The Origin of the Tenor Banjo
By John Hoft
The first commercial tenor banjo was produced by the Vega Company in about 1908. Banjo historian, Jim Bollman, has documented a Fairbanks/Vega Regent tenor scale four-string banjo bearing serial number 24545 (ca. 1908) with gryphon headstock inlay.1 This Regent may have been a custom order given the upgraded headstock inlay and its very early production date. Vega often manufactured custom order banjos.2 Bollman has also cataloged more than a dozen additional four-string, tenor scale, Fairbanks/Vega banjos built between 1908 and 1912.3 In June, 1912, Vega advertised that it had sold “one No. 2 Whyte Laydie Tenor Banjo ($62)” at the Guild convention the previous month.4 By March 1913 the Cadenza magazine included a Fairbanks/Vega ad that contained testimonials from satisfied tenor banjo purchasers.5 An image of an early Fairbanks/Vega Whyte Laydie tenor banjo can be found on the cover of Myrtle Stumpf’s tenor banjo tutor that specified CGDA tuning copyright 1916 but obviously written in 1913 or 1914.6 The Whyte Laydie depicted in that booklet is the archetypal early tenor banjo. It is a four-string, open back, seventeen fret banjo with a standard large rim, 28 brackets and an Elite-type tailpiece. The Fairbanks/Vega banjos from this period are said to “represent the company’s most beautiful achievements in workmanship and design”.7
The development of the tenor banjo was the result of several cultural, musical and technological factors that coalesced to produce the instrument. The foremost dynamic was the twentieth century “dance craze”.8 Surprisingly, the tenor banjo story has not been well chronicled. However, it is clear from available resources that its development occurred in phases. First, its inception during the period 1908-1915 and second, it’s blossoming during the 1920’s. The purpose for this paper is to illuminate the first phase, that is, the dawning of the tenor banjo.
Some of the principal factors that were instrumental in the development of the tenor banjo were: (1) The twentieth century dance craze; (2) The proliferation of dance orchestras; (3) Bandleader desire for a loud banjo (there was no amplification); (4) The Mandolin; (5) An abundance of musicians familiar with playing a stringed instrument tuned in fifths with a pick.; (6) Universal Notation; (7) The Tenor Mandola; (8) The Banjo Mandolin; and (9) The Banjeaurine.
The dawning of the Twentieth Century saw the disappearance of many Victorian mores.9 It was at this time that ragtime music made its public debut. Ragtime music was up-beat, syncopated, and daring. It became very popular.10 So pervasive was ragtime music that the term “Ragtime” became synonymous with merry or lively.11 Ragtime music was powerful and possessed that certain swing that moved people to dance. Ragtime and social dancing went hand in hand. In 1897 the quintessential ragtime dance hit “At A Georgia Campmeeting” was composed. As the century turned, ragtime moved from the barroom to the ballroom. Interest in dancing flourished. To the syncopated beat of ragtime music, social dancers strutted, high-stepped and chassied and the old Victorian waltz took hindmost. Soon, musicians could actually earn a living playing dance music.12
As the new decade progressed interest in popular dancing continued to soar. New dances were invented. These dances were fast and fun, easy to do, and simply involved the embracing partners to dance with dips, sweeps and leg crossings to the beat of the music and occasionally flap arms like a turkey, embrace in a bear-hug, or hop like a bunny.13 The Victorian generation decried the dance craze but social restraints were crumbling and the appeal of the “hug and tussle dances”14continued to spread. So too, did dance venues expand rapidly. When a new dancing pavilion opened on Coney Island in 1902 almost 1000 people showed up to dance.15 And, of course, dance bands grew in number to satisfy the demand for dancing music.
