07-16-2006, 09:43 PM
It sounds like you want to play bluegrass. Sure you can learn on an openback but if you keep at it you will quickly want a resonator, so get one with resonator from the start.
This link demonstrates Cripple Creek in both Scruggs style (bluegrass) and clawhammer, albeit somewhat poorly. This is what made me decide to play clawhammer when I started banjo
07-17-2006, 12:58 AM
I bought a new Ibanez Artist 5-string resonator banjo back in 1976. It's a pretty fair Japanese-made copy of a Gibson; in blonde maple, an ebony board with a nicely done "Hearts & Flowers" inlay; and engraved chrome hardware--very fancy! I was making a living back then as a full-time "wandering troubadour", and used the banjo as a "change-up" to my guitar work. I would only use it for only five or six songs a night, but it was always a good way to get an audience livened up!
I did some basic study out of Peter Wernick's Bluegrass Banjo book, but I decided that I was going to be a guitarist, not a banjo picker. Frankly, the banjo was a LOT harder than the guitar--and good teachers, at least in the area I lived in at the time, were scarce. So, in all honesty, I never got as good with it as I really should have.
By the early '90s, I decided to start working within the framework of a rock band; but occasionally that banjo would find its way on stage--and again, the audience response was overwhelmingly positive. Just doing two or three song with it, like The Eagles "Take It Easy"; or a county-fied version of the Stone's "Honky Tonk Women" (aka, "Country Honk"); or the old classic, "Cotton Fields", would liven up the deadest gigs.
In particular, I remember one gig that we did at a particularly popular dance club. They would have DJs as well as live bands; and the bands might be Classic Rock (as we were), spandexed "Glam" bands, or R&B-Motown-Soul-Disco dance groups. And ABSOLUTELY no country. Well, we changed that! We did the "de rigeur", relatively quiet first set. We opened the second set with "Take It Easy", and from the moment we started--we had them. Our arrangement featured a bit of trading licks back and forth between me on the banjo and the guitar players. It was something unique, that they had not seen or heard before--and they liked it! Management did too, and brought us back several times.
And thirty years later, I'm still using that banjo. I've expanded my repetoire to about 10 or 15 songs, and nothing I do on the banjo is EVER going to win me a CMA Award. But, it has been fun. I have a different band these days, and we may do four or five songs with it, just enough to whet the appetite. ("Always leave them wanting more.") It simply never fails to excite the audience, and it always brings out a bunch of smiles.
I'm so glad I bought that banjo all those years ago. (I especially enjoy the memories of playing it for my late father--I know he really enjoyed hearing me play it.) It's made me a lot of money, and I got a lot of satisfaction from playing it.
And one of these days, I may actually sit down and learn how to play the darn thing!
07-23-2006, 07:04 PM
I've think I've seen post here or perhaps elsewhere indicating that the Deering Sierra is the best bang for the buck and wonder if this is true. If it is true what other well know 5 strings are in the same class?
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