Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Michael Brashler from Lockport, Illinois

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
My older brother played the guitar

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I started playing the guitar at 8 years old. Unfortunately, I did not dedicate myself to the instrument at that time. I did pick it up again in college and continued to play with friends at my church, only focusing on contemporary Christian songs at the time. I started playing the banjo, 3 finger style, when I was 35, (I’m 60 now) and then Claw hammer style 10 years ago. I picked up the mandolin and ukulele about 2 years ago.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Intermediate level song - Wabash Cannon Ball for the mandolin. The tabs and the video instruction are easily manageable. And, you can come back to it again and again whenever you want. Being able to print the tabs makes it very easy to practice wherever you are.

What’s your goal when playing?
To learn a song that my band is performing. I am a part of a “Garage” band and we perform the “nursing home” circuit. Historically, I’ve played the banjo - claw-hammer style with the group, (though a bluegrass group)…but we already have a 3 finger style banjo player…so I recently switched to the mandolin.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
Claw-hammer banjo is my strength; 3 finger banjo is a challenge…so much so that I’ve dedicated all my time to Claw-hammer and mandolin. However, I would probably choose the banjo 3 finger style if I could do it well… I also dabble with the Ukulele!

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
About 2 years

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I live by the metronome when I practice and I focus on the areas I struggle with in a song. Also…A saying that I keep in my mind: Practice makes permanent…not perfect…so be sure you are practicing with good form.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. The Band is top notch and their leader is a strong Christian leader. They also genuinely have fun playing together.

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
The metronome is key. I struggle with always speeding up when I play. I also use a Peterson Tuner - in my opinion there is no better. With Claw-hammer style banjo, I am constantly changing the tuning on my banjo.

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I really enjoy my Ome Clawhammer Banjo - Flora style, and My Deering Delux 3 finger banjo…I am on the hunt for a good Mandolin though and I have no idea which one I would pick right now.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Claw-hammer Banjo, Mandolin, 3 finger style Banjo, Ukulele, voice lessons…Repeat…oh yeah…and play with the grandkids!

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
A friend of mine is a member and he swore by the instruction provided.


Michael, congrats on being the gpotw. Wow, sounds like you’re keeping pretty busy on those instruments. My dad’s side of the family is from just South of Springfield, so I spent a bit of time visiting your fair state while growing up. Here’s to wishing you great success in your musical ambitions!


Congrats on being GPOTW! Hope to see you around the forum!

Thank you! I do feel a sense of urgency to try and learn and absorb as much as I can now… I’m not getting any younger!


Congrats Michael! I like your stylin’ shirt for the pic! Oh… And those nice colors in that embellishment above your head (what do they call that?) Is also AWESOME!

Claw-hammer! I think there is an ever-increasing Interest in having this style brought into the site.

I hope it happens!

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Amen on the passage of time, @lbrashler6

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I think that’s just an old flag! Clawhammer is as contagious as 3 finger. Thanks for the nice note.

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Thanks… definitely getting back into mandolin with the site! What an incredible resource!

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