The Banjo Encyclopedia Reviews

The Banjo Encyclopedia Reviews

Reviews of The Banjo Encyclopedia

"Bluegrass Banjo from A to Z" by Ross Nickerson Purchase here at the author Ross Nickerson's website Bay, the publisher of The Banjo Encyclopedia does not sell the book spiral bound. Spiral Bound Versions of the Banjo Encyclopedia at is another reason to buy The Banjo Encyclopedia at We now are the only dealer that includes a hard copy CD disc. The publisher Mel bay has now gone to a download the CD off their website format. If you buy this book from any other online dealer, it will not be spiral bound or have a hard copy CD.Custom Wirebound Book and CD edition only at

you name it ... this book has it ALL The complete book about bluegrass banjo picking. It is very well written and is full of solid good advice and information. Its a superb book by a knowledgeable and nice guy!! ... well worth the money...
Thanks Ross, 

GREAT BOOK: Your Banjo Encyclopedia arrived safely in Australia this week. 
It is a great reference companion to the your terrific "beginner online lessons". 
There is so much helpful material in the book and the CD with all the great audio tracks is very helpful too. Should all keep me happily pickin for years to come! 
Best wishes and thanks from Karl in Canberra Australia. 

….I think that what you have created is the new gold standard for banjo instruction. It is an absolutely beautiful, beautifully written book, which I know will now be the foundation of my lifetime banjo study. I don't know how it could possibly be any better. And now I'm even more excited for our lessons to resume. All the best success with your great achievement.

Thanks Ross,
Your Banjo Encyclopedia arrived safely in Australia this week. It is a great reference companion to the your terrific "beginner online lessons". There is so much helpful material in the book and the CD with all the great audio tracks is very helpful too. Should all keep me happily pickin for years to come! Best wishes and thanks from Karl in Canberra Australia.

...I devoured Ross Nickerson's Banjo Encyclopedia.

….thank you for all of your hard work....

I order the online course which is great!! So I've decided the get the Banjo Encyclopedia guide,, boy I was surprised how detailed he put it together. In three weeks. I learned to do rolls and the timing of the rolls. I loved it 

I got it Friday and have read it cover to cover. Very well done. ...I did go to the Table of Contents and, in my opinion as a former HS teacher and college lecturer for 25 years - Ross has put together something that I would say is the first book/CD that anyone who knows they want to learn 5 string should have

......bought your Banjo Encyclopedia about 6 weeks ago, I have put all my other books on ice, yours is THE one. It covers everything I will possibly want to know for the next 20 years or so. It will in my opinion become the seminal book on banjo.

.....The Banjo Encyclopedia is more than I dreamed it would be. I could have saved myself a lot of money if I had started with this one book rather than buying 4 or 5 others to figure out which I liked best. Ross is so professional and so in tune with beginner and intermediate weaknesses. What a great teacher. I'll be looking for any workshops in 2005 that are within
reasonable traveling distance. I'm still having a hard time with the vamping but hope to master it in 2005.

...In my opinion, this is the pinnacle of information for 5-string banjo! This book is one of the most comprehensive, well-structured, and interesting books I have *ever* seen for teaching an instrument/music/theory/techniques! I may buy another copy and put it away - just in case! Aside from being a renowned player and teacher, Ross has found a model for the development of technical skills for the 5-string that is unbelievably straight forward, and comprehensive is an understatement! Here is a banjo book that can easily be reading material with no instrument in your hands! You will have a hard time putting this book down if you open it up! Ross has elucidated the finer points of playing any fretted instrument beautifully - things ignored or glossed-over in most other methods, such as developing your intonation, speed, right hand control and dynamics, left hand control and dynamics, chord studies, and scalar studies, back-up, timing studies, ans so much more I can't begin to list it all. The information contained in The Banjo Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive collection of skills, individual techniques, theory, and player development I have ever seen for one
instrument, in a readable format that puts the teacher right there with you! His comments alone about each skill are worth the price of admission! Exceptionally structured and written, this book is perfect not only for learning to play the banjo, but for becoming a GOOD player! If I could only bring my banjo and ONE book to a desert island, THIS would be the book!

....Dear Ross,
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!

….Ross Nickerson's book has a wealth of information. I first saw it at the recent IBMA convention and immediately ordered a couple of dozen copies. Everybody I've talked to who has purchased a copy has been very pleased with it.
David Schenkman
Turtle Hill Banjo Co

........Your book is AWESOME!!!! I've been learning to pick for 2 years & this book helps to clarify lots of questions I had!!!

