We don’t think about it often, but these instruments we use to create bluegrass music existed before Monroe. The banjo has arguably undergone some evolution in the last 100 years, but the mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and bass haven’t changed that much.
Before there was Banjo Newsletter, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Now or Fretboard Journal, there was S.S. Stewart’s Banjo & Guitar and Mandolin Journal.
Publication began in 1882. The Journal covered items of interest to music lovers, including: concert dates, concert reviews, sheet music and instruction, articles, photos, and a large number of advertisements. Issues of this classic publication can occasionally be found for sale on auction sites such as ebay.
While collectors will still bid on the actual items, the rest of us no longer need to open our wallets to enjoy reading the Journal. The University of Rochester Research Department has gone to a great deal of effort to scan all the issues in the school’s library and make them available online as PDF files. Over 40 issues are available on the school’s website.
The PDF files are of moderate size. The average is probably 1-1.5 MB, some approach 3MB.
This publication is from the pre-bluegrass musical era, but still very interesting to read if you some free time.
Hat Tip: Fretboard Journal Blog