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Preview: Banjo Hangout - Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles Forum Feed

Banjo Hangout - Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles Forum Feed

Banjo Hangout - Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles Forum Feed

Published: Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:07:00 CST

Last Build Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:07:00 CST


Looking for a Steve Sparkman DVD

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:07:28 CST

I'd like to buy a reasonably priced Steve Sparkman DVD if anyone has one laying around gathering dust.

Thanks in advance.

Scruggs Style Pull offs and Hammer ons

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 21:52:55 CST

Hello, I don't think I have properly introduced myself yet. I just joined yesterday. I'm a teenager and I've been learning to pick Foggy Mountain Breakdown Scruggs style. I just started playing about two weeks ago, so I'm fairly new to banjos. Anyway I'll cut to the chase at the start of Foggy Mountain Breakdown there are a series of hammer ons, and I just can't seem to get them to sound right. It's like my rhythm is off. Do you play hammer ons and pull offs like first you pluck the string and then immediately hammer on and pull off? How quick of a movement does it have to be? Sorry if you don't understand what I'm asking. I have a rather difficult time expressing myself and my thoughts in words coherently.

Thanks! :)

Progress is made...

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 11:43:16 CST

About one month in.... thoroughly enjoying myself.
My goal was to get Cripple Creek down by summer.

Thanks to the videos of Jim Pankey I have that nearly down. One week ago I knew the notes but it still sounded like individual notes, played poorly.

Then last Monday it clicked after replaying the end of his fourth lesson literally tens of times.

Timing, rhythm, syncopation.....
And hey presto, a tune has appeared! The wife is amazed, the cats no longer leave the room in panic...
It needs cleaning and tidying up but we are certainly getting there.
Looking forward to playing every day, thankfully work is quiet!

I'm an ignoramus!

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 08:06:49 CST

Hi folks,

I joined this forum back in 2016 when I bought my banjo. Let's just say that my first attempt to learning to play the banjo didn't go so well, and within a month or two, the banjo was put into its case.... where it stayed. For weeks. Weeks turned into months and months... well, you can see where this is going.

Anyway, in December it got to the point where I either had to play the banjo or sell it. Even though I hadn't touched it for about a year (and a bit!), I couldn't face parting with it, so I decided to learn. Again.

Last time, my learning mainly consisted of downloading tabs from the internet and spending hours getting frustrated with them. I've decided that this is, unsurprisingly, a terrible way to learn to play a musical instrument. So, this time, I decided to buy a book. I picked up "Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus" by Wayne Erbsen and... it's working! I'm sure the fact that I'm practicing everyday is also helping (and watching the odd instruction video on YouTube), but I just wanted to post a message here and share how much I love this book!

I'm hoping to be a lot more active on here as my banjo journey continues. :)

40 years of guitar now trying to jump into banjo. HELP!!

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 13:04:44 CST

So after years of playing guitar, last 10 has been intermittent due to work and life, I got bit by the Blue Grass bug. I can't get enough of it for quite a long time now. So after a year or so I decided to get a banjo and try to move on over. So I went to find a cheap banjo. I hated all of them. Coming from properly set up guitars the $200 and under rigs played awful and sounded like poo. SO I did some research and online gawking and found a really nice 2005 5 string Goldtone 250 that sounds and plays really nice (picking it like a guitar)

SO... I started down the rabbit hole and found a bunch of starting lessons. Holy crap is the banjo different than the guitar. The high string is killing me when I go to play the 4th string.

SO, I'm starting to practice the rolls with basically no left hand activity, just letting the rolls sink into my right hand.I'm using a metronome and I'm playing 1/4 notes at around the 200 bpm range. (probably about a 1/3 of what I can hear in the songs I like) Taking from what I know when I was learning guitar, getting the foundation will be beneficial. I think my left hand has good posture, (same as playing guitar, no thumb puppets) and I'm doing my best to plant my pinky and ring finger on the right hand and arch my hand to get clean picking.

Have any of you made the switch for guitar to banjo, and if so.. do you have any pointers for an old dog trying to learn some new banjo tricks??

Thanks in advance.

