The Fretboard Journal: One-Hundred and Twenty-Eight Pages and the Truth

A close-up of The Fretboard Journal t-shirt
A close-up of The Fretboard Journal t-shirt

The Fretboard Journal has been presenting peerless content, photographs and style for over five years now. A quarterly publication for “players, collectors and builders”, it holds its own next to my other most treasured musical possessions: my LPs and instruments.

I first heard about FJ from Michael Eck, a songster, picker, painter and writer in Albany, New York, when he was writing his piece about Pete Seeger’s banjo and 12-string guitar. I was foolish not to go out and buy that issue (#15) when it was published. Now I can’t get my hands on it at all. Subsequently, I bought a two-year subscription and two separate rounds of back issues, i.e. the ones that are not sold-out. I haven’t started bidding on the unavailable issues via eBay but it’s only a matter of time before I do.

A handful of favorite articles (all with amazing photos) include:

  • Tough Old Men and Bird’s Eye Maple: The Untold Tale of Jim Harvey (#19)
  • Funny But True: The legacy of Kenneth “Jethro” Burns (#18)
  • Command Performance: After more than 10,000 gigs, the B.B. King Show is still on the road (#6)
  • Dawg: a look back at the birth of the David Grisman Quintet (#6)
  • A Good Act: John Hartford, Hippie Eclectic Southern Riverboat Intellectual (#4)
  • Heirloom: A Guitar Imagined (#21)
  • Give and Take: Together and apart Roland White and his brother Clarence have made a lasting impact on bluegrass and country music(#13)
  • A Really Wild Dream: Guitarist David Grier fulfills his destiny (#16)
  • Clifftop calling: where punk rock and old-time live in harmony (#7)

In addition to the actual journal, you can go to their website to sign-up for a free newsletter, and enjoy audio, video, photographs, or peruse the classifieds. I will end with a favorite from the video section, New Yorker Chris Eldridge playing Wildwood Flower on Charles Sawtelle’s D-28.