop wood" for a good banjo - no one to pick with, alas. )
Neat that you made your own guitars. I started out as a lute and citern maker. Made a couple of guitars but the real market was banjos back then.
Our club has a member who plays the banjo, the fiddle, the guitar, the piano, and sings, too. Blayne looks after lots of cattle, attends college, and works on Model T's. Does it all well, too.
Up right Bass myself
I play a little old time fiddle and a few tunes on the banjo, old time claw hammer. My son owns the Pisgah Banjo Company. Look him up on the internet and buy a banjo. He makes old time open back banjos which is a regular banjo without the resonator. He also owns the Balsam Banjo Company where he sells banjo parts to other makers. You can buy one of his models or have him design one just for you.
Thanks for the kind word Mark. It was self preservation. Being an un-reconstructable lefty, I fell in love with that guitar, could have ordered a lefty from Martin in 1969 for $ 500. By the time I could afford the $ 500., they cost three times that. I learned a LOT building them, so I came out ahead in more ways than just the cost.
David ... I made the banjo pictured above and many others over the years. Also have some vintage examples, but would love to see your sons banjos and the parts he makes.
Ever see one of these? A model T era Phono Fiddle, used for acoustical recordings. The sound comes from a diaphragm similar to a phonograph.
Playing tenor banjo in a high pitch [on a stage] traveling medicine show.
I play bluegrass guitar, need a banjo player out here at the furthest point west......
Phono Fiddle, Never heard of one, but I sure like the sound of it.
No but I play a professional Paolo Soprani piano accordion with 15 treble registers and five bases and fully understand that banjos make excellent kindling starters for setting accordion's on fire.
I have played 5 String since 1974. started a band in 1977, played 11, years with both kids, 8 and 11 starting out. There was 5 of us all together. We played Country, Blue Grass, and 50's. I played a lot of fiddle songs, but only the floor stompers.
I USED to play 6 instruments. When we quit, I didn't pick up an instrument for 10 years. Then I made a real bad mistake. I pulled my banjos out of storage to make sure condition was not deteriorating. Well, I spent the next few years playing with other bands, for fun, and Jams. Had a lot of fun.
I practice on a Gibson RB-250.
I have a 1915 Bacon FF Professional, that I played for many years, and have had it rebuilt a while back.
About 5 years I had a special tight grain Maple neck and Pot put in a New Gibson RB-6., it was a Special Order, Gibson didn't want to do it, but Gibsons neck manufacturer, pulled some strings, and now, it's the Only RB-6 of its kind.
Beautiful work Mark.
Dennis, I also play stand up Bass. I am a left handed player. I play guitar also. We play Blue-grass.
Peter, That is interesting. Do you play a right hand bass? Or do you have one for left hand players?