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Oct 12, 2019 - 8:07:51 AM

131 posts since 11/8/2014

Originally posted by brewerpaul
Originally posted by chas5131

I am starting again at 72. Started the banjo at 67. Switched to fiddle. Loved the fiddle but have had 5 shoulder surgeries from causes unrelated to fiddling.

Did you consider tenor banjo? It's a natural for a fiddle player since it's tuned and fingered the same. I use mine mainly for Irish music, but occasionally old time stuff.

Yes I did.  Was learning the tenor banjo when a bad experience with the leader of a group in Tucson caused me to trade the tenor banjo for a fiddle.


Oct 12, 2019 - 8:23:48 AM

8 posts since 8/31/2019

The big birthday is coming up in November. Just started banjo. Did the typical YouTube viewing and most of the free CH online lessons. Got a couple books and videos as well. My first face-to-face lesson was overwhelming. After holding, tuning, claw position, basic strumming, moved to try individual string strumming, then bum-diddy (with strum and individual strings) and ended with Part A of Cripple Creek. All in <30 minutes. Needless to say, couldn't do any of these poorly. I definitely don't want any more tunes or lessons until I can work on my right hand a lot more.

Oct 12, 2019 - 10:13:09 AM
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2039 posts since 4/5/2006

Originally posted by Mopar Crazy

I am 61 and started in February. Was going good but getting a little disgusted that not better than I am.

Relatively early in this journey, I concluded that Earl Scruggs was as good as he was because that was his profession. Even discounting the fact that he had been playing banjo since he was knee high to a grasshopper & had been hearing this music all his life (that was a real toughly to get over), Earl had turned his passion into his profession. There was no way I could match that. However, I was probably better at my (engineering) profession than Earl could ever be. So on that at least, we were even. I could live with that. Just strive to be as good as possible, given what you have to work with. And like I said earlier, the goal post keeps moving.

If only we were able to capture time & store it in a bottle. But since we cannot, develop good study habits, learn to maximize your time with the banjo. Rather than wasting time on frivolous activities, figure out ways to squeeze every last (spare) minute of the day (diverting those wasted moments) into time with the banjo.

Nothing involving music, & particularly the banjo, is wasted. It may be over your head, or beyond your capabilities at the time but, if there is storage room in the memory banks, it will come back later as an aha moment. Progress comes in steps, sometimes bigger, often smaller, sometimes spaced further apart. Plateaus.   

When it's all said & done, it beats spending time (& money) in a bar. Plus, anyone who can play anything on any musical instrument, is marveled at by those who cannot. And the 5 string banjo, being the odd ball type instrument it is, even more so. cheeky It's all good.

Edited by - monstertone on 10/12/2019 10:17:08

Oct 12, 2019 - 11:10:27 AM

50 posts since 9/1/2018

Thanks for the Pep talk! Need it right now

Oct 12, 2019 - 6:18:53 PM
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131 posts since 12/18/2012

I started banjo at a relatively young age, so have no inspiration to offer there. But at age 57, having basically no experience on the guitar, I decided to take up Irish guitar (both backing and eventually leads), which is very differently from bluegrass banjo. After woodshedding for a year or two, I was able to join local sessions (without committing most of the sins most beginning Irish guitarists do) and become an appreciated asset to the session. I had my doubts when I started, thinking it would be tough to learn something new at my age, but after some pretty hard work the first few years, I was really pleased that I had not given it up, as I love Irish trad. music. Today it is my second musical passion (after bluegrass banjo) and very rewarding.

I think that as most of us age, we underestimate our ability to learn new things, and we shouldn't. Success is not guaranteed, but the biggest tragedy would be not to try and never know that in fact we could get so much enjoyment from it.

Oct 13, 2019 - 7:41:59 AM

1307 posts since 2/10/2013

what age(s) does the original post consider "older" ?

Oct 13, 2019 - 9:31 AM
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25 posts since 10/13/2019

Started at 52 when I retired from my second career; now I'm 58 and I can play a little. I practice about 2 hours a day and post lots and lots of clips from that on my Instagram and website--I find that playing to the camera helps me with my stage fright-slash-performance anxiety or whatever it is. When I'm at home in Florida and not on the road in my RV, I have a weekly gig at the Old Folks' Home in town. My advice, really for anyone: learn what you like to play and find places to play in front of people, even if it's just busking, which I've done a lot. Yep.