A Dance Orchestra Banjo
Clearly, the tenor banjo was a “product” of the dance-band.16 Wm (Banjo Bill) Morris observed: “In the dance halls it [the tenor banjo] is recognized as a necessity”.17 It has been said that the tenor banjo was “one of the essential members of the dance ensemble”. 18 In the very beginning it was most likely played in a single string tremolo manner much like the mandolin.19 As the need for a rhythm beat for dancing became apparent the full chord stroke evolved.20 Louis Calabrese recalled orchestra banjoists initially striving for leads and melody effects but soon this style was supplanted with the desire for “rhythmic effects and chord production”.21 With this style of play the tenor banjo “gave life and pep to the orchestra’s rhythm”.22 Soon, whenever one heard a dance band they heard the tenor banjo.23 In sum, it was thought that the tenor banjo captured the spirit of the new dance steps.24
In the winter of 1880, audiences at Booth’s theatre in New York City were treated to performances by the Figaro Spanish Students, a bandurria and guitar company. A bandurria is a mandolin-like instrument with six courses of strings instead of four. The performances were very successful. Capitalizing on the success of the “Students”, Signor Carlos Curti, an Italian mandolinist, organized a similar orchestra to tour the country. Curti’s ensemble played Neapolitan (bowl-back) mandolins, not bandurrias, but to the uninitiated, the distinction went unnoticed. Curti’s mandolin ensemble toured extensively and appeared in most major cities. Their performances were quite well received and so it was that the mandolin was introduced to America.25
The mandolin was relatively unknown in America prior to performances by the “Students” and their imitators. The popularity of touring mandolin ensembles created a swell of interest. The mandolin, which is tuned like the violin and played with a pick, produced a soft and desirable music well suited to recreational playing. The mandolin also appealed to amateur players because of its relative low cost, ease of playing basic techniques, and light weight portability. By the late 1880’s a full blown mandolin boom began sweeping the country.26
The first mandolins manufactured in America were made by Joseph Bohmann in about 1884.27 By 1894, only ten years later, Chicago’s Lyon & Healy instrument company was producing 7,000 mandolins a year.28 As a further gauge to its soaring popularity, by 1903, an estimated 300,000 mandolins had been sold in America.29 During the 1890’s the attractiveness of the mandolin was enhanced by the formation of mandolin clubs in high schools, colleges and groups of all kinds (even bicycle clubs). For example, by 1888 Kansas City reportedly had a hundred mandolin clubs and orchestras.30 To capitalize on the increasing demand for instruments, and taking a cue from the success of all-banjo orchestras promoted by S.S. Stewart, mandolin manufacturers developed mandolin hybrids to compose an all-mandolin orchestra. The instruments developed to join the mandolin in the orchestra were the tenor-mandola, bass-mandolin and mando-cello.
The Tenor Mandola
The tenor mandola was developed for the mandolin ensemble. William Place, Jr. put it succinctly in an article in The Cadenza: “As the mandolin progressed, it became evident that the instrumentation of its family must progress also. Was it possible to produce a quartet of plectral instruments? This was the problem which confronted the manufacturers. Their first step was the production of the tenor mandola and this is the instrument known today as the mandola. It is tuned a fifth below the mandolin (A-D-G-C) and “sings” the tenor voice in the mandolin string choir, occupying a place in the plectral orchestra corresponding to that of the viola in the standard orchestra.”31
The tenor mandola was originally developed by Luigi Embergher in Italy in the 1890’s.32 It has the same appearance as a mandolin but its body is somewhat larger and it is about three to four inches longer (a longer scale length). Like the mandolin it has eight strings-four courses of two pair- with each pair spoken of and treated as one string. The tuning, CGDA, is five tones lower than the mandolin. In America, the new Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co. of Kalamazoo, Michigan in its 1902 catalog offered three styles of tenor mandola. The Waldo Manufacturing Co. of Saginaw, Michigan, also offered the tenor mandola in 1902 and its representative remarked: “A quartette of two Waldo mandolins, a Mando-cello and the Mandola is a combination much in favor.”33
