Banjo - America

Purchased in Bradenton, Florida, 1966



From Graciela's Notes

The banjo is native to America, being a creation of the American Negro. It is a four stringed instrument incorporating the unique feature of a soundboard made of stretching skin over a hoop. The bridge rests on the taut skin and the strings are stretched over this bridge. Perhaps it is no doubt the rough idea was brought with the negro from Africa, where it was picked up from the Arabian traders who played the Arabian Rebab or other similar string instrument. In slave days, it was the most popular instrument in the South. It is a very popular instrument in many parts of the United States and there are some real masters who play this typical American instrument. What would a minstrel show be without a few banjos? Thomas Jefferson, writing in 1784, says it was known to Negros as the "banger." Up to 1830, it was commonly known as the "bonja." Today, this word has changed into "banjo." There are two types of banjo: the tenor and plectrum, the latter being less common. The tenor is strung, in ascending order: middle C, G, D, and A. This tenor banjo was purchased in Bradenton, Florida from a private collector in April 1966.

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