(PS: I haven't been this excited to pluck some strings in a long time, I think this is what I needed to even excite my guitar playing.)


Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:47:04 CST


Dear Teachers

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:17:06 CST

Dear Teachers -- Your first job is to nurture the enthusiasm of your student. If you do absolutely nothing else, you should ensure that your student leaves with at least as much desire for learning as when they arrived. If you crush that enthusiasm by either being hyper-critical or disinterested or by exhibiting controlling characteristics designed show who's boss, you have failed.

I recently had an interaction with a big name teacher for which I probably spent over 100 hours preparing. By the time I left the lesson, I wanted to quit. In fact, I haven't touched the banjo since. Please don't do this to other people. The motivation of your student is a fragile thing, and you can crush it easily.

How Many Banjos at a Jam?

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 07:08:06 CST

Don't seem to have seen this topic discussed here. I've always wondered how other banjo players see this issue. Banjo at a bluegrass jam is a rather imposing instrument. If more than one banjo, it seems appropriate for one banjo to take the forefront, and any others stay back, even when playing backup. If two banjos sometimes it works for one to follow the other, play high (or vamp) when the other plays low (open position) and vice-versa.

I've seen some topics about jams, promoting them etc. Would you be looking to seek out more banjo players if you were hosting a jam? Is banjo kinda like the bass - one is enough? At one jam I participated in there was always one other banjo player and me. We each played an hour on, an hour off. This seemed to work - gave each of us a chance to play, and also a break, time to socialize.

What do you think?

5th string when capo is on first fret

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:16:29 CST

Do you just tune the 5th string up a half tone when capoed at the first fret? How come railroad spikes aren't usually set at the sixth fret? I just started trying to play along with recordings and so many of them are played in G#. I apologize if this has been addressed 1000 times. I couldn't easily find the answer.

Hello banjo guys

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:22:37 CST

So I bought a banjo about 2 weeks ago and started my journey. I did play a little gutair when I was younger. I have been watching lessons from Jim plankey on YouTube anyone ever heard of him? Anyways I have got cripple creek down and can play it with some speed I don’t know why or how but I seem to pick up banjo surprising well and it has me really putting a lot of my time in it. What song would be a good one to work on? I like how cripple creek had multiple rolls in it I already had been experienced with hammer ons an pull offs and it sounds pretty catchy! I love rocky top but would learning another song first pepper me better for it? Thanks guys

Something after "Sweet by and by"?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:07:23 CST

I've got "Sweet by an by" (I used Stan Slack tab from the BHO library) down and really enjoy it and learning it.
Looking for something similar.
Any suggestions?
I usually just hear something I like and learn it.
Nothing's inspired me recently...

the playing of Jens Kruger

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:18:23 CST

I love this video. I've watched it for years. Jens is fantastic. His is totally relaxed and grounded. He address the room with eye contact. The way his thumb balances rhythm on the 5th string. Yes, his playing technique is advanced, but--more importantly--he improvises the best melodies. The best is at the end when Jens' brother, Uwe, gives Jens his plectrum and Jens drives it home plectrum style. Tremendous.

It's okay to not take a break

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:50:56 CST

It's perfectly acceptable to decline taking a break. Here's a video to show you how to do it. Watch at 0:37

Free Stuff

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 20:17:38 CST

Hi Fellow BHO pickers. Heres some free stuff

Finally Figured It Out!

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 18:06:00 CST

I finally figured out how to play the 5 string bluegrass, all the books, DVDs, on-line lessons are ok but practice, practice, practice is the best way to learn. I could be wrong but practice helps a lot.

Petticoat Junction

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 13:33:55 CST

I always wondered why Lester and Earl did this one. I never heard it on the show. Kind of wished they did the Green Acres theme song too. Those two along with The Beverly Hillbillies theme would be the trinity of CBS TV show songs. Anyway it's a great cover. Enjoy.

Banjo Lesson: Scott Vestal/Bela Fleck inspired D-Lick

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 12:30:25 CST

Here's a neat lick that includes a couple of 4th string triplets that I've heard Scott Vestal play. It's very fun to play and adds a little flash! Let me know what you think.

