By the way, as I said above, many notes on a 5-string banjo can be played in at least 4 (and often 5) different locations on the neck (again, I'm talking about the exact same pitch being playable in 4 or 5 places), and often these locations are not physically all that far apart. What this means is there is usually a really large number of possible ways of fingering a given sequence of notes. Some ways will be impossible to play. Others will be possible but awkward. One or two ways will likely be elegant in their simplicity and efficiency. Playing banjo well comes down, in large part, to discovering those elegantly simple fingerings, without which many things that banjo players play would be darn near impossible. This is one of the reasons why banjo players can often play so fast (though some of my favorite banjo playing is actually the slow stuff - don't fall into the trap of just playing everything on banjo as fast as you can....hotrodding a banjo can be great fun, but if played with finesse, and especially if played slower, a banjo can have a lovely expressive nuanced sound that is wonderful).
So, fingerings are everything on banjo. Well, not everything, but a big part of the battle. Yes, fingerings are a big deal on guitar too, but there are fewer fingering options for a given sequence of notes on guitar.
Consequently, even more so than guitar players, 5-string banjo players tend to LOVE tablature, because it maps out those all important fingerings. Even if I had learned to sight read all the notes on the banjo neck when I first started to play banjo, I would have found it VERY difficult to get competent on banjo without tablature to map out the fingerings for me.
Last edited by wcap; 02-22-2012 at 02:12 AM.