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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Hello, my new banjo, plectrum resources and a bit of a rant


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/371752

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  10:07:33


Hi everyone. I wanted to complain a bit here. Probably a poor way to start off in a forum, but...my wife's sick of hearing me complain about it.

So here's my current banjo status and story:

My grandpa was a great plectrum banjo player. I grew up hearing him play all the time. He played all the standards I think and I just loved it. I, myself, am a guitarist, composer, etc., but I've never really done banjo other than some basic 5 string chords that I just happened to pick up at some point (my sister took a few banjo lessons when we were kids....).

So for Christmas this year my father-in-law gave me his old banjo (5 string - Hondo II). He never really learned how to play it, and because I'm a musician/guitarist he figured I was the right inheritor of the thing. That being said, it has sentimental value (in that he's had it for some 30 years or so), but not much other value. It's a cheap banjo and was falling apart. I fixed it up but it's still, essentially, unplayable. I removed the 5th string and tuned it like a standard plectrum, and have been messing around on it a bit but.... well, the point is that getting it got me really into the idea of learning to play like my grandpa. So...

I purchased a plectrum banjo. I wasn't ready to spend two or three grand on something yet...but didn't want a super cheap thing either. So I settled on the Gold Tone PS-250. It arrives this friday. I'm very excited.

In the meantime, I've been scouring the internet for plectrum resources. I've found some things here and there, of course, but...now for the rant part:

Why does there seem to be no real tablature or plain, straightforward chord sheets for the standards readily available? Garr. I just want to start out learning how to play the standards my grandpa played without having to develop enough plectrum chord theory to figure it out myself. Sure, I'll figure it out myself. I'm committed. But why do I have to? Why aren't the standards written down? I mean I know there's some level of them being written down...sort of. I can find the chords...but not which positions for the melody and/or the passing notes via tab or something for even something like Five Foot Two. (I did order the Hal Leonard Dixieland Jazz Banjo book, but it's "lead sheets" and per the comments, doesn't actually include the melodic passing notes and the like, but just puts the chords close to the melody. But we'll see. I should get it today.)

It just seems to me like there ought to be documented chord melody charts for the standards -- Ain't She Sweet, Five Foot Two, Waiting' For Robert E. Lee, etc., etc. And yet I have been unable to find that. I just want to start by learning those. I understand the "theory" is good/important. And I'll pick that up. I'm a theory guy and was a music major and a solid folk guitarist. I'll pick up the theory. But what I want is songs to build my chops on, and I'd really like to use some of the songs my grandpa used to play for us without having to figure it out on my own.

I could, of course, take lessons, but just to learn a few chords? I don't need technique...I've been strumming and chording with guitar for 35 years. I know what I'm doing there... (just have to muscle-memory train my fingers for the new chord shapes...which I've kind of started to do already on my basically unplayable hand-me-down banjo).

Anyhow, like I said...just ranting. I know the answer. Plectrum isn't exactly mainstream. If it was, there would be resources. But it's still, moderately, frustrating. When I want to learn a new guitar song, I search the web and KABLAMMO a thousand sources. I don't expect that with something so uncommon as plectrum banjo. But that doesn't mean I don't wish it were so.

I think I'd be less frustrated if I was a beginner, beginner. If I was learning how to play any chords for the first time, learning how to strum, how to hold my pick, etc., etc., then I'd be able to enjoy that process as I worked it all out. But that's all old hat. I can, essentially, already play, except I just don't know the chords! :) I just what the chords in the right order and right positions/inversions, and which strum to use when!

Now...rant over... don't misunderstand my "frustration". I'm not actually THAT frustrated. I'm actually very excited. The frustration only really stems from impatience. I could pick up some of these songs very quickly if I just had them detailed out in tab or chords. And having to figure it out from lead sheets or the like will just mean it'll take longer. But it's not the end of the world.

I see youtube vids of people playing these songs and they're playing them the same way...sometimes in groups...so it seems clear there are standard ways to play them and it's not just all people figuring it out where if so, you'd see variation in how it's played. And I guess I'm paranoid I'll figure it out on my own and get it wrong. Haha. I guess that shouldn't bother me that much. But it does seem like taking lessons from someone might be the only way to truly get it right. That seems so silly for me. I've taught guitar lessons myself for 20 year. And whereas I know I could get something out of lessons...I really just need... well....I'd be repeating myself moving forward.... ;)

So here now I formally apologize for introducing myself with a complaining rant.

And...maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are resources and I'm just not aware of them. But I've read enough and searched enough that I don't think so. Even a lot of the links in these forums from years past are defunct now. Books are out of print and unavailable. Etc.

Anyhow...I am truly excited for my banjo adventure. I've already learned Let Me Call You Sweetheart from the Eddie Peabody lessons as shared on jbott's site. (Thank you!) I can't play it smoothly yet because I'm still having to exert extreme brain power to remember the chord order, plus the chord fingerings that still feel awkward in some cases...Oh...and the action on my junk banjo is so bad I can't actually hold the chords down fully...but I can play it!

Omeboy - Posted - 01/12/2021:  10:25:03


Charles,

You might find this to be of interest:  banjohangout.org/blog/34982



 

trapdoor2 - Posted - 01/12/2021:  10:29:10


I think you're asking a bit much for a less-than-mainstream instrument. Charts are very common for all these old tunes and many carry a melody line in addition to the chords. It was expected that you simply followed the chart...just like every other Dixieland player. Find a Dixieland fake book or any "C" instrument fake book...that's what most start with (and what was recommended to me). Yah, its like learning the Uke. You get grids and you either just follow them or learn to expand on them.



A plectrum banjo is typically half of the rhythmic pump of a Dixieland band (one that doesn't feature a drum kit), the other half being the tuba. You don't play the melody line, you learn 'fills' that carry the rhythm without stepping on the lead instrument's solo. Otherwise, you pump the rhythm via the chord chart. You practice hundreds of chord inversions because you typically want to stay out of the lead's octave...unless you need to boost it.



Completely different issue if you want to play solos. Usually you can find something from a famous player (like Harry Reser or Eddie Peabody) but the 50s and 60s Dixieland era is long gone and finding publications specific for the plectrum is usually an exercise in patience via haunting ebay.



If you haven't become a member of FIGA, you ought to at least give it a try. They have a library of tunes. allfrets.com/



I'm not a regular plectrum/tenor player but I often dig them out and spend time with them. Very different mindset from 5-string!

