View Full Version : Jethro Burns

Dave Caulkins
Jul-27-2004, 1:21pm

I think I'm getting a little too obsessed with Jethro... About 50% of what I listen to seems to be his recordings these days. About 50% of my practice time is spent in the 'omnibus' edition of his method. I find myself on Ebay hunting down anything with Jethro Burns in the description...

I'm aware that there are many fine players in the mandolin universe and I fear I am becoming too focused on one, albeit possibly the greatest one ever. Am I sick? Is there help? Can I stop my MAS from forcing me to buy a Rigel Jethro?



Jul-27-2004, 1:36pm
Don't ask the guys here, they'll only fuel you Aquisition Syndrome http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jul-27-2004, 2:30pm
A great person who was a great musician who played great music. All things considered few, if any, can hang with him IMHO.

Ted Eschliman
Jul-27-2004, 3:10pm
Don't ask the guys here, they'll only fuel your Aquisition Syndrome
I believe the clinical term is "enabler," and it's completely true...
Hey, I can't think of a better person OR musician to cling to!

Jul-27-2004, 3:51pm
Dear Leshii,
Obsession with Bill Monroe is mandatory in bluegrass mandolin, but Jethro has his own small legion of volunteers,most of whom don't sound anything like Mr. Burns. They sure enjoy playing all kinds of tunes, though, and are mostly a cheerful bunch. Keep up the good work!

Jul-27-2004, 4:14pm
...Oops, I almost forgot.Don't get obsessed with the equipment. Jethro didn't.

Jul-27-2004, 8:44pm

Do you have the record with Joe Venuti and Curley Chalker. Sweet!

Jul-27-2004, 9:32pm
i am jethroless in my music collection. what should i do (imagine my face in panic right now)?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif???http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

Dave Caulkins
Jul-28-2004, 8:27am

That's "S'Wonderful" (the giants of swing...). Damn, that's a fine album. Definately get's its share of spins. I've been listening to the Nikora lesson mp3s alot lately just for pleasure (there are some FINE licks on those recordings). Told ya I was obsessed.

Ira, the Acoustic Disc Jethro recordings are probably the easiest to get ("Bye, Bye Blues" and "Swing Low Sweet Mandolin").

Personally, I'm desperately seeking "Back to Back" with Tiny Moore... What I've heard is some of the best from both. Inspired mando!



Jul-28-2004, 8:47am
RIP Mr. Burns... ; You've left BIG! footprints... to follow.

John Rosett
Jul-28-2004, 9:24am
too obsessed with jethro burns? i don't think it's possible. of course, i've spent countless hours digging through record bins in thrift stores, yard sales, and vintage record stores looking for those old homer and jethro and nashville string band records.(anyone got a copy of "live at vanderbuilt" they wanna sell?) then wading through all those songs to find juicy mando tidbits to learn.
i can't imagine anyone that could be better to be obsessed with, music or humor-wise.
"jethro never said or played anything that wasn't the exact thing that everyone in the room wished they'd played or said." -steve goodman

Jul-28-2004, 10:51am
For our Jethro-challenged friends:


Enjoy! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Jul-28-2004, 11:19am
In Butch Robins' book he talks about the making of the great record with Jethro, Sam Bush, Dave Holland and Vassar (I think). He was really impressed by, how unlike the other musicians, Jethro would practice for hours every day even when they were recording.

I wish Dave Grisman would reissue Back To Back, I've never heard it and I've always wanted to get a copy.

Brad Weiss
Jul-28-2004, 3:25pm
Yesterday I ordered both Bye Bye Blues and Swing Low Sweet Mandolin of the Dawg site- this month's specials for $10 a piece! Can't beat that deal!

Aug-10-2004, 8:51am
...Oops, #I almost forgot.Don't get obsessed with the equipment. #Jethro didn't.
Neither did he care much about tone.
Of which he had plenty of nontheless http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dave Caulkins
Aug-17-2004, 9:07am
Ah, the Jethro tone debate that has raged for decades...

Apparently, there are those who think that his predilection for low action & thin picks resulted in poor tonal qualities. I don't agree, myself, but I understand the argument.

Though I'm a self admitted JethroJunkie, I use higher action (though not extreme) and prefer Golden Gate picks. I also have a really hard time emulating the multiple pulloffs that Jethro executed with ease.

Regardless of what tone was dragged into the undertow with his particular setup; the melodic and harmonic character of his lines are incredible and original.

I think that slagging in this arena is akin to flogging a dead horse. It isn't going to change, but those years of great music remain.

Two Cents or at least a Half-Penny,


Ted Eschliman
Aug-17-2004, 9:35am
The penalty of the very low action that Jethro
advocated, I suppose.
I guess we're all entitled to our opinions, and that's just all it is.
I'd advocate that low action (for me!) gives me more control, longer sustain, and cleaner sound.
Volume? Yeah, maybe some sacrifice there, but tone?
Quite the contrary. Not if I don't have to fight the instrument.

Brad Weiss
Aug-17-2004, 10:50am
This will undoubtedly raise many hackles, but according to Dr. Dave Cohen luthier extraordinaire, and the only physicist to evaluate the acoustics of mandolins, action height DOES NOT effect volume in any measurable way (he told me so himself!)

I'll take that action as low as I can get it! And if it worked for Jethro, who am I to disagree.

John Rosett
Aug-17-2004, 3:45pm
as someone who spent quite a few hours sitting right in front of jethro while he played, i think that he had a wonderful tone. listen to the acoustic disc cd's, and "tea for one". if you're basing your opinion of jethro's tone on albums like s'wonderful, jethro live, or the flying fish album, remember, he's playing electric.
listen to the famous "back up and push" solo from the down yonder album. if you think that the tone is bad, well, i guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Aug-25-2004, 3:31pm
I only have two of the albums he did with Homer and I still think Jethro rules .

Aug-27-2004, 9:40am
From a purely unscientifc point of view I would think the problem with low action equating to low volume in most peoples minds is that on most mandos I have played once the action gets pretty low the strings start to rattle on the frets as you start hitting them harder to generate more volume. If a mandolin can be set up to avoid that then I would think volume wouldn't be affected.
To the person ealier that was worried about all this Jehtro talk forcing him to buy a Rigel Jethro, I say just give in to it! I did and don't regret it one bit!

Sep-07-2004, 2:22pm
I wish Dave Grisman would reissue Back To Back, I've never heard it and I've always wanted to get a copy.
He's working on it. Someone posed this question at the Mando Symposium, though I can't specifically recall what Dawg said the holdup was.

Sep-07-2004, 4:15pm
As I recall, he said something about they were trying to locate the original tapes, since he would like to include out takes. Hopefully they will find them & we'll someday get the album AND bonus tracks.

John Rosett
Sep-07-2004, 5:20pm
something i've always wanted to do, but haven't, is to go through all of the homer and jethro albums and put all the songs with hot mandolin solos together. there are quite a few, especially on the three live albums.