Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 3, 2019 at 16:07

Strings: .08, .10, nylon from CE Cammeyer set, 4th copper-wound with nylon silk core from Aquila, .09 for the 5th. 

I've tried various 4th strings, with the copper-wound Aquila being the most sympathetic of the bunch, but it lacks the sustain the other strings have. 

I've also tried various 3rd strings: CE varnished gut (which, sorry Clem, I really don't like), Bow Bran unvarnished gut, better but not great, and finally the CE nylon, which is not bad.

I also changed the original .09 and .11 1st and 2nds down to .08 and .10, and feel much happier having done so. 

I dare say I'll try a few alternatives to all the above!

Comment by Jody Stecher on May 3, 2019 at 18:37

It's sounding good, Rob. What bridge are you using?  Also the "D type" Aquila strings I use for the zb bass are copper wound on nylgut filaments not nylon "silk".  Are we talking about the same string?

Yes, I think one of the keys to successful sound on a zither-banjo is to string it on the lighter side.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 3, 2019 at 18:48

Cheers, Jody. I found the bridge in a drawer, and am not sure what it is made of, perhaps rosewood - and it gives what is to my tastes the best sound. I wish it were half a millimetre higher. I have a couple of regulation zb bridges, but I like this one the most.

Yes, we are talking the same D-type string. I was at a loss when describing it above. On a lute they sounded best when they were a year old, which made them more gut-like, but I think the opposite will be the case with the zb. 

I'm enjoying playing the instrument, and love the compositions of Cammeyer. He had a really unique voice in the banjo world. 

Comment by carrie horgan on May 3, 2019 at 18:54

Sounding lovely, Rob.  You are getting a good tone.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 3, 2019 at 19:39

Cheers, Carrie. Glad you like it. Did you get the Houghton? 

Comment by carrie horgan on May 3, 2019 at 20:10

Hi Rob - just waiting to hear back from the seller.  I won the bid (as only bidder) but I think he wanted more than 250.00.  Fingers crossed.  I am interested to hear more Cammeyer tunes - the one I really like is Ballad No1 but he also wrote some belters like Handy Jack and Chinese Patrol.  Interesting composer. 

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 3, 2019 at 20:43

Thankfully, quite a large number of his compositions survive. I recorded half a dozen or so on my Art of the Banjo album, but with a plectrum on a Deering banjo. I still think that sounded beautiful, but it's enjoyable to play them on a zither banjo. 

Comment by Jody Stecher on May 3, 2019 at 22:44

Down Devon Way, and Dancer's Dream are great Camm mood pieces. On the rhythmic side also is Yeoman's Call.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 3, 2019 at 23:11

Oh, Albumblat and A Fireside Idyll do it for me. Tonight I read the two Cornish dances for the first time - both very interesting. 

Comment by Jody Stecher on May 4, 2019 at 1:32

In these pieces Cammeyer's compositions show a harmonic sense that seems to me to be more developed than the other banjo composers.  That's not what I always want to hear in banjo music but he was so good at it.

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