This is topic Playing the banjo in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by StigLarson (Member # 5579) on :
I was given a banjo for christmas. I am wondering whether anyone in that crazy world they call hatrack has any clues as to playing the banjo and, if so, how I too may learn to be proficient. Thanks all you brothers and sisters in the banjo. Keep on twangin'.
Posted by ak (Member # 90) on :
google for "how to play the banjo" sites. I bet there are lots. I know there are tons of great ones for guitar.

I have never played banjo and don't even know how they are tuned, so I can't help you at all. But I think they sound terrific. The very first song I would learn if I got a banjo is one off Beck's Stereopathetic Soul Manure called "Today has been a F****d Up Day". It's a traditional mountain blugrass song, I think. A classic.
Posted by T_Smith (Member # 3734) on :
Does anyone else have Dueling Banjo's playing in their head?
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
I have relief for Papa Moose playing in my head. [Smile]
Posted by Speed (Member # 5162) on :
Watch Harold and Maude as inspiration, then learn how to play "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out" by Cat Stevens.

Good Luck.
Posted by asQmh (Member # 4590) on :
I think Mel Bay has a book for everything ...
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Is it a five string banjo or a tenor banjo?
Posted by Annie (Member # 295) on :
What's the difference bewteen a trampoline and a banjo?


You take off your shoes before you jump on a trampoline.
Posted by StigLarson (Member # 5579) on :
To Glenn: Its a five string Banjo

To Annie: A Big "Ha ha".
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
I've always wanted to know what Stairway to Heaven sounds like on the definitely need to learn it. [Cool]
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
A tenor banjo can be played like a mandolin, tuned the same as a violin, and you can play anything you can pick out of a scale, or strum it for rhythm.

To play five string banjo, you have to retune the drone string depending on what key you're playing in.

My mother plays 5 string banjo, and I tried to learn some stuff, but I didn't stick to it because I couldn't figure out all the tunings. I'll stick with guitar.

I'd say you should look for a folk music organization in your area. As with any instrument, the best way to do it is to learn from people who know the instrument. Either take lessons, or become friends with someone who plays. Also, see if you can pick a style you like, bluegrass or frailing are the major divisions that I'm aware of. It probably pays to try to learn one style at a time, so you don't get confused by switching. Bluegrass has been big since the 70's, but frailing is coming back. Old Pete Seegar albums are frailing style. You can sing and play at the same time more easily.

What does it mean when a banjo player drools out of both sides of his mouth?

The stage is level.
Posted by CalvinMaker (Member # 2032) on :
I started playing mandolin last spring. Besides taking at least a few lessons, I'd suggest looking up some chords for the banjo to get you started. I find that playing chords is easier than simply picking, and with the most basic chords, you can already play a wealth of songs. For example, the first thing I ever played on mandolin was "La Bamba". G, C, D.
Posted by Annie (Member # 295) on :
The first song I learned on guitar was Silent Night. A E D
Posted by Primal Curve (Member # 3587) on :

You could always get your hands on Dolly Parton's cover of Stairway.
Posted by ak (Member # 90) on :
Yes, if there is a music store nearby that sells banjos, there will be people who play who work there, hang out there, buy their instruments there, and so on. A great resource.

The music that's home-grown and very vibrant in the Birmingham area is mostly bluegrass and folk type music, and there is a music store in Homewood called Fretted Instruments that specializes in banjos and mandolins and so on. Most of the other area music stores sell more guitars and keyboards and amps and other sound equipment, as for a rock band. But this one place for many years had daily lunchtime bluegrass jam sessions. I used to go and listen sometimes. I love to hear people making music. The type of music being played doesn't even matter as much as the spirit they put into it. It was a lot of fun. [Smile]

So see if you can hook up with anything of the sort that might be going on in your town. You will be glad you did.
Posted by Dragon (Member # 3670) on :
Banjo is awesome! unfortunatly, I know nothing about it. Good luck!
Posted by Glenn Arnold (Member # 3192) on :
Additional note:

Frailing is also called "clawhammer style," it's more like strumming and consequently easier than bluegrass. But you still have to contend with the tunings.

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