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  10:43:47


quote:

Originally posted by trapdoor2

I think you're asking a bit much for a less-than-mainstream instrument.




 



In a way, sure. I mean obviously, right?



But in another way, I would kind of expect that whereas there are people who are plectrum aficianados, that one of them, at least sometime in the internet age, would have written these "solo" standards down in details and stuck 'em online. My inclination is to do so when I learn them. Maybe I won't though. I know it can be a lot of work. And maybe after I learn them my impulses will be less generous. But I know there are a few who have done a great deal of documenting things related to chords and theory. But the solo melody style standards in detailed tab or chord sheets aren't included for some reason.



And perhaps that reason is because of the fact that it just wouldn't be consumed that much, and that's a whole lot of effort for something that won't be consumed very much. But I suspect that it's more complicated than that.



C'est la vie.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 01/12/2021:  11:26:09


quote:

Originally posted by The Folk Prophet

quote:

Originally posted by trapdoor2

I think you're asking a bit much for a less-than-mainstream instrument.




 



In a way, sure. I mean obviously, right?



But in another way, I would kind of expect that whereas there are people who are plectrum aficianados, that one of them, at least sometime in the internet age, would have written these "solo" standards down in details and stuck 'em online. My inclination is to do so when I learn them. Maybe I won't though. I know it can be a lot of work. And maybe after I learn them my impulses will be less generous. But I know there are a few who have done a great deal of documenting things related to chords and theory. But the solo melody style standards in detailed tab or chord sheets aren't included for some reason.



And perhaps that reason is because of the fact that it just wouldn't be consumed that much, and that's a whole lot of effort for something that won't be consumed very much. But I suspect that it's more complicated than that.



C'est la vie.






As I was alluding to, there are such things...but they're getting very hard to find. The old guys are dying out. I have a plectrum book that I bought many years ago, it's out of print, crazy expensive if you can find it: David Frey's "Ultimate Plectrum Banjo Guide".



I understand your rant...but better that you simply buckle down, learn the inversions to common tunes and start making up the other bits and pieces as needed. Of course, you could always go with Chicago tuning (DGBE) and use your guitar chord knowledge. That's why they invented it.

sethb - Posted - 01/12/2021:  11:28:59


Hi Charles, and welcome to the four-string forum and the wonderful world of plectrum banjo.



I would suggest that there are two problems here.  The first is that as we all know, there are millions of guitars and guitarists out there, which is why there are zillions of YouTube videos about guitars and guitar playing.  But the universe of banjoists is a lot smaller, and the sub-universe of four-string banjoists is even smaller.  The popularity of instruments runs in cycles; banjos had their turn in the 1920’s and again in the 1950's and 1970’s, and their turn may hopefully come once again soon!  However, there are still some great YouTube banjo videos here [ youtube.com/watch?v=hD_Gv2-VyU...t_radio=1 ], there [ youtube.com/watch?v=2bhzFMtbtr8 ] and everywhere [ youtube.com/watch?v=tZlNBqOUJUo ]. 



I’m also sure that if you ask, some folks on this forum would be glad to direct you to people who could provide Skype lessons and/or learning materials.  It’s true that a lot of good plectrum banjo books and manuals are out of print, but they are available.  One of the most basic and necessary booklets, “Mel Bay’s Banjo Chords,” is available from Amazon for about $7.  It has all the required chords (majors, minors, sixths, sevenths, ninths, plus  augmented & diminished), plus a helpful list of chord inversions in the back of the book.  Although it’s written for 5-string banjo, it’s still standard CGBD plectrum tuning, just ignore the fifth string.  Master those chord fingerings and you’ll be well on your way.



The second problem, and one I learned the hard way, is that playing any musical instrument is what I would call a “linear skill.”  That is, you usually need to learn and absorb information and techniques in a certain order.  So you need to learn some basic chord shapes before you can play a song.  If you want to play melody chords, you also need to learn chord inversions up the neck, and how to manipulate and modify those fingerings to hit the melody notes on the first or second string.  Now, if you already know how to fret a string, how to strum and how to read music, it’s true that you’re way ahead of the game.  But if you’re at section “G” of the learning spectrum, you can’t just jump to section “N” or “T” without first going through sections “H” to “M” and so forth.



This doesn’t mean that you need to have a Master’s degree in music theory in order to play the banjo.  In fact, you don’t need to know any music theory at all, as long as you know your way around the fretboard and the chord shapes.  But from what you’ve said, you’re not really there yet in the chord department.  And as another poster suggested, "Chicago tuning" may be a simpler and easier option for you. 



Your impatience to play is a great motivator, and it should help push you to learn what you need to know.  But you can’t do everything all at once --- I know, because I tried!  SETH


Edited by - sethb on 01/12/2021 11:40:39

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  11:42:15


Of course, you could always go with Chicago tuning (DGBE) and use your guitar chord knowledge. That's why they invented it.


Where's the challenge in that?! :D



The idea of just playing guitar with a banjo tone doesn't thrill me. Learning something new is half the fun part. Of course, clearly, I only want my challenge to extend so far. Haha.

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  11:56:10


quote:

Originally posted by sethb

But from what you’ve said, you’re not really there yet in the chord department.




Knowledge-wise...I kind of am (relatively). Meaning, I can very quickly and easily understand the three basic forms of chords, how the tone on the 1st string relates, where the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the chord are, how to make it minor, aug, dim, etc. I already understand these theoretical ideas from guitar and music theory, and can memorize the forms pretty quickly. Where I'm not there yet is muscle memory and transitioning from chord form to chord form quickly, etc. Oh...and I can't quickly tell you what note the such-n-such fret on the such-n-such string is without thought like I can on guitar, nor do I have a sense of scale patterns at all yet.



When push comes to shove, I guess, what it really amounts to is that I want to work hard at certain things and want to be lazy at other things. :)



Thank you for your input! As to the Mel Bay chord book...it strikes me (correct me if I'm wrong...maybe there's more to the book than I imagine) that that kind of information is all readily available online, for example Scott Anthony's website and the like.

sethb - Posted - 01/12/2021:  12:17:45


Well, some of it might be available online, but for $7, it's nice to have it all in one place and easily accessible, plus photos of exactly where the fingers go and how they should be placed (fingertips versus pads and barre chords).  



It's true that lots of great stuff is available for free online, such as the Creole Jazz Band Fake Book, which contains hundreds of pre-1925 public domain songs with melody line, lyrics and chord changes [ pdfdrive.com/fake-book-version...3047.html ].  But present copyright laws prevent the copying and free circulation of most tunes published after 1925.  



