The Fife came to the new world as an military instrument with European soldiers and a folk instrument with settlers, remaining popular throughout the 18th century and into the 19th century. The fife itself is a simple, six-hole flute that has traditionally been used for military purposes. Paired with a side drum, the fife was used to give signals to soldiers for all parts of their daily activities. This instrument is the next step in quality above the maple fife. Very good tone. Suited for better and advanced players.
Fife is handcrafted with a Persimmon wood body and brass tips, in the key of “Folk Bb”, the equivalent of “Concert Ab”, which is by far the most been common key for fifes. Persimmon wood, also known as “American ebony”, is a hard domestic wood that is light in color, ranging from blond to oatmeal color, with or without dark streaks.
The following U.S. Army Regulations of 1861 and the revised regulations in 1863 provided the following guidance for musicians:
968. The general superintendent will cause such of the recruits as are found to possess a natural talent for music, to be instructed (besides the drill of the soldier) on the fife, bugle, and drum, and other military instruments; and boys of twelve years of age, and upward, may, under his direction, be enlisted for this purpose. But as recruits under eighteen years of age and under must be discharged, if they are not capable of learning music, care should be taken to enlist those only who have a natural talent for music,and, if practicable, they should be taken on trial for some time before being enlisted.
969. Regiments will be furnished with field music on the requisitions of their commanders, made, from time to time, direct on the general superintendent; and, when requested by regimental commanders, the superintendents will endeavor to have suitable men elected from the recruits,or enlisted, for the regimental bands.