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A Fall Into Banjo

The past four posts have served as an introduction to this blog and what I plan to cover in the future. I hope to present a well-rounded view of the banjo and Old-Time music. As the author, however, I can't help but interject with tales about my own adventures with the instrument.

I consider myself an experienced novice. I know just enough about the banjo to know I still have plenty to learn. In that regard, I hope my experiences will help others who might be interested in learning to play the banjo.

My decision to play the banjo came in the winter of 2007 when I contacted the writers at the Americana music blog Hickory Wind about buying a banjo, which was prompted by an article on the site about buying a guitar. After a series of e-mails and some online research, I bought a Recording King Songster in March of 2008 and started to learn Scruggs three-finger style.

Even then, I wasn't a huge fan of the high-speed banjo picking of Bluegrass music, but the Scruggs style is so popular that it was the only way I knew of to play the five-string. The three bands I blame for giving me the itch to play the banjo are the Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Little did I know that none of the banjo players in those bands played like Earl Scruggs.

As two roads diverged before me, I--I took wrong one.


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Just to be clear, I prefer my natural fingernail for frailing. However, there was a time when I experimented with regularly using a pick, and there are instances now where I find that a pick is necessary. Today, I'll take you through the five options I've tried. These are all available online at prices ranging from about $1 to $13.

Reversed/Reshaped Dunlop Pick ($0.75)
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