However, there is a fine selection of popular standards available from Sheet Music Direct, which will let you buy and download excellent lead sheets at $2-3 apiece.  Most of these charts are in digital format and are also transposable, a great help if you play with a band that also contains brass or reeds, or if you're accompanying a vocalist (or yourself) and need the song key customized for a particular voice range.   SETH  



 



 


Edited by - sethb on 01/12/2021 12:25:45

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  12:53:12


sethb, I had forgotten.... I actually purchased (ordered from amazon) The Plectrum Banjo Chord Bible by Tobe A. Richards this morning on a whim. Hopefully that'll be good. Should I have gotten the Mel Bay instead?

sethb - Posted - 01/12/2021:  13:13:21


I've never seen the Plectrum Chord Bible, so I can't compare it to the Mel Bay book, which is pretty clearly meant for beginners, although I still check it once in a while to verify a chord fingering that I don't play very often. 



My guess is that the "bible" could still probably be helpful; the only problem might be an overload or plethora of information, when all you really want is a simple F7th or Bbm chord.  But since you're an experienced string player, the Chord Bible probably won't be intimidating to you.  No harm, no foul here, in my opinion!   SETH



  

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 01/12/2021:  17:00:49


Join All frets would be my suggestion


Edited by - mmuussiiccaall on 01/12/2021 17:01:48

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  17:19:08


Well I received the Hal Leonard Dixieland Jazz Banjo book and it looks quite useful. Looking at Ain't She Sweet (all I've had time for so far), true...doesn't have the full melody, but the basic chords do follow the basic melody, and using that and youtube vids, etc., I'll definitely get it down I believe. So that's good. Not sure if it'll stay useful throughout...but...of some use at least for sure.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/12/2021:  18:18:33


quote:

Originally posted by The Folk Prophet

quote:

Originally posted by sethb

But from what you’ve said, you’re not really there yet in the chord department.




Knowledge-wise...I kind of am (relatively). Meaning, I can very quickly and easily understand the three basic forms of chords, how the tone on the 1st string relates, where the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the chord are, how to make it minor, aug, dim, etc. I already understand these theoretical ideas from guitar and music theory, and can memorize the forms pretty quickly. Where I'm not there yet is muscle memory and transitioning from chord form to chord form quickly, etc. Oh...and I can't quickly tell you what note the such-n-such fret on the such-n-such string is without thought like I can on guitar, nor do I have a sense of scale patterns at all yet.



When push comes to shove, I guess, what it really amounts to is that I want to work hard at certain things and want to be lazy at other things. :)



Thank you for your input! As to the Mel Bay chord book...it strikes me (correct me if I'm wrong...maybe there's more to the book than I imagine) that that kind of information is all readily available online, for example Scott Anthony's website and the like.






Those areas you've cited and that I've put in bold type are probably the most important aspects of any playing, and should be learned first. Learned very thoroughly. Learned until you can make chenges and know the fretboard in your sleep.

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/12/2021:  22:39:42


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

quote:

Originally posted by The Folk Prophet

quote:

Originally posted by sethb

But from what you’ve said, you’re not really there yet in the chord department.




Knowledge-wise...I kind of am (relatively). Meaning, I can very quickly and easily understand the three basic forms of chords, how the tone on the 1st string relates, where the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the chord are, how to make it minor, aug, dim, etc. I already understand these theoretical ideas from guitar and music theory, and can memorize the forms pretty quickly. Where I'm not there yet is muscle memory and transitioning from chord form to chord form quickly, etc. Oh...and I can't quickly tell you what note the such-n-such fret on the such-n-such string is without thought like I can on guitar, nor do I have a sense of scale patterns at all yet.



When push comes to shove, I guess, what it really amounts to is that I want to work hard at certain things and want to be lazy at other things. :)



Thank you for your input! As to the Mel Bay chord book...it strikes me (correct me if I'm wrong...maybe there's more to the book than I imagine) that that kind of information is all readily available online, for example Scott Anthony's website and the like.






Those areas you've cited and that I've put in bold type are probably the most important aspects of any playing, and should be learned first. Learned very thoroughly. Learned until you can make chenges and know the fretboard in your sleep.






For what it's worth:  Maybe you missed it. I'm a very good guitarist and have taught it for many years, therefore, I am well aware of what you're suggesting. But the idea that one must develop thoughtless fret changes and learn to know the fretboard in their sleep first before learning any songs is --- well...I suppose that's one approach. Not one I'd ever take, and not one I'd ever put on my students. Rather, and I believe this to be common sense, one learns those things, in part, by learning and playing songs. Of course exercises and the like are useful and important too (depending on what one's goal actually is). But the idea that one must learn to expertly change all chords and memorize the fretboard before one can learn any songs would be a dreadful approach to learning to play any instrument, in my opinion.



Additionally...not everyone who learns to play any given instrument needs or wants to be that level of an expert. I'm old enough and well enough settled in my life to know that this is a new hobby I'm taking on -- not a music career or something. I don't plan on being a top tier expert. I plan on being able to play 20 or 30 songs fairly well. If I never learn certain chords that don't happen to be in those songs...well... I'm not really all that bothered by that. So I accept what you're saying in theory. But I'm not sure it applies fully to my goals and plans here.

Omeboy - Posted - 01/12/2021:  22:45:23


Charles,
I know this is a bit "off thread," but I'd be interested to know what you have found to be the best guitar teaching publications or video series. Thanks.

The Folk Prophet

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 01/12/2021:  23:57:02


You would have got more replies if you had actually posted on the 4-string jazz forum, which many plectrum-banjo players read.

Rob MacKillop - Posted - 01/13/2021:  04:00:43


Hmm. I must have been sleeping when I wrote the above post. I could have swore this thread was first posted elsewhere. Sorry. I'll go back to sleep now!

pdinneen1 - Posted - 01/13/2021:  04:19:58


Hey Charles - I sent you a DM on this site. Let me know if you didn’t receive it.

Patrick

sethb - Posted - 01/13/2021:  06:31:19


I agree with Charles on at least one thing: learning to play an instrument should definitely include playing songs as well as learning everything else. Otherwise, a student could lose interest very quickly.  Besides, the whole point of learning how to play a musical instrument is being able to play songs, so that should be an essential part of any lessons.  And learning some tunes will also help to encourage the learning of any new chords in those songs, so the learning process goes both ways.  