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Doggy Salt

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 09:41:43 CST

just chord - progression for Doggy Salt ? I've almost got it , on the first part : G D A E G D ... (2x) , then 2nd part = ? ... to A , D ?

Can you play bird calls?

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 06:31:34 CST

(Ya see, I had a couple sick days last week, and spent my time productively catching up on Three Stooges episodes, and, well, one thing led to another....)

So I'm working on "Listen to The Mockingbird" in C and in G. I want to be able to take it to the weekly jam because it is a fine old tune and should be easy enough for everybody to catch. But this song almost always has bird call effects in it. Early recordings use some kind of wind instrument, and bluegrassers assign them to the fiddler.

But since I'd be the one bringing it, I can't expect the fiddlers to ad-lib it. It'd be good if I could put some bird effects in there on the 5-string. I'm just not clever enough yet, to figure out how. Anyone know how to do this?

Geoff Hohwald Extended Music Retreat March 8 One Space Left

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 06:14:38 CST

Just to let everyone know that we have one space left for the Extended Banjo Music Retreat in the mountains of North Georgia from March 8 through March 11 The Geoff Hohwald Banjo/Music Camps nestled in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains enable students to study with bluegrass masters who are gifted instructors. A low student to teacher ratio results in a highly effective, results oriented learning environment where students start improving and continue to improve as they implement what they learn at the retreat. Students will: 1. Become more proficient on your instrument. Both lead and back up will be covered. 2. Learn how to jam and play effectively with others. There will be small different level jams going on concurrently. Because these jams have 2 or 3 students plus the instructor he can hear what each student is playing and make suggestions. Students can evenlearn to arrange songs. 3. Be able to practice independently. There are designated practice areas where the student can practice independently at any time. Each area includes a learning and practice station where the student can work with videos and audio tracks. 4. Leave the Retreat with a written plan. The instructors have time to work 1 on 1 with the students to develop and test a plan for each student. 5. Be monitored by the 2 or 3 instructors who can give feedback and make suggestions in real time. 6. Learn to relax which helps students have more fun and perform better. With a ratio of 2 students per teacher the teacher is not overloaded or stressed and can really take the time to focus on each student’s individual questions and needs. Camp starts Thursday at Noon and ends Sunday at 11:30. Schedule can vary slightly based on class needs • Thursday 12:00 til 2:30 and 3:30 til 6:30 including Jam Session Friday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1;30 to 6:00 including Jam Session Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30 to 6:00 Including Jam Session • Sunday session: 9:30 to 11:00 Wrap Up Answer Questions Note: Some students traveling long distances may skip the SundaySession. Let us know so we can wrap you up Saturday evening. Location in Dahlonega Ga. List of Hotels sent by request. Dahlonega is 70 miles North of Atlanta. Contact us at, or call 404 218 8580 for travel options Cost of instruction $550 To reserve a spot send a deposit of $125 to: Geoff Hohwald 1112 Glenwood Ave SE Atlanta, Ga 30316 Please call or emil me with andy questions. Sincerely, Geoff Testimonials I can’t say enough about how much Vernon and I enjoyed the extended weekend music camp. I learned so much from the small group sessions with Curtis Jones, David Ellis and you. The individual attention was absolutely great! Each of you has a slightly different approach to the learning process and I came away feeling both encouraged and challenged by all of you. I can’t wait to do it again! Group Jams with gentle, but constructive, pointers from the three of you were helpful to push me along in my learning and really increased my confidence level. I plan to include some of those ideas the next time we jam here in town. I also brought home many ideas to incorporate into my regular practice with the specific intent of increasing my speed and being able to improve (and be more creative with) the dynamics of my playing and singing. I also really enjoyed the healthy delicious meals so carefully planned and beautifully presented by Jaye Crawford. I’ve been to many camps where I had to run out for fast food by myself [...]

Looking for online instructor

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 21:08:50 CST

Wondering if anyone knew of an online instructor? I can't find an instructor close enough for me to drive. I remember seeing one online that would give lessons over the internet but I can't remember were. I've got about 5 years experience but would really love to get some one on one advise and lessons for improvement. Any thoughts?

