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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Funny .. there isn't much talk of banjo here ;)

I've been listening to a lot of bluegrass lately and I love how it swings. (usually without a drummer!)
My problem is that my main instruments , piano , sax and clarinet aren't really standard bluegrass instruments .

I could probably pick up acoustic bass but it sounds sort of painful on the fingers and I couldn't double on clarinet occasionally
There is a thread on violin http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=48972 and it seems pretty hard to learn .

So what about banjo ? Does anybody play it and how tough is it to get up to gig ability ?

...and if you have any bluegrass groups to recommend please chime in .
I've been listening to Laurie Lewis , Alison Krauss , Claire Lynch and the The Cox Family rocks ! (or rather swings)

Of course I still love jazz and it would be great to get some bluegrass players to try some out some Coltrane tunes :D
 

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I tried (not very hard)... I failed. Strings and I don't get along, the only the I'm good at picking is my nose. I do love the banjo and maybe some day will have the time and energy to conquer it. Good luck!
 

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String band music is swell.

If you go with a guitar you can play rhythm for
any band, including jazz.

Mandolin is neat but not as transferable.

Banjo is least transferable, fiddle more so, like guitar.

Guess I just favor guitar, but you really can go further
faster with it, I think.

I wouldn't want to dissuade you from banjo tho.
If you hear it, do it!
 

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Check out anything with Bela Fleck on banjo.
 

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hakukani said:
Check out anything with Bela Fleck on banjo.
He's the man for sure!

Banjo pickin' is a higher degree of difficulty than bass or guitar IMO. Most bluegrass is played at very high tempos. You really need to work your right hand to get good at playing melodies and chords at the same time. I have a banjo I have not touched in a long time. I also dig the bluegrass style. But, you right that sax isn't or hasn't been apart of it. Maybe you could make a saxy bluegrass record and start something :D :cool:
 

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I knew a guy at IU that played a curved sop with a bluegrass band.
They were great. They hated Rocky Top so much that they played it reggae style and called Rasta Top, and put in Smoke on the Water for a bridge.
 

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selmer 26 nino, 22 curved sop, super alto, King Super 20 and Martin tenors, Stowasser tartogatos
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I "picked" up bluegrass banjo a number of years ago, but never really pursued it. I still have one and take it out occasionally. There are a number of different styles that generally do not mix. Finger pickers are not frailers and vice-versa. Any style, of course, is quite different than woodwind. If you are a decent guitar player my guess is that with a couple of years of hard work you could get to gigging status. Finger pickers learn a number of picking patterns, and then it is a matter of combining them in creative ways. As with any instrument there is no limit to how far you can go with interesting fingerings and picking styles and patterns.

Toby
 

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I just heard Jake Shimabukuru (the ukulele virtuoso) play for our school. He played a bluegrass type tune on his Uke. He made it sound like a banjo by picking with his fingernails. He also has been trying out Flamenco ukulele...
 

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Banjo

I started playing banjo with a couple of guitarists when I was about 12 years old. We were playing mostly folk music (shows my age). Pete Seeger was the big influence then. I was given a banjo that had an animal skin head. It still even had hair on it!! Years later, when I moved to South Georgia, the banjo went on the moving truck, but didn't come off. My wife bought me a new one for my birthday. I took bluegrass lessons (had to learn a whole new set of chord patterns from the ones I learned for folk music) and even learned to frail. I got pretty good. Sold all of my string instruments when I crushed my right hand.

Bluegrass banjo tunes to an open "G" chord, and you can get some really good sounding blues licks on it.

Randy
 

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I have a Gibson RB-250 sitting in my closet gathering dust. I gave up sax back in the early '70s to take up banjo and Bluegrass and played for about ten years. I was into Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers, Osborne Brothers, etc. Then one day I heard some Charlie Parker and I went back to the sax like a shot. Never looked back. But I enjoyed my Bluegrass days. And I found that playing a string and chording instrument gave me an understanding of harmony and chord progessions that I didn't have when I played just sax. So the banjo actually helped my sax playing. Also I'm a big fan of Bela Fleck's. A monster musician and very nice cat. I've hung out and jammed with him a couple of times. He's really into bebop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everybody for all the great advice .

Thanks everybody for all the great advice . I really appreciate you all taking the time to help me out
(and maybe somebody else in the future)


hakukani said:
I just heard Jake Shimabukuru (the ukulele virtuoso) play for our school. He played a bluegrass type tune on his Uke. He made it sound like a banjo by picking with his fingernails. He also has been trying out Flamenco ukulele...
Thanks Hakukani , I'll see if I can find any Jake Shimabukuru .eMusic has George Shimabukuru but not Jake .
I've played a little uke and I liked it . My wife's cheap acoustic guitar kills my left hand but I seem to be able to finger pick okay . I was thinking of trying a tenor or baritone uke .

I just watched "How To Play The Five String Banjo" on DVD by Pete Seeger and he is a "Mother" on the banjo . I never realized how good he was or that he even played the banjo :shock: It's also neat to hear the stories and history of the old folk songs . He says that the banjo is a rhythm instrument
(like a drum that plays notes) .

Here in Northern California I found only one guy on Craigslist teaching banjo . There are zillions of guitar players but I thought that I might have a better chance being a mediocre banjo player verses being mediocre at any of the other instruments of course my time would have to be spot-on.
 

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hakukani said:
I knew a guy at IU that played a curved sop with a bluegrass band.
They were great. They hated Rocky Top so much that they played it reggae style and called Rasta Top, and put in Smoke on the Water for a bridge.
:lol: I got to hear The Osborne Brothers perform that and other tunes live at The Grand Ol' Opry my one and only visit through Nashville.

But have to agree that is a tune that's been picked to death! :badgrin:

Alex
 

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Try to find The Dillards - Back Porch Bluegrass, recorded around 1965 or 66. The first time I played it I thought I had it at the wrong speed. I dunno how anybody can think that fast!
 

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