Oct 13, 2019 - 10:04:28 AM

52601 posts since 12/14/2005

Dude, you've got it KNOCKED!

You can already read music, which puts you WAAAYYY ahead of MY musical ability.
AND, back when I was a callow youth, there was no Internet with free video lessons, and no Banjo HangOut with over a hundred thousand people available for Free Advice.

PLUS: If you want to buy a decent banjo, the Outhangers who sell theirs, are selling you banjos that they KNOW sound good, and have been well cared for. Because (for the most part) we folks are just a bit CRAZY about banjos.

And if you're retired, you might have  a bit more free time than before.

My friend Mary started 5-string banjo  when she was 78.

With no kids nor pets running around to knock it over, she keeps it where she can reach it, and works on the basic rolls for a few minutes at a time, several times a day.


Post a topic with a title like

Need help getting started in Lincoln, NE

and see how many of the sixty-one members who list Lincoln as their home base respond.

(Plus others NEAR Lincoln.)

Like I tell EVERYBODY:

"There are two ways to play the banjo: The hard way and the easy way. The people on TV play it the HARD way, specifically to dazzle the audience.

But, when you're sitting around with friends & family, they don't CARE if you can play like Earl Scruggs, Roy Clark, Steve Martin. All THEY care about is "Do you know the THREE CHORDS to the songs we want to sing??"

Two of the most popular instrumental banjo tunes are, at base, VERY simple.

Dueling Banjos is a SCALE EXERCISE!


And the FAST part is G, C, and D chords, played in variations,

Foggy Mountain Breakdown is G, E minor, and D7

Look at my avatar picture. Does that guy look like a HARD WORKER?

If it was hard work, I wouldn't be doing it. And yet, my annual income has been augmented by literally DOZENS of DOLLARS!  cheeky

Edited by - mike gregory on 10/13/2019 10:11:57

Oct 14, 2019 - 1:46:05 AM

144 posts since 9/26/2018

Originally posted by szbassoon

Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I picked up my banjo yesterday (a 40 year old Univox, it'll be fine for my needs) and spent about an hour with Jim Pankey's first lesson.

I started a year ago at age 46. Asked myself the same questions. I can't become the next Scruggs or Bela Fleck but neither will most of the beautifully-talented banjoists out there who've played since childhood. So why fret about it. I love my day job, so not looking to replace it anyway. I'll just become as good as I personally can, and let the details fill themselves in as they will. Maybe play in a local band.

There are also exciting new avenues for musicians not hungry for big dollars these days, like social media. I follow a few small, local-to-them bands that don't really do gigs or tour around at all. They just assemble with a skilled videographer and produce music videos on YouTube. The good ones are racking up hundreds of thousands of views! 

Pankey is great. After finishing his series of 10 intro videos, I knew I needed a live teacher though. Jim won't teach by Skype so I found one who will. It's been a great journey. 

Edited by - neilends on 10/14/2019 01:47:09

Oct 14, 2019 - 2:30:10 PM

8 posts since 9/23/2019

Originally posted by Richard Hauser

what age(s) does the original post consider "older" ?

I'm embarrassed to say now.  


Oct 14, 2019 - 2:44:57 PM
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144 posts since 9/26/2018

Originally posted by szbassoon
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

what age(s) does the original post consider "older" ?

I'm embarrassed to say now.  


Lucky son of a gun! When I was 31 I was thinking, "Maybe I should start on banjo now." Then I blinked and I was 46.

Oct 14, 2019 - 3:00:51 PM
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13 posts since 9/25/2013

I just started at 42. I don't care that Im 42, I wished I would have started younger but that's long gone. Its never too late to start music.

Oct 14, 2019 - 3:18:28 PM

189 posts since 6/13/2006

Half my students are retired people a lot older than you... a lot...
Play, learn, have fun.

Oct 17, 2019 - 1:29:38 PM



4 posts since 12/14/2017

“Today is the oldest you've ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again.” ? Eleanor Roosevelt.
Go for it you'll never be this young again. LOL.
I started almost 2 years ago at the age of 38. I found a local teacher and take lessons once a week. I now have about a dozen songs I know and can play a little backup. I enjoy it a lot and had NO musical experience before this.