But the other side of the coin is that the songs have to match the skill level and knowledge of the student.  When you haven't learned most of the basic chord fingerings and haven't mastered chord inversions up the neck, you can't realistically play chord melody or complicated chord changes.  Instead of encouraging progress, it would just be frustrating.  Of course, it never hurts to challenge yourself and try something you've never done before, otherwise you'll never improve.  But once again, the material needs to be within, or just almost within, your grasp.  Classical musicians know this, and they don't try to play difficult pieces that are beyond their technical skills; pop musicians need to heed that advice, too.   



I have a friend who has been trying to learn the play the guitar for the past ten years.  He's a DIY kind of guy, which is fine.  But he didn't want to take any lessons, and bought a whole bunch of tutorials but never followed through on any systematic basis.  Instead of getting some real lead sheets, he downloaded a bunch of tunes from Chordie (with the usual amount of bad/wrong chord changes).  And his playing has never improved beyond the very rudimentary stuff.  He also can't play any other tunes with anyone else, because he still only knows a few open chords in just one or two keys.  I guess he's happy doing what he's doing, but he'll never reach any sort of decent potential on the instrument.  That's a textbook case in how NOT to learn how to play a musical instrument; he's got the songs (sort of), but not the knowledge or technique to really play them.  SETH

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/13/2021:  07:46:16


quote:

Originally posted by Rob MacKillop

Hmm. I must have been sleeping when I wrote the above post. I could have swore this thread was first posted elsewhere. Sorry. I'll go back to sleep now!






Haha. I was a bit confused.

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/13/2021:  08:26:40


quote:

Originally posted by Omeboy

Charles,

I know this is a bit "off thread," but I'd be interested to know what you have found to be the best guitar teaching publications or video series. Thanks.



The Folk Prophet






I don't have any insight into this. I started teaching before there was much in the way of online stuff. I haven't actively taught in some years now beyond a few nieces and nephews. When I did teach, I prepared the materials myself or used tabs I'd found that were decent, etc. I used/made up my own system -- taught the way I'd been taught combined with what I'd just picked up or made up over the years. I learned from various books, but don't recall what they were. I worked at some music stores at certain points and would go through and learn from/review a lot of guitar books and pick up concepts here and there. I think my initial lessons when I was like 10 were based on a formal system, but I do not know what that system was called. It certainly wasn't a strong "know the fretboard" system. I didn't pick up that understanding until later in life (and, true enough...would be much stronger at it if I'd learned it early on). So, having learned the fret board, chord forms (vs just memorized cowboy chords) and having learned scales, etc., on my own, I included that knowledge into my teaching. Though I must say...getting beginner kids (or even adults) interested in that side of things was always a challenge. And getting into the technical side of chord forms and how they work related to music theory often led to glazed-over looks. But I trust (hopefully) that my enforcement of that sort of thing was planting good seeds.



I certainly understand the point being made about getting fundamentals down. And were I a kid starting out on an instrument I'd consider that sort of thing very valuable. (Well...honestly...as a "kid" I probably wouldn't...but as an adult advising a kid I would...) 



That being said, I know an awful lot of people who have learned to play guitar well enough to do what they want with it, which does not include sight-reading music, masterful soloing up and down the keyboard, or the like, and that's okay for them. Some people, legitimately, just want to play cowboy chords and sing along. With guitar I was always more ambitious than that (though not so much any more. I'm lucky to even get it out much now-a-days). I think that's why learning the banjo is calling to me. I'm actually NOT that interested in the in depth know the fretboard in your sleep, developing mad improv skills, or the like with it. If that were my ambition I could still be working on/improving my guitar skills. As I said in an earlier thread, part of me is lazy. Learning new chords and practicing them in a song until I can nail it holds a great amount of appeal for me...even advanced/quick changes. But learning how to improv up and down the neck where I could jam along with a jazz ensemble...meh.



FWIW, my guitar style and what I taught was/is primarily folk strumming and finger picking. I've learned and play some pretty advanced things that way. but I'm not a great electric guitar lead soloist or something (when i move to electric guitar I gravitate to James Hetfield rhythm stuff.) So when I claim I'm a good guitarist, that claim certainly comes with limitations. I'm good enough to understand and know the value of things -- but not a master of all of them by any means.



P.S. I think maybe I'm coming across as if I'm older than I am here. Haha. I'm not an "old" man. I'm just not a young man. (Around 50, if any one cares. smiley).

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/13/2021:  08:28:34


quote:

Originally posted by pdinneen1

Hey Charles - I sent you a DM on this site. Let me know if you didn’t receive it.



Patrick






I got it via email, but I'm not sure where one sees their DMs or replies to them on the site. When I figure that out I'll reply. laugh

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/13/2021:  10:44:10


I have always felt that learning songs is fine as far as it takes a student, but it doesn't take one very far. Learning a song does help a person learn the fretboard and help with the muscle memory needed for changing chords. But a song or two, or even three, in no way encompasses the entire realm of chord positions, chord changes, or scales an other patterns in different keys.



While a tune or two can, in fact, help keep a person from boredom, that alone can never accomplish what a more thorough fretboard approach can.  I knew a few tunes and changes early on, but could never play unfamiliar passages, complex chord changes, improvisation, etc. until I mastered where to go and when, and the relationships of chords, keys, and melodies.  I was very thankful early on that I got the opportunity to play live with an accomplished piano player, and was therefore forced to change my rote memorization habits and actually learn to traverse the fretboard. It's amazing what a couple of weeks of forced learning can do for a person's knowledge of both harmony and the banjo fretboard. 



I have forgotten a lot of actual tunes, but I can still find my way back to them because my fingers still know the fretboard, my muscles still remember how to reach the correct places, and my mind still knows the chord and melody sounds that go with those places.



 

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/13/2021:  11:15:46


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I have always felt that learning songs is fine as far as it takes a student, but it doesn't take one very far. 




I think of it in some ways in terms of piano. There are classical pianists who have learned and play extremely advanced classical piano pieces that they've memorized. They sight-read excellently. They develop phenomenal technique, etc. They may be considered some of the best players in the world. But they couldn't sit and improvise jazz chords. They don't even really understand a jazz chord. They play what's written on the page by the composer. They play it extremely well, but it is, in the end, simply song memorization and performance. (Edit: I say "simply", but it's not actually simply. Which is my point.)