….I'm very impressed with it.... (going back and seeing what I missed). I found the CD audio disk to be a big help. Hearing it played always makes it easier for me.. Keith
Southeast Pennsylvania, USA

….You won't be sorry picker. And if you ever get a chance to attend one of Ross' workshops, it's well worth the investment. Car

….My wife bought me the Encyclopedia for Christmas and it has been an extremely helpful book. The book covers a lot of different areas of banjo playing. I have enjoyed the chapter on the right hand the most. Ross has some excercises in this chapter that deal with improving the accuracy and dexterity of your individual picking fingers. I could go on and on about this book but I believe it would be best to say that it is well worth the money.

….I have a bunch of books I have bought over the last 6 months or so, and when I got the Banjo encyclopedia it was THE book for me. It covers everything you could possibly want to know and Ross's insights and tips are wonderful. I wholeheartedly suggest everyone get Ross's Encylopedia

....Hi, Just invested in Ross`s Encyclopedia and Transcriber - they are both absolutely fantastic. Ross has got the lessons just right. I ve got a better grasp of the music from this one book than i`ve had from a dozen others, he makes it easy or beginners and pro`s alike. Great stuff Ross and thanks, .Jack. 

.....I endorse it too, its the best book I have ever seen on the banjo, bar none, its my banjo bible

........Just got the "Banjo Encyclopedia" by Ross Nickerson, MelBay Publications......This is a great book, Mr. Nickerson has put together a very good regimented banjo instruction course in this book that takes you step by step in learning the many different technqiues and nuiances of the 5-String banjo.He address many of the concerns posted here by all levels of banjo players. And it is even in nice large type that is easy on the eyes

........Absolutely love the book! Invaluable. As a matter of fact, I was listening to the Cd in the car today on the way to work!

.... Ross Nickerson's Banjo Encyclopedia is so comprehensive you could possibly spend years trying to master everything that he teaches. It's probably the most well balanced book that I've seen so far

.....I have tons of different ones, but I keep going back to the Banjo Encyclopedia by Ross Nickerson. He has so many excercises, practice tips, etc. I think he lays it out in a very accessible manner so that each lesson builds on the previous, without being overwhelming.

.....If you're only going to have one book, my vote would go to The Banjo Encyclopedia, by Ross Nickerson

Review on The Banjo Encyclopedia

......I know this has been covered before, but from the perspective of someone who started playing in 1956, stopped in 1990, and is now starting again, I just wanted to say that Ross Nickerson's "Banjo Encyclopedia" is simply awesome.

This is not meant to malign any of the other fine banjo instruction books out there; each has its place and a beginner can learn "from scratch" from any number of them. But I have found that "starting over" in re-developing my right hand and eliminating decades-old bad habits - like poor right hand position (not enough arch), hitting the head with the thumbpick, index finger "fly-away", etc. - has been greatly enhanced by Ross's excellent discussions and exercises. His strength-building exercises have already been of great value to me and I have no doubt that his speed-building exercises will be likewise.

I also found that, as someone with a fair amount of prior experience, I already agree with a lot of what he says here and there throughout the book, for example:

a) Memorizing the material and not depending on tablature. I played "by ear" for over 15 years before I ever knew what tablature was, and while a tab can be useful in seeing exactly how something was played by a banjoist you really admire, in the final analysis you're going to have to pull stuff up "on the fly" in a group so it needs to be in your HEAD, not on a piece of paper. Besides, you can't be creative when you depend solely on what someone else has done before, and Bluegrass is a creative genre - sort of like jazz.

b) Not capoing above the 5th fret but playing from chords instead (I actually try to never capo above the 4th fret, although I do play in F with the capo at the 5th once in a while). The better you can play from chords, the more versatile you'll be as a player - period.

In the grand scheme of things "Banjo Encyclopedia" is not an expensive book even if you buy the spiral-bound version (which I recommend). Besides, how can you put a dollar figure limit on something that is going to help you LEARN the banjo?

......If you're really serious about being a good banjo player, buy this book. If you live close enough to Ross take an even better approach and take lessons from him. If I lived close enough to him to make it reasonably convenient I would take lessons from him in a heartbeat and it wouldn't hurt my pride one bit; becoming a better banjo player is 'way more important than "pride."