Another milestone in the history of the tenor mandola and the development of the tenor banjo occurred in 1900 when Clarence Pardee formed the American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists. Pardee was the publisher of The Cadenza, a popular monthly fretted instrument magazine. The Guild was comprised of members of the fretted instrument community and included teachers, music publishers, manufacturers, professionals, and other interested parties. The Guild conducted business at annual meetings in various cities and news of the doings of the Guild was carried in The Cadenza and The Crescendo, a competing fretted instrument magazine. One of the drawbacks to popular acceptance of the tenor mandola was the clef upon which its music was written. The “proper” clef for tenor mandola notation was the viola or alto clef. However, the vast majority of recreational musicians were not familiar with this clef and thus required tutoring and the transposing of written music in order to play the tenor mandola in ensembles and clubs. The makers of mandolin family instruments and music publishers fiercely lobbied the Guild to adopt “universal notation” for the tenor mandola (and mando-cello) in order to ease the task of reading music for it. Universal notation is a system of writing music for all voices of the ensemble on the more familiar treble clef (without regard to pitch or octave) so most anyone can read and play it. The Gibson Company was a most vocal proponent for universal notation. At the Sixth Annual Convention of the Guild held in Philadelphia in 1907, the Guild members recommended treble notation for the tenor mandola.34 Very quickly thereafter music publishers began offering mandolin ensemble music written on the treble clef and Gibson crowed: “Any Mandolinist can play tenor Mandola or Mando-cello without extra study of finger-board or clef”.35
The Mandolin Banjo and The Banjo Mandolin
The first generation of mandolin banjos of the nineteenth century differed from the second generation banjo mandolins produced in about 1908.36 The early mandolin banjos consisted of a small seven or eight inch banjo head and rim joined to an eight string mandolin neck. It was intended to be played by mandolinists seeking more volume. The first mandolin banjo is attributed to John Farris of Hartford, Connecticut, who patented a “Banjolin” in 1885. It was during the gay nineties that the mandolin banjo achieved its greatest popularity.37 As the popularity of social dancing burgeoned, the mandolin banjo took a turn and became the banjo mandolin. The name change was more than word craft. The banjo mandolin became larger, more robust and produced more volume than its forbearer. For example, in the spring of 1898 Rettberg and Lange introduced its El Capitan line of mandolin banjos.38 Their mandolin banjo was typical of the genre and had a small seven inch rim joined to a mandolin neck. By spring 1911, Rettberg and Lange advertised its Orpheum brand of banjo mandolin now with a larger rim and more formidable construction for “more tone, more carrying power, more resonance…”.39 Bandleaders and mandolinists experimented with the banjo mandolin for dance orchestra work. The instrument proved to possess too many drawbacks. Principally, its high register (EAGD) overcame banjo tone quality.40 Most banjo mandolins had ten inch heads and were not quite loud enough for orchestra work. The instrument also produced too much sustain for staccato beat. Even more troublesome were the four courses of paired strings that were difficult to keep in tune and which would sometimes “sing” due to secondary vibration producing annoying overtones.41 One critic deemed the banjo mandolin “a mongrel in both name and tone.42 Another described the double strung banjo mandolin as “an instrument that looks like a banjo, is tuned like a violin, and sounds like the dickens”.43 The tenor banjo became the solution.44
A Banjeaurine, Tenor Banjo, and Tenor Mandola
(click to enlarge)
The 5-string banjeaurine was developed by S.S. Stewart in 1885 and was touted as “the violin of the banjo orchestra…”.45 It was conceived to supply the melody voice in banjo ensembles.46 It was an open back 5-string banjo with a short neck tuned a fourth higher than the regular banjo.47 It was popular with banjo clubs and orchestras. The first tenor banjos looked like banjeaurines without the fifth string. Charles McNeil, banjoist and method publisher, observed that in 1900 he heard a mandolinist play a banjeaurine tuned in fifths, CGDA, who had “eliminated the fifth string as being unnecessary.”48 This technique for converting a banjeaurine into a tenor banjo became recognized as a viable approach.49
The first “tenor banjos”, then, were probably adaptations and “homemade” modifications made to existing instruments in order to fashion an instrument appropriate for dance orchestra work. A number of banjo-mandolinists simply strung their instrument with four strings to eliminate the four courses of pairs.50 James Reese Europe’s orchestra included several banjo mandolins strung with four strings.51 Some musicians turned to the banjeaurine and strung it with just four strings tuned in fifths.52 Other musicians most likely ordered a custom banjo from a factory or banjo maker specifying a four-string banjeaurine-like instrument.53
