Learning banjo

Learning banjo

I recently dug up my dad’s old tenor banjo while cleaning out the basement at my parents’ house, and I’d like to learn to play it. I have absolutely no idea where to start though, and I was wondering if anyone could recommend some resources or learning materials for an absolute beginner. Any advice (besides "find the nearest bin and toss it") would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Re: Learning banjo

If it’s a book/cd that you’re looking for, you might try this one.

http://halshawmusic.co.uk/irtenor.html

Plent of resources on the internet, of course. Just Google: "tenor banjo tutorial".

But firstly, if that banjo is been lying in a basement for years, the strings are likely to be shot. So invest in a new set of strings (change them one string at a time).

Are you confident about tuning it (e.g. by reference to a tuning fork or other known pitch source?) If not, you might consider buying one of those clip-on tuners.

Good luck!

Re: Learning banjo

You might need to do more than just change the strings-depending on the condition of the instrument it might need a new head(drum head or skin) and a set-up; at the very least check the bridge placement for intonation. None of this is rocket science and a lot of information is available on-line so if you are handy(or daring) you could try it yourself.
In addition to Mix’s recommendation Enda Scahill’s books are very good
http://www.endascahill.com/the-tutors.html
and Gerry O’Conner has a method book out too. I haven’t used it but how bad could it be?

Re: Learning banjo

In case you want to play Irish music on it, you may want to get a set of GDAE strings rather than CGDA. Not that the latter makes it impossible for Irish tunes, but for most of us, it makes sense to use the same tuning and fingerings as fiddle/mandolin.

Re: Learning banjo

Get gerry o conner’s book

Re: Learning banjo

i would advise against gerry o connors book, it has a number of misprints, and in my opinion is not as good value as Sullys book,which has many more tunes, and is structured just as well, Sullys book has detailed picking patterns, which are worth experimenting with, even if you do not agree with them 100 per cent, it gives you an insight into right hand picking patterns, another very good book is the enda scahill book

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Re: Learning banjo

A bit of disagreement about Gerry O’Connors book here. I pesonally think it’s good. I didn’t notice the misprints that Dick Miles mentions (no doubt he’s right), but that’s because I play by ear so I just listened to the CD. Not only that but I play fiddle and only doodle on the banjo and I just bought the book (i.e. C.D.) to hear the tunes. All the same I could easilly follow it on banjo. Lots of good tunes and good value in my opinion. But don’t mess around;- get all of the suggested books and get into it. First though, as jeff lindqvist says, be sure to set it up with the right strings.

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Re: Learning banjo

I am not saying the O Connor book is bad, I am saying that the others in my opinion are better, they have more tunes and more detailed right hand instruction, furthermore i have had complaints from beginners that O Connor plays the tunes too fast to play along with.
Gerry O Connor is a fantastic player..but it does not necessarily follow that his is the best tutor available.

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Re: Learning banjo

The best performer can be the worst teacher, and vice versa.

Re: Learning banjo

With regard to the banjo itself, having it properly set up will probably make a big difference. If you have some experience and a bit of mechanical aptitude, you can probably do a lot of it on your own. If it was unused for a long time, the bracket nuts may be loose and the head tension is probably way too loose. New strings are essential. Your best bet would be to find a banjo mechanic (luthier isn’t the right term here) and have it taken care of. Consider an appraisal - if it turns out to be a rare and valuable instrument, that should be added motivation to learn to play. If not, you’ll feel better about doing the work yourself.

Re: Learning banjo

I have the Gerry O’Connor book too but, to be honest, I haven’t learned a great deal from it that I didn’t already know or could have worked out for myself. The same applies to many other tutor books I could name as regards to other instruments.

I’m not suggesting that these books are bad but they are usually written with complete beginners in mind both in terms of the instrument and trad music generally. I guess it really all depends what stage the OP is at him/herself in musical terms.

Re: Learning banjo

gerry o connors, book falls down because of misprints and because he plays tunes on the sound track too fast for beginners, these are remarks passed on to me by beginners, incidentally o connor often plays cgda tuning.

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