Learning Dueling Banjos Isn’t Just For the Advanced Player

Learning to play Dueling BanjosLearning anything new can be a challenge. In the past I have approached most new songs with excitement and a good dose of trepidation! After all, my  banjos skills are modest and that is just being honest. Recently I was sent the music for “Dueling Banjos” that included both the musical notation and tablature for guitar and banjo. Having had requests from customers for this music, I knew it was a great offering for the “more experienced player.” But, what about the beginner…the player who knows where the strings are without looking and can manage a pull-off, slide, and hammer on? These few basic skills are covered in “First Lessons Banjo” by Jack Hatfield , a book I have recommended frequently to new players. Could I even begin to learn “Dueling Banjos” with this basic arsenal of banjo skills? Over this last holiday I gave it a try…

When I first opened the music, I said, “No way!” “That looks too complicated” “It has WAY too many notes!”

I have this phrase I use when some big and daunting project comes my way. “How do you eat an elephant? ONE BITE AT A TIME!”

I decided that this was the perfect tactic to apply to learning “Dueling Banjos.”

Once I finally figured out which tab line to read, I noticed that if I just took one measure at a time that the song had lots of fun to offer. Sometimes the strings were played open…very approachable. The fretted combinations were not four-finger spreads for the most part…a great sigh of relief on my part. Taken measure by measure the song was not as daunting a task.  Not only was this very true, I found each measure has some beautiful combinations of notes. It was like running through a field of flowers…finding each “musical” blossom in the song as I tip-toed through it measure by measure.

I went through all 10 pages finding not only challenge but success. What did I learn about my playing skills? That I could do more than I thought. That taking on a new piece of music is a joyful adventure. That I had a long way to go before I would EVER memorize this piece …yes,there are a lot of notes! That playing the music had introduced me to some beautiful note combinations. That just “playing” it was great practice!  That I will miss out on a lot of great banjo music if I let the number of notes on a page “scare” me!

We are offering the music for “Dueling Banjos” on the site beginning today. I know the advanced and intermediate players will want to get it if they don’t already own it. I wrote this to ask those of you who, like me, are BEGINNERS to give it a try! Play slowly. Take “small bites” and savor the pleasure of a song that inspired many folks to take up playing the banjo. It still inspires! And most of all, everyone HAVE FUN playing the banjo.

Carolina Bridges
Carolina Bridges

Director of Public Relations and Customer Service

Carolina has been working for Deering for over 18 years and says that her greatest joy comes from talking to all the customers who love banjo via email and on the phone. She met Janet and Greg Deering when her family joined Greg’s Boy Scout Troop and she is the proud mother of 2 Eagle Scouts. While her background is in the medical field, she has learned all about banjo over the past 18 years “hands on” by working with the talented folks at Deering. Carolina is also part of the artist relations team and enjoys helping new bands and artists find the best banjo for their performing needs. Very much a “people person”, you will find she is always happy to talk to about anything banjo.

  1. Hi Carolina, i don’t see where I can download the tab for Dueling banjos. I have an original Warner brothers tab for it, but it is so small, and contains the tab for both the guitar AND the banjo. Even with glasses, it is too small for me to read easily.

  2. I’d love to learn to play it. When you say “We’re offering the music for Dueling Banjos on the site beginning today.” Who is “we”? And what “site” are you talking about? If it is the Deering Banjo site then it is pretty well hidden. (Unless you mean it’s in the Jack Hatfield book.) I went to a lot of pages on the site and never found it (found some broken links though). Where is it?

        1. Hi Bud,
          We had to take the Dueling Banjos book off the site temporarily as the publisher is currently in the process of making new ones.
          It is not a link to free tab but a link to buying the book for only $3.99 plus shipping.

  3. I am a beginner myself and I have been learning Duelin’ Banjos from; ‘ The Ultimate Banjo Songbook’. It is by Janet Davis There are 26 favorites for 5-string Banjo, it also has two CD’s that come with it. This is a fun book and I am loving it. So if you want to learn a few songs in Tablature and this includes “Duelin’ Banjos”, this is a must have song book.

  4. Carolina,

    Your article on Dueling Banjos from a beginners stand point makes sense and before your writing I always bypass the so called hard stuff and now I will keep an open mind and explore !

    Just a beginner and i’m on page 49 of Jack Hatfield’s Book Banjo Method 1.

    1. Hi Gene,
      Thanks for writing. I know what you mean and I am glad that sharing my own tentative footsteps into new songs has been a help.
      I love Jack’s book. It is a great resource. Keep having fun!

  5. Hi Carolina, I am inspired by your article. I have ordered the tabs and I am looking forward to learning it. Thanks for posting the article

    1. Thanks, Lee. I appreciate your reading the article and am glad you enjoyed it. Right now the publisher is making new reprints so I apologize for the delay but I know you will have fun when you get it.
      We appreciate your patience and support. 🙂

  6. I learnt to play thus pretty well and up to speed and I am a very average player , There are so many versions out there I pick all the best bits from all the different versions and piece them together . Its not actually that hard because its mostly played in one position . It sounds harder than what it is , and of course its so iconic . I was very fortunate and lucky that Tony trischka the legend actually emailed me a copy of his version , so kind of him . I keep it in my bank case , that’s where it lives .

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