Quite possibly the most niche emoji on the fediverse: :fbc: (It's 19th century banjoist and composer Frank B. Converse)

It's 19th century English banjoist and composer James Buckley :jb:

Show thread

It's Philadelphia banjo maker, composer, writer and publisher Samuel Swaim Stewart :sss:

Show thread

It's and maker William Esperance Boucher, whose company was one of the first to mass-produce banjos starting in the mid-. :wb:

Show thread

It's so small as to be barely recognizable, but it's one of William Boucher's banjos :wb: :boucherbanjo:

Show thread

It's player, and pilot John Hartford :johnhartford: who's a little bit outside the historic banjo figure milieu, but he did have an ear in the past while still doing his own thing. He's someone I greatly respect and admire and wish I had been able to meet

Show thread

...not sure where I got the notion that Elmer Snowden played plectrum. According to Cynthia Sayers he played a tenor tuned a 5th lower than usual (GDAE) on 'Harlem Banjo'


Show thread

It's banjoist (and multi-instrumentalist,) music instruction publishing giant, and dashing young man Mel Bay :mb:

Show thread

That humdinger of a photo of Mel Bay :mb: reminded me of this amazing photo of my granduncle (left) who I only met a handful of times, seen here with a bandmate. I never heard him play; I'm not sure I even knew he played banjo until after he died.

Show thread

@mayor go on, do Dobson next. Any Dobson. There were lots

@scruss hah! I have not gotten around to the Dobson Industrial Complex yet, but I should!

I have an original book by George (I think) from 1877 that I should really learn some tunes from

@mayor I had a very plain and beat-up Dobson. It played well, though.

Then there's Fairbanks, who may or may not be related to the family of LDS artists

@scruss my main axe is an "Eastman EBJ-WL" which is a pretty faithful reproduction of a 1903 Fairbanks Whyte Laydie No. 2.

My white whale is a Cole's Eclipse "Man on the Moon" model... I wandered into a local antique shop 15 years ago and they had a *pair* of them for some absurdly low price, around £550 IIRC, but it was well more than I could afford.

I didn't know anything about old banjos at the time but I've been bewitched by that peghead inlay ever since, much moreso since I got into the music that would actually have been played on them originally.


@mayor ah yes, the one that got away. Like the Bacon Ne Plus Ultra I saw in a secondhand store in rural Arkansas for just slightly more money than I had with me. Or the Vega Pete Seeger that haunted the walls of the (very dodgy - jail time involved after it shuttered) consignment store near me that banjo newb me so wanted. One of the old guys that hung out at the store waited until the owner was out the way and showed me the long crack in the heel that made the thing essentially worthless.

@mayor My sole player is an inordinately heavy longneck made by a local builder, Hugh Hunter. All local wood and hardware, too: hard rock maple block rim, Rickard tubaphone tone ring and bracket band. In its case it's exactly the width of the back seat of a Honda Civic

@scruss Just a couple of weeks ago a person listed a Vega longneck along with a crappy-no name guitar for $100 on LetGo 👀

To my amazement I was the first person to respond and had already started coordinating a pickup time when the seller messaged me back and was like, "actually I asked my dad and it turns out it's pretty valuable, I'd take $2K for it" - seems they had been getting quite a few inquiries about that banjo 😅

... I had already been feeling a little bad for taking advantage, but figured it was on the seller for not doing even the laziest google search for 'Vega', but if it was just a kid in their teens/twenties selling off a grandparent's stuff (so I assume) I felt like a monster.

Banjo classified ads are always interesting, half the time sellers assign absolutely no value to them because they're dusty and/or missing a string, the other half the time they're trying to sell a piece of crap 1950s bakelite Harmony for $300

@mayor mind you, I had a bakelite Harmony restrung with nylgut and it sounded fantastic.

Reed Martin has tales of fishing Gibson instruments out of the trash in the the 1960s

@scruss oh, yeah- I was a little harsh on Harmonies there. I had a $40 craigslist special with an aluminum "bottlecap" pot and resonator with a gaudy eagle on the back of it, and it was a great knockaround banjo... wound up giving it to a friend. But people sometimes put delusional prices on them.

I remember reading an interview or essay by someone who worked at Gryphon Strings (I think it was) back in the day and they had harrowing tales of the atrocities committed against old Gibson and Martin instruments in the 60s-70s

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!