Home Forums Banjo Banjo Lesson Discussion Banjo Basics

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    • #66854
      Mike
      Keymaster

      This is the discussion topic for the lesson Banjo Basics. Please leave your comments or any questions you might have about the lesson here!

    • #70796
      jmckay
      Participant

      Ok, I don’t consider myself to be a beginner player, but I didn’t think would hurt to go over some basics. I’d like to get better at playing, but find myself constrained by demands being made on my time. I do try to set aside some practice time nearly every day, but often it’s at the end of the day when my brain is feeling fried. I know that I’ll begin to see improvement once I start to practice more, but is there anything that I should do to get the most out of the short time that I have to practice. A second thing is that I find myself to be tied too much to tablature. I have a terrible memory, and have always found it challenging to memorize things, but I thought that playing music is less about memorizing and more about being able to follow the music, which is another skill that I need to develop better. I figured I’d give this way of learning a shot, since Mike seems to be a good teacher. I have had a local teacher before, but he’s gotten busy and is less available then he used to be.

      Thanks,

      -Jim

      • #70806
        Mike
        Keymaster

        Jim,

        Thanks for your question.

        I think it’s great you’re making time for any daily practice even if it’s a small amount. You can always increase your practice time later on. The most important thing is you keep your practice sessions fun as that’s the biggest predictor of what will keep you playing/improving.

        As far as making use of practice time, I’d say the single best thing you could do is play along with the practice tracks I provide.

        You could practice doing basic rolls or pinches, licks or backup as you improve. This will help you learn to feel the music and the timing which is important when breaking off of tablature. You could also practice “filling the space” of the spots in the tab you can’t remember. In real life jam sessions, I rarely try to play a tab from memory as that can be difficult. Playing along with the practice tracks is the best way to get comfortable just “jamming.

        For me, I try and sing the words in my head which helps me remember the song when I’m playing without tab, but this takes too practice just like other skills.

        If you have any other questions let me know!

        Best,
        Mike

    • #97405
      Rod Krause
      Participant

      I was just wondering if there is another TAB for the Basic Banjo Rolls. The PDF I downloaded had a few missing. I wrote them out, but I was just wondering if there is another download somewhere that follows the video on the Basic Banjo Rolls.

      Regards

      Rod

    • #97411
      Rod Krause
      Participant

      Its ok _ found the one that matches the video “Banjo Right Hand Workout”. I had downloaded “Basic Banjo Roll”.

      Ready to get into it now. Thank you

    • #122460
      dobro
      Participant

      I’m only seeing the “Basin Banjo Rolls” which is different than the video.
      Where is the “Basic Banjo Roll”?

    • #205912
      James Thomas
      Participant

      Hello,
      I’ve just started the “Banjo Basics” in the Guided Learning Program. My question is how proficient should we be before trying to progress to the next exercise ?. Is there a certain “bench mark” or gauge we should obtain before moving up ?.

      Also…in your experience how long should it take an “average” rank beginner whose practicing 1-2 hours a day to get through the “Banjo Basics” to where he’s ready to progress to the next exercise ?.
      Thank you !!!.
      Jim

      • #229405
        Mike
        Keymaster

        Sorry for the delay in response.

        It’s fine to jump around a bit when you’re learning the basics. I wouldn’t get stuck on one lesson for more than a week.

        You’ll always be circling back and working on foundational techniques.

        Are you still working through the Basic section?

        – Mike

    • #247745
      DAVID WAKE
      Participant

      I have just bought a second hand banjo – and am new to Banjo though I have played guitar for a lot of years and mandolin for about a couple.

      Q. Is it necessary to wear picks to play the five string banjo? I find that my nails can do the job and get a good sound out of it – and I think I will be faster picking like that?

      David

      • #247781
        Mike
        Keymaster

        If you’re trying to learn clawhammer banjo yes, you can play without picks.

        If you’re trying to learn 3 finger bluegrass style banjo picks are absolutely necessary.