......I just want to chime in in agreement - Banjo Encyclopedia is far more thorough than a lot of other books I've seen. Rather than the usual "Here's the same 5 pages about 'the basics' that you already have in all your other books, and here's a bunch of tab", it goes into a lot of depth on the basics. There's plenty of tab and advanced topics, too, enough to keep you busy for a long, long time. The CD is also nice - good quality recordings, including versions of the tunes slow enough that they actually seem attainable even to a relative newbie like me.

........I was lucky enough catch Ross' 'Banjo Road Show' last summer, and picked up a spiral-bound copy of the Encyclopedia. I chatted briefly with Ross during the intermission, and he's a really nice guy - if I were in the Baltimore area I would definitely try to get some lessons with him!

.......After reading what many people have said and talking to many others, I was at Bucks County Folk music store today and bought a copy of this book. It is fantastic with all the info it contains for the money.

.........I just wanted to congratulate you on your Banjo Encyclopedia. Definitely the best tuition book I've come across over here in the UK. I'm in the middle of the student's breakdown, which is pretty cool. And that last track rocks! (in a bluegrass manner!)

........... I wanted to say what a fantastic book/cd it is. You have introduced all sorts of exciting ways to use the banjo in one volume and recording. I am teacher at my local college and a very amateur banjo player. I can say from a teaching point of view the book is fantastically encouraging and instructional. In about 2 minutes I figured out several things I have been doing wrong as a frustrated banjo player for over a year. The foggy mountain tip about fingering IMTM instead of IMIM on the first measure was a eureka moment and I had just picked the book up!

.......... I recently purchased your book "The Banjo Encyclopedia" and I thinks it's fantastic. I've always favored private lessons over learning from a book but I have to tell you that I found your book extremely useful. It laid out everything perfectly and really worked on overcoming any weaknesses in your playing. The words of encouragement throuought the book was a really nice addition as well. I've been a guitar player for about 13 years and graduated from the Berklee School of music so I know music pretty well. I'd thought Id take the banjo up as a hobby

......I want you to know that Chapter 4 of the Banjo Encyclopedia, "Practice Habits and Priorities," is worth the price of the book. I wish that every music student could have the notion of purposeful practice presented so plainly and could learn to use rehearsal time so efficiently. For myself, I am positive that I could have accomplished more and gone farther in a professional career if only I had read your book 30 or so years ago.

Thank you for publishing a comprehensive approach that will continually reinforce and motivate by helping [us] students of the banjo to develop a greater sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-reliance (and the joy that accompanies all three).

……Ross,  I've been trying to learn to play the banjo for more than ten years...starting when I was age 53. . .  Anyway, I felt really stuck, then I decided to give your Banjo Encyclopedia a try.  Right away, I could tell that I was making progress again.  Thanks! Mitch Finley Spokane, Washington

…..Thank you for writing the Banjo Encyclopedia. I am a relatively new banjo student, but I am in my 70's and the Banjo Encyclopedia has eased many of my frustrations by letting me see that I am not alone in my difficulties just because of my age, that other students have some of the same problems. Since I got the book, my teacher has noticed a big difference in my confidence and progress. The banjo has woven a spell around me, so Thank You, Thank You for helping me in my quest to learn to play and enjoy the banjo.Martha Wilson

....what a book!!! Blown away at the content...this book is gold...great curriculum!! class exemplary teacher...tailored instruction...great resource.


...most comprehensive work...a "must have"...all will benefit...Ross' leadership and clarity of instruction is tremendous..…

...Just a note to say thanks for writing the "Banjo Encyclopedia".   I have 6 other Banjo "How to" books and while they all had relevant material in them none had the over all structure and sequence that yours' does.  I have pretty much filed all the other books and am concentrating on working through the Banjo Encyclopedia exclusively.  My overall progress has just shot through the roof !  You have indeed paved the road to success for learning the banjo and the journey is fulfilling and exciting.  The advice you give is exceptional and I've found nothing to match in any other book I have and I have all the ones that are highly recommended.
Thanks Ross for providing an old Geezer like myself with a surefire path to success in learning the banjo.  I mention you and the website every chance I get.  Yours' I believe is the pinnacle method for learning the banjo.

Now that I see the qualities of this gentleman, I am REALLY looking forward to meeting him and thanking him for the effort it must have taken to put this together!….

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