Today I have added a new JOURNALS AND ALBUMS page to our site.

I hope to expand this over time to include all my, and hopefully other people's, Banjo Journals and old Music Album scans. So far I have some really old "Banjo World" and "Keynotes" Journals and a few other interesting downloads.  I have many more to add but after scanning over 500 BMG Magazines  I am a little scanned out at the moment and my trusty A3 scanner and I need to cool down for a while.

Many of the old journals have, over the years, lost their music supplements, but most music is available in the site MUSIC LIBRARY.

I have a pile of Turner Banjo Albums and the promise of other journals, so watch this space as you won't find them anywhere else! 

The William Temlett,  "The Banjo" Booklet is VERY rare and little NON PC.. so beware, but worth a read. 

A big thank you to Richard Ineson for searching through, and loaning, part of his archive for this project.

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Thanks Ian!  This is fantastic.

I have digital copies of all the stuff Hal scanned.  His scans were done very light and all the notes are gray and in some cases all look like half notes.

I think it is no coincidence that "The Banjo" was published the same year and SSS' "The Banjo a Dissertation."

I also find that when read with non-bias views, the early attempts at histories of the banjo can often be fairly accurate to our current understanding (this excludes the cute novelty pieces that are basically nonsense but people must have thought were hilarious to print due to how many there were)

SSS has long been a whipping boy and I feel that was because authors could sling arrows at him and the reader did not have access to the actual documents.  Now that we do, I find myself calling out authors when they misquote him.

What is interesting is where/when it went wrong-- building on Marc S's observation on 1968.  I am finding that much of the white washing was done during the Jim Crow era of the US (in tandem to the popular nostalgia/ early country music).  One finds a bunch of it in Partee's "Cadenza" but that tends to reflect a slant that the banjo "came from Africa" but it took white players to make "improvements" to it.  While not exactly correct, they did not disassociate the banjo from Africa and slavery.

Even Jim Crow era popular culture did not remove the African roots of the banjo (no matter how racist the slant became).

But somewhere the concept of a vast conspiracy to remove any association with the banjo and Africa originated.  I just can't track down where or when.

Even in the 1950s George Collins was publishing articles in the Fretted Instrument News on how the banjo came from Africa.

So... where did this alleged conspiracy come from? Was it a fallacy invented by historians so that they could have something to disprove?

I suppose if one were to read things like the liner notes on FVE's record and get blinded by the slant, one might take away that "they" were trying to dissociate Africa and the banjo, but even then he uses the word "developed."  While that wrongly assumes that enslaved Africans had no hand in "developing" the banjo, the are still credited with having "brought with them crude instruments with skin heads stretched over gourds."  While there is a clear spin, once taken away it is accurate.

I think a large part of this missing conspiracy is that it is human nature to interpret based on our own preconceptions. Bob Winans' latest book is quoted in the Sweeney Wiki article. "...These claims are part of an effort, beginning in the nineteenth century, to divorce the banjo from its African American origins." I think that quote may be from George Gibson's article in the book...

I haven't read the Ironworker article (that Scruggs quoted/used in his seminal 1967 tutor) in 30 yrs (and I can't find it online?) so I hesitate to talk much about it. I don't remember ever thinking the instrument was other than of African origin (with Joel Sweeny playing the part of Johnny Appleseed)...but I wasn't particularly interested in the history until long after I'd been playing.

What a treasure! Again. And so little time... Thanks!

Just reading the Temlett "the Banjo", under the section "how it's made" he lists the different woods for making the neck. Anyone ever seen a neck made out of snake-wood?? That would be lovely! Albeit maybe a tad heavy? Or solid ebony?

I've never seen a snakewood neck. I've seen an ebony veneer on the neck of a Turkish oud but not solid ebony. Another wood he mentions is Satinwood.  I wonder if that is the wood on the zither-banjo Carrie has been looking at.

Another interesting and valuable aspect of the Temlett book is the description of the various banjo players.

Pär Engstrand said:

What a treasure! Again. And so little time... Thanks!

Just reading the Temlett "the Banjo", under the section "how it's made" he lists the different woods for making the neck. Anyone ever seen a neck made out of snake-wood?? That would be lovely! Albeit maybe a tad heavy? Or solid ebony?

I believe Norm had an original early Stewart at the 2018 Banjogathering that had a solid ebony neck. Bacon used solid ebony on most of their higher-grade tenors and plectrums. Silver Bell "Ne Plus Ultra" #6 is the best, I think. I don't know if the rims of these are solid ebony...but at minimum, they're ebony veneer. Ne Plus Ultra.

I have a nice piece of ebony that I'll make into a 5-string neck one day. I got it 15 yrs ago, I think. Dan Knowles documented an ebony build on Banjohangout some years ago. Very heavy!

I don't know that snakewood can be had in large enough sizes for a banjo neck. Hard enough to find it big enough for headstock veneer. Often violin/viola bows can be had in snakewood...but I think it is often faked.

Is that Norm from Cheers? I never saw him as a banjo man, but there you go. :-)

My pics of the Unger "Snakewood Electric", shot on one of Doug's visits a few years ago. Peghead veneer and fingerboard are snakewood. I agree that finding pieces large enough for a neck blank is doubtful. 

I need to buy that banjo!


With a big thank you to Joel, I have just added the complete set of 10 volumes of the "Jacobs Banjo Collection" to our JOURNALS and ALBUMS page.

That should keep you all busy for a while!

Thank you Ian for this new page.  Yesterday was rainy all day here in Norwich so I sat down with the Jacob's and Turner Albums and played almost all day.  I know now that my wife is truly a saint in that no door were slamming and she was still talking with me in the evening!  

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