Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Derek Ralston from Oroville, California!

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I grew up in a very musical household where many different styles of music were on tap, via the radio or the record player. I started playing an old Silvertone as a child and loved trying to play anything I could get my hands on, which led to playing all of the above.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I can’t remember when I wasn’t playing some sort of instrument, but I started playing guitar at about 6, trumpet and piano at 8, mando at around 10, banjo at age 12, stand up bass at 16, and pedal steel at 20.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
It’s tough to pick just one, but when I’m having a day when my fingers aren’t working like they should, I go back to one of the basic lessons, slow down, and get my feet back underneath me.

What’s your goal when playing?
To do my best at feeling like I am a part of the music, but most of all, to have fun!

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
Pedal steel is both my frustration and my love! Any music with a crying steel is good enough for me.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Since December 2017

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I have always tried to emulate the Scruggs technique. It’s fast, clean, and easy on the ears.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Poco. It’s a great blend of country, rock and bluegrass with some fantastic pickers!

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
Picks that fit well and feel great are essential for banjo and pedal steel playing comfort and sound.

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
A 1926 Gibson ‘Bella Voce’ Tenor to 5-string conversion

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Exercise more and spend even more time with my family.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Banjo Ben’s Gold Pick membership is even better than private lessons. Think about it. If you pay for lessons, you still have to take time to pack up your axe, drive to your lesson, unpack your gear and tune up, all before you work on a single lick! Then when you are done, you reverse the process. Why not save the time and get better in the privacy of your own home with Banjo Ben?

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I ran across his videos looking for banjo content. The rest is history, as they say.


Congrats Derek!!



What a great profile! Enjoyed reading it and wanted to pass along a hearty Congratulations on GPotW!

I was impressed with your wide range of instruments (I played trumpet too) as well as your answer about the many benefits of @BanjoBen 's lessons - so much so that I shared it with a friend! :+1::facepunch:


Welcome and Congrats Derek! Hope to see you around the forum!


Congrats Derek on being the gpotw! It was interesting to read your answers, and thanks for sharing. I’ll have to check out Poco!


Congrats Derek on being selected as this weeks God Pick Member


Hi Derek. Congrats on This weeks Gold Pick member. I can’t imagine playing all those different instruments and pedal steel too !!! And I thought 5 strings was hard enough . Welcome and stay healthy !!


Congratulations, Derek! I enjoyed reading your musical bio. Poco has been a long time favorite of mine as well. I’ve always been fascinated with the pedal steel guitar and love the sound, but I think I’ll just stick with guitar and mandolin. :grin: