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Dec 9, 2022 - 7:21:57 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11671 posts since 6/29/2003

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1555289621573791/?hoisted=false&ref=search&referral_code=null&referral_story_type=post&tracking=browse_serp%3Ac6744ea3-3737-4daa-ae08-e2795a42f3a0

This instrument appears on Facebook Marketplace here in NZ 10 weeks ago. I have seen something similar in one of my books. It is listed as a 'Zither' which I don't believe it is. The banjo next to it is a Zither though. I have no connection with it merely posting here to show that one is for sale if anyone is interested.


 

Dec 9, 2022 - 7:38:59 PM
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rcc56

USA

4583 posts since 2/20/2016

It looks like a zither to me.

As a matter of fact, it looks like the instrument that is most commonly called a zither outside of the banjo world. It has strings that can be fretted to produce melody notes, and free strings, probably tuned in groups to produce various triads to provide a chorday accompaniment. That's what most of the western world calls a zither.

I never understood the term "zither banjo," because zither banjos have very little in common with the more typical zithers I just described.

Dec 9, 2022 - 7:39:33 PM

3063 posts since 3/30/2008

The definition of a Zither is very broad & there are many different types. This is a Zither.

Dec 9, 2022 - 8:51:52 PM
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eljimb0

USA

2079 posts since 7/24/2007

I think it is a Remo. I can tell by the wonderfully aged finish that it has that unmistakable 'old time sound. It could also be a "bowed psaltery" or a pre-war "theremin" :)

Dec 9, 2022 - 8:58:25 PM
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eljimb0

USA

2079 posts since 7/24/2007

It is called a harp zither, I had to be funny first (banjos did that to my brain)

Edited by - eljimb0 on 12/09/2022 21:09:08

Dec 9, 2022 - 9:08:07 PM
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7343 posts since 9/21/2007

This is what the 19th century called a zither. I’ve also seen this called a “German Zither”, but usually just “zither”.

Stewart published a couple of solos for it in early issues of the Journal.

But the most well known is from a movie…

youtu.be/a-W5ktOR2ts

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 12/09/2022 21:08:45

Dec 9, 2022 - 9:11:44 PM

eljimb0

USA

2079 posts since 7/24/2007

do a search on Franz Schwarzer

Dec 9, 2022 - 10:45:27 PM

rcc56

USA

4583 posts since 2/20/2016

FWIW, some years back when the National Folk Festival was here, they brought in a pair of Chinese women who played zither and hammer dulcimer in the Chinese traditional style, which dated back 2000 years or more.

The zither looked quite similar to a hammer dulcimer, with a large number of single strings, and if I remember correctly, was plucked with both hands. I do not remember it having a fingerboard of any kind. The player was bending strings left and right. This was the oldest form of a zither that I have ever encountered.

The hammer dulcimer was not very different from the more modern US and British forms of the instrument.

There's really not much that is very new under the sun. I believe that zithers and dulcimers are among the oldest of string instruments, along with harps of various sorts, and exist in one form or another in a myriad of cultures.

======================================================================================================

I still don't understand how the term "zither" applies to a banjo. To me, they are instruments of separate families.
From what I can gather, the term was originally coined by someone who built a closed back banjo. Apparently they called it a "zither" banjo because it had a closed resonating chamber, which is something that zithers always had. I guess that if one uses that as the definition, any Mastertone style banjo could be considered a "zither banjo."

Edited by - rcc56 on 12/09/2022 22:58:39

Dec 10, 2022 - 1:01:41 AM
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JSB88

UK

409 posts since 3/9/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

This is what the 19th century called a zither. I’ve also seen this called a “German Zither”, but usually just “zither”.

Stewart published a couple of solos for it in early issues of the Journal.

But the most well known is from a movie…

youtu.be/a-W5ktOR2ts


Ahh, the broken streets and hard ground of late 40's Vienna. Dark looming shadows and desperate flight through the gothic sewer system. The best British Noir ever made, starring the great Joseph Cotton . Even just hearing the two opening notes i can see the black cat running to the man in the shadows as Cotton looks on, bewildered and confused. The power of (zither) music.