There are other piano players who understand chords and inversions and figured bass and the like, but don't sight-read music so well, but will rock your world playing by ear and/or theoretical technique.



Technically speaking, both have limitations. But I'm not sure that means that either path wasn't able to go very far. Yes, developing the skills and understandings that they don't have would take them further. But that may not be the path they want to go down.


Edited by - The Folk Prophet on 01/13/2021 11:17:54

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/13/2021:  19:32:37


There are certainly different abilities among players, but there are many who do, in fact, take the time to learn other fields, and that includes classical pianists. Just because one person doesn't choose to play a certain way doesn't mean he can't.



By the way, a person who understands figured bass probably already has a good ear; one that can make up a countermelody on the spot that will add to what the other part of the continuo and the lead voice is doing. It's basically an improvised back up, and requires not only knowing what a six-four chord means and where it leads in a harmonic (theoretical) scheme, but also that he hear and anticipate what his fellows are doing. It's not a particularly good comparison to a person who "will rock your world playing by ear and/or theoretical technique."



However, you still can't convince me that knowledge of the fretboard, keyboard, or trumpet valves and over blowing will take a person farther than knowledge of a dozen different memorized melodies.



I am just saying what I believe to be most important, and you can certainly choose your own road. 

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/13/2021:  22:35:57


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

There are certainly different abilities among players, but there are many who do, in fact, take the time to learn other fields, and that includes classical pianists. Just because one person doesn't choose to play a certain way doesn't mean he can't.



By the way, a person who understands figured bass probably already has a good ear; one that can make up a countermelody on the spot that will add to what the other part of the continuo and the lead voice is doing. It's basically an improvised back up, and requires not only knowing what a six-four chord means and where it leads in a harmonic (theoretical) scheme, but also that he hear and anticipate what his fellows are doing. It's not a particularly good comparison to a person who "will rock your world playing by ear and/or theoretical technique."



However, you still can't convince me that knowledge of the fretboard, keyboard, or trumpet valves and over blowing will take a person farther than knowledge of a dozen different memorized melodies.



I am just saying what I believe to be most important, and you can certainly choose your own road. 






Hmm. I think you're missing my point a bit. I didn't say someone "can't" learn multiple things.



Also, I think someone who can anticipate what their fellow players are doing and knows how a six-four chord is and how it leads, etc., is someone who can rock my world playing by ear and/or theoretical technique. So apparently we have a disconnect on that view. That's okay though. But I wasn't necessarily equating the two. I was suggesting that there are those who do all of the above. I guess I wasn't clear in that. (The implication being that both those who memorize and those who play by technique or by ear or otherwise (insert any related skill, even where I may not be comunicating properly), all have the ability to rock my world if their performances are solid.)



I'm certainly not trying to convince you that some learning is more important than another. I would say that "important" is a very, very subjective term. But I think we would, actually, agree that what you're saying is "important" is, indeed, as important as you are saying it is....IF one has the end goal in mind of being a rounded, strong, versatile, player. Where I don't think it's "important" is where one doesn't care about being a rounded, strong, versatile player. It ought to be uncontroversial that someone who wants to be a song-memorizing player only need worry about song memorization and the related techniques. The point that learning beyond that is learning beyond that is indisputable. The point that it's "better" to learn beyond that is not. It's subjective. And what is important to one is not, nor should be, important to all. Certainly at the most extreme example, that ought to be clear -- meaning someone who doesn't care to play an instrument doesn't need to learn an instrument. There are varying degrees of caring from not at all to extreme, and I'm suggesting that learning effort and direction is relative to caring. That should be obvious. If someone wants to only learn how to play Michael Row the Boat Ashore to sing their kids to sleep it wouldn't make much sense to make the memorize the entire fret board first.



Now if you were talking my main musical skill/interest, then we'd probably be having a different conversation (maybe a different debate. laugh Haha. (FWIW, that skill is composing and orchestration...in particular musical theater, but also for video games (which I've done professionally), and movies (which I have not))). But when it comes to banjo...well it's just not my main thing, nor will it be. And so I certainly don't claim any authority in what's best for others, and despite the way I see it here, I'll gladly defer to those like you who are significantly invested. This is a side hobby for me. What I want is to be able to play 20 or 30 songs really well and that will satisfy me. I accept that could change in the future...but that's my interest. I understand that won't align with most people who join in a banjo forum. And that's okay. I respect you and other's interest, dedication, commitment, and views. I even, as I've explained, broadly agree. I just know, for my part, that developing a "complete" understanding of the instrument is not in the cards for me. Don't get me wrong -- I plan to understand the fret board fairly well. I plan to understand chord transitions, etc (I already do in many ways (though I'll grant, jazz isn't my forte...but outside of jazz, I'm pretty darned good if I do say so myself. ;) ) It just isn't my primary focus here. Memorized song learning is. So the only way I can state that I actually disagree with you is in the implication that what I, myself, ought to be doing is such-n-such when I'm not interested in doing such-n-such. That's all.



But I do appreciate the thought.



Also...I apologize for even continuing to harp on about it. I tend to do that. Just explain myself away into oblivion. What I really ought to do is just say thank you for the advice and move on. It's a weakness of mine. So I hope you don't feel strong antagonism from me or something. I do appreciate your input, and despite my debating back and forth with you, will definitely take it under advisement. I'm strongly opinionated and tend to overstate my opinions...but behind that I do strive for humility.

Ondrej - Posted - 01/14/2021:  03:45:10


When I started plectrum banjo. I had the same problem that there are very few books. That's why I tried to fill the gap. I'm just more interested in classical and world music than jazz. You can find my books on Amazon. But here I will put a playlist.



youtube.com/watch?v=3axsQ8yDaN...5CsEgTSo8

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  07:08:51


quote:

Originally posted by Ondrej

When I started plectrum banjo. I had the same problem that there are very few books. That's why I tried to fill the gap. I'm just more interested in classical and world music than jazz. You can find my books on Amazon. But here I will put a playlist.



youtube.com/watch?v=3axsQ8yDaN...5CsEgTSo8






Way cool!

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  10:10:58


I got my banjo today! (Gold Tone PS-250 Plectrum)



A few thoughts:



1. Heavy! I don't mind that, per se, as I don't plan on toting it around much or playing while standing too often. But it's a heavy thing.



2. The sustain when fretting the higher strings (particularly the 1st) up on the fretboard seems pretty bad. Thoughts? Is that common to banjos? A result of a setup issue? Or a result of the fact that I didn't drop over 2k for it? smiley Or is getting better sustain there a technique thing? The primary problem is that it makes the tone inconsistent if playing low strings unfretted with high ones that are fretted.