Some authors credit John Farris with the “invention” of the tenor banjo citing his Banjolin as authority. However, a close examination of the literature proves such assertions to be erroneous. Farris’ Banjolin patent application specifies an instrument with “four pairs of unison strings” and the drawing accompanying the application clearly depicts a small rim eight string mandolin banjo.54 Farris advertised his Banjolin in the Hartford City Directory in 1885 as “The Latest Novelty! The Banjolin Quintette!” and proposed an entire ensemble of Banjolins including an Alto and Tenor Banjolin. A drawing of the instrument in the advertisement again depicts an eight string (not four) mandolin banjo of the type shown in the patent application.55 Apparently seeking to interest college mandolin clubs in the Banjolin, Farris also advertised a four string version of his Banjolin in the Yale Banner in 1888 and 1889. These advertisements depicted the small eight inch rim Banjolin with four strings and stated that the instrument had 25 frets, four strings, “EADG”, and “tuned and fingered like the violin”.56The tenor banjo was tuned CGDA, was “fingered” like the viola57, had 17 frets and a much longer scale with a ten to eleven inch rim. Thus, Farris can reasonably be credited with the development of the mandolin banjo. John Farris, however, did not “invent” the tenor banjo.58
In 1907 banjo maker J.B. Schall advertised a 4-string banjo mandolin reportedly designed by a celebrated mandolin stage soloist. Schall named his instrument a Banjorine.59 Schall’s Banjorine was designed to be tuned “like a mandolin” so that it was “not necessary for the mandolinist to learn a new system of fingering”60 Some authors credit Schall with the creation of the first commercial tenor banjo with his introduction of the Banjorine. However, this conclusion is flawed.61 The tenor banjo was tuned CGDA and was designed to provide the “tenor” voice and harmony in the orchestra the same as the tenor mandola. Schall’s instrument, tuned “like a mandolin”, was apparently designed to play melody much like the violin. Its namesake, the banjeaurine, was a melody instrument and dubbed the “violin of the banjo orchestra” by its creator. In addition, Schall’s banjorine was designed for solo stage work not for a place in the orchestra.62 It is submitted that Schall’s banjorine, then, is an example of a hybrid instrument designed by a manufacturer to overcome a particular shortcoming of the banjo mandolin in serving as a solo stage instrument.
It was Vega, then, in response to demand from bandleaders and musicians, that first produced a factory tenor banjo by combining concepts and features from the banjeaurine, tenor mandola and banjo mandolin. In fact, the evidence suggests that the concept for the tenor banjo may have been initiated by musicians seeking a four-string banjeaurine-like instrument and placing special orders for them. Tenor mandola tuning worked to preserve the familiar banjo tone and also provided pleasant harmony. The mandola tuning also appealed to a large constituency of violinists and mandolinists trained to play a stringed instrument tuned in fifths. The plectrum banjo, banjo mandolin and five-string banjo had exhibited too many shortcomings for orchestra work.63 As for dancing, the Tango was introduced in America in 1910, was nothing short of a sensation, and fueled the dance craze.64 Vernon and Irene Castle, a professional dance team, became the focus of this dance phenomenon and their dignity and style did much to legitimize social dancing. In 1914 the venerable fox trot came onto the dance floor. It was during this period that the tenor banjo began to receive recognition in the banjo trade. The Bacon Manufacturing Co. first advertised its “Tenor Banjos” in November, 1914.65 In April, 1915, the matter of naming fretted instruments came before Guild. Citing confusion in the trade about the names for newly developed fretted instruments, a proposal was made to name and define, among others, the “Tenor-banjo”66 In November, 1915, Myron Bickford wrote in The Cadenza that the banjo most widely used in New York City dance orchestras was tuned exactly like the tenor mandola and “The correct name for this instrument is the tenor banjo, and it is strung with single strings”.67 In March 1916 Rettberg and Lange brought out its “Tango Banjos” then soon changed the name to “Tenor Banjo”.68 In 1918 The Gibson Mandolin Guitar Company jumped on the literal bandwagon and with a full page advertisement in The Cadenza introduced “A New Creation” the Gibson Tenor Banjo!69
1 James Bollman, e-mail message to author January 29, 2010. See: James Bollman, collaborator, A History Of Vega/Fairbanks Banjos” published in the June, 1978 issue of Pickin’ magazine. In that issue, Bollman published a “Serial Number Dating Chart” for Fairbanks/Vega banjos using serial numbers to assist in determining date of manufacture. Bollman cautioned that dating figures for the period 1904-1908 were problematic. In this 1978 dating chart the earliest recorded Vega tenor banjo was 1912. Pickin’. v. 5, n. 5 (June, 1978): p 40-48.
