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Banjo Compass/Watch and Learn/Geoff Hohwald  Banjo Up the Neck Improvisation DVD/Video Reviews

Submitted by thisoldman (see all reviews from this person) on 2/2/2018

Where Purchased: Reverb (online)

Overall Comments

This is one of Geoff's offerings on improvisation, one of 4.  You get a DVD of Geoff explaining/teaching, demonstrating, as well practice tracks at slow and faster tempos. And a book of tab with all the examples.  

In Part I you learn and practice 2 picking patterns, as well as a Glick using the a partial  "D" chord shape  (like the Cumberland Gap/Sally Goodin lick I believe) where you are shown how to incorporate alternate notes on the 11th fret of the second string.  

In Part 2 you learn to add a slide (on the 2nd string) to the lick you learned in Part 2, plus a couple of picking patterns to practice that. You also learn a G lick (at the 10th fret, strings 1,2 and 5) using chokes.

Part 3 brings you a C position" lick (using the "F" shape for partial C or Em chord shapes on strings 1 - 3), plus adding a slide to that lick and/or alternate notes on the 10th fret of the second string.

Then in Part 4 you will learn and practice some other variations of the lick you learned in Part 3.

In Part 5 You get some "high up the neck" licks (some very much like the "teardrop" lick I believe) and some high position G(from the 14th to 17th frets) licks. 

Finally, in Part 6 your work on some "extended licks", extending the variations you learned in Part 1 and 2, adding notes from the 12th fret on the first string.

I haven't had the book for a long time.  To be honest, learning that lick in Part 1 has been slowing me down, but it is becoming easier and cleaner.  However, if you don't want to add the variations or slides, you can certainly stick with the "basic" version of the lick until your skills improve.  There is some debate about the fretting fingering with that lick, whether to use 2 or 3 fingers, and I am finding that it is easier for me at this time to fret the 1st and 2nd strings, and add the 3rd finger (on the 3rd string) when needed.  There are basically 3 chord shapes you use. One I call the slant shape on the first 2 or three strings (for the G lick), then a V or arrow shape for the C position (8th - 10th frets) lick and the E minor shaped lick (7th and 8th frets, for example).   I am getting far enough into the book that I am seeing that these shapes are movable. I am sure there a a few other things I am missing in this description, but you will eventually find that out on your own if you get the package..  So -- lots of good instruction, examples and demonstrations, plus plenty of opportunity to practice within the context of playing tunes.  You can get this package from Geoff at Watch and Learn, Inc., the Banjo Compass website or on Reverb.  You can also see some of these ideas in videos on his website or on Youtube.  And not only can you use this to learn up the neck improvisation, you could incorporate much of what you learn here into your up the neck backup.  

Overall Rating: 10

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