Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

My First Banjer

I finally pulled the trigger and bought my first banjo and I couldn’t be happier! Well, if I could play Dr. Stanley’s “Hard Times” flawlessly I suppose I would be a bit happier, but barring that, I’m pretty excited.

I ordered a Gold Tone AC-1 through my local music shop and it came in yesterday. For the price, I figured this would be a great banjo to start out with and find out if I like it as much as I think I will and also great for field picking when the weather is a little less than ideal.

I’ve been going through the introductory lessons over the last week in preparation for its arrival and have started with the chords and forward roll lessons now that I have it in my hands. Picking rolls on a banjo vs strumming through a chord on a guitar is definitely a much more challenging endeavor but I think I am in the right place to get the instruction I need to learn this skill.

I do have one quick question for you all as I am just starting out. Would you recommend getting traditional lessons and supplementing that with the information on this site or do you feel the instruction here is sufficient on its own to go from 0 to playing the banjo? I look forward to any input that anyone would like to share on that.

Like every proud new daddy, here is a picture of me holding my baby…


Hi Matt Congrates on your new banjo and welcome to @BanjoBen 's Forum

As an overseas student I had few options to find a good local banjo teacher and work Face to Face when I started out, Skype Lessons were never a practical option due to connection difficulties and delays between sending and receiving streaming video. i.e It was impossible to play along with the teacher. That was ten years ago. back then Ben was just starting out tinkering with the notion of starting a website and posting videos on YouTube. So I got my start with the Murphy Method DVDs I worked through All Murphy’s Lessson’s and a great many of Geoff Hohwald’s lessons. Both these teaching Methods are great for the Beginner Student, But five years on there came a time when I felt I had learned ALL I could from Murphy and Geoff and wasn’t moving forward.

I sought out some local banjo teachers but by then I knew far more than they could ever teach me it was then that I turned to Banjo Ben for help.

Since joining as a Life Member my knowledge and playing skills continue to grow with exciting new and challenging lessons constantly being added .

Throughout my learning experience ‘others’ have always encouraged me to “Find a teacher and have Face to Face Lessons” Maybe that side of the big pond Face to Face is a great option but for me the route I took has served me well. Everything you need to learn Scruggs/Melodic Style banjo is Right Here. Just start at the Beginners learning path and work your way through each lesson. The first few years are tough but if you stick with the program you will soon begin to see progress.


@MattFromMaine - All of my music training has come from Ben. I’ve learned a couple of songs from other avenues, but Ben has taught me everything about music and 95% of my song repertoire.

There are times that I’ve thought about finding a local teacher, but honestly I think it’s less about me being face to face with someone and more about how disciplined I’m going to be to work on what I need to work on. And if I do hit a road block, Ben offers the video swap feedback for GoldPick members. I haven’t personally utilized that yet, but I’ve seen the quality Ben puts on there and I have no doubt it’ll be that kind of asset for me when I do use it.

Then on top of all of that, there’s this forum. I’m not one of them, but there are some guys here that just get music like you got good beard genes. They’ll jump into the shallow end of the pool, or go head first into the deep end, whatever you need.

So quite honestly, I’d save my money on a local teacher and just stick with this.


I have learned 100% of everything I know about banjo from Ben. I personally think I like Bens online lessons better than an in person lesson once a week. I can do Ben’s lessons whenever I want instead of having to show up at a studio once a week at a set time. It works so much better with my schedule. I am very happy with my progress on both guitar and banjo since joining two years ago. I’m having a lot of fun and I have a lot more desire to play everyday now. My opinion is to not combine in person lessons with Ben’s lessons, You won’t have time to practice both lessons like you should.


Congrats on the banjo, @MattFromMaine! Gold Tone is a good, family-run company and I’ll be carrying some of their stuff soon!

I do encourage folks to supplement with a local teacher when they can, simply because it’s often better to have input from various places…get all the learnin’ you can. But, I also operate this site primarily for the student who has no other options. The beginner learning track I have on the site is my best attempt to take someone with no experience and no teacher and get them playing banjo, while having fun!

Please post any questions you have here and I’ll do all I can to help!


Thank you all very much for the input. I do have a strong bluegrass family up here in Maine and a few of them are even banjo players, so I will most certainly have the opportunity for face to face input when I need it. I generally work 50+ hours per week, so trying to schedule lessons with an instructor would be difficult. It is good to hear that you guys have been able to learn and progress from Ben’s lessons.

I have already learned so much about music and how all the notes relate to each other from the other intro lessons that I’ve viewed. @BanjoBen the way you relate the neck of the instruments to the keys of a piano has really helped me in visualizing exactly what is going on from string to string. The addition of the learning tracks is really helping my easily distracted mind stay where it should be and focus on building my foundation before I just jump into whatever song sounds interesting that day. So, thank you for that addition as well.

Thank you all again for your input and I hope to be able to start showing my progress very soon. For now it is time to practice my forward roll exercises a bit more before I hit the hay.

Oh yeah, @5stringpreacher, if you think I got good beard genes, you should see my brother. His beard puts mine to shame! :rofl:


I just started a few months ago. if it wasn’t for Ben I would have been lost. very easy to follow. Music doesn’t come easily to me Ben makes it very easy follow from lesson 1 through the rest you will see improvement. The forum is a great place all positive.When I catch on to the banjo I will start on guitar


I truly believe if you can have a local teacher it really enhances what you learn from Ben’s site. They can see things that can impede your growth. I equate it to golf swing. Your grip may need a slight tweak. Or your stance is off. There is a cost involved but I have been with Ben for 4 years now and I still take bi-monthly lessons.