Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Ken Snyder from Lilburn, Georgia

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
The Beatles in 1964. My parents got me a 3/4 size guitar to learn on. Within a few years I was playing in a rock band all through college. After college, I met a guy who introduced me to acoustic music. We played folk, country, and some bluegrass music. This led to learning banjo, fiddle, and upright bass. I recently retired and decided to try my hand at playing the mandolin. I was fortunate to purchase a Northfield Big Mon mandolin from Ben’s General Store. I am halfway through Ben’s beginner mandolin series and loving it ! Banjo Ben’s teaching style is THE BEST!!!

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve been playing since 1964 with occasional breaks due to other commitments. I love the acoustic sound and stringed instruments.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
For many years all my playing was within the first five frets. Ben’s unlocking the neck and playing up the neck lessons on banjo, guitar, and mandolin are both a challenge and eye opener for me. And I love the melodic banjo lessons.

What’s your goal when playing?
To play songs accurately with feeling! And to have fun doing it !

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I still enjoy playing the old rock tunes acoustically, as well as fiddle tunes and old time clawhammer tunes. Also the Christian, gospel, and Christmas songs that Ben teaches.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I immediately joined as a lifetime Gold Pick member in 2017, when I saw the quality, humor, and dedication that Ben injects into his lessons.

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I ran across one of his lessons on You Tube. His web site intro by the guy in the mullet sealed the deal!!

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I was blessed with a discerning ear. I mostly play by ear and am able to pick out each instrument in a song ,including vocal harmonies. Learning to use tablatures has helped me to know which fingers to use!

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. I am a fan of Sierra Hull, Justin Moses, Chris Eldridge, and Brittany Haas. Maybe we could form a new band and I could play bass.

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I’m a little behind the times when it comes to state-of-the-art in gear. The Snark tuner I got from the General Store has saved me a lot of time with tuning. I would love to get a couple of those Elliott capos though. $$$

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
A Martin OOO-28HD guitar and a top quality resophonic guitar.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Play with other pickers for fun .

Anything else you’d like to add?
I look forward to the next lesson each week. Thanks Ben, Jake, and the rest of the crew for all you do to support this music and your students.


Nice to meet you!

Hi Mike . It’s good to be a part of a group who love this music . Thanks for the reply .


Congratulations Ken. You have some good looking back up singers.

Well thanks there , Pilgrim .
I’ve got to hand it to them , they rock as my back up singers !!!:notes::smile:

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Congrats Ken! If you get that supergroup together, I’ll come to the show! You chose four of my favorite musicians

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Nope not five o’clock there. It must be five o’clock somewhere! Looks like the band’s name would be the “Barnyard Animals.” Nice profile.

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Hi Ken, nice to meet you and congrats on GPOTW. I totally agree with you on Ben’s teaching style. He’s the only one out there with a personality.

I’ve had my eye on the Big Mon for some time but I’ve got get way better before I make that jump, I bet it’s a dream to play though. Hope to hear from you more often here on the forum. All the best.

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Hi Dragonslayer. I would be in awe just to be in the same room with them!!! Amazing pickers .

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Me too!

Hi Mole . It is always 5 o’clock somewhere . It’s been 5 o’clock in my music cave for at least 10 years. :flushed:. Guess I should wind it up or put in a new battery one of these days ! I was once in a band called the “Dying Heart Rhythm Section”. You can see the drum logo behind me !

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Hi Miss Maggie . Thanks for the kind words . That Big Mon was featured on a couple of Ben’s lessons. When I saw it … I had to get it . Wide nut , Engleman spruce top, solid figured maple back and sides. I had been dreaming of one after researching mandolins for several years . And best of all …Banjo Ben has played it !!! Just wish I could do it justice !


Great review! I wish I had your “discerning ear” … life would be somewhat easier!


If that is the one I remember, it’s a phenomenal one!

Hi Mandojoe49. Thanks for your comment and welcome to the Blog . I’m pretty new to it also ! How long have you been playing ? The “discerning ear” was a gift from God … not anything I I did ! But it is extremely helpful and makes listening to music much more enjoyable! Anyway , good to hear from you !!!

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You can tell I’m new to it … it’s the Forum, not the Blog :smile:

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Hi Mike. It was used on Ben’s lesson “Jesus Loves Me” and maybe one other lesson about 8 months ago! Pictures of it are still on the mandolins for sale at the General Store (Northfield F5S Big Mon…sold out). Listing
A series of pictures of 2 Big Mon mandolins … mine is the one with the solid maple back. Ben makes it sound awesome !


That’s the one!

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Hi Ken, and congrats on being the gpotw! Thanks for sharing your story and glad to hear from another member broadening their horizons. Best wishes on your musical pursuits.

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Hi XMARK , Thanks for the encouragement . This music is a pleasure to listen to and a joy to play ! Can’t say enough about out teacher . He’s the best !