Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Banjo... Guitar... Banjo

Not sure which section to put this in… so I’m sticking to banjo.

About a month and a half ago, I added guitar to the instruments I’m learning. Everyone here that chimed in said it would absolutely help with banjo, and they were right.

Some things I’ve noticed after about a month of guitar:

  • Banjo strings feel downright fragile after getting used to the tension of an acoustic guitar. I’m guessing this is due to the tension of acoustic strings and the strength required to properly fret them, especially that fat E string.

  • Banjo fretting has become faster and easier. The stretch of the first few frets on the guitar are actually a few millimeters wider, so I think that’s translating to making my fret hand more flexible than it would be without the guitar training.

  • This is going to sound like a criticism of Ben’s teaching, but it absolutely isn’t. I’m finding the guitar lessons harder to follow. I believe this to be due to my lack of musical background. So, to compensate for this, I signed up for Fender Play to get me up to speed faster. I love Ben’s lessons, even when I don’t understand what the heck he’s talking about, which is sadly more than I like to admit. The Fender app gets down to stupidly simple like “This is a guitar… these are strings” which is helping tremendously. It sounds weird, but it’s what I need to catch up to Ben’s teachings. I’m also rewatching Mr. G’s lessons. He’s also WAY over my head, but sometimes I catch something new that I didn’t understand before, but do now.

  • I keep turning to the banjo for “reassurance”. I can play a couple songs semi-comfortably, and it’s nice to go from guitar frustration to a comfortable song. Plus, (and I’ve said this in every thread, I think), the banjo is just stupidly fun to play. I don’t know why, but I really like playing it.

  • Don’t ever go to the guitar store and look at Stratocasters… I’m lusting after one now, but the strings on electrics are so weak, I can’t fathom how you could build callouses at all. So, I’m going to stick to my Eastman until I can actually play it well. Then maybe I’ll add the electric to my growing family of instruments. My 17 year old was sorely disappointed I didn’t bring home a Strat last night :rofl::joy:

All in all, the guitar is having a profoundly positive effect on my banjo playing. I’m enjoying the heck out of both, and the “ah ha” moments seem to be coming faster.

Would I recommend a n00b to add one to the other? Yes, absolutely, if you have time to practice both everyday.


That’s great to hear, Mike! Anything that can speed up the learning process is a good thing.

My first guitar was actually a 12 string. As a result, I learned nothing but chords for years. I’ve always said that learning to play an electric was like learning a whole new instrument. The technique required to play one correctly is significantly different from just playing chords on an acoustic.

Thanks for the feedback. Looking forward to more of your progress.


Good insights and glad it’s going well! I am a Stratocaster man too! Never could play it worth a darn but I bought a 1986 Stratocaster brand new with my first paycheck out of high school - it’s sitting in my closet right now.

I tried to add banjo to my skill set but it messed with my brain a little too much!