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Jan 15, 2021 - 2:40:52 PM
216 posts since 4/17/2007

I have found several books on the history of banjos and am interested in reading about some of the old time builders of them...I was wondering if you could recommend such a book to me, that would include pictures also. I am only 100 miles from the ABM and have been there several times, but oddly never looked in their store for one. Thanks in advance for any information...I am not that interested in 5 string banjo history.

Anyone have this one and can comment on the contents meeting my interest as stated above:

Jan 15, 2021 - 2:57:33 PM

2456 posts since 12/31/2005
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If your focus is history of the instrument, the following cover those. There are others about the history and development of banjo music. These don't focus specifically on four strings.

Jim Jacquet, Collecting Banjos (2020)

The Birth of the Banjo (Katonah Museum of Art) (2003) (curators: Robert Shaw, Peter Szego, George Wunderlich)

Laurent Dubois, The Banjo: America’s Favorite African Instrument (Harvard Univ. 2016)

Bob Carlin, Banjo: An Illustrated History (Elephant Book Co. 2016)

Robert Lloyd Webb, Ring the Banjar: The Banjo in America from Folklore to Factory (MIT 1984)

Leo Mazow, Picturing the Banjo (Penn State 2005)

Jim Mills, Gibson Mastertone Flathead 5-String Banjos of the 1930’s and 1940’s (Centerstream 2009)

Phillip F. Gura & James Bollman, America’s Instrument: The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century (U.N.C. 1999)

Akia Tsumura, Banjos: The Tsumura Collection (Kondansha Int’l 1984) (“Red Book”)

Jan 15, 2021 - 3:51:54 PM

216 posts since 4/17/2007

Thanks Brian for such a nice list...I will try to find out more about those publications...I am mostly interested in four string banjos and information about Vega, Slingerland, Bacon and Day, etc. and the 20s and 30s era of banjo makers. Sorry for not making myself more clear about my objective.
Thanks for taking the time to list those !

Jan 16, 2021 - 1:02:25 PM

2456 posts since 12/31/2005
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Not sure there really is a separate history of four string banjos. Many of the five strings we play today were four strings (tenor and plectrum). Bluegrass did not even come into being until the post war era. Pre war, four strings were the thing, although there were some RB (regular banjos) made. The Tsumura books feature mostly four strings as I recall, but not much history there. Really just pictures. It would have been great though if more had been done to keep the history of the Boston banjo companies and Vega. You'll find a lot though searching the threads here.

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