Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Keith Trent from Keysville, VA!

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I would probably say watching my dad play his guitar as a kid. He introduced me to Leo Kottke which really pushed me to try and emulate his style of playing. From there, I also started listening to Flatt and Scruggs and old school bluegrass which peaked my interest in learning the banjo. I figured I was already picking the guitar “travis style”, then the banjo can’t be too much different, right?? I was right and wrong! haha It really helped me watching some of Banjo Ben’s videos/lessons to learn the theory and methods to picking the banjo. It’s around this time I also joined up with some good friends from my church who play in a gospel bluegrass/folk band (Prodigal Son). I have since moved into playing a little dobro and also picked up the mandolin.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was probably around 12 years old. I picked up the banjo when I went to college and have been playing the mandolin/dobro the last 8 years or so. God has given me this talent to use for His Glory which is my main motivation to play and improve where I can. Figuring out how to play a new song also motivates me. I like a good challenge!

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Probably the old classic G lick and bag o’ licks! It definitely helped me early on with learning to improvise.

What’s your goal when playing?
My main goal when playing is to relax and de-stress! Music definitely calms the soul. I also want my talent and music to speak as a testimony to God’s grace in my life. I’m beyond grateful for the talent he’s given me.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I have a Leo Kottke signature 12 string guitar that I really enjoy playing when I’m not playing with the band. It’s tuned down 3 whole steps and really has a “growl” to it with the low notes. There’s just something different about finger-picking a 12 string guitar.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I think I signed up as a Gold Pick member early on when it first came out. I would say sometime in 2010 or 2011?

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Travis picking is usually my go-to style of guitar playing. Flatpicking of course for mandolin, but I love the fingerstyle guitar.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
I would love to play with Ricky Skaggs but I’m not sure I would be good enough for “Picky Ricky”?? haha

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
As a band, we have started using a BOSE PA system with condenser mics which has really been nice for simple setup and pickup of acoustic instruments for concerts. I also recently purchased a Tone-Guard through the Banjo Ben store which really helps open up the mandolin for volume and tone. It’s really amazing how much tone comes from the back of the mandolin.

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I would say a pre-war Martin D-18 or a Gibson F5 Fern mandolin. One of these days!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I would spend some extra time with my two girls and play more music!

Anything else you’d like to add?
I really appreciate the time and effort that Ben puts into making his lessons and videos. It’s really been a great resource for me in learning new instruments and improving my skill.

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I’m pretty sure I first found out about Banjo Ben through searching on YouTube for banjo lessons. Ba da da daaa! *insert G lick!

Thanks for letting us feature you @ktrent24!


gif Keith on being selected as this weeks Gold Pick Member


Welcome and congrats Keith!! Hope to see you around the forum!


Keith, congrats on being the gpotw! It’s impressive how you’ve found the time to branch out into each of those instruments, and how your desire is for God to be glorified through your playing. Having a musical family history is truly a blessing. Thanks for sharing with us!


@ktrent24 congratulations on being gold picker of the week! I enjoyed reading your interview and especially appreciate your focus on God-glorifying music. Keep on pickin!


Loved your interview man! Keep on pickin And Grinnin!!


bens a good teacher that you picked the mandolin you picked is a good one to learn is a good one cant go wrong with mandolins