3. My pick (plectrum) work sucks! Haha. Especially trying to play softly. I typically strum guitar with fingernail and thumbnails rather than a pick, unless I'm doing electric/rock style, but then I'm not typically strumming full chords. This is definitely a skill I'll be working on...I think. Why do I say "I think"? Because I may opt to resort to playing without a pick. I really think that's probably a bad idea...but I'm not fully committed. But here's the deal....



4. ...and this is a common banjo related issue...dang it's loud. And playing with a pick triples the volume. So I think I SHOULD expand my skills and learn better playing with a pick. (To be clear: I strum just fine with a pick until it's something like tremolo...then it gets wonky (I can smooth it out by playing louder...but that's a technique issue to be sure). And...to also be clear...it's not that bad... just not in line with the quality of my strumming without a pick, which is very experienced and clean...) Now I know the advice will be to suck it up and play with the pick. And that is what I'm going to do. But, as I'm sure most banjoists face...annoying everyone in the household is a problem. laugh

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  12:04:50


Update: Problem solved...sort of.smiley The noise problem that is. So in anticipation of practice noise (it was worse than I presumed though) I had ordered myself a Gold Tone Iucci Banjo Mute. And when my wife stopped at the mail, guess what was there! So yeah, nice. It makes it much easier to play an feel like I can hit things harders and softer as necessary, etc., without it being so over the top.



My guess it that a nicer banjo would handle that better anyhow (not softer...just....mixed better...cleaner between the highs and the lows, etc.), but the mute is going to work well for me. It'll probably have a pretty permanent place on the bridge.

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  12:09:13


Another update: practicing so much with my cheap banjo in anticipation of the nicer one has led me to developing a nice blister on my pinky finger, which means I can't now use the nicer banjo much because it hurts like the dickens! Sigh.

That's what happens when one doesn't play much for a long time and then decides to get back into heavy practice (on Sunday I think I put in like 5 hour...which is where I really hurt my fingers, and then just doing a bit every day thereafter has just kept them nice and painful). Come back finger calluses! I miss you. (Actually my other fingers are all doing fine. Just the pinky's in rough shape right now.)

sethb - Posted - 01/14/2021:  16:30:37


Charles --- Your sustain issue could very well be related to the tension (or lack thereof) of the banjo head.  Make sure that the head is nice and tight, evenly all the way around, and that you can't depress the head very far by pressing on it with your thumb.  Also make sure that your strings are seated well in the bridge notches, and that the feet of the bridge are making good contact with the banjo head.    



On the noise issue, if your banjo has a resonator, you can stuff one or two kitchen towels inside the head, which should cut the volume considerably.  SETH

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  16:50:18


quote:

Originally posted by sethb

Charles --- Your sustain issue could very well be related to the tension (or lack thereof) of the banjo head.  Make sure that the head is nice and tight, evenly all the way around, and that you can't depress the head very far by pressing on it with your thumb.  Also make sure that your strings are seated well in the bridge notches, and that the feet of the bridge are making good contact with the banjo head.    



On the noise issue, if your banjo has a resonator, you can stuff one or two kitchen towels inside the head, which should cut the volume considerably.  SETH






Thanks! I'll check the tension, etc.



It was supposed to be set up in that regard, but with the shipping in the cold weather, etc., I wouldn't be surprised if things got out of wack.

sethb - Posted - 01/14/2021:  17:46:54


Charles -- If your banjo came with a fiberglass head, it shouldn't be affected by changes in temperature or humidity (a calfskin head is of course another matter entirely).  But in my experience, most banjo heads could be a bit tighter than they are. 



FYI, there is a gadget that drummers use to set the tension on their drum heads and to "tune" their drums.  The same gizmo can be used to check and set the tension on a banjo head.  I'm not convinced that it's more useful than your thumb, but it's probably more accurate.  I think it runs around $60 and is called  the "Drum Dial Drum Tuner."  Most music stores carry it, along with Guitar Center and probably Amazon as well.   



You probably know this already, but a banjo strum requires a different hand/arm setup than a guitar strum.  As has been previously discussed on this forum, the guitar strum usually uses both the hand and the forearm, the hand is held parallel to the forearm, and the hand and forearm both move together.  The banjo strum is entirely from the wrist.  To accomplish this, the hand is held at about a 90-degree angle from the forearm, and the forearm doesn't move up and down at all, it just turns (swivels?) to allow the hand alone to move up and down.  With fewer moving parts and less overall movement, this gives you a very efficient way to strum very quickly when needed, and it also helps with tremolos, too.  SETH


Edited by - sethb on 01/14/2021 17:50:39

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  18:21:19


sethb Thanks.



So I actually purchased the Buddy Wachter tutorial from homespun and watched through it and caught a bit of that. I wasn't paying too close attention though because I figured I had strumming down.



My guitar strum is probably unlike other guitarists (I'm not really sure, not having discussed it in detail with other "strumming" guitarists) in that it's much more of a twisting motion than an up and down motion. I expect it has more in common with what you're describing above. But I mentioned earlier how my plectrum tremolo was weak...but I realized while messing around a bit later that my tremolo without a pick was moderately weak too. Just not something I've done a lot of. (Not with all strings. I've done a bunch of tremolo on a single string -- with a pick...and that's in fine order I believe).



Anyhow, I'll check out some other tutorials on the plectum banjo strum and work on making any needed adjustments.



On the drum dial tuner...hmm. Intriguing. I'm sure you're absolutely right that one could do it by hand...if one knew what one was looking for...which I don't....hmm. I'm tempted. But it does feel like something I'd use once and then I'd know and wouldn't need so much. I mean even if I couldn't ever do it right otherwise, how often does one need to do it? And $60 is a bit much to drop on something that one wouldn't really use that much. But still...hmm.



Thanks.


Edited by - The Folk Prophet on 01/14/2021 18:22:52

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/14/2021:  20:03:46


quote:

Originally posted by sethb

Charles -- If your banjo came with a fiberglass head, it shouldn't be affected by changes in temperature or humidity (a calfskin head is of course another matter entirely).  But in my experience, most banjo heads could be a bit tighter than they are. 



