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Hooks and Nuts - the Official Deering Banjos Blog

Redefining What A Banjo Can Do

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 8, 2017 12:27:07 PM / by Dan Walsh posted in Learning Banjo

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The first most common question I get asked when people learn of my chosen instrument is 'why the banjo?' This is a question I have answered many times but perhaps more interesting is the third most common question I get asked (it comes right after the one about tenor or five string) – do you play clawhammer or bluegrass?

It's usually worded that way and it's the use of the word bluegrass that interests me. The overwhelming assumption, not unreasonable I might add but interesting, is that I must play old time clawhammer or three-finger style bluegrass. This is not in any way a claim that no banjo players go against that of course, far from it. The likes of Bela Fleck, Ken Perlman or Michael J Miles (and many others) have all experimented greatly with the banjo but perhaps most strikingly all three of those players had to make quite a conscious decision to deviate from the 'usual' path of their respective playing styles having very much begun within them.

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The Four Essential 5-String Banjo Rolls

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 7, 2017 10:44:54 AM / by Lawrence Witt posted in 3 Finger, beginners banjo, Bluegrass, Learning Banjo

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With a few chords under their belt, and perhaps a plectrum to hand, almost anyone can have fun strumming away on the banjo. In fact, as newcomers to the instrument that's where most of us tend to start out. If you wish to unlock the instrument's unique sound, however, you will have to learn one of the unique styles used to play it.

In the case of 3-finger style, that means mastering the art of the roll pattern.

A roll pattern is a series of eight notes picked repeatedly with the thumb, index, and middle fingers on the right hand (if right handed, opposite if left handed). By playing patterns over different chord shapes you create a stream of arpeggios or ‘broken chords'. This means picking each note of the chord one after another as opposed to strumming them together, and is what gives 3-finger style such a distinctive sound.

In bluegrass and 3-finger banjo the vast majority of tunes are made up of these different roll patterns. The patterns may be chopped and changed to suit each song but can always ultimately be traced back to a few core ideas.

As a beginner, learning all the variations on 5-string banjo rolls is neither necessary nor desirable. All you need to kickstart your playing are these four essential rolls: forward, backward, forward-backward, and mixed.

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Learning Banjo By Ear For Beginners

[fa icon="calendar'] May 31, 2017 1:18:04 PM / by Bennett Sullivan posted in Learning Banjo

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A lot of times the desire to get good quick consumes beginner banjo players, which leads them to habitually look up tab when wanting to learn a new song. This passion and desire to learn is great because it’s essential for enjoyment and progress. However, focusing on skills outside of the realm of tab can make all the difference when you start to head to jam sessions, want to improvise, or try to write your own tunes.

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The Best Way to Learn Banjo - Don’t Put Off Your Dream

[fa icon="calendar'] May 5, 2017 7:50:12 AM / by John Rosen posted in Learning Banjo

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So, you say you've always wanted to learn banjo? Perhaps it's a dream you've harbored ever since you were young? Your number one goal in life before you die, you say? In the decades I've been teaching banjo, I can't count the number of times I've heard people express sentiments like this. It is, without exception, one of the most common refrains I hear from people whenever the subject of the banjo is broached. And my reaction is always the same: "What are you waiting for?"

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Learn How To Play Clawhammer Banjo

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 8, 2016 6:20:34 PM / by David Bandrowski posted in Playing Tips, banjo video, clawhammer, Learning Banjo

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Have you always wanted to learn to play clawhammer banjo? Do you know what clawhammer banjo is? Maybe you have played it before...but then again, a little reminder wouldn't hurt, right?

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7 Tips To Get You Started On Playing the Banjo Today

[fa icon="calendar'] May 1, 2015 11:28:11 AM / by Carolina Bridges posted in Playing Tips, banjo tips, How To Play, Learning Banjo

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The world is a busy place and there is no doubt that there is much on everyone’s plate. Because of this we often put off what might be one of the most fulfilling experiences of our lives such as learning to play a banjo. Today I would like to see if I can help you see ways to carve out some time to make this happen sooner than later!

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