Blackberry Blossom backup - B7 chord

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 13:19:13 CST

I am trying to learn vamping backup for Blackberry Blossom. The "A" part's no issue. The "B" part goes like this ...

Em Em Em B7 Em Em G/C D/G

I am playing the Em at the 8th fret, G at the 7th fret, C at the 8th fret and D at the 10th fret.

I need help with the B7.

I apologize in advance if this has been covered a thousand times - I did some searching and could not find an answer.


How to Play Dave Hum Tunes?

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:30:08 CST

I'm intrigued, as you may know, with Dave Hum, but here's a question about picking technique. He lost part of his right index finger as a result of complications from pneumonia and so adapted many of the fiddle tunes he already knew. If I want to learn one of his tunes, "Grasshopper Sitting on a Sweet Potato Vine." for instance, should I adhere to his later technique or play it using all three fingers as the tune suggests itself to me?

new song

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:10:45 CST

been playing in a band for about 2 years, just finished recording a new one called "Back to Georgia" We only rote the song two weeks before hand so i didn't get a chance to come up with a solo its in open A. Any feed back would be great and input on what sort approach to take on solo when i get the chance what do you guys think?.

I dont know how to attach the song to the link to the banjohangout playlist is below


Bluegrass-Scruggs style

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 11:13:41 CST

Earl was one hot banjo player. No doubt about it. But there is more to Bluegrass music than hot banjo breaks, much more. It's easy to get sucked down that rabbit hole & get to where you can't see the forest for all the trees. A big part of Bluegrass is the vocals & the harmonies, without all those songs, it can get boring really quick. So how come no one talks about anything other than playing lead & backup? Or maybe I'm barking up the wrong forum or HO?

If you really want to get the most out of your banjo & all the money & effort you've put into it, join in on the vocals. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, just jump in there. Like with banjo, everyone else is there to help, but help only comes to those who ask. And no one is a natural born vocalist. It's just that the good ones have been at it longer.

Now traditionally banjo players sing the baritone part, below the lead, so learn to do that. Yeah, you'll no doubt double a note here & there with the lead or the tenor part, but you'll learn. And you become more valuable if you can sing any part, even if it's just the chorus line. Pick out several of your favorite bands, preferably include a couple that often stack the harmonies inverted. (TBL, or LBT) Study (listen) the effect of the unconventional stacking of the harmonies.  Who is doing what/when? And then there is the Bass line in four part gospel stuff. 

It doesn't happen overnight. There are a lot of interesting stories about who did what, when, & why. If this thread survives the scrutiny of the moderators, I'll leave that for others to fill in.

Arpeggios for Scruggs players!

Mon, 8 Jan 2018 10:39:50 CST

Hello fellow pickers, after much research and some lesson from my own banjo gurus, I have collected some of the best arpeggios for Scruggs style pickers to use in their playing. This is because these they are adapted to the rolls, and so are easy to play without a whole lot of re-tooling your right hand. Also, they are for the keys of G, C and D, so are super useful to most jams.

Check out the lesson preview on YouTube, and feel free to contact me for any questions!

JamAlong Music (530) 566-3629

Start a Bluegrass Jam

Mon, 8 Jan 2018 06:36:34 CST

Hi. I'm a novice player (about 3 years). I'm in an area where there aren't any jams that meet when I can attend. I was thinking about starting my own but I don't really know the "rules". Any suggestions?

I know a few people that are interested but it would be great if I had some idea about how to run the jam.

Loss of memory

Mon, 8 Jan 2018 06:24:59 CST


So i've been playing for about 10 months now and I've been playing the same three tunes over and over and over until they're second nature, even mixing them up at times and adding my own little embelishments. I would say I'm now pretty familiar with the instrument and especially those three songs.

So, Saturday I decide to try something new and learn the first part of a new song, again I play each section over and over until it's sunk in and move on to the next part eventually putting them together and playing the whole thing over and over. Satisfied I had successfully got it engrained into my subconscious I tried practising the three I know well only to find I couldn't play any of them! Came back half an hour afterwards and could?

Anyone else experience momentary banjo-nesia when trying something new?