Dec 10, 2022 - 1:13:53 AM
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4377 posts since 4/29/2012
Online Now

The BHO is the only place where 'zither banjo' is shortened to 'zither' as it's the only place where 'banjo' is implicit.

Dec 10, 2022 - 4:08:22 AM

1698 posts since 12/26/2007

Dec 10, 2022 - 5:05:16 AM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10265 posts since 1/22/2003

It's a zither, not to be confused with a zither-banjo.

Cammeyer claims that he first named his banjo invention "zither-banjo", because he played a zither tune on it in a big public performance when the head busted. After that he called his banjo "zither-banjo".

Here is Sabine from the part of Austria where I live, playing the zither with a contemporary piece:

youtube.com/watch?v=EKHDo_uPnas

Dec 10, 2022 - 6:08:35 AM
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4528 posts since 10/13/2005

Don't listen to all these foolish answers, it is a stealth cheese slicer. It was invented during WWII when captive countries were forbidden to own knives. Since the WHO is now considering taking over all health care in the world, it is likely this invention could see a resurgence and become an excellent investment opportunity. banjered

Dec 10, 2022 - 7:53:05 AM
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7343 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

FWIW, some years back when the National Folk Festival was here, they brought in a pair of Chinese women who played zither and hammer dulcimer in the Chinese traditional style, which dated back 2000 years or more.

The zither looked quite similar to a hammer dulcimer, with a large number of single strings, and if I remember correctly, was plucked with both hands. I do not remember it having a fingerboard of any kind. The player was bending strings left and right. This was the oldest form of a zither that I have ever encountered.

The hammer dulcimer was not very different from the more modern US and British forms of the instrument.

There's really not much that is very new under the sun. I believe that zithers and dulcimers are among the oldest of string instruments, along with harps of various sorts, and exist in one form or another in a myriad of cultures.

======================================================================================================

I still don't understand how the term "zither" applies to a banjo. To me, they are instruments of separate families.
From what I can gather, the term was originally coined by someone who built a closed back banjo. Apparently they called it a "zither" banjo because it had a closed resonating chamber, which is something that zithers always had. I guess that if one uses that as the definition, any Mastertone style banjo could be considered a "zither banjo."


There is no speculation needed.  To build on what Emiel wrote, the guy was named Alfred Cammeyer.  See below from the December 1949 issue of the BMG.




Dec 10, 2022 - 9:38:28 AM

13747 posts since 1/15/2005

Whatever it is, it is overpriced by about $495 ....... and that value is based on whether it can be converted into a lamp!

Dec 10, 2022 - 10:12:26 AM
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JSB88

UK

409 posts since 3/9/2017

Ok, I'll have a go:
Young lady second left (our left) "we only turned up because you said you had a banjo player"

Dec 10, 2022 - 12:35:43 PM
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121 posts since 2/4/2010

I've always called this a " concert zither " - having the extra fingerboard. I think it might be more correctly called an " Alpine zither " with that tall outrigger which supports some extra long strings and also has the fingerboard section.

Dec 10, 2022 - 12:50:37 PM

539 posts since 11/9/2021

My mom owned and played a Zither. Hers did not have the attached fretboard. She came from the Schwarzer Wald section of Germany (Black Forest). She played it almost like a harp. I remember it took forever to get into tune, with the square drive tuning posts.

Dec 10, 2022 - 1:27:39 PM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10265 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:Originally posted by Joel Hooksquote:Originally posted by rcc56FWIW, some years back when the National Folk Festival was here, they brought in a pair of Chinese women who played zither and hammer dulcimer in the Chinese traditional style, which dated back 2000 years or more.

The zither looked quite similar to a hammer dulcimer, with a large number of single strings, and if I remember correctly, was plucked with both hands. I do not remember it having a fingerboard of any kind. The player was bending strings left and right. This was the oldest form of a zither that I have ever encountered.

The hammer dulcimer was not very different from the more modern US and British forms of the instrument.