My 2 suggestions as others have said is 1) Buy the best banjo you can afford and 2) find a teacher in person or online.

Oct 18, 2019 - 11:09:31 AM
Players Union Member



4 posts since 9/13/2019

At 63 , I am in lincoln new to banjo. Drop me a pm if you want a beginner to jam.

Oct 20, 2019 - 12:09:06 PM
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641 posts since 11/15/2009

I started when I was 60. Never touched a stringed instrument, and only played trumpet a couple of years in school. Starting late, I would HIGHLY recommend getting a very good teacher, and just skip all that "teach-yourself" stuff. Too easy to learn bad habits and a good teacher will have you moving very quickly. Plus, having a teacher can help getting you in touch with others that are in your boat. It's always good, and probably a necessity, to start playing with others as soon as you can work up some nerve.

My teacher told me that I would never be as good as if I had started when I was 16, but she said I can certainly learn to play, and have a good time. She was right. The combination of age and arthritis in fingers/hand keep me away from the fast songs. Just can't do it, and never will. But that's OK. Plenty of songs within my range, and I can always backup much faster songs than I can play a break on. And that's really fun in jams, especially when somebody's playing those "no-for-a-banjo" song! I really like to see how I can help those songs by using very creative and strategic backup.

bottom line.... Learn and start playing. Oh, be sure you have a decent banjo. Don't waste money on cheap.

Oct 20, 2019 - 1:00:14 PM

50 posts since 9/1/2018

Are you in Anson county? There is Burnsville community there.

Oct 23, 2019 - 7:21:16 PM



1 posts since 10/23/2019

I am a not so oldgoat of 69 who had a Gibson Scruggs back in 83 and never got a roll the way I wanted it. Sold it to go on a cruise to Alaska in 2012. Just bought a RW Jameson and find the action or strings are tough on my ole fingers. I am self taught and can read TAB.

Nov 11, 2019 - 3:26:42 PM



9 posts since 7/18/2018

Yup... started at 58 when I was getting ready to retire... I’m not so good but the neighbors actually love it when I practice on the porch. It’s fun and life is short. :)

Nov 12, 2019 - 5:46:38 AM
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Players Union Member



1359 posts since 8/8/2012

I started at 62 and went to my first jam at 70. I'm enjoying the banjo learning journey. I'll never be a fast picker and glad that many bluegrass tunes sound good at slower tempos. You get out of learning banjo what you put into it. The most important thing is to have fun. Keep picking.

Nov 13, 2019 - 9:23:26 PM
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511 posts since 6/8/2005

I'm 69 and still trying to learn. I don't think it ever stops.

I've quit banjo twice in my life - but not for too long. When I first heard banjo, I couldn't believe it was so fast. I thought it was sped up.

I haven't been on the BHO in years and only recently started to post again.

Did someone mention sight-reading? I making up some PDFs that might help. The three middle lines of the treble clef are the first three strings on a G tuned banjo. (GBD)

Is there software which would allow us to all get together online and talk banjos? That would be fun.

Nov 14, 2019 - 9:48:58 AM
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511 posts since 6/8/2005

This PDF is an exercise that relates right hand fingers with notes on the treble clef.

The main idea is to feel the strings and to refrain from looking at your right hand as you do the exercise.


Edited by - banjola1 on 11/14/2019 09:50:01

Nov 14, 2019 - 1:49:21 PM
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289 posts since 4/27/2013

I thought I was kind of young at age 52!

Anyway, now at 58, I play regularly in a Bluegrass/Country group, and make a reasonable job of songs at a tempo of 135 or under. It's my main hobby now, and makes every day go by faster when I can sit on the couch and play.

I don't think you're ever too young to start, as long as the strength is there, the mind hasn't gone AWOL, and the arthritis not overwhelming.

Journey, not destination.

Nov 18, 2019 - 11:53:03 AM

8 posts since 9/23/2019

Thanks for the encouragement! I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this, and this is the first time I've had fun making music in a good many years. My next step is to find a jam that will welcome a beginner.

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