Playing and singing

Sun, 7 Jan 2018 19:10:53 CST

Wasn't sure how to title this post, but I have a question for the "brain trust" here.

I've been learning a break for the song "You Are My Sunshine" in 'G' and can more or less sing it in that key. I was talking with a friend and she normally sings it in 'C'. I could capo to 'C', but I've heard that that doesn't sound real great. Besides if I call it out, I should be able to do it in a key in which I'm comfortable playing and singing.

Anyway here's my question. If I play and sing this song in 'G', can my friend sing with it and harmonize somehow (showing my ignorance here)?


Index picking finger problem

Sat, 6 Jan 2018 22:51:35 CST

When im picking with my right hand my index finger wants to lift up which slows my picking down a lot. How can I get my finger to stop doing that. My middle finger does great but my index finger seems to have a mind of its own

time to get rid of banjo ?

Sat, 6 Jan 2018 14:14:49 CST

just been on youtube sleepy man banjoboys boy why can these boys play so well at this age you would not think it possible good luck to them I think they are at the top of the game

"Does not play well with others"

Sat, 6 Jan 2018 14:04:32 CST

Hey guys! I've been playing banjo for a long while now but have never played with others or really jammed. I'm wanting to change that and get more involved with the bluegrass community. I've always learned individual songs through tab, and as a result I cannot create my own breaks and find it hard to follow chord progression unless I already know the tune. I'm thinking I would benefit from playing along with records/DVDs -- but even still, I don't know how to improvise. As I understand it, improvising is just stringing a bunch of chord appropriate licks together to follow the melody. Where would your next step be if you were me?
Thanks everybody!

My pinkie!!

Sat, 6 Jan 2018 12:30:07 CST

OK, I'm 70 years old and maybe a little stiff. I have been taking lessons for almost 2 years now. I am having a problem with my pinkie. How do I get it limber enough to stretch across, say 4 frets distance? My hands aren't little but they aren't huge either. I wear size large gloves - big enough for a banjo player, right? Any exercises I can do? Is this simply one of those hurdles that eventually is overcome through practice? Anybody else with this problem?


Fri, 5 Jan 2018 11:41:49 CST

Isth a auh


Fri, 5 Jan 2018 11:38:35 CST


How to Play Foggy Mountain Special

Fri, 5 Jan 2018 11:03:05 CST

Hey everyone! I've posted a new lesson video on how to play Foggy Mountain Special...

I hope it helps! :-)

I’m just a banjo in a rock in roll band

Thu, 4 Jan 2018 23:18:46 CST

One of my wife’s friends husband has a rock and roll band and got an acoustic gig at the local tavern.It was the weekly Sunday Funday, and the bar owners prefer an acoustic small group of two or three instruments for the days three hours of entertainment. The guy asked me to play some tunes with him so I practiced some tunes for half an hour and then bam the next day we were onstage. Another guy showed up and three of us, Banjo ,Acoustic guitar and electric bass started to wing it. We did a very slow bluesy Plastic Jesus, with mixed results, then did an improv dueling banjo thing that got a huge applause from the Sunday crowd. The two other guys had played a lot together and did a really nice Mommas got squeezebox tune, I backed that up and was able to get a lead Banjo break that sort sounded like the original, we did a Mountain Dew that was aweful,they played it too slow and bluesy,Take it easy by the Eagles was a big hit, the banjo part in that is pretty cool. I finished my contribution to the band with a very cool Down the Road feeling bad ,you can get away with a bluesy or rock n roll flavor to that tune and it still sounds OK. What tunes do you Banjo pickers like to play when your playing with guys that aren’t bluegrass guys, but are rockers and country band players.

Playing on the spot

Wed, 3 Jan 2018 07:53:40 CST

A few weeks ago our weekly gospel jam group put on a Christmas performance. We moved to a bigger venue and invited a lot of people. It featured Christmas songs with various solos by each instrumentalist. When it came my turn I did my solos, and while they weren't train wrecks, there were some distinctly noticeable flubs. This was discouraging to me because I'd practiced so hard.

