Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Should I practice banjo AND mandolin

For several years I have learned a little mandolin. Mostly chords and just playing along with songs. I haven’t been very good at picking melodies but enjoyed a song or two. I found this website and while learning a little more about mandolin, I found I wanted to learn banjo as well. So, I bought a banjo and am loving it.
However, I find myself going from one to the other every so often. I’ll learn a few things about banjo and may play a song, but then get the hankering for a mandolin song here and there. Is this wrong?
Should I concentrate on one instrument over the other? Will it diminish my playing on one or the other? I enjoy both but I have a long way to go on both as well. I’d like to get some perspective from a few of you if I could. Thanks.

1 Like

Keep playing them both, in my opinion, especially if you’re having fun :slight_smile:


Playing multiple instruments can have great advantages as well as some drawbacks!

cons: the obvious…an hour spent on learning one isn’t spent on the other, so your advancement may be slightly slower at first


you can keep interested in playing when you frustrated on a certain instrument and switch to the other for a bit. sometimes it even helps bust you out of a frustrating rut

many skills are interchangeable and will help on the other instrument…timing, reading, theory, ear training, left hand dexterity, etc.

You can record your own accompaniment, and learn to back yourself up…this is really great for finding those little mistakes you don’t catch when actually playing an instrument. Also, it forces you to play backup…which is what musicians do the majority of the time they play together in groups.

I’ll repeat what Ben said also…as long as you’re having fun…


I had the same question when I started banjo a year and a half ago. I had already been playing guitar for many years but felt like I still had a long way to go. I found myself jumping from one to the other just like you said. I asked myself the question, should I become proficient in guitar before I start learning banjo. The answer was right in front of me. I have been playing guitar for 20 years and still don’t feel proficient…I don’t think I would ever get to the point where I am so good that I don’t need to practice the guitar as much. So if I was waiting on myself to feel proficient, I would probably never pick up a second instrument. I thoroughly enjoy playing both instruments and I have found that the skills learned on one instrument carry’s over to the other instrument. I hope this helps!

Brandon Caves


This may be me in the not-so-distant future… but coming from the other side. I have an ole Hollowback and am looking to get a new Eastman… once Ben and Jake get them in and can put together a beginner package deal.

How long have you been playing?

Aside from a case, pick, and strap, what else would I need?

Of course there is Ben’s awesome lessons… but do you recommend any other resource? Maybe a good chord finder or Mando Encyclopedia- if a good one exists, that is…?

Thanks to all the replies. I was leaning on keeping on what I have been doing and I will. I’m 47 years old and can honestly say you’re never too old to learn new things. Just wasn’t sure if I was overloading myself, but with all your great advice I’m just gonna keep on keeping on.


Good plan. Playing both is like riding a bike and driving a car…can people do that ? Yup.


Yes, but be sure to enjoy the experience.:sunglasses: