— Begin quote from “mreisz”
But if you want to play bluegrass banjo, I am afraid starting off as you suggested wouldn’t be the way to go.
— End quote
I agree with this. I’m not a banjo player, but if I were to start out, I would look for the right way to learn from the right teacher and Ben is definitely one of them. It’s easy to learn things the wrong way and develop bad habits that will be hard to break and when you do, you’re just starting over. If you use guitar tuning on a 4 string Banjo, (or you can even buy a six string Banjo that’s designed to be tuned to standard guitar tuning), I think the whole technique would be different and it would only sound like a guitar with the tone of a Banjo. The biggest part of the Banjo sound is the rolls and techniques used.
As for tablature, it’s much easier than it appears at first. You will pick it up quickly and you will only need it until you have a particular song memorized. Once you get to that point, it’s just a matter of working out the tricky parts and getting it up to speed. And you can change things to suit you. The tab is one person’s interpretation of a song and a guideline to learning that song.
“Clawhammer” Banjo may be another option if you wanted to go without the fingerpicks. I don’t recall if Ben’s ever done any lessons on that or not. It’s alot of fun and much less annoying. It goes well with old time fiddle tunes and good rythym guitar.
Good Luck and like Mike said, we’re all still learning. Have fun with whatever you decide.