Last night at our weekly jam one of our member's mother was visiting from France. She requested a Christmas banjo solo because she loved the sound of the banjo. I said sure and played through one of the same songs twice, virtually flawlessly (one small hiccup which I doubt anyone noticed but me). I think that in this case I didn't have any time to think about it and just went into complete auto-pilot. Now if I can only do that when I know in advance that I will be playing.

P.S. I have read Pete Wernick's excellent article on stage fright, nervousness, etc. and am working on implementing some of his suggestions.

Augmented and Diminished Chord Charts for Banjo

Wed, 3 Jan 2018 04:48:20 CST

Anyone know where I can get chord charts for augmented and diminished chords up and down the neck for banjo?

Single String Trouble

Tue, 2 Jan 2018 14:03:42 CST

Hey Everyone,

I was hoping I could get some feed back to a problem I am having. When I try to play a single string lick (ex. Pike County Breakdown), I just get this awful buzzing sound when I try to play it fast. I think what is happening is the string is vibrating, and I am hitting it again while it is still vibrating. I am using a Medium size Propik Thumbpick (which the pick part is shorter compared to most other picks), and my other finger picks are also Propik's.

Anyone else have this problem or have some tips to help me out?


Down side to Keith tuners

Mon, 1 Jan 2018 17:44:41 CST

Im thinking of investing in new Keith tuners and was wondering if there are negatives to adding them to my banjo.
My banjo has had the peg head repaired after breaking in half so I'm concerned about that and staying in tune . Any advice? thanks

Reflecting on a journey

Mon, 1 Jan 2018 14:11:25 CST

Today it's exactly five years since I started practicing a banjo. It's made me a little reflective about the journey into learning.

  •  My banjo has been a lifeline to sanity at some points and near insanity at others!
  •  I'm glad that my wife likes banjo music (and noise!) and I can practice lots. Empty nest is a time like no other for music learning.
  • Big thanks to people who wrote books - Nickerson, Davis, even Seager.
  • Enormous gratitude to all the folks who write out Tabs for licks and songs with nothing more expected than a little acknowledgement. Same for instructional videos.
  • Thanks to Banjophobic and Rick Van Patten who pointed summer 2016 on a video that I made that my basic timing needed work. It's finally getting steady and even.
  • Being part of a country/bluegrass group has been a blessing -- motivation to get up to speed on breaks and intros led to hours of practice for over 50 performances. Unfortunately I had a tendency to whiz past the basics and try to get too fast too soon.  In retrospect, I would have waited longer to try to learn a bunch of complicated licks, alternate tunings, rolls, etc.
  • Two jams a month has been a fine way to stretch my experience of backup and picking out breaks to new songs!
  • Glad for BH and good folks who respectfully help along, whether it's with playing or banjo set up, repair, re-frets, "nut jobs", etc.

Happy New Year to you all and the best of a Banner Banjo Year in 2018.  Still lots of learning left to go!

Hand position

Mon, 1 Jan 2018 13:29:02 CST

I'm pretty new to banjo. I've seen a lot of players use their ring and pinkie finger pressed against the head of the banjo. Is this absolutely necessary? I've been using the base of my thumb to press against the head and this feels much more comfortable and makes it easier for me to pluck the strings. Should i force myself to change?

Whose Backup Banjo Band/Group CD Do You Favor?

Mon, 1 Jan 2018 03:16:39 CST

Outside of Earl's, whose backup playing did you find more helpful to listen to as you started and progressed playing backup? I listen to my favorite banjo CD's often, and as you would expect I can hear and identify much more of what I'm hearing the more I play and learn. I wish to add 3 or 4 CD's to my collection and am looking for some suggestions that I might not have thought of. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

what and in which order....

Mon, 1 Jan 2018 01:31:40 CST

Hi all,
Only my second post here and only owned my banjo for a week so go easy on me!

Over the last week I have spent about an hour each day to get familiar with the instrument. Since I have never played any instrument I am at absolute base camp. My goal is to get to the point that by middle/close of summer I can play maybe Cripple Creek and one or two other songs. Not at any real pace but hit clean notes, not loosing my way and being able to keep time.

Over the week I have learned some basic 4 and 8 note roll pattern, how to tune my instrument, hand position and some very basic left hand chord holds. Also learned how to read tab. By now I can play a small bot of Cripple Creek, slow and not in time at all as I am learning how to use two hands.

