Instruction Articles

Free banjo instruction with top banjo instructor Ross Nickerson. Over 100 banjo articles on learning banjo chords, banjo rolls, backup, newbie beginning banjo questions, banjo timing, practice habits, tuning a banjo, adjusting a bridge, putting a strap on, a forum to ask questions for advice on any subject pertaining to playing and learning to play banjo and other important banjo subjects.

  •  Banjo Workshop Notes

    Banjo Workshop Notes

    I just returned home from our 13th annual Banjo Workshop Cruise to the Caribbean. I wrote an impromptu note to the students that joined me this year and decided it would be helpful to publish on my free banjo lessons blog here at BanjoTeacher.com.Read More

  • Banjo Exercises and Workout by Ross Nickerson

    Banjo Exercises and Workout by Ross Nickerson

    Banjo Exercises and WorkoutThis is the first installment of a series of teaching articles to help banjo students improve their overall skills by getting a "Banjo Workout".When learning the banjo it's only natural to want to learn songs and seek tangible results right away by playing a song. However in my workshops it's been my observation that students are burning a lot of practice time sight reading tablature and not getting the results they desire. If we can take a step back and see the big picture it should be obvious that if we spend more of our practice time building the skills needed to play songs and improve our overall capabilities, completed songs, jamming and real results should fall right into place.In this first banjo exercise lesson. I'm going to give you a picking exercise with a few different aspects of picking to work on. Read More

  • Beginning Banjo Rolls

    Beginning Banjo Rolls

    When you are beginning to learn banjo rolls, the most important thing to remember is the roll is determined by the finger pattern used not the strings played. For example a beginning banjo alternating thumb roll, sometimes referred to as a “square” or “box” roll is T I T M T I T M (thumb index thumb middle)Read More

  • Fixing Banjo Timing - Banjo Tab Exercises

    Fixing Banjo Timing - Banjo Tab Exercises

    As a banjo teacher I specialize in helping students of all ages learn to do something that they always wanted to do, and that's play banjo. One of the first apprehensions I hear from new students or from students that are fearful in their own ability to learn is. "I've got now rhythm". Well, I am here to reassure you that rhythm and counting can be learned, and its way more simple than you might think. In fact simple is the key.Read More

  • Hints to Pick Banjo Faster Developing Speed and Technique

    Hints to Pick Banjo Faster Developing Speed and Technique

    Hints to Pick Banjo Faster Developing Speed and TechniqueRight Hand1. Practice Rolls. 2. Work on weak spots. 3. Push yourself and try to raise your speed a notch each day. 4. Try using a metronome to push the tempo up each practice session and help you with your timing as well. 5. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and sound sloppy so you can work out the kinks and overcome obstacles. 6. Play in situations that challenge your speed. You may be surprised on how well you do. 7. Play through mistakes and keep plowing forward. Read More

  • How do I know where the banjo melody notes are?

    How do I know where the banjo melody notes are?

    His question was a good one or common one but the way he pictured how this all comes together needed better understanding. It comes from every one learning banjo rolls first. Learning the rolls or the “picking patterns” first is helpful and probably the best way to get started but its basically an exercise to develop picking skill and timing. Its not the wRead More

  • How Hard is it to Play the Banjo?

    How Hard is it to Play the Banjo?

    That is important first question for those of you are itching to take up the fun of playing 5 string bluegrass banjo. In my years of teaching the banjo and also handling much of the customer service at BanjoTeacher.com, the question “Is learning banjo hard?” or “how hard is it to play the banjo” is one that comes up a lot and often first!Read More

  • How to Attach a Banjo Strap

    How to Attach a Banjo Strap

    When you attach a banjo strap it is normally best to attach it to the head tightening brackets. First attach it below the neck on the side closest to the floor around the second bracket down. This will support that neck. On the other side. I attach it one or two brackets below the tailpiece.Read More

  • How to Change Banjo Strings

    How to Change Banjo Strings

    Here are some tips on how to change banjo strings that I’ve learned and taught over the years. It’s a very good idea that you change your strings regularly so your banjo will sound it’s best and will stay in tune. Regularly is dependent on how often you play, the climate you live in, whether you keep the banjo covered or leave it out and if you wipeRead More

  • How to Play Banjo Along with a CD or DVD

    How to Play Banjo Along with a CD or DVD

    Playing your banjo along with a You Tube video, DVD, CD or MP3 recording is not only loads of fun but a much more productive way of practicing banjo with few exceptions. One of the key elements in becoming a good banjo player is repetitions. The muscle memory you develop in repetitions helps you developing banjo tone, skill, speed, timing and the ability to improvise when you lose your place.Read More

  • How to Tune a Banjo

    How to Tune a Banjo

    Learning how to tune a banjo easily and quickly is one of the first steps in learning to play the banjo and I am here to lend a few tips to help you get the job done. To get the notes to tuneRead More

  • Improvising on Banjo

    Improvising on Banjo

    I have been reading through several pages of your "Banjo Encyclopedia," and, I've got to say this is a pinnacle text. Over the years, I've collected dozens of instructional books, almost all of which I set aside after realizing they were not comprehensive...just tabs. You've done it! I feel you passion in your text, and in your playing. You have done the "banjo world of players" a great service...cudos! Wow! Thanks for the compliments. I am alwayRead More

