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27 August 2012

How to play the 5-string Banjo (1961)

The correct position to hold the banjo

It's a poorly kept secret that we don't just love Ukulele's on the Ukulele Blog. Oh no! We love lots of other things too. I've neglected a post on banjos for far too long. Earlier this week I was out hunting through charity shops and I happened across a copy of Pete Seeger's fantastic book: How to play the 5-string Banjo. This is the 3rd Edition with an update inside the cover from July 1990 where Pete is basically saying that he's unlikely to do any further revisions. That's a real shame. I've looked, but it seems that the 3rd edition is it. Given that Pete's 93 at the time of me writing this post, it's perhaps no surprise.

I've done nothing more than flick through this book, but every time I've done so, I've learnt something new and fantastic! I'm really enjoying the read and you never know it might just inspire me to dust off my vintage Windsor Whirle. In the hope that I can inspire you too, here are a few snippets from the book. I'm always a bit wary of giving too much away in this type of review, but this really is just a sample of the wonder that you can find within this book. I urge you go drop everything and go buy a copy right now. This is a little piece of music history that everyone should own!

Okay, this makes me feel a bit better about posting some pictures,
but remember what I just said about buying this book!

You've got all the rudimentary lessons. Look at the chord
guides in this picture. Beautiful!

Wise words. It's as much about not playing as it is
about playing

"Double-thumbing!" Good lord! Welcome to the
secret world of the Banjo Player.

I've heard of Scruggs pegs before, but never known what
they were. Aha!

This is a revelation for me. I never knew that you could string a
banjo with nylon strings. This is definitely something I'm going to
try out!

Oh dear! Pete's talking about cutting your banjo neck!
Don't try this at home. Well okay, go on then, try it...
and send me some photos!

Another revelation for me! Not that I've ever played with a capo on a

Egyptians getting down and funky

I love these little insights. Pete dots little gems like this about
for you to discover.

Yep - this is a book about banjos

I do like homemade instruments. Check out this picture.

And finally, here's a picture of the sort of tab you should expect to find
inside this book. And no, the songs are not all rousing psalms.

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