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Hi All,

After a lifetime of guitar (and getting better at it all the time), I was at a Bluegrass Festival up here in Washington last weekend and this guy played his "outside" banjo for us, very routine right hand and easy left hand stuff but was just killer. The wife liked it and I left saying "I think I can do that". I'm an ex-classical guitar player and have got into steel string finger picking a little.

Have any of you successfully learned banjo after a long relationship with just a guitar?


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hi dave.i feel the same really just love that sound,my wife actually said i could get a banjo,and id like to hear other peoples thoughts on this subject.im never giving up guitar but would like to add another string to my bow .
I once had a banjo that I left in the car overnight. The next morning I discovered my car had been broken into. My banjo was still there, along with three other ones.
OOOOOOOKKKKKKKay. It looks like the site is full of nothing but guitar players for life. I'll ask on a banjo forum, probably get a honest answer there. Thanks.

Try Banjo Hangout.


Dave, I play both guitar and banjo, though less banjo these days (by choice). I learned guitar first at a pretty young age and had been playing for about 5 years when I started to learn banjo at the age of 12. Funny, my reason for wanting to learn banjo was that I thought anything I could learn on a banjo would help me play better guitar. And to some extent, it did. But I also ended up playing more banjo than I wanted to, leading to a dislike of it after some time. I just play it occasionally now. For me, guitar seemed easy to learn to a point, then it just gets harder and harder to improve. Banjo, on the other hand, seemed hard to get the hang of, but then when I did it became easier and easier. I'm not suggesting that I'm a Bela Fleck or Jens Kruger by any means, but when I was playing a lot of banjo I was at the least a capable player. It's probably not that big of a stretch for you if you are already a fairly competent guitar player.
My guitar will always be my first love but I gotta say pickin a bango is a ton of fun. I do not let my banjo get in the way of my guitar playing but every now and then I enjoy picking up a different instrument, either banjo or mandolin, just for the fun of it . I am a novice banjo player but do know a few rolls that allow me to play basic songs. Jimmy Buffet tunes are some of my favorites on the banjo. For me its not about the destination, I'm just enjoying the ride.

I apologize, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to throw an old Banjoke onto this thread.

You must have been at the Darrington festival.

That was a great event.

If you want to learn the banjo to do some simple back up work and to play some simple tunes, you can apply what you currently know on the guitar to the banjo fairly easily.

Grab the Scruggs book as a good starter to learn the basic rolls and chords. Once you get those down you can learn some of the tunes via tab or if you're wanting to get into backing up vocals you can play along with a bluegrass tune on a CD using your rolls and chords that you've learned, using your ear. That should get you started.

Any guitar licks and chord shapes anywhere on the neck that you know on the guitar using the the three strings D G and B are generally usable on the banjo since they're in the same location and positions as on the banjo - D G B. You just need to work the licks in while using a roll appropriate for the lick and for the song at the moment. Also, your capo will work the same way on the same fret positions as the guitar for playing in different keys.

That should get you started fairly easily, and then the sky's the limit depending on how advanced you want to get and how much time and practice you want to put in to learn the many banjo tunes and advanced techniques.

Thanks Jim,

I did go to banjo hangout, signed up. Curt, yes we went to Darrington on Saturday to see the big names. I wasn't to impressed with the female artist. I'm to "old time", and she was sounding to much like new age bluegrass. Glad it wasn't too hot!


There is an article in this month's (August, I think) Acoustic Guitar magazine about the transferability of your guitar skills to other fretted instruments, namely the banjo mandolin, and the resonator. The article does not go into a lot of depth but you might find it interesting. From my own experience, I picked up both the banjo and the mandolin within the last 5 or so years. The mandolin was extremely similar to flatpicking guitar as you use the same picking and fretting technique on both (although the frets are smaller - makes for easier spans across multiple frets). There was more difference between banjo and FP-ing guitar. The fingerpicks took some getting used to. I thought the left hand technique was easier and the right hand technique was more difficult. Hope this helps!

Hey Mark,

Yep read that also. Gave me encouragement more than anything. Anyway, got the banjo in the mail yesterday and have started to fool with it. But guitar is and will always be 1st chair! I started doodling with some Tommy Emmanuel stuff this week.


I went to a music college as a guitarist and I play more banjo than i do guitar these days. It's a different beast, but like flatpicking, once you get that right hand moving you're golden. I say go for it. It was the best decision I ever made. The banjo will open your ear up to all sorts of new ideas and i will bet your guitar playing will become better because of it.



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