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Telltale signs a banjo player is a guitar player

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Feb 4, 2020 - 12:43:07 AM

maxmax

Sweden

1381 posts since 8/1/2005

They can usually noodle around on the banjo OK, then you hear them say "wouldn't it be hilarious if I played the banjo?". Busted!

Feb 4, 2020 - 4:35:35 AM

898 posts since 1/25/2017

Belittling the skills and technique of others is one way to avoid one's own musical insecurity.

Feb 4, 2020 - 7:01:20 AM
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RB3

USA

623 posts since 4/12/2004

It you see a banjo player with a good lookin' girl friend, it's likely that guitar is their primary instrument.

Feb 4, 2020 - 8:41:33 AM

1594 posts since 2/10/2013

Every good banjo player I have known could also play rhythm guitar.

Feb 4, 2020 - 2:00:49 PM

WesB

USA

221 posts since 12/17/2014

quote:
Originally posted by talljoey

I went from banjo to guitar, and yesterday to a 12 string. My picking hand is quite versatile and when I jam I am normally the only fingerpicker in a sea of flat pickers. Music makes me happy- except my husband’s only request not to play electric guitar is getting harder to honor!


Your husband is a wise man.......

Feb 4, 2020 - 3:30:48 PM
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lature

USA

127 posts since 12/11/2017

They don't transpose every song known to man into the key of G.

Feb 4, 2020 - 8:56:50 PM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6638 posts since 2/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by DC5

I don't know, but in a workshop with Adam Hurt he commented that I had started on guitar. I don't know how he knew this, but clearly there is a way.


Well he had a better than 50/50 chance of being right.  I would guess that at least 76.3% of the banjo players here started on guitar.


They say sixty-five percent of all statistics
Are made up right there on the spot
Eighty-two-point-four percent of people believe 'em
Whether they're accurate statistics or not
I don't know what you believe
But I do know there's no doubt
I need another double-shot of something ninety-proof
I got too much to think about

-Todd Snider's Statistician's Blues

Feb 4, 2020 - 9:52:21 PM
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53852 posts since 12/14/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Uses a flat pick.

Seriously.

A guitar player in a Celtic-inspired local band picked up the banjo for a song and used a flat pick. At the break, he remarked to me that I must think him an awful player. I simply recycled Mike Gregory's comment that he can play it any way he wants. (It was the mandolin player's banjo.)

When I was courting the Mrs. (late Seventies) we saw a young rock band at a club, and one of them picked up the banjo to play - what else? - "Dueling Banjos". He used a flat pick. I was horrified and impressed at the same time.


Hey, MOM!

I'm being quoted by Foreign Dignitaries about playing the Banjo!

Feb 4, 2020 - 11:31:50 PM
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Paul R

Canada

12417 posts since 1/28/2010

How dare you call me a dignitary!

And I'm not foreign.

You are.

Feb 5, 2020 - 5:13:23 AM

kjcole

USA

1228 posts since 4/21/2003

They put their banjo down and reach for their guitar when someone calls out a fiddle tune.

Feb 5, 2020 - 6:04:11 AM

1934 posts since 1/10/2004

They get one of those 6 strings and think they're playing the banjo?

Seriously, most good banjo players, or string players in general, know (or should know) some guitar. It's the piano of stringed instruments.

Feb 5, 2020 - 7:05:22 AM
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1594 posts since 2/10/2013

Kelly - Lots of musicians quit playing when a fiddle instrumental is being played. Fiddle tunes have more frequent chord changes and often have a number of less seldom used chords. After trying to play along for 10 or 15 seconds with no success, a smart rhythm player just "sits the tune out".
Unfortunately many rhythm players do not do this, and that makes things more difficult for the fiddler.

Feb 5, 2020 - 7:57:17 PM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6638 posts since 2/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Uses a flat pick.

Seriously.

A guitar player in a Celtic-inspired local band picked up the banjo for a song and used a flat pick. At the break, he remarked to me that I must think him an awful player. I simply recycled Mike Gregory's comment that he can play it any way he wants. (It was the mandolin player's banjo.)

When I was courting the Mrs. (late Seventies) we saw a young rock band at a club, and one of them picked up the banjo to play - what else? - "Dueling Banjos". He used a flat pick. I was horrified and impressed at the same time.


Well Paul, I'll admit to using a flat pick for tunes like Boodle-Am-Shake in The Maple Leaf Champions Jug Band. I mute the thumb string with my left thumb and strum full chords with the pick.  In Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, both Bob Siggins and Bill Keith did the same thing.

The original Dueling Banjers, called Feuding Banjos, was played by Don Reno, using finger-picks on a 5-string and Arthur Smith playing a 4 string plectrum banjo with a flat pick.

Feb 5, 2020 - 9:56:12 PM
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Paul R

Canada

12417 posts since 1/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Jim Yates
quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Uses a flat pick.

Seriously.

A guitar player in a Celtic-inspired local band picked up the banjo for a song and used a flat pick. At the break, he remarked to me that I must think him an awful player. I simply recycled Mike Gregory's comment that he can play it any way he wants. (It was the mandolin player's banjo.)

When I was courting the Mrs. (late Seventies) we saw a young rock band at a club, and one of them picked up the banjo to play - what else? - "Dueling Banjos". He used a flat pick. I was horrified and impressed at the same time.


Well Paul, I'll admit to using a flat pick for tunes like Boodle-Am-Shake in The Maple Leaf Champions Jug Band. I mute the thumb string with my left thumb and strum full chords with the pick.  In Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, both Bob Siggins and Bill Keith did the same thing.

The original Dueling Banjers, called Feuding Banjos, was played by Don Reno, using finger-picks on a 5-string and Arthur Smith playing a 4 string plectrum banjo with a flat pick.