2 Walter Jacobs, “Editor’s Page,” The Cadenza v.17, n. 1 (1910): p. 6. A customer extols the virtues of a Vega banjo “built to my order” and “My original instructions were carried out to the letter, which speaks well for the ability of your factory to execute minute details”. Walter Jacobs, “The Balobanjolaika,” The Cadenza v. 17, n. 11 (1911):
p. 9. A report that Vega built a “nameless” instrument to order for a mandolinist and the instrument was dubbed a “Balobanjolaika” for its similarity to a Russian Balalaika and a banjo combination.
3 James Bollman, e-mail message to author January 29, 2010.
4 “A Few Thoughts from the Convention,” The Cadenza v. 18, n. 12 (1912): 45. “A Few Thoughts from the Convention,” The Crescendo v. 4, n. 12 (1912): p. 30. This is the first reference to “tenor banjo” found in the period literature by the author.
5 “Players Making the Whyte Laydie and Tu-Ba-Phone Banjos Famous,” The Cadenza v. 19, n. 9 (1913): p. 53. “The tenor Tu-Ba-Phone banjo received and it is up to your high standard in every way”; “The Fairbanks Tenor Banjo received O.K.”; Received the Tenor Whyte Laydie Banjo O.K.”.
6 M. Stumpf, Self Instructor For The Tenor or Plectrum Banjo (Los Angeles: Frank J. Hart Southern California Music Company, 1916). This booklet contains two photographs of a Vega Whyte Laydie tenor banjo and a photograph of the author, Myrtle Stumpf, holding a Whyte Laydie tenor banjo in playing position. In her introduction, Stumpf writes: “At the last conventionheld by the American Guild, they voted for universal notation, which means that music for the tenor Mandola or Mando Cello should be read in the treble clef, this can be applied to the tenor Banjo as well”. [Emphasis supplied]. The last Guild convention to vote on Universal Notation was held April 1913. Stumpf’s method book puts tenor banjo tuning at CGDA.
7 George Gruhn, “Looking Back: At the Turn of the Century,” Frets, v. 1, n. 1 (March, 1979): p.52.
8 H.L. Hunt, “Satisfactory Holiday Trade,” The Music Trade Review” v. 59, n. 26 (December 26, 1914): p.69.
9 Karen Linn, That Half Barbaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991), p. 81-82.
10 Myron A. Bickford, “Something About Ragtime,” The Cadenza v. 20, n. 3 (1913): p. 13. Bickford postulates that the single factor responsible for the incredible growth in music interest was “Beyond all doubt…due to the extreme popularity of the “ragtime” light and ‘popular’ melodies that have had such a vogue during the last decade”.
11 David A. Jasen and Trebor Jay Tichenor, Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History (New York: Dover Publications, 1978): p. 3.
12 Ralph G. Giordano, Social Dancing In America: A History and Reference-Volume Two (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), p. 10.
13 Ibid., p. 11-13.
14 Don McDonagh, Dance Fever (New York: Random House, 1979): p. 25.
15 Ralph G. Giordano, Social Dancing In America: A History and Reference-Volume Two (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), p. 27.
16 A.P. Sharpe, The Banjo-and You (London: National Society of Banjoists, 1943), p. 9.
17 Wm. (Banjo Bill) Morris, Morris’s Modern Method and Self Instructor for Tenor Banjo (Chicago: The Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., 1922), p.4.
18 Z. Porter Wright, “Banjology,” The B&D “Silver Bell” Banjo Family (1930): p. 3.
19 C.C. Richelieu, “The 4-String Banjo: The Banjo Headliners,” Frets, v. 1, n.3 (May, 1979): p.64.
20 Ibid., p. 64.
21 Louis Calabrese, “Louis Calabrese, Well-Known Banjoist, Discusses Growth of That Instrument,” The Music Trade Review v. 86, n.21 (May 26, 1928): p. 69.
