Using a banjo strap will make you a better banjo player. Such a dramatic statement needs to be backed up with good reasons. Let me show you why.
When properly installed, the banjo strap should hold your banjo at about a 45 degree angle relative to your body. This angle allows your hand to reach up to the top of the neck with ease without over stretching. With banjos, as opposed to guitars, the pot assembly should sit in the middle of your lap. Because banjos are “bottom heavy” they sit naturally in that position and allow your arm greater freedom. The added support of the banjo strap around your body makes it all work.
If you are not wearing a banjo strap, your fretting hand has to do “double duty” as it must support the neck of your banjo as well as travel up and down the neck as you fret during a playing session. If you have the banjo strap fit properly to your body, you could actually let go of the neck and the banjo would be safe. This means your fretting hand has only one job - to move freely up and down the neck while you play with greater comfort and ease.
You have invested your treasure, your time, and your talent into your banjo. If you have a strap on it, you can help prevent an unforeseen accidents and the banjo will sit securely wrapped around your body thus preventing it from being broken during a fall.
If you are performing with a banjo, you will definitely need a strap. Upperline banjos are very heavy. There is no way to walk around a stage with a 12 pound, bottom heavy banjo and still be able to give your best performance for the audience. It isn’t safe for your back or for the banjo and the addition of the strap will keep both things safer. Even if you have a lighter weight Goodtime banjo, you are much safer and freer in movement with a banjo strap attached.
Because the strap holds the banjo in the right place, your wrist and arm will sit at a more natural position. By placing your thumb at the middle of the back of the neck, it can act as a fulcrum to allow your fingers to come up and over and down on the strings so you are less likely to get muted/fuzzy fretted notes. This is only possible because the neck is no longer being supported by your hand but by the banjo strap!
Here are a few little things to look for to help you choose the right strap for your banjo:
So there you have it. Get a strap and be the best banjo player you can be. Just make sure you have fun, because that is really what it is all about!
“Will I ever get better?” is the perennial cry of the pre-beginner (folks say there is no such thing as a pre-beginner but I have been one for 10 years…) or...
Jens Kruger presents the basics of the Melodic Style of banjo playing on this video from the American Banjo Museum's Learning Lounge interactive touch screen....
Drop thumb banjo playing is a technique used in the clawhammer style of playing the 5 string banjo. This technique will give you the ability to play more...