Anyone know a good banjo method book?

I don’t need a teacher just need to look at what the instrument is capable of and what it typically does for a personal composition project.

I’m just bumping this in case someone may know.

What kind of banjo?

5 string preferably.

Turn to the Master.

Ah that looks about perfect. Thanks don’t mind me. Are there any others floating around out there that talk of style or actually use sheet music? (I believe the Seeger one is all in tab.)

Since I recently inhereted a 5 string banjo I’m also interested in advice on learning to play it. I played the trumpet (actually B-Flat Coronet) from grade school all the way through to highschool. I know that brass and string are two different worlds but at least I’ve got the basic music hardwiring in my head. The Pete Seeger book looks good and I think I’ll get it but I’d really like some good video and audio examples. I’m considering this and this. Anyone know if they’re any good? Any other suggestions? I also now have an acoustic guitar and I’d appreciate any suggestions on learning that.

[ul][li] Obtain banjo[/li]
[li] Remove from case[/li]
[li] Carefully tune each string[/li]
[li] Place banjo gently upon a stack of small wood pieces[/li]
[li] Douse with lighter fluid and ignite[/li]
Roast hot dogs or marshmallows per appetite[/ul]

I don’t know muchh about DVD/Video sets but in my experience they haven’t been very helpful. I usually like looking at them for the humor factor (well the guitar ones anyway).

I do play classical guitar and have taught it off and on for quite a while. Depending on what you are interested in doing (I assume you want to accompany yourself in rock, country, or folk rock styles), the best bet is to learn the major and minor chords in that have associated open strings (E A D G B and E). From there you can play pretty much any Gordon Lightfoot song and assorted others.

If you learn some pentatonic (5 note)and modal scales (all natural notes starting and ending on different places) you can expand your repertoire and play simple melodies over the given chords. Right now I am working on writing a classical guitar method off of this idea meant for beginner to intermediate guitarists.

Zenster, thanks for the suggestions but I think you misunderstood what we’re looking for. Maybe we should have been clearer: what we’re looking for does not involve damage to any musical instrument. Nor does it involve food preperation.

dorkusmalorkusmafia, for the guitar I’m interested mostly in rock and folk rock. Some of your terminology flies straight over my head so I guess I’ve got some learning to do. Do you know of any good guitar books for a beginner?
I’m still not convinced that the visual and audio aids wouldn’t be useful for learning how to hold and play it properly and learning what the various chords should sound like, etc. Maybe I’ll start with the books and then decide if I think I need the DVDs.
I have some more, possibly dumb, questions. Is it better to learn the guitar first, then move onto the banjo? Or is the other way around better? Or doesn’t it matter? Would it be unwise to try to learn both at the same time? Are the skills learned on one of them easily transferrable to the other?

Davidm, I don’t currently play the banjo. I was asked to write out a banjo part for a friend and am looking at some method books to be sure that what I write is stylistically correct. With this in mind, I can’t tell you which would be better to start with.

Personally, I would go with the guitar since it is more versatile. Once you learn the basic musical skills on one instrument it is exponentionally easier to apply them to another. I wouldn’t try to learn more than one instrument at a time unless you already have a good basic understanding of how notes/chords/scales work and preferrably a good working knowledge on another instrument (even if it isn’t in the same family woodwind for example to strings). However, learning similar instruments in the same family generally are easier (guitars translate well to bass guitars and even upright basses which transfer a little to the cello and the violin family, etc). Knowing the overall skills (rhythm, scales and chords) translate to any other instrument out there.

Personally, I would go with this book by Hal Leonard Publishing and get a music book of your favorite band’s greatest hits and after learning the first few chords and absolute basics mess around with them. Mel Bay also has a good series for beginning guitarists but the publishers choice of music generally stinks and the pacing is hellishly off for most guitarists. Make the learning fun rather than a chore. It will definately be a chore if you aren’t interested in the music that is contained within your book already.

Most books will have drawings that are pretty accurate to tell you how to position the instrument. Be sure to get one with an accompaniement cd. I really don’t think the video work is that beneficial but I am more of an aural learner than a visual learner. Most books will have a chord guide readily available so you can see the structure. This will help in learning to read a lead sheet which is the really basic structure of the music which you can then re-interpret as your own song. Tablature is also a way to go as it is easier than learning to read the music. I find the sheet music much easier to read but I am a dork (ie, classical guitarist).

As always, getting a teacher will help you improve faster and more consistently. I know that isn’t always an option though. It is especially not an option if you aren’t sure the instrument is right for you. You can learn what you want from books but if you develop bad habits (like your thumb portruding over the top of the neck, sloppy rhythm, etc) it is harder to fix. The teacher should be able to spot these almost immediately and help you from there.

dorkusmalorkusmafia, I did play the trumpet from elementary school all the way through to high school. That should help because I can (or at least could) read music. I did go to a guitar teacher for a short time as a child but I quit very early on. I think it was because of the lousy choice of music in the Mel Bay books. They just couldn’t hold they attention of a kid. I just can’t see myself going to a teacher at my age so I’ll probably be going it alone. Some of the guys I work with do get together to jam occassionally so they might be able to give me some tips. Thank you for your suggestions, I really appreciate them. If anyone else has any suggestions feel free to post them.