Tony Trischka is not only a great and innovative banjo player, but he also writes a fantastic book. The Complete 5-String Banjo Player is exactly what it claims to be; a comprehensive and indispensable reference book for the serious banjo player. If you are really serious about becoming a good banjo player, you need to own this book- it is well written, the TABs are big and easy to read, it is full of examples and seems to touch on every banjo style there is.
This is a great resource book for the beginner, but any banjo player will find something of interest in this book. Tony Trischka’s 40 year career has included a series of critically acclaimed recordings; performing with the likes of Earl Scruggs, Pete Seeger, Bela Fleck, Alison Kraus, David Grisman and even the Violent Femmes; and of course writing books and teaching the banjo. What makes this book stand out from the rest? It is written by one of the great innovators in the history of the banjo, it has plenty of diagrams, pictures and photos, no topic is left untouched and it is in one huge 255 page volume.
Have you ever thought about playing a familiar song in a new way – flip through this book and you will be inspired by the diverse range of material. Melodic style, single string and of course all of your favorite rolls and licks can be found in these pages, but if you are looking for something a little different, you can investigate the styles of the greatest banjo players. There are 28 pages dedicated to the banjo styles of some of best, including Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, Bill Emerson, Bela Fleck, Bill Keith, Don Reno, Eddie Adcock, Ralph Stanley, Jim Mills, Sonny Osborne and more.
This book doesn’t end at 255 pages, you also have access to over 20 more free lessons on the internet at http://www.hybridpublications.com There is a great article on the site that will help you memorize songs more easily – Tips for Memorizing Tunes; buy the book and check it out. To purchase Tony Trishka’s – The Complete 5-String Banjo Player at Zzounds,com click on the picture of the book.
What is a banjo bass run? Well thats simple – a bass run is a series of notes that connect two chords. Bass runs are used when playing backup, leading into a song and in banjo breaks.
Now that you know what a bass run is: a series of notes that connect two chords, what notes do you use to connect these chords? Well let’s start with something simple – If you are playing a backup that switches from a G chord to a D chord your bass run will end on a D. The first note of the run is F#, the second is an E and the third is of course D; there you have it, a simple bass run -F#, E, D. Now if you want to go from a D chord to a G chord, you can use E, F# and G. Here is an example of a bass run, practice this until you can smoothly make the transition from G to D and back.
Listen to it here: [audio:Bass Run 1.mp3]
The next example just adds a few filler notes to the previous example. This just keeps the roll going while you add the bass run.
Press Play: [audio:Bass Run 2.mp3]
The next example stretches out the bass run at the beginning of the phrase. This run can add some variety to your playing and stands out in the usual flurry of eighth notes.
Press Play: [audio:Bass Run 3.mp3]
Try to work some bass runs into songs you already play, it will make an old song interesting again and it will also force you to figure out a run without TAB. Stay tuned for more Bass Run posts in the future.
Banjo is an instrument that is usually associated with speed, and if you’ve ever listened to Bluegrass you have heard some ridiculously fast banjo work. How can you increase your speed you ask? Well its simple, you just practice and practice for years. Of course dedication is important, attention to detail, strength, and about a hundred other things, but I recently discovered an easy way to let you play faster.
One of the easy ways to play faster is by keeping your strings clean. The reason for this is simple – If your strings are clean your fingers will slide on them more easily. There are a few different string cleaners available: Dunlop Ultraglide 65 String Cleaner, Tone Finger Ease String Lubricant, and my favorite GHS Fast Fret.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about string cleaners and lubricants and never really bothered to try them. I thought what difference could it make, it’s just another product to sell. But I have finally tried Fast Fret and I am impressed. Clean strings sound better and Fast Fret also allows your fingers to slide more easily on the fretboard. Give Fast Fret or one of the other string cleaners a try – it certainly won’t slow you down.
I hope this helps you out with your banjo playing, it’s one of the few things you can do to improve without hard work. If you would like to purchase Fast Fret, or one of the other products just click on the links above.
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Record yourself the next time you practice – start by recording one song. Pick a song that is very familiar and of course, a song you play well. After you have recorded your song you can listen back and study your performance. What can be learned from recording a banjo performance and giving it a good, close look? That’s what I ‘ll be discussing in this post, becoming a better banjo player by recording yourself.
The first thing you’ll need to do to record yourself is to have something to record yourself with. This recording device can be as simple as a cassette recorder or as sophisticated as a digital multi-track recorder. I have been using a free, open source program called Audacity. If you want to find out more about Audacity or download it, click the link – http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
If you want something more high tech, I’ve included a link to the Recording Equipment section at zZounds – Just click on the banner below.
Now that you have some options to record yourself, that’s the next step – record yourself. Should you record yourself once and live with the mistakes or record until you are satisfied with your performance? I think you should keep going until you are happy, not perfect, but a version you can live with. My reasoning is simple, if you listen back to a recording that isn’t as good as you thought it should have been, you can be discouraged. If you have to take three or four tries to get a good clean run, then that’s the way it is.
This is part of the learning process, mistakes are the markers that tell you – this needs practice, so pay attention and LEARN from your mistakes. If you play a song and get a third through it and make a fatal mistake and stop, you try again, but this time you are focused on this sticking point and have a higher chance of getting through it. Soon you have a good version of your song and at the same time you have had to bring your playing up to a higher level by cleaning up some rough spots in a song and holding yourself to a higher standard.
Record a song and have a listen to yourself playing the banjo – What is good? What could be improved? What is wrong, yes, wrong! – sometimes a recording points out a mistake like a wrong note. Don’t forget to make note of the things you like about this recording. That last point is VERY important – be kind to yourself and take time to be aware of the good stuff that you do. Well that’s step one, I’ll give you a few more of my thoughts on recording and using it to learn in an upcoming post.
In my quest to improve this site, I have updated the list of categories to make it easier to access the growing banjo resources.
To make it easy to navigate this site just click on the category that you are interested in and start reading, listening and learning. For example , click on Banjo Tips and Tricks and you will be greeted with a post on Noodling, followed by an article on banjo straps, and so on.
If you would like to buy banjo strings click on Buy Banjos and Banjo stuff – the information about strings and links to purchase directly from Amazon.com are right there (The Best Banjo Strings). Don’t forget to search for the information you want – search banjo strings and you’ll get there as well.
There is a post that lists some great banjo books: go to Buy Banjos and Banjo stuff and the third post down is an article with a great list of top notch books: Ten Great Books to Learn to Play the Banjo.
Looking for the Earl Scruggs Book that everyone is talking about, click on the picture and BUY IT RIGHT NOW:
Spend some time looking around, there’s a lot of information on this site – something might catch your attention and take you to a higher level with your banjo. I appreciate your support and tell your friends about http://banjoblogger.com .