  • Learning 5-string Banjo Chords

    Learning 5-string Banjo Chords

    earning 5-string banjo chords is easier than you might think and it won’t take you long, just a little bit of practice exercise and repetition.Often banjo players struggle with learning chords simply because they get very involved with picking and do not take the time to practice the fretting hand.Read More

  • Learning Banjo Slides with Banjo Chords

    Learning Banjo Slides with Banjo Chords

    When I wrote Slide Mountain I had demonstrating how to play slides on the banjo on my mind. I purposely get a little carried away with it. I hope you don’t mind me stretching out a bit and having some fun. I have a lesson for getting started sliding into chords below. I posted 4 more versions of the same song below the lesson too. I hope you have some fun with it. Thanks! Happy Picking, NickRead More

  • Learning to Play Banjo Left Handed

    Learning to Play Banjo Left Handed

    Being a lefty and wanting to learn to play banjo can present a few challenges. One is deciding whether to start off playing banjo left handed or right handed. I am asked that question fairly frequently from new students asking me for advice. What I would do if I was standing right there in front of them is hand them a banjo and see which way they go with it. I don't think this is a cerebral decision or even something that should be followed on the advice of others. The bottom line is it has to feel natural and comfortable. Often our quickest reactions or "gut" reactions are the most dependable and solid. That is why I would try to distract the student and hand it to them so I could see their "natural" reaction and which way they held it..... Read More

  • Most Accurate Tab for Dueling Banjos

    Most Accurate Tab for Dueling Banjos

    I’ve transcribed Dueling Banjos from the original Deliverance Movie Soundtrack as played by Eric Weisberg. Eric’s playing of this song along with the worldwide exposure from the movie and radio airplay can be credited with spawning a generation of players to take up the banjo. I still have students arrive at my door or at my website Banjoteacher.com because they heard Dueling Banjos and want with every fiber in their body to make that sound!Read More

  • Notes to Tune a Banjo To

    Notes to Tune a Banjo To

    Here are the notes to tune a banjo to and also the notes used for different tuning options on a banjo. The tunings we have the notes for are Standard G open bluegrass tuning. C Tuning bluegrass, Bluegrass D tuning, Double C tuning, G minor tuning and Low Open E tuning. Read More

  • Playing The Melody on a Banjo | Using the Thumb

    Playing The Melody on a Banjo | Using the Thumb

    One of the challenges to learning and playing bluegrass banjo is to learn correct technique so you can keep up with the fast tempos so many bluegrass songs have.One of the tricks to playing consecutive 1/8 notes on a banjo is alternating your fingers. If you are playing 1/4 notes it's no problem to use the same finger twice in a row, but on a fast stream of 1/8 notes in an up tempo bluegrass song, using a different finger for each note is how it's accomplished.When playing the melody in 3 finger bluegrass Scruggs Style is don't let the index finger drive the bus. The thumb leads the way.Read More

  • Should I Put One Finger or Two Fingers on the Banjo Head

    Should I Put One Finger or Two Fingers on the Banjo Head

    Should I put two fingers on the head? when playing banjo? One finger down? If so, which finger? When picking what's the difference between planting two fingers or just one? The advantage? Why put any fingers down?Read More

  • Tips on Playing Banjo in a Jam

    Tips on Playing Banjo in a Jam

    It seems that when preparing for jam session or playing your banjo with other musicians that it is best to plan for the unexpected. One of the best ways to simplify the process is to learn to play song based on the chords only. In the real world of playing banjo with others or in a band, the first thing youRead More

  • Tips on Playing Banjo in a Jam

    Tips on Playing Banjo in a Jam

    It seems that when preparing for jam session or playing your banjo with other musicians that it is best to plan for the unexpected. One of the best ways to simplify the process is to learn to play song based on the chords only. In the real world of playing banjo with others or in a band, the first thing you learn are the chords to the song. Once yoRead More

  • Traveling with a banjo, what’s the best way to fly?

    Traveling with a banjo, what’s the best way to fly?

    I am asked for advice on the best way to fly with a banjo a lot especially by students in conjunction with our annual Banjo Camps and Workshops that I organize and instruct at. I am a good person to ask because I certainly have flown a lot with my banjo and have tried a number of different strategies and approachesRead More

  • What Gauge Banjo Strings Should I Use?

    What Gauge Banjo Strings Should I Use?

    Banjo Strings come in many gauges, light, medium, medium light and heavy gauge. I use a medium light set but there a many choices and I have tried lot’s of different combinations. If you are new to banjo, how do you decide?Read More

  • What is the Easiest Banjo to Play?

    What is the Easiest Banjo to Play?

    You might be asking yourself what style or what type of banjo is easiest to play. Since all the styles have their challenges it might be best for me to describe the different techniques for you more clearly so you can decide which style and type of banjo to dedicate your time too.Read More

  • Your First Banjo Lesson

    Your First Banjo Lesson

    Your first banjo lesson will be an exciting day filled with anticipation and expected nervous energy wondering what to expect.Read More

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