22 Charles McNeil, “The Early Tenor Banjo,” The Ludwig Banjoist (1929): p. 3.
23 A.P. Sharpe, The Banjo-and You (London: National Society of Banjoists, 1943), p. 9.
24 “Slingerland Banjos,” Presto: the American Music Trade Weekly n. 1958 (1924): A retrospective: “Orchestra leaders found that the banjo provided the snap necessary to convey the spirit of the new dance numbers…Soon the merits of the tenor banjo which gave three times more volume of tone became apparent to orchestra leaders.”
25 A.P. Sharpe, “The Story of the Mandolin,” B.M.G. v. XLII, n. 483 (1945) p. 206-215.
26 Amy Kreitzer, “Sweet Harmonies from Little Wooden Boxes: Mandolin Playing in Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Minnesota History v. 57, n. 5, (2001) p. 220.
27 A.P. Sharpe, “The Story of the Mandolin”, B.M.G. v. XLII n. 483 (1945) p. 206-215.
28 Amy Kreitzer, “Sweet Harmonies from Little Wooden Boxes: Mandolin Playing in Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Minnesota History v. 57, n. 5, (2001) p. 220.
29 Scott Hambly, “Mandolins in the United States Since 1880: An Industrial and Sociocultural History of Form” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1977), p. 12.
30 Paul Sparks, The Classical Mandolin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). p. 126.
31 William Place, Jr. “The Mandolist and Mando-Cellist,” The Cadenza v. 20, n. 7 (1914): p. 35.
32 Paul Sparks, The Classical Mandolin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). p. 206.
33 “The Waldo Mfg. Co.’s Success,” The Music Trade Review v. 34, n.11 (1902): p. 39.
34 “Editorial Note,” The Cadenza v. 27, n. 10 (1911): p. 26.
35 “A Gibson Editorial,” The Cadenza v. 16, n. 8 (1910): p.2.
36 Scott Hambly, “Mandolins in the United States Since 1880: An Industrial and Sociocultural History of Form” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1977), p. 35 Scott Hambly’s distinction between the early mandolin banjo and the later banjo mandolin is well conceived and adopted herein.
38 “The Banjo-Mandolin,” The Music Trade Review v. 26, n. 22 (1898) p. 27. The text of the article recites that the instrument “is to all intents and purposes a mandolin, being strung and fretted to the exact mandolin scale”. See also: “El Capitan Banjo-Mandolin,” The Music Trade Review v. 30, n. 9 (1900): p. 43.
39 “Orpheum Banjo-Mandolins: Better than the best,” The Cadenza v. 17, n. 9 (1911): p. 1.
40 Zarh Myron Bickford, “Problem Prober,” The Cadenza v. 23, n. 6 (1916): p. 35.
41 Myron A. Bickford, “Problem Section,” The Cadenza v.17, n. 5 (1910): p. 28.
42 Edwin Beale, “Banjo Views,” The Cadenza v. 23, n .4 (1916): p.15.
43 Z. Porter Wright, “Banjology,” The B&D “Silver Bell” Banjo Family (1930): p. 3.
44 “Banjo’s Development”. Presto-Times n. 2159 (1927): p. 15. “The introduction of the banjo-mandolin or rather its development, prompted the violinists to turn to it to supply the demand of the orchestra leaders for the dance music novelty. But when the banjo mandolin fell short of the requirements of the snappy music, the tenor became the logical solution to the problem”.
45 George Gruhn and Walter Carter, Acoustic Guitars and Other fretted Instruments: A Photographic History (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1993). P. 42-43.
46 Scott Hambly, “Mandolins in the United States Since 1880: An Industrial and Sociocultural History of Form” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1977), p. 213.
47 George Gruhn, “The Vintage Catalog: S.S. Stewart Banjeaurine,” Frets v. 4, n. 6 (1982): p. 60.
48 Charles McNeil, “The Early Tenor Banjo,” The Ludwig Banjoist (1929): p. 3.
49 Zarh Myron Bickford, “Problem Prober,” The Cadenza v. 23, n. 6 (1916): p. 34. W.J. Kitchener, “The Convention Question Box,” The Cadenza v. 24, n. 7 (1917): p. 5.
