My Banjo Progress


I’ve had a banjo since I was in high school. Like many I was influenced by TV at the time. The Darlings on Andy Griffith, Flat and Scruggs and of course Hee Haw. I’ve always just plucked around but I never really took the time to really play correctly until now and I’m turning 55 in March. That is why I decided to make an investment in a good instrument, (Huber Workhorse) and now I am going to invest the time. I going back to the basics and start from the beginning. Over the years I have managed to get forward and reverse rolls down fairly good. I can hammer on ok and pull - offs too, but the open string ones are much easier for me than the closed string ones simply because of getting my fingers in place in time but it’s coming along.
I have managed to pluck around and come up with some fairly recognizable versions of songs on my own but I’ve always knew that I wasn’t playing them correctly. I never worked on the box (alternate) roll which was a huge mistake because it has become very evident that is the roll which really seems to give the drive we are all looking for. At least that’s the way it seems to me. Things are going slowly but they are also going well. I am seeing progress and re- applying myself to using and reading tab.
One thing I have noticed, at least for me, is that if I go back and use tab to try to play a tune I have been playing wrong all of these years I just seem to revert back to my old habits and it’s horribly frustrating. So, for now I am using tab to learn songs I have never played before and thus incorrectly. Also, various exercises to warm up. Hop. Skip and a Jump and some D licks and endings. I am currently learning John Henry. This is a song I have never played and between the videos and tab it is coming along quite well. Slowly, but well.
Another thing I find odd is that I play better faster rather than slower. Odd I know but I really have to work on controlling that as well. I was a drummer in bands for years and was always considered to have impeccable timing but for some reason when I pick up a stringed instrument I always tend to rush. That’s where the audio clips come in very handy.
Oh, and Ben if you are reading this just a thought here. When I watch the actual lesson videos, if left alone for a minute they will repeat themselves and a lot of times I just let them repeat over and over again without having to restart them. As far as I can tell that is not the case with the audio play along tracks. Being able to just loop those would be a wonderful option if your web guys has nothing else to do. It’s hard to use my mouse with picks on! Lol… Just a thought.
Any of you guys experience these same problems? Well, I have a lot to work on but I am really enjoying this site.


Thanks for the report! Yes, the videos loop, but not the JamTracks. Most JamTracks go through the progression several times, however.


I am finding it hard to play slow too when playing through a song. My definition of fast is certainly a lot slower for most I am sure. There seems to be a mental sweet spot for me. Playing super slow seems to give me too much time to think and I mess up a lot. When I am able to just react to the tab, I seem to do better. However, when just practicing chords, rolls, and 2 or 3 measures of a song, I go super slow…following practice method advice of people on the forum has been really an incredible resource. Realizing I am not the only one struggling through this learning process is very up-lifting. Just can’t say enough good things about the people on this forum. Like everyone says, slow with better pick and fret placement is better, which is why, I am not understanding why sometimes I am having more success going faster. I am a drummer too , this is my first stringed instrument and it is very challenging.


If you download the audio tracks, you can set them up to repeat.


That’s good advice! I didn’t know that!


I hit my 1 year mark early April. I’m still struggling to find the pick hand placement. Since I get a sore forearm, from my first pos, when I thought I found it, it was to much of s down angle like the guy on videoswap. And had problems reach 4 string with my index. So now I’m trying new one again.


Like the Styxx 3969, I’ve developed some bad habits thought self-learning. Sloppiness and slovenly habits that demonstrate a lazy and inattentive attitude. (I guess my third grade teacher might have been on to something!) One thing I noticed as I work though the technique lessons, is a habit of adding slight pauses between notes - mostly because they seem to my ear to be part of the song. But when I play the tab as written, it gives a little different feel to the tune. So, what the heck, I’m trying to get it right. I also have printed out the tabs for the lessons and return to them regularly to reinforce the technique. Or just run though the roll patterns consciously choosing a different starting finger. It is good practice, especially after a long work day when I want to shut off the noodle and do something mindless. As Ben says, I’m trying to trick my brain (what is left of it anyway).


Mats your barely getting started. A year in is nothing It takes a few year to settle in.


We all have some bad habits. Our teachers included many of whom are self taught, who often pass their bad habits onto us. Worth bearing that in mind.