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Plectrum: Any info about David Frey & Susan Sangiacomo?

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Sep 29, 2020 - 10:08:07 AM
2 posts since 11/16/2019

Together, David Frey & Susan Sangiacomo are credited as authors of the The Ultimate Plectrum Banjo Player's Guide (Volumes 1 & 2).

Looks like the book was published ~20 years ago, and has long since fallen out of print. I've heard that David Frey sadly passed some years ago.

Right now, the few used copies of the individual volumes are listed (and selling!) on eBay and Reverb for $300. That seems pretty silly.

I am interested in keeping the plectrum banjo tradition alive beyond the current generation of players. Books like these should be easy for new players to find!

I have copies of both volumes. I would like to digitize them and make them freely available.

Is anyone involved in the production of this book still alive? If a creator/contributor is still around, I won't digitize & distribute without their permission.

Would love to find a way to keep this work -- and this musical tradition -- alive and available for new young players.

Thanks, y'all!

Sep 29, 2020 - 10:47:46 AM



2586 posts since 6/27/2013

Sorry I can't help you with any information, but I wish you every success. You'll need to do some real detective work. From where I sit, the plectrum needs to be re-energized: especially in the publication aspect. Don Van Palthe's great teaching materials need the same approach you plan to take with the Frey publications. And let's not forget the heart of it all---The McNeil System.
Good luck. I hope you are very successful.

Sep 29, 2020 - 11:33:35 AM

64 posts since 11/29/2010

Sue is still alive. Best way to contact her might be through her daughter, Sandy, who is on Facebook.

Sep 30, 2020 - 5:32:58 AM
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506 posts since 2/16/2005

It would be great if this excellent set of plectrum banjo instructions could be widely available again, and digitizing these volumes would be an inexpensive way to accomplish that.  The same is true for the instruction books and plectrum solo lead sheets that Don VanPalta created some years ago. 

The American Banjo Museum ( already has some banjo tutorials.  Perhaps the authors and/or their estates might consider selling or donating the copyrights to the Museum and getting a share of the royalties from any sales?  That could be a win-win for everyone. SETH  

Oct 25, 2020 - 2:22:04 AM



671 posts since 5/3/2014

In 2014 I bought my copy direct from
Sally Frey
Ultimate Banjo Music Company
24-hour Phone: 707-539-7665

Oct 25, 2020 - 7:48:16 AM

263 posts since 10/8/2018

Thanks, Charles.

I just tried the link for and the website is totally in Japanese, with no photos.

I hope the Sangiacomo family are able to get together a website where they can sell this excellent resource digitally.


Edited by - guitarbanjoman on 10/25/2020 07:49:00

Oct 26, 2020 - 7:43:31 AM

523 posts since 11/6/2007

Something to keep in mind: The CDs accompanying the books, meant to demonstrate the exercises therein, have the examples played on a midi instrument, not a banjo.

Oct 26, 2020 - 12:36:45 PM
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263 posts since 10/8/2018

Interesting, Andrew. Do you own a copy?

Oct 26, 2020 - 2:03:07 PM



2586 posts since 6/27/2013

A "" search of Susan Sangiacomo yields two possibilities with phone numbers: one in CA and one in NJ. Why not give them a call? @citywalt

Oct 27, 2020 - 6:47:25 AM

523 posts since 11/6/2007

Hi, Will...I have volume 1 and 2, and the discs, buried deep in storage. I didn't find the books or CDs helpful. On the other hand, I can highly recommend Buddy Wachter's lesson on Homespun. Even after playing plectrum for 14 years, I still refer to it. :-)

Oct 27, 2020 - 7:40:03 AM



506 posts since 2/16/2005

I think the Frey books and the Wachter DVD are both helpful, each in their own ways.  The Frey books focus a lot more on the left hand, covering chords, melody chords and some music theory, with lots of other good information about strums and rhythm, comping and playing in a band.  The Wachter DVD is almost exclusively about right-hand work, with plenty of great information about various strums.  There's also a chord fingering chart included that's a very helpful reference and provides a good overview of the basic chord patterns. 

Taken together, both items would be a very complete education for any plectrum banjoist, and you can't really recommend one over the other.  I would try for both items if you can; otherwise, decide which hand needs more help and make that item your priority.  SETH

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