A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
I just thought I would let everyone know that Stringsdirect.UK have ordered some LaBella 17s for me. £5.99 a pack, which is cheaper than other online retailers I've found. I've suggested that they should get a few in stock. So if that's your fancy then check them out.
And yet there is an Early Music contingent that rejects nylon because the sound is not Period Authentic. Aquila and others make gut strings for them. There is even a small group in China and Hong Kong that will not use anything but silk strings on instruments that play ancient music.
This isn't me. I"m just the reporter. I use nylon and pvf and whatever else that sounds good and lasts longer.
Oh! and there is also a type of nylon string made from the 5% of the world's nylon that is not DuPont.
Re broken first strings: is that way Joe Morley used a steel first string? That has puzzled me. I don't think it would sound better. But it was for convenience......*that* would make sense to me.
Keep up the historical research, Joel. We all benefit from your discoveries.
Joel Hooks said:
Nylon was better than gut or silk-- anything was better. Imagine that for the first time you could play an entire concert without replacing your first (that would brake in the middle of a piece). That was nylon. A big game changer. No longer did you have to worry about strings. The banjo was ready to play every time you picked it up. You could practice on hot and damp days. You could play with sweaty hands. Nylon would not break.
Keep in mind that the gut strings they were using are the thin .016~.017, breakage was a problem.
While fishing line has its problems, it is MUCH better and more true than gut ever was.
In issue 54 of the "5 Stringer" (1957) it was recommended to use Ashaway Line and Twine Co. "extruded filament leaders in 10yd coils.-- .017, .019. .021.
Here is what the coils looked like for historical accuracy... (though wrong size).
My personal experience with fishing line was not that great. I found some to be oval in shape. Some had a seam (if this was deliberate or from a chipped or scratched die I don't know). All were uneven in thickness.
But, that was just my experience. Your results may vary.
I can see that, and I would play on gut too if they were A) reasonably priced and B) readily available in the sizes I use.
FVE was not trying to be historically accurate. In fact, he made those late recordings with nylon strings on a banjo he did not develop until the mid 1930s (the flush fret).
His early recordings were made with a Morrison, SSS Thoroughbred, an early FVE (similar to a SSS) or a hole in the head Recording Banjo.
RE Steel first, I think it was Grimshaw that pushed that. I don't think Morley fell for it. Yes, totally a compromise for breaking 1st strings.