Forum - Banjo Ben Clark


It’s been a long time since we had a contest! There don’t have to be prizes, none of us are in it for the prizes; it’s just really fun and makes for great camaraderie. Hopefully it brings new people into the site too - I know that’s why I joined. I know @BanjoBen is super busy but just a suggestion for perhaps sometime in the near future! :slight_smile:


Another contest would be great! I’d like to see one judged by performance rather than just a random draw, though. The random ones are good since they motivate beginners to play and record, but I think a skill-based contest would motivate us all to be better pickers.


I totally second that!


Absolutely! :+1:

An all age categories should make the playing field level for everyone to get motivated to participate. If someone wins more than once, maybe they can be removed and put under some “open” or “professional” category.


It could be a beginner, intermediate, and advanced categories thing so beginners feel welcome too…


Most of Ben’s winners are chosen by a random drawing, which is about as level as it gets.

The upside is that it encourages more people to enter. The downside is that it kinda squashes the desire to go overboard on an entry. I had a lot of fun putting together my entry for Will The Circle a while back, but it was a lot of work to put up for a random drawing. I probably wouldn’t do that again unless I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands.


I know you put in a lot of effort and it discourages when the random draw is not made known upfront. :frowning:

Based on the business objective, the focus can be on quality or quantity. I know both are vanity for me to pick one against the other. On spiritual things, the virtue you develop is quality oriented, and not quantity oriented, so in that respect I would side with the former - quality - even on “worldly” things.


As a beginner, I say that idea has merit, but where’s the carrot for beginner & intermediate pickers?
How about a three-tiered contest. Let the Beginners battle beginners on one song, probably “Blackberry Blossom,” the last Beginner lesson.
Intermediates against their peers and Advanced do it live streaming!

The downside is judgement can be terribly subjective. Witness the numerous controversies in the Olympics where judges decide the winner, not the stop watch.

Finally, and I don’t know if this applies to the internet, but the FTC has rules regarding the promotion of illegal lotteries. A lottery must have three elements: Prize, Chance & Consideration.
Is there a prize? (Yep.)
Is there Consideration? (Maybe. Do you have to be a member to enter? If so, your membership fee is a “consideration.” )
Is there the element of Chance? (Yes, if it’s a random drawing, which is why you always hear “No purchase necessary.” This eliminates Consideration.)

One might argue since the winner is based on performance, winning is a matter of skill, not chance. The FTC might agree, but they might ask if chance is a factor based on what instrument is being played. Does a cheapo mando have the same chance of turning in a winning performance as a Loar? Things get fuzzy & grey when lawyers talk.

So I would vote for a three-tiered performance-based contest, open to members & non-members, no purchase necessary.

First Prize-All Categories $100 in Pick Points at the General Store
Second Prize-All Categories-Autographed package of Banjo Ben strings.
Third Prize-A banjo mute plus Banjo Ben case sticker.

(Hey, 2020’s been a difficult year!)


i would say we definetly need a skill competition. However, iwould agree with @BanJoe on different skill levels. A random draw simply does not produce as much motivation.


@BanJoe, you have some points. I understand the lottery part of illegality. But I think the rest be easily handled with a simple contract clause saying “Arbiter Ben’s decision is final!”. I don’t think this contest gives Ben unfair business advantage nor it infringes anyone’s right to be taken up and challenged.

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A bluegrass instrument contest is just like a fiddle convention. If you’ve ever been to one you understand how it works. It’s all in the fun, and skill is a factor because it’s judged, and it makes you get lots better. But I wasn’t even talking about prizes since Ben shouldn’t have to give his stuff away for nothing. It would be fun enough just to be named “Banjo Ben’s 17th Place Flatpicker!” :smile:


Just so we’re clear, Ben always makes it known up front how contest winners are chosen. I knew before entering that it would be a random draw. I just happened to have the time for the elaborate entry, and more importantly, I vastly underestimated how much effort it would be before getting started. :laughing:

It’s knowing the effort now that would keep me from doing it again. :wink:


Personally I am not very competitive never have been. Even if my skill level was better I don’t think it would change me. I do however enjoy watching others (especially younger students) participating in a contest but I am mindful of the fact that judging someone’s skill level is subjective and can be very intimidating. for some not least the judges. Which is why I like it when the winner is chosen randomly. That way everyone has an equal chance of winning without the pressure of playing perfectly. I also believe it motivates others to come take a look at what has to offer new students and more importantly encourages existing Gold Pick members to post a video. Which I believe is really what @BanjoBen had in mind when he set up the Video Swap section of the Forum for Gold Pick Members. You don’t need a contest to post a video. Also bear in mind that this is Ben’s livelihood, he has a young family to support and staff wages to pay and all the bills and taxes associated with running a business. From what I can see no one does more for their students than Ben does. If you know of anyone who gives more please share the info, I’d love to go check them out…

As @Mark_Rocka said Ben always makes it known up front how contest winners are chosen.

rules Rules are always published with every contest

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Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!

We could have out own contest on the Video Swap. Start it December 1st. Everybody post their best version of “Cripple Creek.”
On January 1st, have a vote on who has the best performance and name them “Diamond Picker of the Quarter.” (Beginner -Intermediate-Advance Divisions)
Then we could have another contest for the first quarter of 2021.
Depending on the number of entries, we might have to have several rounds of voting to narrow down the field.
Then we could have several weeks of challenges to the vote totals and claim the thing was fixed & some votes weren’t counted!
(Ooops…I forgot which Forum I was on. Sorry.):grin:


@BanJoe, I agree you do have some valid points, but Ben’s contest wouldn’t necessarily be a “lottery”, so I think it would be exempt from those rules. Besides, nothing on earth is really perfectly fair. I do agree that a three-tiered competition is a good idea, though. Maybe each participant could choose their own song and arrangement?


Not a bad idea, Joe! I’ll start a poll to see how much interest we have.


Yeah, I remember that well, Mark. Time to lose those teeth in the icon and show us that handsome face. :rofl:


It’s really not that much different. :wink:


Why should there be rules the government don’t have rules they just make them up as they go LOL:laughing::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

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Third! The random draws aren’t particularly motivating if you know that all you have to do is play a passable version of a tune