Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Warren Gann from Nine Mile Falls, Washington

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
My first girlfriend played banjo in her family’s bluegrass band. She was an amazing player even at a very young age. I also always liked hearing the banjo in Beverly Hillbilly’s and any other time I heard it played in Movies or TV shows.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
About 13 years, or so, ago. My wife likes to say I had a mid life crisis; she’s still wondering why it wasn’t a red sports car. My motivation has always been to be able to hold my own at a jam or when playing with others, and to play for an audience. I’m not yet where I hope to be one day, but I can check both of those boxes.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Oh man, they’re all super. I really liked the lessons with Alan Munde, and also when he had the Tony Wray lesson and the follow up lesson. Boogie woogie, minor mingle, playing in d, waypoints, Salt Creek… well, pretty much all of them actually.
What’s your goal when playing?
I love to learn songs, but really like backing up other players and instruments. It’s a great feeling to try to help others sound better, with only occasional lead breaks… or attempts at least.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I pretty much started listening almost solely to bluegrass music when I started playing, but have found that a lot of bluegrass groups are putting their twist on a lot of other genres of music. Also, many other musicians that I play with play other than bluegrass. It’s kind of fun bluegrassifying songs…tastefully of course.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Since Ben’s early YouTube days. I stumbled upon some of his videos and thought he was very good, and a great teacher. It was one of the best choices I made.

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Pretty much just 3 finger Scruggs style, but try to mix in single string and melodic, albeit to make it all super smooth might take another 13 years.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
That’s a hard question. Let’s just say that if I could play a little bit like Richard Bailey, Billy Failing, Tony Wray, Ron Block, Russ Carson, Criss Pandolfi, Graham Sharp, Chandler Holt, Earl Scruggs,and Ben Clark, I would be sound exactly how I would like. I’d love to play with any of them and their bands. There are many, many other great players, and I love listening to all of them and how they approach playing. It amazes me how each of the great players can have their own signature and style, and just how many ways and different sounds they can make. I guess that’s why we study them; to learn how to play like ourselves.

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I use a Blue Chip thumbpick; one of my best purchases. No more loose and twisty thumbpicks. I also got the Drum Dial. Great for making head adjustments; takes the guess work out of the equation. The Banjo Mute was also a good choice for times when there’s a need to keep it down a bit. Next will be the Strum Hollow 5th string capo.

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I like some of the Nechville Banjos, but since pricing will always be important, I think I’d really like to try the “Twanger” Goldtone Banjo. It seems to have everything I’ll ever need and more, and seems to play pretty well.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I would play all the time. I have a new friend who plays guitar very well. Brian and I get together a couple times a week at least to play. If only we didn’t have to work our other jobs. Maybe one day…

Anything else you’d like to add?
Get out there and find and start playing music with other players right away. It has and continues to be the best way for me to learn and put into practice everything I have learned through any music lessons or instruction.


Congrats on being GPOTW Warren! Lots of nuggets of wisdom in there! Hope to see you around the forum!
And a banjo is a much more practical mid life crisis than a red sports car…

Awesome Warren, congrats!!!

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Congrats on GPOTW Warren. I’ve spent some time out in the Spokane area. Hope to see you on the forum. Happy New Year.

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Congrats on being the gpotw, and thanks for sharing a bit of your story!

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Thank you. Maybe a red banjo one day…


Thanks, much appreciated.

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Pretty cool, and thank you. If you are ever around Spokane, let me know… Maybe time to come to a jam…

Thank you again everyone. Kind of late here, busy time of year, bit Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.