        You simply won’t be able to get the speed, consistency and tone from your fingernails. They’re not at the right angle, made out of the correct material or the right length.

        It may feel like you’re taking a shortcut skipping learning how to use the picks but you’re just building habits that you’ll have to unlearn later on.

        The picks feel weird for everyone at first but it’s critical you learn how to use them if you want to play bluegrass style.

        If you have any other questions let me know. Keep picking.

        Best,
        Mike

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by Mike.
    • #247847
      DAVID WAKE
      Participant

      Thanks for the quick response.

      David

    • #247855
      DAVID WAKE
      Participant

      Hi Mike

      Just following up and looking for banjo picks. There’s a huge variety of them! Metal or Plastic? Do you have a particular brand that you recommend?

      Thanks

      David

      • #247924
        Mike
        Keymaster

        Most people use two metal fingerpicks and a plastic thumbpick. That’s what I’d recommend to start.

        I use dunlop .025 fingerpicks and I’d check out a golden gate plastic thumbpick.

        That should get you started until you figure out exactly what your preference is.

        Best,
        Mike

    • #248116
      DAVID WAKE
      Participant

      Thanks.

      That is what I now have.

      David

    • #261982
      Melanie Yare
      Participant

      I am a complete beginner on the banjo and was really excited when mine arrived. However, after I had tuned it, it still didn’t sound right as I went up the frets. After some hunting online I discovered the importance of the position of the bridge (I admit I hadn’t read the instructions in my haste to start). It might be worth mentioning in your video for tuning for people like me who do not read instructions.
      I am enjoying your lessons and like the way they are set up. Thank you.
      Mel

    • #271528
      DAVID WAKE
      Participant

      Mike

      Going back to the beginning again with the banjo! Here’s a question. You “plant” your little finger (pinkie to you) on the soundboard. I find that quite restrictive to begin with. Coming from finger picking with a guitar where you “plant” your index middle and ring fingers to play an arpeggio, or pluck a chord. I couldn’t play a classical piece if I planted my little finger on the soundboard of the guitar. Now with the banjo of course you are only using the index and middle finger. Should I try to retrain my hand with keeping the little finger down. What are the advantages? Any disadvantages?

      David

    • #319846
      Chris
      Participant

      Hi Mike. There are so many clip-on tuners. If you don’t mind sharing the info, which one do you use? It looks like a good size and it’s just hard to tell what might be good.
      Thanks,
      Chris

      • #335142
        Mike
        Keymaster

        I’ve used a bunch of different ones in the past. They all work about the same regardless of the price so I don’t recommend spending a lot on a tuner.

        I currently use one called Uni-Tune and I think it was around $20-30.

    • #335079
      Robert Watkins
      Participant

      Hi, bit of feedback – I think you should extend the banjo basics into separate tutorials – covering really basic things.I’ve been learning for about 6 months now and only found your website after about 5 months. When I was first starting I needed something much more simple, with much shorter tabs – say 4 bars max. I keep going back to the basics and finding things I missed, really basic things like;

      How to fit the strap to the banjo and wear it.

      Where to place the bridge.

      How to tune the banjo – where to clip the tuner (I still haven’t found a good place) – and/or tune the strings to each other using the 3rd 4th 5th frets.

      The numbers in circles on the tabs are which finger to use on the left hand.

      More chords – and how to practice chords and chord transitions – found a good tip where you press the chord – release it and then try and place back down all together.

      More backup with tabs, I haven’t found anyone to play with but I’ve found trying to play backup to your recordings works well.

    • #335084
      Robert Watkins
      Participant

      One more – how to fit/shape banjo picks 🙂

    • #352768
      Carl Owen
      Participant

      I think a chart showing finger positions for the chords would be helpful. It is hard to see finger placement sometimes and teaching by using “first finger on first fret and second finger on third string etc” is harder for visual learners.

      • #356770
        Mike
        Keymaster

        Sorry for the delay Carl. Let me work on that! Good suggestion.

        – Mike

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