What would you recommend as my weekly learning? Rolls first, or combine rolls and chords, or dive straight into easy tabs? I can dedicate about one hour every day and am not expecting any miracles in terms of progression.

On the side of this, I am trying to learn some basic music theory (not included in physical practice time) to give me a grounding when reading and hearing stuff.

Many thanks and a happy 2018 to all.


Pointers for a beginner?

Sun, 31 Dec 2017 14:18:59 CST

I started playing banjo in August after playing guitar for about a decade. I bought earl’s book, but it’s not giving me the in-depth knowledge I was hoping for, so I got the Janet Davis book as well.

There are absolutely no teachers in my area, so that’s out.

My goal is to be a competent player and ultimately be able to play Fleetwood Mac and Eagles songs.

Does anyone have any pointers for a beginner that wants to play these songs?

Can someone tell me what Roll this is ?

Sun, 31 Dec 2017 11:11:54 CST

Anyone know what the Roll is,what finger letters and how would I enter this into a metronome ?

Knowing the chords is too much for me as a newbie,so I just want to practice rolls.

I ordered the KLIQ MetroPitch because the Metronome can change notes . I have no clue what I'm talking about, but the reviews said this was a good thing,because other Metronomes don't have this feature for this price range.

Here's the video (only 1.40 minutes ), thanks.

Bluegrass, Newgrass, Old-time, and Americana Music

Sun, 31 Dec 2017 09:03:29 CST

"Bluegrass, Newgrass, Old-time, and Americana Music" by Craig Harris


"This well-researched volume reaches deep into the roots of bluegrass and follows its long journey to the modern age.”—Pete “Dr. Banjo” Wernick, former president of the International Bluegrass Music Association and founding member of Hot Rize/Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers

“From old-time Appalachian mountain music, to the innovations of early bluegrass pioneers, to jazz-inflected ‘newgrass’ and beyond, Harris presents an intriguing web of stories often told by the key players themselves.”—Scott Billington, three-time Grammy winning Roots music producer and a former vice president of Rounder Records.

“Harris colors his descriptions with stories and personal anecdotes, giving readers the sense they themselves are being addressed directly—a great introduction to one of America’s greatest cultural legacies.”—Mark Rubin, founder of the Bad Livers

“It’s impossible to imagine a more comprehensive or varied cast of interviewees to catch the complex flavor of bluegrass music and its culture.”—Ron Thomason, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

Author Craig Harris invites us on an entertaining and informative journey through old-time music and bluegrass. Combining research with more than 120 exclusive interviews, Harris covers the earliest days of mountain music to the groundbreaking sounds of Grammy winners Alison Krauss, Béla Fleck, and Jerry Douglas’s Earls of Leicester.

Craig Harris is the author of several books on roots music. He performs with the Gaea Star Band, with whom he cohosts a weekly radio show. Harris taught music in public and charter schools before launching his award-winning Drum Away the Blues program.

Information about the recently published revised paperback edition of Harris's "The Band: Pioneers of Americana Music" (Rowman & Littlefield) at

Another string question

Sat, 30 Dec 2017 20:44:53 CST

Most three finger, Scruggs style banjo players change their strings often to keep the sharp, crisp banjo sound. Is the same true for the Clawhammer players, or are they content with a more plunky tone?

advice for making a tablature booklet

Sat, 30 Dec 2017 19:18:48 CST

Hi all, I need a winter's project. I've got ten instrumental originals I'd like to tab out and sell the booklet for cheap - just to get my cost back. I am looking for advice on a few things... a) Should I include the usual "how to read tab" section, or just print the tabs to the tunes? b) I'm going to save the pages as pdf files and print them off at my place - except for the cover page, which I want to be a heavier material and colored. What is the preferred way to bind the papers? I'm thinking of going to Office Depot or some place like that to bind them, but I'm not sure what style of binders to buy. I want them to be easy for someone who is reading along in the tab. c) Also, is it easier for people reading tab books to have 1-side printed or both sides printed as you turn the pages? Thanks Doug