The American Banjo Fraternity is a special interest group focused on the living tradition of fingerstyle or “classic” (nylon/gut strung) banjo, tracing a direct link back to the earliest professional banjoists. We play the banjo style that was celebrated from the late 1850s up to the 1920s and today.
Past members have included top banjoists like Fred Van Eps, Frank Bradbury, Alfred Farland, Fred Stewart (son of Samuel Swain), Harry C. Brown, Harry Denton (of Brooks & Denton), William “Banjo Bill” Bowen, Paul Cadwell, Pete Seeger, etc.
Called “Classic Banjo” today, it was originally referred to as “Guitar Style” or “Finger Style” due to the mechanics of using bare fingertips to sound the strings. This method of playing the 5-string banjo developed shortly after the original “Stroke Style” or “Thimble Style” that is currently called “Clawhammer.” Classic Banjo is usually played on a banjo with nylon or gut strings.
The original Mission Statement of the ABF still applies today.
- To keep alive interest in classic 5-string banjo
- To promote fellowship among its adherents
- To keep alive the tradition and memories of its composers and players.
- To provide an interchange of music, especially among amateurs
- To encourage correspondance, especially between amateurs.