FYI, there is a gadget that drummers use to set the tension on their drum heads and to "tune" their drums.  The same gizmo can be used to check and set the tension on a banjo head.  I'm not convinced that it's more useful than your thumb, but it's probably more accurate.  I think it runs around $60 and is called  the "Drum Dial Drum Tuner."  Most music stores carry it, along with Guitar Center and probably Amazon as well.   



You probably know this already, but a banjo strum requires a different hand/arm setup than a guitar strum.  As has been previously discussed on this forum, the guitar strum usually uses both the hand and the forearm, the hand is held parallel to the forearm, and the hand and forearm both move together.  The banjo strum is entirely from the wrist.  To accomplish this, the hand is held at about a 90-degree angle from the forearm, and the forearm doesn't move up and down at all, it just turns (swivels?) to allow the hand alone to move up and down.  With fewer moving parts and less overall movement, this gives you a very efficient way to strum very quickly when needed, and it also helps with tremolos, too.  SETH






Never heard of a "fiberglass" head. Maybe you meant "Fiberskyn."



Whatever you meant, though, you are correct that a synthetic (mylar) head doesn't do much changing in different weather. The problem is that the rest of the banjo  does change, and that can definitely affect head tension. I also agree that head tension can affect sustain in the upper register, and is one of the first things to check, (Unfortunately, there are banjos that just don't cut it up there no matter what. Let's hope that Folk Prophet's is not one of those.)



Tremolo is definitely  a matter of wrist action. After breaking my wrist years ago, I have had very little ability with tremolo, and have had to learn some stylistic variants to compensate. I've mostly stuck to playing for my own enjoyment because of that.



 

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/14/2021:  22:11:44


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

(Unfortunately, there are banjos that just don't cut it up there no matter what. Let's hope that Folk Prophet's is not one of those.



Knowing that I wasn't getting a top of the line thing, I had the following thoughts: 1. I'm okay without having top of the line sound, as long as I can get it to feel well (action, etc.). 2. I like the idea that the banjo (as near as I can figure) is built of interchangeable parts, and one could, theoretically, swap out the entire banjo piece by piece. Maybe that isn't fully true...so perhaps my ideas won't work...but I do like the idea of swapping out the bridge, the head, etc., at least, to work on the sound. I won't worry about that right away, but eventually I'll probably start doing that sort of thing. And I do wonder if one can take a goodish banjo and turn it into a great banjo that way. It sounds fun either way.


Edited by - The Folk Prophet on 01/14/2021 22:16:05

sethb - Posted - 01/15/2021:  05:51:46


The Wachter video from HomeSpun is an excellent tool.  Buddy covers strumming, which is often neglected over fretting, but is just as important.  His explanation of the "riverboat strum" (one downstoke across all four strings, then three beats of tremolo on the 1st string) is great.  To my ears, it's also a much better and more melodic alternative to strumming across all four strings all the time, a la' Eddie Peabody.  And the video also comes with a little chord chart that covers most of the fingerings and is very helpful. 



I agree that $60 is a lot to drop for the Drum Dial, when you might only use it half a dozen times in a lifetime.  But I mentioned it for the sake of completeness.  Using your thumb is much cheaper and works almost just as well.  



Guess I should have stuck with the generic term of "plastic" instead of fiberglass, when I was talking about banjo heads.  Sorry for any confusion!  



One last thought.  It's true that you need a decent instrument in order to learn how to play it easily.  The action needs to be good, the neck needs to be straight, the frets need to be accurate, etc.  But you don't need a $5,000 VegaVox in order to accomplish this.  It's a common misconception that a "better" instrument will make a person a better player.  To some extent that's true, but as you spend more money, I think there are diminishing returns on that sort of investment.  Also, until you become a fairly good player, you won't really know exactly what you want in a banjo.  



As a guitarist, you probably know some folks who have six or more guitars, and who are always looking for that elusive "sound."  Maybe the next Taylor, or the next Martin or D'Angelico will be the one!  But they still can't play any of them really well!  I think that's a slippery slope to go down.  



I've never owned a Gold Tone, so I can't compare it, but from what I've heard, it's a decent entry-level or better axe.  Like any other banjo, it could probably use some tweaking here and there (head tension, bridge type & height, tailpiece adjustment, string gauge and type, etc.), but it should be more than adequate until you get your chord chops and your finger calluses!   SETH

cmosk - Posted - 01/15/2021:  06:19:55


Hi all,


It's great top see some interest in plectrums!  Just FYI:  for any of you interested in plectrum banjo in old-time music, I did a CD a few years back: banjonews.com/2017-10/duets_by...vitz.html .  Mark and I have just decided to do another this year--COVID allowing.  I've never posted any videos of me playing old-time on plectrum, but if there's interest, I'd be happy to shoot a quick video and post it.


Cary Moskovitz

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/15/2021:  08:39:18


quote:

Originally posted by sethb

The Wachter video from HomeSpun is an excellent tool.  Buddy covers strumming, which is often neglected over fretting, but is just as important.  His explanation of the "riverboat strum" (one downstoke across all four strings, then three beats of tremolo on the 1st string) is great.  To my ears, it's also a much better and more melodic alternative to strumming across all four strings all the time, a la' Eddie Peabody.  And the video also comes with a little chord chart that covers most of the fingerings and is very helpful. 



I agree that $60 is a lot to drop for the Drum Dial, when you might only use it half a dozen times in a lifetime.  But I mentioned it for the sake of completeness.  Using your thumb is much cheaper and works almost just as well.  



Guess I should have stuck with the generic term of "plastic" instead of fiberglass, when I was talking about banjo heads.  Sorry for any confusion!  



One last thought.  It's true that you need a decent instrument in order to learn how to play it easily.  The action needs to be good, the neck needs to be straight, the frets need to be accurate, etc.  But you don't need a $5,000 VegaVox in order to accomplish this.  It's a common misconception that a "better" instrument will make a person a better player.  To some extent that's true, but as you spend more money, I think there are diminishing returns on that sort of investment.  Also, until you become a fairly good player, you won't really know exactly what you want in a banjo.  



As a guitarist, you probably know some folks who have six or more guitars, and who are always looking for that elusive "sound."  Maybe the next Taylor, or the next Martin or D'Angelico will be the one!  But they still can't play any of them really well!  I think that's a slippery slope to go down.  



