Like most of you. I have struggled for years trying to learn to play some meaningful banjo backup.
It’s not much fun trying to connect dot’s on a printed page and turn them into something musical when you don’t know what the heck you are suppose to be doing and you don’t have easy access to someone with the knowledge and expertise to advise you.
The past several years I have been lucky enough to be able to call on a good friend and mentor to advise me, someone pretty special who has taken the time to listen to my appeals for help, who has coached me through my darker moments when I became so frustrated with my playing I was all but ready to give up the banjo.
When I took up the banjo 10 years ago there wasn’t a lot of video instructional material on banjo backup, and most of what was available barely scratched the surface. If you asked a teacher to explain what was going on they would avoid your question and quickly change the subject. The topic seemed to be engulfed in a cloak of mystique and mystery a bit like the Magic Circle, The Freemason’s and the Secret Service rolled into one. A kind of can’t tell wont tell.
Writing to and sharing my thought’s and frustration at the lack of good quality video instructional material on backup with several prominent banjo teachers and other banjo players has seen a marked increase in lessons on backup being taught in recent times. Alas more lessons doesn’t necessarily mean the level of instruction has lifted the cloak of awe and allure entirely.
Thankfully my hero Banjo Ben likes a good challenge and seized the opportunity to plug the gap, over the course of the past six years Ben has created some fantastic tutorials on backup Most recently his lessons on Playing Backup behind the Fiddle and Playing Backup out of the C position where he has added Mandolin and Guitar Solos to cover the melody whilst you get the chance to practice playing backup with the TAB .tef file as well as Mp3 tracks. You will find both these lessons located in the Intermediate section.
The bonus of having the Mandolin and Guitar solos embedded within the TAB .tef files has transformed the way I approach learning backup. No longer do I look upon it as a taboo and troublesome task.
I am still working my way through these lessons but already I am looking ahead to what else Ben might have in-store for us.
Perhaps @BanjoBen once you find time you might care to checkout this recording. It has some great Scruggs Style Backup that you can actually hear quite clearly unlike the old Flatt & Scruggs recordings where the banjo would often fade into the background. No Idea who the banjo player is.
It would be awesome to see these lick combinations TAB’d out in it’s entirety as it would provide such a valuable resource for study in a future Advanced Lesson on Classic Scruggs Licks Backup.
What do you say are you up for the challenge ?