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Mar 13, 2010 - 1:13:46 PM

69 posts since 12/11/2009

I would like to see you do The Beverly Hillbillies next Rob.

Mar 13, 2010 - 11:01:08 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Great job Canoehat. You are almost there. Very good for such a short time playing. You'll do well.

And I really don't remember the Beverly Hillbillies that well Stony. I can fake it, but it wouldn't be a good one for me to teach until I listened to Earl again. I haven't played 5 string for 30 years, except to pull it out in the last 7 years or so every once in awhile to teach. I'm a guitarist, and really don't consider myself that good of a banjo player anymore.

I do love 5 string, but my main focus has been on feeding my family, and guitar is how I've done that. I was never much for playing tunes as they were originally written, (actually I did when I first learned) so I have to really work hard to arrange a song before I teach it, because I do it differently every time I perform it. You can't do that when you teach unfortunately because someone will say, "that's how you told me to do it last week."

So, let me see how hard it will be. I have been so busy, I haven't had a lot of time.

How many of you guys live close enough to Elderly Instruments to do a workshop? I do guitar workshops there once in awhile, but I could throw something together for banjo if there was interest. It would be the same format but I would give a personal video at the end for review.

I haven't done it, though they have talked about it. Maybe instead of a guitar workshop next time?

Edited by - Rob Bourassa on 03/13/2010 23:08:15

Mar 14, 2010 - 9:55:56 AM



101 posts since 2/28/2010

I live a few miles away from Elderly and would attend. Do you teach at Elderly?

Edited by - gryphon on 03/14/2010 09:56:37

Mar 14, 2010 - 12:58:47 PM

13 posts since 5/18/2009

Rob, I would definitely go to a banjo workshop at Elderly. I think I live closer than you.

Originally posted by Rob Bourassa


How many of you guys live close enough to Elderly Instruments to do a workshop? I do guitar workshops there once in awhile, but I could throw something together for banjo if there was interest. It would be the same format but I would give a personal video at the end for review.

I haven't done it, though they have talked about it. Maybe instead of a guitar workshop next time?

Mar 14, 2010 - 1:19:21 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

No, I don't teach there, but they have had me teach a few guitar workshops. I might want to do a banjo workshop next time if I could pack it.

Mar 14, 2010 - 3:51:50 PM



677 posts since 2/26/2010

Originally posted by StonyRivers

Milli Go to the link I'm sure one of these will work for you, if not get back to us

Oddly enough I could't make any of the programs for MacIntosh work. So I decided to get one for my pc, The Youtube Clip Extractor 'simple' edition (? Or the Home Edition, the free one)
It works fine. Thank you all for your suggestions, it's very much appreciated.

And - last but certainly not least - I'm doing really well with the FMB! Woohoo!!!

Edited by - Milli2 on 03/15/2010 20:34:31

Mar 16, 2010 - 9:07:36 AM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Glad to hear it Milli.

Apr 20, 2010 - 12:52:06 PM



72 posts since 3/15/2010

Thanks for all the effort put in to your videos
it really helps a bunch

Apr 24, 2010 - 10:11:52 AM

69 posts since 12/11/2009

Hi Rob what have you been up to ? it's been a bit since we last heard from you.

Apr 24, 2010 - 8:19:24 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Sorry, I don't get around these things often, mostly because I am swamped with work. I had some latency problems with all of my pro audio fixes, and am still not able to do videos easily.

I put some out in a very easy format, but they were backwards, and I caught a lot of grief from my Youtube subscribers, so I have put the brakes on that. My biggest problem is time right now. I am currently producing 4 different recording projects, and also an instructional DVD for guitar, as soon as I can get the problems solved. I need to trade in my MacBook Pro, for a unit with pro audio plug ins.

My son spent a little time at home before heading off to Afghanistan. He is a Marine, and they are really having a lot of stuff go on over there right now, so we were spending as much time as we could with him before he left, because we won't see him for some time.

I have also been teaching a lot of lessons online to make sure I have enough to pay Uncle Sam this quarter. My wife has been a stay at home mom for 20 years, and our only source of income has been my gigs and lessons. We do OK, but I have to work like crazy, so my video lessons are usually seasonal.

I have some playing jobs that have taken my weekends, and in May will be headed to Manhattan. After that, I have a couple of weeks in June with a relatively light amounts of gigs, and unfortunately, lessons usually slow down in the summer, so I will probably have a few weeks on my hands with some extra time in less than two months.

Life is a blur right now.


Edited by - Rob Bourassa on 04/25/2010 15:16:43

Apr 25, 2010 - 1:34:35 PM



1965 posts since 11/28/2003

All the best to you, your son, and your family. Take care of those things first.

Thanks for all you have been willing to do.


Apr 27, 2010 - 2:51:16 PM

196 posts since 8/22/2008

Hey, Rob. I posted several weeks ago thanking you for doing these videos. I'm performing this as an intro to the Hank Williams tune, "I Saw the Light" this Saturday at a church dinner. It'll probably be at about the Practice Companion C clip. I always struggle coming in cleanly at the very beginning. Once I get going, it's plenty smooth timing wise, but I always seem to get tangled up right at the beginning. Any suggestions?

Apr 28, 2010 - 2:59:21 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Thank you Shel.

E-mail me Clay, and I'll send you a free private video that I use for all of my Skype students who have the exact same problem. You'll need Skype so I can send the file because it's a big one, and it won't work with standard e-mail.