Well, Jim, check out the banjo action at 5:13 of this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0xgNnmAkRM

Feb 6, 2020 - 6:22:36 AM
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233 posts since 2/16/2017

As a guitarist that's now playing banjo, there's one main difference to me between the two, The banjo makes me happy and the guitar doesn't.

I have to play the guitar in the band as it's the one I'm most proficient at, I don't enjoy it as much as I would if I had the confidence to play the banjo instead, I find it a chore. I do play them differently because they are two different instruments and I don't find myself using any of my guitar habits on the banjo, if anything the banjo has made me a better fingerpicker when it comes to guitar.

Just my fourpennethworth ;-)

Feb 6, 2020 - 6:39:16 AM

shmoss

USA

48 posts since 1/29/2011

Great replies everyone! Got a good laugh out of some of these responses.

Edited by - shmoss on 02/06/2020 06:39:31

Feb 6, 2020 - 10:26:09 AM
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479 posts since 1/28/2013

Sometimes you just have to buy a guitar and start learning "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin. It just can't be played on a banjo and still sound right.

Feb 6, 2020 - 10:05:03 PM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6638 posts since 2/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by jan dupree

Sometimes you just have to buy a guitar and start learning "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin. It just can't be played on a banjo and still sound right.


I learned Babe I'm Gonna Leave You from a Joan Baez LP.  (So did Jimmy Page.)

Feb 7, 2020 - 8:29:29 AM

479 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Jim Yates
quote:
Originally posted by jan dupree

Sometimes you just have to buy a guitar and start learning "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin. It just can't be played on a banjo and still sound right.


I learned Babe I'm Gonna Leave You from a Joan Baez LP.  (So did Jimmy Page.)


It was recorded by Baez just strumming, and 3 or 4 other groups single note picking . But none of them even come close to Zeppelin with the finger picking version. I bought the Zeppelin Collection Complete Songbook, with tabs. I was playing it on 5 string, but without the bass notes you really can't get the same sound of the song. I'm now playing it on a Martin 1931 D-28 Authentic. A banjo could be used for the 2nd. guitar part to accompany, because that part is up the neck at the 10th. and 12th. fret throughout the entire song.

Edited by - jan dupree on 02/07/2020 08:30:07

Feb 7, 2020 - 8:58:45 AM
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353 posts since 12/13/2016

quote:
Originally posted by hardleydavidson

As a guitarist that's now playing banjo, there's one main difference to me between the two, The banjo makes me happy and the guitar doesn't.

I have to play the guitar in the band as it's the one I'm most proficient at, I don't enjoy it as much as I would if I had the confidence to play the banjo instead, I find it a chore. I do play them differently because they are two different instruments and I don't find myself using any of my guitar habits on the banjo, if anything the banjo has made me a better fingerpicker when it comes to guitar.

Just my fourpennethworth ;-)


Wow, Ben, your story is nearly identical to mine.  I would add that the years of improvisation on guitar has made it easier to construct melodies/licks via banjo, and chord theory makes a lot more sense.

Feb 7, 2020 - 9:38:24 AM
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7 posts since 11/6/2019

Just for what it’s worth, Alan Munde is a wonderful guitar player, as was Earl Scruggs. I believe Earl got on guitar down in the single digits of age, perhaps accompanying one of his brothers. I remember seeing Alan playing a black Les Paul to back up the future Ranger Doug at Joe’s Village Inn.

Feb 7, 2020 - 9:48:09 AM

ChuckCharles

Netherlands

34 posts since 6/21/2015

Uses a flatpick, wil not play clawhammer (probably has difficulty with the difference between Old-Time and Bluegrass.) cant tell the difference between melodic and Scruggsstyle picking, wil not use different tunings, owns more guitars than banjo's (and better ones).
concider's himself a guitar player that also plays banjo.

Note: some guitarpickers actually copletely abandone the guitar when getting acquinted with the awesome world of the banjo.

Feb 7, 2020 - 10:21:08 AM

kjcole

USA

1228 posts since 4/21/2003

JD Crowe also on electric guitar.

Feb 7, 2020 - 10:45:44 AM

2 posts since 6/3/2011

Thinks Pete is Bob's father, grandfather, uncle, or other relative.

Edited by - Gene-O on 02/07/2020 10:48:06

Feb 7, 2020 - 10:46:37 AM
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17 posts since 9/11/2013

quote:
Originally posted by shmoss

Let's hear it.. How do you know that a banjo player is really a guitar player? There's a lot of guitar pickers out there that dabble or cross over into banjo. I'm curious how seasoned banjo players can tell the difference between a dyed-in-the wool banjo picker and a guitar player who fancies themselves as a banjo player! I hope this question makes sense.


Oh your question makes sense alright and it sounds just a bit snarky. I play 26 instruments and will never be a great banjo player no matter how hard I try, but I love bluegrass dearly and in a bluegrass group I’ve played all instruments but my best is bass. I know that from the very beginning trying to learn Banjo the correct way it has made me a better finger style acoustic player. I was a music major in college which is the reason I can play a number of instruments and also the reason I’ve had a professional career as a performer, certified guitar tech, and teach trumpet one lesson and the next student may be learning bass. I’ve been playing since 1972 , spent 15 years as a road musician playing everything from a single on guitar, bass pedals, and drum machine to a six piece show group and horns in a jazz ensemble. I ve donated my time helping middle school and high school kids prepare for state contests.  I’m now disabled and semi retired with a total shoulder replacement as well as knee surgeries, and most recently like Huey Lewis of the great Huey Lewis and the News have contracted Menieres Disease but I will play as many instruments as I can until I totally lose my hearing. Be careful how you sound when you make snarky comments and perhaps your time since you consider yourself a dyed in the wool banjo picker encouraging others and helping them become better players.

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