There's really not much that is very new under the sun. I believe that zithers and dulcimers are among the oldest of string instruments, along with harps of various sorts, and exist in one form or another in a myriad of cultures.

======================================================================================================

I still don't understand how the term "zither" applies to a banjo. To me, they are instruments of separate families.
From what I can gather, the term was originally coined by someone who built a closed back banjo. Apparently they called it a "zither" banjo because it had a closed resonating chamber, which is something that zithers always had. I guess that if one uses that as the definition, any Mastertone style banjo could be considered a "zither banjo."There is no speculation needed. To build on what Emiel wrote, the guy was named Alfred Cammeyer. See below from the December 1949 issue of the BMG.

rcc56 This might be easier to read:
zither-banjo.org.uk/pages/camm2.htm

Dec 11, 2022 - 12:42:42 PM

2016 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Emiel

======================================================================================================

I still don't understand how the term "zither" applies to a banjo. To me, they are instruments of separate families.


Instrument nomenclature/classification is arbitrary, always changing, and even among educated "legit" musicians often very locally colloquial.

Before about 1960,  "dulcimer" didn't refer to anything but what we now call "hammered dulcimer", except among a very few folks in isolated parts of the USA.   (I recall seeing a New York City musicians' union directory from about that time, and they had Jean Ritchie listed among the cimbalom players!).   The "Appalachian dulcimer" is actually a zither by most definitions, as it has both stopped and un-stopped strings. It is similar to instruments found throughout Northern and Central Europe, some of which were likely ancestors of the OP's sort of zither. I don't think anybody has any idea of when, where, or how it acquired the name "dulcimer". 

Most of the 19th-C. American-made so-called "zithers" (with various arrangements of unstopped strings) would be more correctly called "psalteries".   (The "bowed psaltery" is something else, and a mid-20th-C. invention!) ....

IOW, don't expect what other folks call their instruments to make sense to you. 

Dec 11, 2022 - 1:30:54 PM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10265 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert
quote:
Originally posted by Emiel

======================================================================================================

I still don't understand how the term "zither" applies to a banjo. To me, they are instruments of separate families.


 


I didn't say that, that was part of a quote. rcc56 said that… A zither is not a banjo. How the zither-banjo became its name, has also been posted by Joel and by me…

Dec 16, 2022 - 7:22:19 PM
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Fathand

Canada

12084 posts since 2/7/2008

The typical 3 or 4 stringed "dulcimer" is a variation of the German Scheitholt.

Hammered dulcimers are played by striking the strings with hammers, differentiated from Psalteries which are plucked. Dulcimers evolved into Pianos and Psalteries into Harpsichords by adding keyboards.

The worst of all is the Ukelin, a supposed cross of a violin and ukulele which is usually deemed unplayable.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukelin#/media/File%3AUkelin%2C_distributed_by_Manufacturers'_Advertising_Co._-_front.jpg

Edited by - Fathand on 12/16/2022 19:23:27

Dec 17, 2022 - 3:44:16 PM

12477 posts since 10/27/2006

I, too, have always known this variant as a Concert Zither. We used to go to a restaurant in Palo Alto that featured a player.

Despite the fretboard, it is not the variant known as a Guitar Zither. That has melody strings and chord sets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyHd4rDUd5g

Edited by - mikehalloran on 12/17/2022 15:44:40

Dec 18, 2022 - 2:29:40 AM

eljimb0

USA

2079 posts since 7/24/2007

It is the brainchild of an Austrian immigrant to Missouri named Franz Schwarzer (the zither king) He is all over the internet. It is called a harp zither. If you notice in the original picture the harp looking right side ..with a post thing. I have always wondered how the player held it. It must be layed down flat on a table ??.
If you google his name there are many extraordinary examples of his work.

Dec 18, 2022 - 4:50:06 AM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10265 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by eljimb0

 I have always wondered how the player held it. It must be layed down flat on a table ??.
 


That's the normal way of playing the zither, as far as have seen it… Flat on the table.

Dec 18, 2022 - 3:14:44 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2800 posts since 3/10/2008

Zither banjo. The butt end of one's pot is visible at the right edge of the picture.

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