Apr 28, 2010 - 6:25:06 PM

3 posts since 1/23/2010

Do you have info/knowledge about "cooperman banjo rims. ie quality etc, when they were built

Apr 28, 2010 - 11:03:47 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Sorry Style Six, I am in no way a banjo guru.

I have no knowledge of any new banjo stuff at all. I really haven't played seriously since 1981. I had a Gibson RB800, but since 1981, my only 5 String has been this Goodtime. I have several artist endorsements with instrument manufacturers, and actually am a Deering endorser, but for their 6 String banjos and not their 5.

What you hear in the way of 5 string chops, are leftovers from 30 years ago, before I started playing guitar all of the time to put groceries on the table. I practiced banjo so much as a kid, I let the books slide, and my grades were too poor to get into a university. After several years of community college, and the realization that most of my profs barely knew the subjects they were teaching, I decided to give up on the piece of paper, and stick to guitar. (Sorry community college profs, I know there are some good ones, including my dad.)

I still love banjo, but don't pretend to be an authority for one minute on anything except how to teach effectively, because I have gotten a ton of people from 0 to 80 quickly in bluegrass picking.

I respect the teachers that I read about who teach the instrument from ground up with scales, complex chords and classical exercises, but I am not that kind of player. I teach guitar that way, but found banjo limited in comparison, due to the 5th string, so I never applied myself to much more than standard I,IV,V bluegrass.

I think that just about every banjo manufacturer I have seen does a lousy set up on their banjos before shipping. Most stores don't have a clue how to set up a banjo well, and neither do most technicians. I have set up many banjos that were fairly inexpensive, and they sounded much better than expensive banjos. Most banjos can be made to sound good if you know what you are doing.

As for shells, the harder and drier the better for me. I also think that the fit of the tone ring is a big part of getting a good sound. I know a lot of old timers who ruined the finish on their shells, by baking them in the oven with the tone ring on, just to get the wood to expand and become "one" with the tone ring.

Another thing to make sure of is solid, seamless contact at the neck heel. I have seen so many people adjust the action with the tension bars, and cause one end or another to have a visible gap where it should squeeze tight and flush against the shell with no seam. The truss rod in the neck is usually all you need for neck adjustments, unless the neck angle was cut wrong, in which case you need to have some work done. A shim can be constructed for problem necks, and even if the neck angle is fine, it is sometimes good to put a thin strip of leather between the neck and the shell to fill all of the gaps, and give a bit more sustain.

The tension rods should be tight, and keep the heel even and flush. I also like the head as tight as it can get. The flange on most of my banjos was warped due to the high tension. I also crank the tailpiece down as close to the bridge as it can get. I like to make sure my bridge is low enough to get a snap in the action with no fret buzz, and I like plain ebony.

I like the sound of Vega lights. If the banjo is set up right, they will be plenty loud, and still give a crisp snap. I have found that most banjos can be made to sound good enough to avoid replacing a rim for better tone. But if you are building one from scratch, you might as well get the best to start out with.

What that would be, I have no idea anymore. Sorry.

May 21, 2010 - 4:04:36 AM

3 posts since 4/29/2010

Thank you very much for this :)

May 21, 2010 - 5:47:41 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

You are very welcome.

Jun 3, 2010 - 5:45:13 AM



55 posts since 3/31/2010

Hi Rob,
These little lessons/clips are great, thank you so much for the time and effort you must have put into making them. I really wanted to learn this when I started and you have made it possible.


Jun 4, 2010 - 7:07:55 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Glad to hear it Edd.

Jun 5, 2010 - 11:23:12 AM



677 posts since 2/26/2010

Hey Rob,
I just checked in to read the newest posts to this topic.
To me your last name is very unique, I never ever heard it before. So, after reading your last post I got in the car to run some errands and much to my surprise, for a long time I was driving behind a huge silver colored truck marked 'Bourassa'. I was hoping there were banjo's, guitars and mandolins inside ...

Y'all have a great weekend now!

Jun 5, 2010 - 11:14:38 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008


My family came to the New World from France in 1595 as missionaries. The name was Bourioux. My ancestor was the brother of a Jesuit monsignor, and he married into the Ottawa nation. He changed his name to Bourassa so that his progeny would know who they were from.

The name is very rare in the U.S, but is as popular as Smith in the Montreal phone book. Bourassa trucking is a big outfit I guess. There were also two premiers of Quebec with that name, though it is not popular at all in the States.

You have a great weekend too Milli


Jun 6, 2010 - 7:42:49 PM

161 posts since 3/30/2008

I started on your FMB today and really enjoyed it. It was easy and to the point. I look forward to beginning part 2 tomorrow. Thank you so much.

Jun 9, 2010 - 12:42:03 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Glad to hear it Hitchcock. I have seen a lot of progress from people who have learned this in the last couple of months.

The hardest thing to do seems to get the 4th string with the index finger on the right hand during the forward roll. I will warn you in advance, so be patient with that part, because I get a ton of e-mails telling me that it is impossible, followed by "I've finally got it."

Take your time with that part. It works out eventually.

Jun 9, 2010 - 2:46:52 PM

161 posts since 3/30/2008

You are right I've had problems with it but not to bad. Nothing that practice won't help.

Jun 12, 2010 - 9:40:42 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Another thing a lot of people do is to add an extra beat to the 3rd string during the forward roll with the slide from 2nd to 3rd fret. It is also something to watch out for.

To fix that problem, go to the hammer from 1st to 2nd fret on the 4th string, (Em) and when you come to the forward roll with the slide on the 3rd string, do the roll, but omit the slide. Build up the speed, while playing it strong and solid, then, add the slide in. It usually gets rid of that problem.

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