50 Karen Linn, “The Modernization of the Banjo in the Early Twentieth Century” in That Half Barbaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991), p. 112, note 10.
51 Karen Linn, That Half Barbaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991), p. 112 (note 10). See also: Robert Kimball and William Bolcom, Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake (New York: The Viking Press, 1973), p. 53 for a photo of Europe’s band and banjo instrumentation.
52 A J.B Schall banjeaurine neck with a nineteen inch scale that has been carefully trimmed into a four string neck with the fifth string peg hole filled is a part of this author’s collection.
53 Myron A. Bickford, “The Problem Prober,” The Cadenza v. 23, n. 2 (August 1916): p.45. Bickford, responding to a query about the new “tenor-banjo”, observed that: “This instrument has not, as yet, been put upon the market, but several have been made to order.”
54 United States Patent Office, Letters of Patent No. 315,135.
55 Hartford City Directory (1885): p. 10.
56 “John Farris’ Patent Banjolin, Yale Banner v. 47 (1888): p. 78; “John Farris’ Diamond Banjos,” Yale Banner
v. 48(1889): p.84.
57 Wm. (Banjo Bill) Morris, Morris’s Modern Method and Self Instructor for Tenor Banjo (Chicago: The Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., 1922), p.4. “[The Tenor Banjo] might, with propriety, be called a Viola Banjo. The left hand fingering resembles viola methods…”
58 John Farris died at his home in October, 1911 at the age of 85. His obituary in Music Trade Review notes that in addition to being an accomplished musician, Mr. Farris “invented a number of musical appliances, including the banjay and banjolin, both being popular instruments a quarter of a century or so ago”. The Music Trade Review,
v. LIII, n. 18 (1911): p.31.
59 Schall’s instrument was named “Banjorine” presumably because the word sounds like “banjeaurine”.
61 Myron A. Bickford, “Problem Solver,” The Cadenza v. 22, n. 5 (1915): p. 46. Bickford writes: “The name ‘banjorine’ is often applied to the tenor banjo…without any reason unless it be that the old-style banjorine resembled the new instrument in appearance, although this was in size only and that not to any great extent”.
62 Schall died in 1907 soon after the appearance of his advertisement for the Banjorine. A Banjorine appears in the C. Bruno & Son 1912 catalog which states: “This Banjorine is designed for Mandolin players who do concert playing and cannot be detected from a banjo by the general public as the quality of tone is exactly the same as of a Banjo”.
63 George Gruhn and Walter Carter, Acoustic Guitars and Other fretted Instruments: A Photographic History (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1993), p. 106. The peculiar tuning of the five-string banjo inhibited its acceptance as a dance orchestra instrument. See also: Alfred A. Farland, “The Banjo,” The Cadenza v. 18, n. 10 (1912): p. 13. Farland opined that the five-string banjo was not welcome in the orchestra “owing to the poor tone produced by the average finger-player, coupled with his inability to sustain notes…”.
64 Ralph G. Giordano, Social Dancing In America: A History and Reference-Volume Two (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), p. 25. See also: “That Tangelo Tap,” The Music Trade Review v. LV, n. 3 (1912): p.49. “There has been much talk in the daily papers of late calling attention to the latest society dancing craze, entitled the “Tango Dance”. Metropolitan newspapers have devoted column after column to this prevalent fad.”
65 “Do You Play The Banjo?” The Cadenza v. 21, n. 5 (1914): p. 4. Bacon also offered a “Banjo Mandola”.
66 “Fourteen Annual,” The Cadenza v. 21, n. 12 (1915): p. 37. “Tenor-banjo. An instrument with the body of a banjo, but with a neck about six inches shorter than the regular banjo and with a mandolin fingerboard on an enlarged scale, and with four single or four pairs of strings tuned as follows: 4th string, C; 3d string, G; 2d string, D; 1st string, A – the 4th string being tuned one octave below middle C.”
67 Myron A. Bickford, “Problem Solver” The Cadenza, v. 22, n. 5 (1915): p. 46.
68 Rettberg & Lange “Orpheum,” The Cadenza v. 22, n. 9 (1916): p.44.
69 Gibson Mandolin Guitar Company “A New Creation,” The Cadenza v. 25, n. 10 (1918): p.8 and p. 21.