Bill Hutto of Colorado Springs signed up for Intermediate Banjo camp and writes:

Would like to learn additional licks, etc. Any suggestions.


Dear Bill,

Probably the easiest way to learn licks is from instructional materials such as tablature books and videos. Learning “in person” is ok, but it’s hard to remember more than a few notes at a time, so a written version really helps. Along with any tab I strongly recommend having the recorded source as a reference. Use the recording to listen for the licks you want to learn, then find them in the tab, and listen to the recording for reference while learning the tab.

On my web site, www.drbanjo.com, I offer tabs you can download (click “instructional“). Also you can click “store” and check out quite a few instructional materials. There is a good variety of tab books, and a CD play-along set with tab. My 2-video set (“Branching Out on the Banjo” vols. 1 and 2
) is filled with instruction about knowing the neck, and various right hand patterns. Along the way you learn a lot of licks and learn how to make up your own as well, based on knowledge of the instrument. Those can all be ordered off the web site. Certainly I also recommend the Earl Scruggs book and the records those tabs are taken from (Foggy Mt. Banjo album and the 4-CD Bear Family Flatt & Scruggs 1948-59 set, available from County Sales).

Banjo Newsletter is the most extensive source of banjo tablature (www.banjonews.com). Lately they have also been putting up MP3s of the music for which they print the tabs. Their back issues go back over 25 years, and they have thousands of tabs you can look up in their index for particular tunes.

That should help you out! Can’t resist saying that many of us bluegrass pickers who got started in the 60’s and earlier had *zero* instruction material and tab to go from. It was all by ear, listening to records. That is still a great way to learn, but slow!

Keep picking,

Pete Wernick