I've never owned a Gold Tone, so I can't compare it, but from what I've heard, it's a decent entry-level or better axe.  Like any other banjo, it could probably use some tweaking here and there (head tension, bridge type & height, tailpiece adjustment, string gauge and type, etc.), but it should be more than adequate until you get your chord chops and your finger calluses!   SETH






My guitar is a shallow-body Ovation. Does it sound the best? No. Would I record with it? No. (I've tried. Doesn't work out.) If I were playing gigs would I use it....?? Depends. It would actually work pretty well for jazz...but... It's a moderately thin sound, relatively. But it plays (action-wise and feel, etc), really well, and I love playing it. I bought it for $600ish. I don't ever plan on getting a 2 or 3 grand guitar. I'm not a pro performer and don't plan on being. If I lost or broke it, I'd probably replace it with the same thing. It's sufficient for what I do.



I spent more on the gold-tone banjo than I did on my guitar. Of course that's because banjos are just more expensive relatively...not because the banjo is better than my guitar, per se. But...the point is that I'm more of a guitarist than a banjoist (though that may change...we'll see.) I don't forsee upgrading the banjo from what I've gotten -- unless I hit some issue where I can't set it up well enough and I just don't care to play it, it think it will be sufficient. It's too soon to say. But that's my sense.



I think I'll put a lighter gauge of strings on it. I know that's not what's recommended, generally, for plectrum (at least in the limited research I've done), but I like playing lightly, and lighter strings, I think, will feel more inline with what I like/want. I'll try it. Maybe I'll hate it...but I think I'll try it. Probably keep the 24 (I think that's what's on it...) on the 4th string, but drop the 1st to a 9 ( think it's a 10 now) and...undecided on the other two...but probably a 12 and a .... I dunno... still considering.

cmosk - Posted - 01/15/2021:  08:59:12


quote:

Originally posted by The Folk Prophet

quote:

Originally posted by sethb

 




...I think I'll put a lighter gauge of strings on it. I know that's not what's recommended, generally, for plectrum (at least in the limited research I've done), but I like playing lightly, and lighter strings, I think, will feel more inline with what I like/want. I'll try it. Maybe I'll hate it...but I think I'll try it. Probably keep the 24 (I think that's what's on it...) on the 4th string, but drop the 1st to a 9 ( think it's a 10 now) and...undecided on the other two...but probably a 12 and a .... I dunno... still considering.






I've done a LOT of experimenting with string gauges, bridges and heads.  The tone difference between light and heavier strings is tremendous:  heavy = plunk, light = ping.  I do a lot of pull-offs/hammers rather than fast picking and lighter strings make it much more responsive for that. For the way I play, I use the lightest I can without buzzing. I tune in Chicago, and I usually use a 9.5 or 10 on the e string.



 

plucksandclucks - Posted - 01/15/2021:  21:12:47


All is not lost. I went down this same path a while back and with the help of some BHO members got some leads for the following:

i was able to locate and purchase Don Van Palta's complete set of approximately 700 songs. I got in contact with Jerry Hashman, who is in Alberta, Canada. I purchased the full set of 700 songs (pdf's). They were forwarded to me as seven separate email attachments due to size. They are indexed by each group and I decided to spend the time indexing the whole lot to save time finding songs by title. Each song shows chord melody solos as follows: 1) standard notation - melody only 2) lyrics and 3) chord diagrams of the chord form used along with the melody note 4) the chord name and variation. In my opinion there is nothing out there that even comes close to this collection. Cost, as I recall, was around $90.00. Start with Jerry - his phone number is 403-255-8299.

Then there is the out of print two set spiral bound books produced by David Frey and Susan Sangiacomo. I hunted down a set of these books but they are very expensive usually around $300 for the set. These books are instructional and very thorough. And they include some chord melody solos as part of the learning process.

Steve Colby

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/16/2021:  09:50:02


quote:

Originally posted by plucksandclucks

All is not lost. I went down this same path a while back and with the help of some BHO members got some leads for the following:



i was able to locate and purchase Don Van Palta's complete set of approximately 700 songs. I got in contact with Jerry Hashman, who is in Alberta, Canada. I purchased the full set of 700 songs (pdf's). They were forwarded to me as seven separate email attachments due to size. They are indexed by each group and I decided to spend the time indexing the whole lot to save time finding songs by title. Each song shows chord melody solos as follows: 1) standard notation - melody only 2) lyrics and 3) chord diagrams of the chord form used along with the melody note 4) the chord name and variation. In my opinion there is nothing out there that even comes close to this collection. Cost, as I recall, was around $90.00. Start with Jerry - his phone number is 403-255-8299.



Then there is the out of print two set spiral bound books produced by David Frey and Susan Sangiacomo. I hunted down a set of these books but they are very expensive usually around $300 for the set. These books are instructional and very thorough. And they include some chord melody solos as part of the learning process.



Steve Colby






Contacted him and purchased and AWESOME! This is exactly what I wanted/needed!!! Thank you! He has some arrangments/tutorial videos too I guess for more advanced stuff moving forward. This is all very, very cool. Thanks!

Spikedog - Posted - 01/16/2021:  18:25:29


Here is the good news. Your ear for tunes and the chromatic scale is the same as the guitar. Why rely on tabs at all? Listen and play.

The Folk Prophet - Posted - 01/16/2021:  18:53:30


quote:

Originally posted by Spikedog

Here is the good news. Your ear for tunes and the chromatic scale is the same as the guitar. Why rely on tabs at all? Listen and play.






That was going to have to be the plan. It's just more work that way -- especially not knowing the chords on the banjo yet, etc. But, yeah, that was going to be the fall back. As I have the chords now to most the songs I want to learn, I won't have to rely on that. Thanks for the thought.

Spikedog - Posted - 01/16/2021:  18:57:54


All of my favorite musicians seem to learn by ear. I struggle with tabs myself. I find that I internalize music better when I sort out a song by ear. The result often comes out differently but the results are better than tripping over tabs. YMMV.

Gordy Ohliger - Posted - 01/20/2021:  13:31:44


The way I've done it for the last 50-years;



Get a few of the old song books from a used bookstore, they have 30-80 songs with chords above the line at the changes. (Usually say they are Uke chords, but so what, now you know it's an Fm)  I regard it important you get three versions of a song and take an average! LEARN all the chord positions up the neck. Do it. You will be able to hack out the meoldy...now smooth it out, relax, make it floiw. If you get stuck, play it in single notes, then build your chords from there again.

hobogal - Posted - 01/21/2021:  00:28:14


cmosk I recently came across your duet album while searching out different versions of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'. I've been listening to it a lot since then. I like the unique style you have developed on plectrum. Look forward to the next album!

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